The Best Beef Birria Tacos

5 from 15 votes
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These rich, flavorful beef birria tacos combine tender beef birria (cooked with a stove, crockpot, oven, or Instant Pot) with cheese, onion, & cilantro in crispy tortillas alongside dipping consommé for a truly show-stopping meal!

A serving of Birria beef and Birria tacos

Where regular chicken and ground beef tacos are quick and easy to prepare even as a last-minute dinner, these homemade beef birria tacos take several hours to prepare. But the results are more than worth it! Better yet, you can enjoy the beef birria as a stew (birria de rez) or in tacos, and store or freeze the leftover meat for later!

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What Are Birria Tacos?

Birria tacos are an appetizing dish and popular taco at restaurants, pop-ups, and street food trucks. Birria is a type of slow-cooked stew originating from Jalisco in Mexico. It combines meat (traditionally goat) with a rich, aromatic broth made with chilies, garlic, and several spices, then simmers it until the meat is melt-in-the-mouth tender.

To prepare authentic birria tacos, corn tortillas are dipped or brushed with the fat from the top of the flavorful stew, loaded with the shredded stew meat, cheese (for quesabirria), chopped onion, and cilantro, then griddled or pan-fried until crispy.

Four birria tacos and a small bowl with birria sauce next to them

Once cooked, most serve the Mexican birria tacos with the rich broth/stock left in the pot of stewed meat (aka the consommé) for dipping. The combination of tender, juicy meat, melty cheese, crispy tortillas, and rich consommé dip is utterly mouthwatering.

Beef Birria

As birria tacos have gained popularity, the variations have grown, with filling options now including beef, lamb, chicken, jackfruit, and even mushrooms. For this version, I’m making the incredibly popular beef birria tacos (birria de res). Beef is usually easier to find and a less controversial option for serving large crowds.

Since it’s slow-cooked (4 methods to choose from), it also enables you to use cheaper cuts of meat. While there isn’t specifically a “best beef for birria,” I usually use beef chuck roast. However, beef shank, short ribs, brisket, sirloin, beef cheeks, or a combination of those (bone in or out) will work to create different flavors and textures.

Shredded birria beef on a serving plate

For this version (which I consider the best birria tacos recipe), I’ve also made a slightly thicker sauce than a traditional consommé, thanks to the addition of blended veggies and tomatoes. It’s incredibly appetizing, and the time and effort for these quesa birria tacos are WELL worth it!

Birria Tacos Ingredients

There are two key elements to preparing homemade birria tacos: the birria stew and the ingredients needed for the tacos. Luckily, this easy birria tacos recipe is almost entirely made from simple, inexpensive, and often pantry-friendly ingredients.

Beef Birria Ingredients

  • Beef: I prefer beef chuck roast (other best cuts written above), but use goat meat instead if preferred.
  • Chilies: A selection of dried chiles provides not only color and spice but other flavor depth, too:
    • Ancho chiles,
    • Dried Poblano pepper – a fruity, mild heat,
    • Guajillo chiles – mild, fruity, smoky, and slightly sweet,
    • Chiles de Arbol – hot with a sharp flavor.

If you struggle to source dried chilies, you can use just Guajillo peppers (found in the International aisle of most large grocery stores). New Mexico or Pasilla chilies work as substitutes.

  • Vegetables: To add depth and aromatic flavor, you’ll need onion (white is best, but red onion works, too), garlic cloves, carrots, and Roma tomatoes. Canned fire-roasted Roma tomatoes will work in a pinch, or omit them entirely.
  • Broth: Use homemade or store-bought liquid beef broth or broth powder mixed with water.
  • Seasoning: This authentic recipe is well seasoned with several popular pantry spices:
    • Oregano – use Mexican for authentic flavor,
    • Bay leaves,
    • Cumin,
    • Coriander seeds,
    • Chili powder,
    • Cinnamon stick,
    • Ginger,
    • Cloves,
    • Paprika
    • Black peppercorns,
    • Salt.
Ingredients for Birria tacos

Birria Tacos Ingredients

  • Tortillas: Small corn tortillas work better than flour ones.
  • Onion: White or red onion will work.
  • Fresh cilantro: If you’re a cilantro hater, use flat-leaf parsley or ditch it for fresh salsa.
  • Cheese: I recommend Mexican cheese like Oaxaca or Chihuahua cheese, but Monterey Jack or mozzarella work too.
  • Lime juice: For added bright flavor over the rich tacos.

Other toppings that work well include sliced avocado, pickled red onions and/or jalapeños, hot sauce, etc.

Ingredients for Birria tacos

How to Make Beef Birria Tacos

While the number of steps may seem intimidating, the method is simple, and the hands-on prep time is minimal.

Cook the Beef Birria

First, trim the ends of the chilies and de-seed them (if you cut off the top with kitchen shears, the seeds should fall out). Then, roughly chop the meat into smaller pieces to fit a large Dutch oven or saucepan.

For extra flavor, toast the coriander seeds and peppercorns in the pot first until fragrant (2-3 minutes) and sear the meat.

Deseeded dried chilis and cut beef

Chop the carrot into 2-3 pieces, peel and cut the onion in half, and peel the garlic, adding them to the saucepan with all the spices and broth.

Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 3-4 hours, or until the meat is tender, stirring occasionally.

If you cut the meat into bite-sized pieces, it can become tender in as little as 2 hours. However, it could take up to 6 hours if it’s in very large pieces.

Steps for cooking birria beef

Alternative Cooking Methods: For other cooking methods, I recommend toasting the spices and chiles for 1-2 minutes until fragrant, then adding the broth and veg to cook until they’re tender. Blend the mixture (minus the spices), and only then add the meat (optionally seared) and:

  • Oven: Use a Dutch Oven, cover it with a lid, and cook at 200ºF/95ºC for 5-6 hours.
  • Slow cooker: Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.
  • Instant Pot birria tacos: Add the ingredients to an Instant Pot (including the prepared, blended tomatoes) and cook on manual HIGH pressure for 50 minutes, allowing it to naturally release before removing the lid.

Make the Birria Taco Sauce

About 30 minutes into cooking the birria meat, char the tomatoes over an open flame (or under a broiler) until well blackened. Leave them to cool until manageable, then peel the skins.

Steps for charring and peeling tomatoes

Using a slotted spoon, remove the onion, carrot, garlic, and chilies from the saucepan and transfer them to a blender or food processor along with the tomatoes and a few tablespoons of the stew broth.

Blend until smooth, pour back into the pan, stir, and cook until the meat is tender.

Towards the end of the cooking time, prepare the taco toppings by chopping the onion and cilantro and shredding the cheese.

Steps for adding tomato sauce to birria beef

Shred the Simmered Meat

When tender, remove the meat from the pan and remove any fatty bits from it.

Then, use two forks to shred the meat.

Birria beef being shredded with a fork

Dip the Tortilla in the Birria Sauce

Dip the tortillas directly into the top layer of fat from the braising liquid OR skim the fat into a wide bowl first. Also, sieve the stew to remove the spices and bay leaves.

Working one at a time, dip the corn tortillas into the reserved fat and fry them in a pre-heated skillet over medium-high heat for about 20 seconds per side.

Skimming the fat from birria broth

Assemble and Fry the Birria Tacos

To assemble the birria queso tacos, place some cheese, beef, onion, and cilantro into each tortilla, and fold them in two.

Transfer them back to the pan (1-2 at a time) and press with a spatula to fry on both sides until crisp and golden. Repeat with the remaining tacos.

Steps for making birria tacos with beef and cheese

Once ready, serve the quesa birria tacos with consommé and lime wedges, and enjoy!

If you need to keep the tacos warm until serving, spread them on a baking tray in the oven at 250F/120C.

How to Eat Birria Tacos

These tacos are best when served with lime wedges and the consommé (birria tacos dipping sauce) alone or alongside:

There are plenty of ways to use leftover beef birria for birria recipes, too. Check out the recipe card notes section for ideas!

Dipping birria taco in sauce

Storage Instructions

It’s best to store the beef birria and tortillas/taco toppings separately in covered containers in the refrigerator for 3-4 days (or freeze the birria meat for up to 3 months). Assembled tacos would become soggy.

Any fat will solidify on the top when chilled, making it easy to remove.

How to Reheat Birria Tacos

You can reheat the shredded beef in the broth either in a skillet/saucepan over medium heat, in the oven in a pan covered with foil (10-15 minutes at 350ºF/175ºC), or in the microwave (in 30-second intervals until hot). Then assemble, cook, and serve!

A plate with birria tacos, birria sauce, lime and onion

More Taco Recipes

If you try these tacos with beef birria recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

The Best Beef Birria and Birria Tacos

5 from 15 votes
By: Samira
These rich, flavorful beef birria tacos combine tender beef birria (cooked with a stove, crockpot, oven, or Instant Pot) with cheese, onion, & cilantro in crispy tortillas alongside dipping consommé for a truly show-stopping meal!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients 
 

For Birria Beef

  • 5.5 lb beef use one or a combination of chick roast, brisket, beef shank, shortribs, sirloin roast; use bone-in cuts (or add bones) for a richer broth
  • 8 cups beef broth or water with 2 Tbsp broth powder
  • 8.5 oz white onion 1 large; or red onion
  • 2.6 oz carrot 1 medium; technically optional, but provides subtle sweetness and color
  • 1.3 oz garlic 8 cloves; or adjust to taste
  • 1 oz Ancho chilis 2 large or 4-5 small
  • 5 Arbol chilis
  • 5 Guajillo chilis
  • 1 cinnamon stick small
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 5 cloves whole
  • 1/2 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano Mexican oregano is best
  • 1 tsp salt or season to taste
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 ginger knob fresh or dry
  • 9.9 oz tomatoes 3 medium; Roma tomatoes are best

For the Tacos (use more or less)

  • 24 corn tortillas
  • 2 onions white or red onion
  • 1 bunch cilantro fresh
  • 1 cup cheese Mexican cheese like Oaxaca cheese or Chihuahua cheese as the best; you could also use Monterey Jack or mozzarella
  • 2 limes

Instructions 

Cook the Beef Birria

  • Trim the ends of the chilies and de-seed them. If you cut off the top with kitchen shears, the seeds should fall out).
  • Roughly chop the meat into smaller pieces to fit a large saucepan or Dutch oven.
    For extra flavor, toast the coriander seeds and peppercorns in the pot first until fragrant (2-3 minutes).
  • Chop the carrot into 2-3 pieces, peel and cut the onion in half, and peel the garlic.
  • Add them to the saucepan with all the spices and broth.
  • Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 3-4 hours, or until the meat is tender, stirring occasionally.
    If you cut the meat into bite-sized pieces, it can become tender in as little as 2 hours. However, it could take up to 6 hours if it's in very large pieces.
    Check the notes below for alternative cooking methods.

Make the Birria Taco Sauce

  • About 30 minutes into cooking the birria meat, char the tomatoes over an open flame (or under a broiler) until blackened all over. Leave them to cool until manageable, then peel their skins.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove the onion, carrot, garlic, and chilies from the pan and transfer them to a blender or food processor along with the tomatoes and a few tablespoons of the stew broth.
  • Blend until smooth, pour back into the saucepan, stir, and cook until the meat is tender.
  • Towards the end of the cooking time, prepare the taco toppings by chopping the onion, cilantro, and lime, and shredding the cheese.

Shred the Simmered Meat

  • When tender, remove the meat from the pan and remove any fatty bits from it.
  • Use two forks to shred the meat.

Dip the Tortillas in the Birria Sauce

  • Dip the tortillas directly into the top layer of fat in the stew pot OR skim the fat into a wide bowl first. Also, sieve the stew to remove the spices and bay leaves.
  • Working one at a time, dip the corn tortillas into the reserved fat and fry them in a pre-heated skillet over medium for about 20 seconds per side.

Assemble and Fry the Birria Tacos

  • To assemble the birria queso tacos, place some cheese, beef, onion, and cilantro into each tortilla, and fold them in two.
  • Transfer them back to the pan (1-2 at a time) and press with a spatula to fry on both sides until crisp and golden. Repeat with the remaining tacos.
  • Once ready, serve the tacos with consommé and lime wedges, and enjoy!
    If you need to keep the tacos warm until serving, spread them on a baking tray in the oven at 250ºF/120ºC.

Storage Instructions

  • It's best to store the beef birria and tortillas/taco toppings separately in covered containers in the refrigerator for 3-4 days (or freeze the birria meat for up to 3 months).

Notes

  • Don’t rush the process: Allowing the stew to cook low and slow leads to melt-in-the-mouth meat and a TON of depth and layers upon layers of flavor.
  • Don’t discard leftover birria broth: Along with serving as a consommé, this beef broth (especially when made with bones) has several health benefits and can be drunk.
  • For more flavor: Sear the beef on all sides before stewing it.
  • For a thinner consommé: You don’t have to blend the onion and carrot or use tomatoes.
  • To make ahead: For less prep on the day, prepare the birria base with the blended veg up to 3 days in advance. When ready, add the beef (seared or raw) and cook.
  • To avoid soggy tacos: Only lightly dip the tortillas in the fat. Too much liquid, or a pan that’s not hot enough, leads to soggy, greasy tacos.
  • Swap the meat: You can use goat instead. Chicken also works (cooked for just 30-40 minutes in the sauce until tender. Omit the tomatoes).
Alternative Cooking Methods: For other cooking methods, I recommend toasting the spices and chiles for 1-2 minutes until fragrant, then adding the broth and veg to cook until they’re tender. Blend the mixture (minus the spices), and only then add the meat (optionally seared) and:
  • Oven: Use a Dutch Oven, cover it with a lid, and cook at 200ºF/95C for 5-6 hours.
  • Slow cooker: Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.
  • Instant Pot birria tacos: Add the ingredients to an Instant Pot (including the prepared, blended tomatoes) and cook on manual HIGH pressure for 50 minutes, allowing it to naturally release before removing the lid.
How to use leftover beef birria:
  • As a Mexican beef stew (Birria de Res) alongside tortillas or bread,
  • Birraquiles – like birria nachos: layer tortilla chips with birria, cheese, & consommé,
  • Birria tostadas – dip in the grease, fry, & top with beef, cheese, & garnishes,
  • Birria ramen – add extra broth and noodles,
  • Birria grilled cheese – swap the tortillas for bread,
  • Beef birria burrito bowls,
  • Use it (+ cheese) over baked potatoes or even pizza.
Check the blog post for more tips and serving suggestions!
Course: Appetizer, Main
Cuisine: Mexican
Freezer friendly: 3 Months
Shelf life: 4-5 Days

Nutrition

Serving: 3tacos, Calories: 598kcal, Carbohydrates: 24g, Protein: 76g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 0.01g, Cholesterol: 205mg, Sodium: 949mg, Potassium: 1480mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 3836IU, Vitamin C: 18mg, Calcium: 205mg, Iron: 8mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

5 from 15 votes (15 ratings without comment)

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