By now, I think just about everyone has seen birria tacos on social media. These traditional Mexican tacos from the Jalisco state of Mexico have made their mark on both the internet and in our stomachs with their stunning appearance and incredible flavor.
It may seem intimidating to make these tacos at home, but we promise you can do it! Just follow this clear step-by-step recipe, and you’ll end up with Instagram-able tacos to enjoy.
We’re going to answer some questions you may have about birria tacos and provide you with a little bit of background information, but if you’re ready to get cooking, just scroll down to the ingredients and get started!
What are birria tacos?
Birria means spicy meat stew, and this recipe started as a stew that was often enjoyed on special occasions.
Some genius then decided to take the meat from this stew and then add it to a fried tortilla to make a crunchy, insanely delicious taco. To make it even better, the taco is served with the consommé that is left from the stew as a dipping sauce.
They are so, so good.
These tacos aren’t the fastest or most straightforward to make, but we promise if you love tacos, it’s worth the effort!
What meat do you use to make birria tacos?
Traditionally, birria was used with goat or lamb, but now it’s generally made with beef.
We recommend using a cut of beef with plenty of marbling to keep the meat moist during the long cook. The two cuts that are easiest to find and work great for this recipe are boneless chuck roast or bone-in short ribs. You could also use boneless stew meat or bone-in beef shanks if you like.
We have written the recipe using a boneless chuck roast because it is very easy to shred at the end. If you would like to use bone-in short ribs to get rendered marrow mixed into your stew, you will have more flavorful results but need to remove the bones before shredding.
Bone-in cuts of meat lose more weight during cooking than boneless cuts because you don’t eat the bone. If you opt to go with bone-in short ribs, use 2.5# of meat instead of the 2# in the recipe. Take the meat off the bone to marinade, but save the bones and add them to the stew while cooking.
While goat and lamb can bring an authentic and rich flavor to the meal, they’re not widely available in America. If you happen to have a shoulder or leg from a goat or lamb, you can use that meat instead of the beef we recommend for this recipe without any changes.
What are the basic steps to making birria tacos?
Here is the basic overview:
- Season your meat.
- Cook the stew.
- Fry the tortillas.
- Add the meat and cheese to the tortilla, fold, and continue frying.
- Serve the tacos with the consommé left over from your stew and enjoy!
What ingredients are in the stew?
Everybody has a slightly different recipe for this stew, but the basic ingredients are meat and dried chile peppers, plus fresh vegetables, broth, and seasonings.
We talked about the meat we use above, but the dried chile peppers are essential as well. Ancho chiles bring spice and sweet notes while guajillo chiles bring dark, rich, roasty notes to the stew. This is a moderately spicy stew, but the peppers add much more complex flavors than “burn your mouth” spice.
You can find these dried peppers in Mexican grocery stores, in a good supermarket, or you can get these awesome 100% natural authentic dried peppers from Olé Rico.
If you make a purchase using the link, we do receive a small commission; thank you!
What do I put on birria tacos?
In their most basic form, birria tacos are super simple – just meat and tortillas. However, we prefer the version that some people call a “quesabirria taco” where cheese is added to the meat and melted to make a quesadilla/taco hybrid.
We are in Wisconsin, so cheese is kinda a big deal for us!
We recommend using queso quesadilla or queso Oaxaca. These cheeses are perfect for melting in this quesadilla/taco – it’s literally in the name! If you cannot find quesadilla cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese also works fine!
Once your tacos are fried, we recommend serving them with the usual taco accompaniments of quick-picked red onion, sliced radishes, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges.
How else can I serve birria?
Birria originated as a stew and you can still serve it as a stew!
If you want to avoid the hassle of frying tortillas, you can follow this recipe until we get to the taco assembly steps. Instead of removing the beef from the liquid, shred it, then return it to the liquid.
Serve this stew over rice and add a side of your favorite beans (black beans or refried beans would be excellent) to make a filling and delicious meal.
This recipe is a bit too involved – do you have less complicated taco recipes for me to try?
Heck yeah we do! While birria tacos are tasty, they do take a lot of effort to make. If you’re looking for more taco recipes that we’ve designed to be easy to make at home, check out this link!
We hope that answered all of your questions. If you have more, or if you have feedback on this recipe, just leave us a comment below. We’ll get back to you and hope to see you soon at Lake Geneva Country Meats!
- 2 lb Leahy’s Angus Beef Boneless Chuck Roast (cut into 2 inch pieces)
- Black Pepper
- 4 Dried Ancho Chiles
- 4 Dried Guajillo Chiles
- 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil (plus more for frying tacos)
- 4 Roma Tomato (halved)
- 1 Yellow Onion (chopped)
- 4 clove Garlic
- 4 cup Beef Broth (or water)
- 1/4 cup Vinegar
- 2 tsp Ground Cumin
- 2 tsp Dried Oregano
- 2 Bay Leaf
- 2 Cinnamon Stick (optional)
- 12 Corn Tortillas (store-bought or homemade is fine)
- 1 lb Quesadilla Cheese (shredded – you can also use shredded mozzarella if you like)
- Red Onion (pickled – for a taco topping)
- Radish (sliced – for a taco topping)
- Cilantro (chopped – for a taco topping)
- Lime Wedges (for tacos)
Generously season the cut-up beef with salt and pepper and set aside while you prep the peppers.
Fill a large pot with water, bring it to a boil, and then remove it from the heat. Add your dried chiles to the water and let them soak for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove them from the water, cut the stem off the pepper, and let the seeds fall out. Set the peppers aside to dry.
Add the vegetable oil to a large Dutch oven or similar pan and heat the oil to medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the meat and sear on all sides. Work in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pot. Once the meat is seared, remove it from the pot and set aside.
Add the yellow onion and tomatoes to the pot and cook on medium heat for about 6 minutes until the onions begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the chiles, beef broth, vinegar, cumin, and oregano to the mixture and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes, then use an immersion blender to blend the mixture until smooth.
If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can remove the chiles from the mixture and place in a traditional blender. Add about 2 cups of the tomato and broth mixture to the blender, then vent, cover, and blend until smooth. Be careful with the hot liquid.
Return the meat to the Dutch oven and add the bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a simmer, then cover the Dutch oven, and place in an oven preheated to 300ºF. Cook for 2 – 3 hours, until the beef is very tender.
Once the beef is tender, remove it from the Dutch oven, and shred it. Set the beef aside and keep the braising liquid (consommé) in the Dutch oven, making sure to remove the bay leaf and cinnamon sticks. Now it’s time to make birria tacos!
Add a small amount of vegetable oil to a large skillet and heat to medium heat. Dip a tortilla in the consommé, coating both sides, and then lay on the oil. Crisp the tortilla on both sides for about 1 minute, then add shredded cheese and meat to one side of the tortilla. Fold the tortilla in half and cook for one minute, flip the taco and cook for one more minute until the cheese is melted and the outside is cripsy and golden brown.
Repeat for the remaining birria tacos.
Serve the tacos with the remaining consommé for dipping along with pickled onions, sliced radishes, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges.
Enjoy your birria tacos!