beef BIRRIA (Birria de Res) made into birria TACOS and quesa Birria with STEP-BY-STEP PHOTOS and video! AKA Crispy, pan-fried tacos piled with shredded Beef and oozing cheese dunked in rich, flavorful consomé.

This Beef Birria and Birria Taco recipe will blow your mind. It’s an explosion of earthy, smoky, juicy, cheesy, crispy addictiveness in each and every saucy bite. The Birria Tacos are made with Birria de Res, beef braised in a bold, aromatic chili sauce until fall apart tender, stuffed into broth-battered corn tortillas along with ooey gooey Oaxaca cheese, pan-fried until crispy then dunked in the deeply crimson Birria consomé (broth) for a saucy, rich finish.  With one bite you’ll understand exactly why Birria Tacos are the hottest food trend that is here to stay. This post will cover everything you need to know about making Birria de Res, which you can serve as a stew topped with onion, cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice AND how to transform that same beef into Quesa Birria Tacos!

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How to Make Birria Tacos Video

showing how to serve quesa birria tacos by lining the tacos in a single layer on a platter

This is a lengthy guide full of tips of tricks. You can use the “jump to recipe” button at the top to skip directly to the recipe card if you wish.

What is Birria?

You may have become familiar with Birria recently (pronounced beer-ria, with the rolling ‘r’) as Tacos de Birria and Quesa Birria have been splashed across social media, but Birria Tacos are much more than a fad.  This Tiktok craze is created from Birria, a Mexican food staple from Jalisco, Mexico that can trace its origins all the way back to the 1500s.

Birria is a Mexican dish traditionally made from either goat or lamb but beef is quickly becoming the new favorite because it is more accessible and beefy delicious.  The meat is stewed until fall apart juicy tender in a rich broth made from chilies, onions, garlic, tomatoes and toasted spices including peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon.   The resulting spoon tender meat is deeply complex with fragrant, savory, slightly spicy notes. 

Birria is commonly served at celebrations such as holidays and weddings solely as a meat stew but can also be served inside tacos or quesadillas, burritos and nachos and most recently, restaurants are making Birria wontons, Birria grilled cheese, Birria egg rolls and Birria ramen, as well!

What does Birria Mean?

Birria comes from the term “birrioso” the adjective of birria, meaning “low class” or “worth nothing,” possibly referring to the fact that birria was enjoyed by the working class in the early 1600s.  Today, the term birria is synonymous with a deeply flavorful stew braised in chili sauce or “a meal of exquisite flavor, tradition, and culture,” anything but worthless.

Others claim the name comes from “berrear” which is the Spanish onomatopoeia for a goat’s bleating, named for the fact the stew was originally made of goat. 

What are Birria Tacos?

Birria Tacos are made of stewed meat stuffed inside a corn tortilla that’s dipped into a thin layer of fat that sits on top of the Birria broth, then pan fried to crispy gloriousness. The tacos are topped with chopped onions and cilantro and served with a side of the leftover rich and flavorful consomé broth for dipping, much like a French dip sandwich or grilled cheese and tomato soup,

How do you make Birria Tacos?

To transform Birria into Birria Tacos, the braised meat is removed from the broth and shredded.  It holds onto some of the broth so it’s rich, saucy and dizzyingly flavorful.  Corn tortillas are battered in fat that sits on the surface of the stew the meat was braised in, added to a sizzling skillet and piled with the shredded meat.  Once the tortilla is golden, it’s folded over to form a crunchy taco. You will often see Birria Tacos with the addition of Oaxaca cheese to create Quesa Birria, because ooey gooey melty cheese makes everything better!  

top view of quesa birria tacos on a plate with one being dipped in birria consomme

Where does Birria come from?  Where do tacos de birria come from? 

While Birria Tacos are a somewhat new invention, we can trace the origins of Birria back to 16th century Jalisco, Mexico.  During this time, goats became the main meat source as a way to deal with and capitalize on the abundant, pesky goat population stemming from animals brought by the Spanish colonizers.  The goat was stewed with local chilies and spices like oregano, thyme and cloves in a clay pot or in the ground for hours to tenderize the lean meat and to mellow out the gaminess.   Over time, the dish evolved and spread to other regions.  It is now more popularly made with beef, veal, lamb and/or pork.

Origins of Birria Tacos

Birria Tacos aren’t just a new, random, Tiktok craze but are the best of something old (Birria) and something new (dipping in consomé). 

Taquerias and birrierias have been serving up Birria, and even Tacos de Birria, for decades in Jalisco, Mexico and other parts of the country, including Aguascalientes, Michoacán, Durango, Zacatecas, Colima, Tijuana, Oaxaca and beyond.  Most notably, Birria Taco stands seemed to flourish in Tijuana, Mexico in the early 2000s.  Many of these stands swapped the goat meat for beef because it was more accessible and less gamy, which helped popularize the dish with tourists.

As far as dipping the taco in the consomé?  We can thank food truck owner Teddy Vasquez for publicizing the dip.  He may or may not have been the first to actually dunk Birria Tacos in the consomé, but he was definitely the first one to create viral videos. 

In 2015, Teddy Vasquez was persuaded by a friend to learn the art of Birria in Tijuana, Mexico.  After an entire year of immersing himself in everything Birria, he returned to Los Angeles and opened the taco stand, Teddy’s Red Tacos.  After nine months, he saved enough money to open a food truck and ramped up his marketing. He began posting videos on Instagram showing Birria Tacos being dunked in the consomé.  

Soon, other taqueros in Los Angeles and across the country started adding Birria Tacos to their menus.  It wasn’t long before people from coast to coast, from all walks of life, began lining up around blocks for bites of Birria.  And then came Quesabirria Tacos. They exploded onto Tiktok and Instagram with cheese spilling out the sides of the crispy shells making them the latest must-have craze.  The Great Birria Boom” had arrived.

Today, thanks to Teddy Vasquez, Tiktok and Instagram, Birria Tacos are a household name, as they should be.  They can be found on nearly every Mexican restaurant menu and even made right in your own home.  Follow this recipe and you’ll taste why the Birria Boom is here to stay!

Birria Taco Recipe

Have images of crispy, pan-fried tacos with oozing cheese being dunked in deep crimson consomé filled your feed?  Until recently, Birria Tacos were found only at the most authentic Mexican restaurants, but thanks to their explosion on social media, they are the possibly the most famous tacos in the world.  I’m grateful they are finally getting the attention they deserve! 

So, what makes this Birria Tacos recipe so crazy delicious?

  • It’s the meat: braised low and slow in a mélange of chiles and spices, the meat is rich, succulent, fall apart tender, with an enticing complexity of flavor.
  • It’s the cheese.  Take it or leave it, but take it.  Cheese melting into the juicy beef and spilling out the sides of the golden tortilla to create Quesa Birria.  
  • It’s the tortillas: dipped in rich consomé fat for superior flavor then pan fried for crispy fried caramelization.  Addictingly crispy fried taco shells are a culinary-changer.
  • It’s the consomé (Birria broth in Spanish vs consommé in French).  Deeply crimson, made of chilies and fragrant spices originally designed to mask the gaminess of the goat meat. The consomé is complex, lightly smoky, perky with acidity, deeply satisfying and rich with just the right amount of fat.
  • It’s the dunk.  The crispy shells with saucy tender beef and melty cheese bathed in the rich consomé, for juicy, meaty, cheesy saucy, crispy, out of this world bite, after bite….

I’ve don’t a lot of research to come up with this truly intoxicating Birria Taco recipe.  The ingredient list is a little lengthy and the recipe does take some time but I’ve tried to streamline the process as much as possible.  The steps are simple and will reward you with succulent beef, gooey cheese filled addictingly crispy Birria Tacos – AT HOME! 

Here’s a quick breakdown of the steps:

  • Toast the spices
  • Stew the chili peppers, tomatoes and spices
  • Blend the stewed chilies to make the sauce
  • Sear the beef
  • Cook the beef with the sauce
  • Dip tortillas in the broth
  • Pan fry the tortillas and stuff with beef and cheese
  • Dip in the consume and eat!

What meat are Birria tacos made of?

Birria was originally made with either sheep or goat’s meat, but today Birria de Res (Beef Birria) has become increasingly popular and also happens to be my personal favorite. For the ultimate Birria Taco recipe, use bone-in or boneless chuck roast. It boasts a succulent, beefy flavor and melt-in-your mouth texture due to its rich marbling. It is guaranteed to become fall apart tender when cooked long enough.

  • Other beef options:  you can also combine the beef chuck with short ribs, beef oxtail or beef shank to equal 3 pounds.
  • Other meat options:  you may also make Birria with veal, goat, lamb, or pork, or any combination of these proteins.  Take care that whatever you choose has enough marbling so it’s not only flavorful but leaves you with consomé fatty enough for dipping.
showing how to serve birria tacos by topping with chopped onions and cilantro

WHAT CHILE PEPPERS ARE used in birria? 

Authentic Birria is made with Mexican dried chili peppers, namely guajillo peppers, ancho peppers, and chiles de arbol.  Here’s what to know:

  • Guajillo chiles: might be the only constant in all Birria recipes!  Guajillo chiles are considered mild-medium in terms of heat, with a heat rating of 2,500 to 5,000 on the Scoville Heat Scale (SHU), compared with jalapeño peppers which can reach 8,000 SHU and habaneros, which can reach 350,000 SHU! Guajillo chiles are known as mirasols or “sun gazers,” because the peppers grow upright, tipped toward the sun.  The ripened chilies are dried and smoked until they reach a deep garnet and boast a sweet berry-toned heat (think cranberries) and mild smokiness.
  • Ancho chiles: are dried poblano chiles with sweet, earthy, rich flavor. They are considered some of the mildest chili peppers, measuring between 1,000 – 2,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Both the guajillo chiles add ancho chiles will add wonderfully complex flavor to your recipe but will not make the Birria spicy, simply flavorful.
  • Arbol chilesalso known as bird’s beak chili and rat’s tail chili are very spicy and should not be used plain, but as an enhancer to either guajillo chiles or ancho chiles. Arbol chiles have a heat rating between 15,000 – 30,000 SHU.  I recommend one arbol chili to bring a little heat to the Birria.  It won’t make it super spicy, but rather add a medium kick for a more rounded flavor.

WHERE CAN I FIND DRIED CHILES? 

If you’ve never purchased or cooked with dried chilies before, don’t be intimidated! Dried chilies can be found at any Mexican market as well as many grocery stores (and many super Walmart’s depending on your location) in either the Mexican aisle or produce section. Many produce stores such as Sprouts and Whole Foods also carry packages of dried chilies. If you can’t find them or simply want a one-click option, then you can purchase them on Amazon here:  ancho chiles, Guajillo chili, Arbol chiles.

Each package of chili peppers contains quite a few and they last for at least a year, so don’t worry about them going to waste.  You can use them in this Birria recipe, Chile Colorado, or my Pozole Rojo recipe. 

showing how to make birria recipe by showing what ancho, guajillo and arbol chilies look

Birria Ingredients 

Birria Tacos consist of three main components – the meat, the sauce and the tacos.  In addition to the beef and chilies, here’s what you need for this irresistible recipe: 

THE WHOLE SPICES

The whole spices are toasted to unlock the flavor, stewed with the chilies and then blended into the sauce.  I have included dried and granulated substitutions in the recipe, but go whole if you can.  Many of these seasonings can be picked up at the grocery store, or the a la carte bins at Sprouts or Winco, but you may need to order some online. I’ve linked the seasonings below to Amazon for easy purchasing if need be:

THE consomé

  • Beef broth: use reduced sodium beef broth so the consomé isn’t too salty.   
  • Beef bouillon: is made from dehydrated vegetables, meat stock, a small portion of fat, salt, and seasonings AKA it’s salt with flavor!  You can use bouillon powder, bouillon cubes or better than bouillon.  Add it to the sauce without dissolving in liquid first. If using cubes, crush them up and then add directly to the broth then stir to dissolve.  You will need three cubes in this recipe.
  • Onion: one yellow onion adds flavor and a subtle sweetness.
  • Garlic: you’ll need 8 cloves of garlic to properly flavor the Birria de Res. 
  • Tomatoes: use 4 vine-ripened tomatoes or you may substitute 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes.
  • Apple cider vinegar: just a tablespoon adds a splash of needed acidity to cut through the earthy chili sauce.  You may substitute with rice vinegar but do not substitute with white vinegar because it is much more sour. 

FOR THE QUESA BIRRIA TACOS

  • Corn tortillas: are a must for Birria Tacos for that extra robust, nutty, sweet corn flavor and thicker, pliable texture that won’t break when dunked in sauce/consomé.  Freshly made or homemade corn tortillas are best or packages that say, “organic” or “made in small batches.”  I love La Tortilla Factory Corn Tortillas. I used to only be able to find them at Sprouts but I just picked them up at Alberton’s last week, so be on the lookout!  You can also pick them up on Amazon here.  They are more expensive than the flimsy, dry, cheap packages BUT so worth it! 
  • Cheese:  for Birria Quesabirria!  Oaxaca cheese is the ideal cheese for quesatacos.  It’s a Mexican cheese made from cow’s milk that has a mild, buttery flavor and melts extremely well.  You should be able to pick up Oaxaca cheese at your grocery store or at least Sprouts or Whole Foods.  If you are unfamiliar with Oaxaca cheese, it comes in a round package that is actually a log of cheese spiraled into a circle.  You will want to peel the cheese into strips, much like string cheese, so it melts quickly.   This is much easier if the cheese is at room temperature.  If you are unable to find Oaxaca, use freshly grated mozzarella, it tastes surprisingly similar.
  • Toppings: are essential to balance out the rich, cheesy tacos with freshness.  You can top your Tacos de Birria with whatever you’d like, but traditional toppings include finely chopped white onion, fresh cilantro and lime juice.  You could also add pickled red onions, avocados or sliced jalapenos or even more nontraditional corn salsa or avocado corn salsa would be fabulous.   

How to Make Birria

Making Birria and Birria Tacos is a labor of love because you will LOVE the end result!  Here’s a breakdown of this recipe, step by step (full recipe measurements in the recipe card at the end of the post): 

Step 1: Remove the Seeds from the Chiles 

  • The seeds will need to be removed from the chilies before using because the seeds contain most of the heat – if you leave them in, your mouth will be on fire! 
  • The easiest way I’ve found to remove the seeds is to cut the tops off of the chilies with kitchen shears. Next, cut the chilies along one edge and open them like a book to expose the seeds inside.
  • Scrape out all of the seeds.  Set aside until ready to use.  
a collage showing how to make birria recipe by cutting open chilies and removing the seeds

Step 2: SEAR THE BEEF

  • Cut the beef into 4-inch pieces. Smaller pieces mean the Birria de Res will cook faster but more importantly, it will be more flavorful from 1) more sides of the beef will be seared resulting in the caramelizing Maillard reaction and 2) the chili sauce will penetrate deeper into the beef as it cooks.  
  • Pat the beef dry then season all sides with kosher salt and pepper.
showing how to make birria de res by seasoning beef with salt and pepper
  • Sear the beef in batches in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. You’ll want to use the same pan you’re going to cook the Birria in to capitalize on all those browned flavor bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
showing how to make birra tacos by searing beef until deeply golden

Step 3:  MAKE THE SAUCE

  • In a separate skillet, dry toast the whole spices over medium heat until super fragrant. You can do this anytime before making the recipe.  Set aside until ready to use.
showing how to make birria by toasting spices in a skillet
  • Now it’s time to scrape up those brown bits. Heat some oil in the beef drippings.  Add the onions and sauté until softened.  Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. 
  • Add the toasted spices to the pot followed by the deseeded chilies, tomatoes, apple cider vinegar, beef bouillon, dried oregano, smoked paprika, dried thyme and 3 cups of beef broth.  Bring to a simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the peppers are very soft, stirring occasionally.
showing how to make birria tacos by simmering chilies, tomatoes, onion and beef broth in a Dutch oven
  • Transfer the mixture to a high-powered blender and puree until smooth.
showing how to make birria for tacos by blending the chilies and broth in a high powered blender to make the consommé

Step 4:  BRAISE THE BEEF

  • Add the beef back to the Dutch oven followed by the chili sauce and remaining beef broth.
  • Cover, bring to a simmer, then then transfer to the preheated oven.
  • Cook for about 3 hours or until the meat is fall apart tender.
a collage showing how to make birria tacos with birria de res by braising the beef until fall apart tender

serving BIRRIA DE RES:

To serve this recipe as a stew, skim the grease off the top of the broth.  You will not skim the fat off if making tacos, the tortillas are dipped in this top layer of fat.  Serve the Birria de Res by spooning up some of the meat and the broth into individual bowls.  Top the bowls with diced white onions, cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice.  The fresh ingredients perfectly compliment the rich, thick stew.

showing how to make birria recipe by adding shredded birria to a bowl

How to Make Birria Tacos (QUESA BIRRIA)

  • Step 1:  Shred the beef.  Remove the fall apart tender Birria de Res from the consomé to a bowl and shred using two forks.  
showing how to make birria tacos with birria de res by shredding beef with two forks
  • Step 2:  Drip, fry and fill.  Heat some vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat or skip the oil and use a nonstick skillet. Working with one tortilla at a time, dip it into the top of the broth (this should be mostly fat) and add it to the skillet.   Press the tortilla down with a spatula because it will start to bubble and pull away as it cooks.  Cook for 1-2 minutes until the bottom is golden.
showing how to make birria tacos by dipping a corn tortilla in the birria consommé
  • Step 3:  Make it cheesy.  Flip the tortilla over and immediately add cheese.  Cover, and cook until the cheese is mostly melted.  If you aren’t using cheese, then don’t cover the taco.
  • Step 4:  Add meat. Uncover and top half of the cheese with shredded beef.
showing how to make quesa birria tacos by adding cheese to the tortilla and topping with birria de res
  • Step 5:  Fold.  Cook until the bottom of the tortilla is lightly charred then fold the tortilla over in half to form a taco.
showing how to serve birria tacos with a bowl of birria consome

serving BIRRIA tACOS:

Serve the tacos on a plate with a side of the consomé liquid (remaining broth) and top the tacos with desired onions/cilantro and dunk into the dipping sauce.  And drool.   

can I make this birria RECIPE IN THE CROCK POT?

This recipe can be adapted to the slower cooker by following the recipe up to adding the beef to the pot. Instead, add the beef, chili sauce and 1 ½ cups of broth to a lightly greased 6 quarts (or larger). You’ll use less broth because less liquid is evaporated in the slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or until beef is very tender, then proceed with the Birria Taco recipe.

can I make this birria RECIPE on the stove?

Follow the recipe through adding the beef and sauce to the pot. Cover and gently simmer for 4 to 6 hours, until the beef is fall apart tender.  Keep an eye on the Birria and add additional broth if needed because more liquid will evaporate on the stove. Proceed with the Birria Taco recipe.

can I make this birria RECIPE IN THE instant pot?

Toast spices, stew chilies and tomatoes and sear the beef in the pressure cooker.  Add the seared beef, chili sauce and only 1 cup broth to the Instant Pot, and give the mixture a quick stir. (You will use less broth because less is evaporated in the Instant Pot).  Cover and set the lid to “Sealing.” Pressure cook on “Manual” for 50 minutes, followed by a quick release.

Tips for Making Birria de res

  • Make ahead.  I highly recommend making part of the Birria recipe a day ahead of time.  This allows you to take a break from the kitchen so you don’t have to complete the entire recipe all in one day.  Additionally, it allows the flavors to deepen further as the Birria de Res rests overnight.   I’ve included detailed make ahead instructions a few sections below.
  • Don’t touch your eyes!  When you are prepping the chili peppers, don’t touch your face, especially your eyes.  You may even want to wear gloves if you have sensitive skin.  When you cut into a chili pepper, capsaicin (a chemical irritant) can transfer to your skin causing a burning sensation, although it doesn’t actually damage the skin.  Wash your hands immediately after prepping the chilies.
  • It is better to under-trim the beef then over-trim it.  The fat from the beef will rise to the top of the broth once it’s finished cooking which is what we’ll use to dip and fry our tortillas in.  If you trim the beef too much, you won’t have enough of this sensational frying oil.
  • Sear for flavor and moisture.  Sear ALL sides of each piece of beef until deeply golden – no sorry grey beef please!  Make sure to sear the beef in batches so it will sear and not just steam.   
  • Use a high smoking point oil. Use vegetable oil, avocado oil or sunflower oil to sear the beef– don’t substitute olive oil.  Olive oil has a lower smoking point and will not only smoke like crazy but can burn leaving behind a bitter taste and harmful chemicals.
  • Cook the Birria de Res until tender. If your beef isn’t crazy tender, then cook on!  It just means the proteins needs more time to break down and tenderize. Even 30 more minutes can make the world of difference between “okay” and melt-in-your-mouth beef.
  • You may or may not need to strain the chili sauce.  If you have a high-powered blender like a Blendtec or Vitamix, it should process the chili sauce until completely smooth.  If you don’t have a high-powered blender, then strain the chili sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, using rubber spatula to push the mixture through.  The solids left behind are the spices so don’t toss them!  You can wrap them in a cheese cloth or mash them and add them to the broth.
  • Don’t forget to season.  Taste the Birria de Res once it’s shredded as well as the broth. They should both be independently well-seasoned. If you feel like either of them is missing something, it is likely salt and heat. Once you season to taste with salt, and add either reserved chili seeds or cayenne pepper for heat, then all the flavors will come alive.
a plate of birria tacos garnished with cilantro and diced onions

TIPS FOR MAKING BIRRIA TACOS 

  • Use a cast iron or non-stick skillet.  IF you use a cast iron skillet, you’ll want to heat some oil in the pan otherwise the tortilla will stick.  A nonstick pan is good to go.  Do not use a stainless steel or other type of pan or the tortillas will stick and tear.
  • Makes sure your skillet is hot enough before you add the tortillas.  If the skillet isn’t hot enough, the tortillas won’t crisp up, if it’s too hot, the tortillas will burn before the cheese is melted.  The best option is to cook the tortillas over medium heat so they get nice and crispy and cover the skillet with a lid as soon as you add cheese so it melts quickly.  Adjust the heat as needed for crispy golden tacos.
  • Prep all of your ingredients before pan frying the tacos.  Although frying the tacos is the culmination of your glorious Birria recipe, it takes just a couple minutes so take care all of the ingredients are prepped before starting the process.  Make sure to shred the cheese, chop the onions, and mince the cilantro so you can sink your teeth into these Quesa Birria Tacos while they’re piping hot and dripping with cheese.
  • Use quality tortillas.  Quality tortillas are necessary so the tortillas don’t tear. If you can’t find homemade or freshly made tortillas, consider making them yourself.  Just pick up some corn flour and follow the easy instructions on the package.  Homemade corn tortillas also freeze well so you can make them up to months ahead of time.
  • Warm up your tortillas. If you use thick, quality tortillas like La Tortilla Factory, this step isn’t necessary, but if not, you’ll want to warm up the tortillas to make them pliable so they fold easily without tearing. To do this, wrap them up in damp paper towels and microwave for 30 seconds.
  • For extra crispy tacos, shallowly dip the tortillas in the very top layer of the broth.  The top of the consomé is where the fat hangs out which is what we want to coat the tortillas in verses a thick layer of sauce which is delicious but is harder to achieve the coveted crunch because of excess liquid vs. fat. 
  • Fully cover the tortillas in fat.  Make sure the consomé/fat is fully covering both sides of the tortillas or lower quality tortillas will break if they’re too dry.
  • Add extra oil to the pan if your consomé doesn’t have enough fat.  If your broth doesn’t have enough fat on the surface to dip the tacos in, make sure to add extra vegetable oil to the skillet.  The oil is necessary so the tacos can still fry up nice and crispy which creates a protective barrier against the shells becoming soggy once dipped in the consomé.
  • Extra cheese is delicious.  Don’t worry about overfilling the tacos with cheese.  It will toast on the skillet and become all sorts of caramelized yum. 
  • Keep prepared tacos warm in the oven until serving.   This Birria Taco recipe makes 12-14 tacos, and unless you eat as you cook, the first tacos in the batch will end up cold.  To remedy this, I recommend storing the prepared tacos on a baking sheet in the oven in a single layer at 250 degrees F until all of the tacos are completed. 
  • Don’t skip the toppings.  Both Birria Tacos and Birria de Res need plenty of chopped cilantro and lime to cut through the richness with their bright freshness.  Additionally, even if you don’t think you love raw onions, they compliment the beef beautifully.

Birria Recipe Variations 

  • Use a different protein. Birria can be made with 3 pounds of beef, goat, mutton, veal, lamb, beef, or a combination of any of those meats to equal 3 pounds.  Each will deliver a slightly different flavor and texture.  Make sure you use a balance of a meat with enough marbling so there is enough fat in the broth.
  • Amp up the spice. Add an additional 1-2 chilies de arbol for super spicy.
  • Use a different ratio of chiles. Try increasing the chilies de arbol and reducing the guajillo chilies for a shift in flavor. 
  • Add different spices.  The flavor profile of Birria differs from region to region and even from household to household.  Some recipes add additional seasonings such as marjoram and allspice.  Feel free to mix up the flavor profile by adding these spices (after tasting the broth first) or swap some of the spices for them.
  • Add beans.  Some parts of Mexico add beans to their Birria, so feel free to if you’d like. 
  • Add vegetables. If just making Birria, you can add veggies such as carrots, potatoes or butternut squash to the stew the last 1-2 hours of cooking. 
quesa birria taccos stuffed with birria de res, onions and cilantro

Birria Tacos Recipe Variations 

  • Add or omit cheese.   Birria Tacos with cheese are of course decadently fabulous but you may omit it if you’d like.
  • Use a different cheese.  Oaxaca is the traditional cheese of choice but you can use other melting cheeses as well such mozzarella, Chihuahua, asadero, or Monterrey Jack cheese.
  • Make softer tacos.  You can make the tacos as crispy or as soft as you’d like depending on how long you pan fry the tortillas.
  • Make Baked Crispy Tacos: line a 9×13 baking dish with hard taco shells and evenly divide 1 cup cheese between taco shells. Bake the taco shells for 8 minutes (baking crisps up the shells and the cheese prevents the shell from becoming soggy).  Add warmed beans if using followed by shredded Birria de Res, and another sprinkling of cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-18 minutes or until cheese is completely melted.
  • Skip the frying.  You can make street-style Birria Tacos by adding the shredded Birria to a charred or toasted corn tortilla and pile it with your favorite toppings.
  • Spice them up.  Serve the tacos with sliced or chopped jalapenos or hot sauce.  
  • Add Sour cream or Mexican Crema. Its refreshing, bright, silky creaminess compliments and cuts through the crunchy, cheesy richness.
  • Top with pico de gallo. Add tomatoes to your chopped onions and cilantro to make pico de gallo for vibrant, punchy freshness.  You can use my homemade pico de gallo recipe or store bought. You can make the salsa ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.  Bring to room temperature before serving.
  • Top with salsa.  Top the tacos with traditional restaurant style salsa, or chunky salsas with  varying textures and flavors like my black bean corn salsaavocado corn salsacharred corn salsapineapple salsa, or mango salsa– all SO good!
  • Add extra toppings.  Go as simple or as extravagant as you’d like. More topping ideas include: guacamole, sliced avocados, avocado crema, shredded lettuce, Cotija, pickled red onions, pickled jalapenos etc.

What else can I make with Birria de Res?

Birria de Res isn’t just for tacos! This tender, chili laced meat can be used in all sorts of ways:

  • Birria Stew: serve birria as a stew by skimming the fat off the top and leaving the beef in chunks or slightly shredding.  Serve with rice and warmed tortillas on the side with chopped onions, cilantro and freshly squeezed lime.
  • Birria Burritos: layer a burrito size tortilla with cheese, cilantro lime rice or Mexican Rice, black or pinto beans, shredded Birria, guacamole, sour cream and salsa.  Fold and toast in a nonstick skillet until golden on all sides.
  • Smothered Birria Burritos:  preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and add a baking rack on top. Prepare burritos by adding a heaping ½ cup shredded beef to each burrito size tortilla, top with desired amount of cheese and roll up burrito style. Place burritos on the baking rack and brush both sides lightly with olive oil or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Cook for 18-20 minutes or until golden. Broil to desired crispiness, flip over and broil the other side until golden.  Remove baking rack and top burritos with leftover warmed chili sauce/consommé.  See this recipe for reference.
  • Birria Burrito Bowls: layer cilantro lime rice or cauliflower rice with cheese, black beans or pinto beans, shredded Birria de Res, chopped lettuce, and your favorite toppings such as tomatoes, corn, and crushed tortilla chips. I also love adding roasted sweet potatoes and roasted cauliflower. Top the bowls off with sour cream/Greek yogurt, Avocado Crema, Tomatillo Avocado Ranch or Cilantro Lime Dressing.
  • Birria Quesadillas:  layer a burrito size tortilla with cheese and shredded beef and grill until golden, cheesy perfection.  Top with guacamole, sour cream, chopped lettuce, hot sauce, etc.
  • Birria Nachos:  pile thick restaurant style tortilla chips with cheese and beans and bake.  Top with shredded beef and toppings such as guacamole, sour cream, jalapenos, cream, hot sauce etc.
  • Birria Flautas or Taquitos:  roll shredded beef in corn (taquitos) or flour (flautas) tortillas along with cheese and beans if desired. To pan fry, heat 1 cup vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until 325 degrees F. Once hot, add 2-4 flautas/taquitos seam side down in oil. Fry, turning as needed until golden brown on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes, adjusting burner as necessary to maintain oil temperature so they don’t fry too quickly. To bake, place taquitos/flautas on a wire rack placed on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Brush the taquitos/flautas with olive oil and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Broil for extra crispiness.
  • Birria Tostadas or Sopes:  layer a tostada or sope with refried beans or avocado mash, top with shredded beef, lettuce or slaw, cilantro, avocados, sour cream, cotija cheese or queso fresco etc. and corn salsa.
  • Birria Tortas:  slice French-style bread in half horizontally, spread refried beans on each side, top with beef, cheese, avocado slices or guacamole, tomatoes slices, pickled red onions, pickled jalapenos, etc. 
  • Birria Taco Salad:   pile Birria over a bed of chopped Romaine lettuce. Add bell peppers, cucumbers, pepitas, olives, etc. and top with crushed tortilla chips or tortilla strips.  Serve with Tomatillo Avocado Ranch or Cilantro Lime Dressing.
  • Birria Pizza:  use your favorite pizza dough recipe or store-bought and layer with pizza sauce or try this amazing Tomato Black Bean Sauce used in my Pulled Pork Taco Pizza (please excuse the super old hideous photos)!  Top with Monterrey Jack cheese and shredded Birria then pile on your toppings of choice such as lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, cilantro, diced onions, Tomatillo Avocado Ranch, tortilla strips, etc. 
  • Birria Ramen:  this is the new mashup trend in restaurants across the country using consommé as the ramen broth!  Add your toppings of choice such as sliced onions, shredded cabbage, chopped avocados, shredded carrots, cilantro, lime juice, a soft-boiled Ramen egg and crispy tortilla strips.
  • Birria Loaded Baked Potatoes: poke holes in washed, dried potatoes. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and lightly brush with oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 1 hour or until potatoes are tender and the skin is crispy.  Slice open the potatoes, top with beef and cheese then place back in the oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese melts. Top with sour cream, cilantro, onions, etc.
showing how to serve birria tacos by topping with chopped onions and cilantro

Can I Prepare Anything in Advance? 

Yes, please do!  This will not only save you time but will make the Birria de Res more flavorful!  

  • Spices:  can be toasted and stored in an airtight container for up to 1 year!
  • Sauce:  can be made and stored in the refrigerator up to 3 days ahead of time or frozen for up to 3 months. 
  • Meat: can be seasoned, seared and stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
  • RECOMMENDED – store assembled.  Add the seared beef, chili sauce and broth to your Dutch oven, cover and store for up to 24 hours.  This will marinate the beef and infuse it with deeper, richer flavor.  The next day, all you have to do is pop it in the oven and make your tacos. 
  • Cheese:  string/shred the cheese and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Toppings:  chop the onions and cilantro and store in the refrigerator for up to two days.  Add the lime juice before serving.

How Long Does Birria Last?

  • To store:  I recommending storing the Birria in the sauce so it stays extra juicy.  Let the Birria cool completely then transfer to an airtight container.  Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  • To freeze:  let the Birria cool completely then transfer the beef in the sauce to a freezer safe container or portion it into smaller containers.  Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
  • To reheat:  warm the Birria in the microwave for 1 minute then at 20 second intervals until warmed through or simmer gently on the stove until warmed through. 

How Long Do Birria Tacos Last?

Birria Tacos are best when served fresh.  They won’t be as crispy when reheated unless you use an air fryer, but they will still be tasty.   

  • Storage:  store tacos in a single layer (with parchment paper in between layers if stacked) in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 
  • Air fryer:  this is my #1 preferred method for reheating anything crispy – or formerly crispy.  It restores the Quesa Birria Tacos to their former crispy glory as if they were freshly made – seriously amazing!  Place your tacos in the air fryer basket and air fry at 400 degrees F for 6-8 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  • Stove:  heat a large nonstick skillet to low then add the taco(s). Cook until heated through, rotating as needed.  Once the inside is warm, you can crank the heat to medium-high to quickly toast the outside.
  • Oven:  place tacos on a wire rack placed over a baking pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until warmed through. 
  • Microwave:  this is my least favorite method because the exterior doesn’t crisp up, but it’s convenient for hands off reheating. Transfer tacos to a microwave safe plate and microwave on high or 45 seconds then at 15-second intervals as needed.

What to Serve with Birria Tacos?

Tacos, rice, and beans are a match made in heaven! You can also serve these Tacos de Birria alongside any number of roasted veggies, fruits, and more. Here are some side dish ideas to get your started: 

Looking for More Mexican Taco Recipes? 

up close of dipping a birria taco into birria consome

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quesa birria taccos stuffed with birria de res, onions and cilantro

Birria de Res and Birria Tacos

This Birria de Res (Beef Birria) and Birria Taco recipe will blow your mind. It's an explosion of earthy, smoky, juicy, cheesy, crispy addictiveness in each and every saucy bite. The Birria Tacos are made with Birria de Res, beef braised in a bold, aromatic chili sauce until fall apart tender, stuffed into broth-battered corn tortillas along with ooey gooey Oaxaca cheese, pan-fried until crispy then dunked in the deep crimson Birria consomé (broth) for a saucy, rich finish.  With one bite you’ll understand exactly why Birria Tacos are the hottest food trend that is here to stay. This post will cover everything you need to know about making Birria de Res, which you can serve as a stew topped with onion, cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice AND how to transform that same Birria into Quesa Birria Tacos!
Servings: 12 -14 tacos
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

Meat

  • 3 pounds boneless chuck roast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • vegetable oil for searing

Whole Spices for Consomé

Consomé/Sauce

Tacos

  • 12-16 corn tortillas (I like La Tortilla Factory)
  • 12 ounces Oaxacan cheese or Mozzarella, separated into strings
  • ½ white onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons lime juice
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

SEAR THE BEEF

  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  • Chop the beef into 4-inch pieces. Pat the beef dry and season all sides with 2 teaspoons kosher salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half of the beef in an even layer and sear on all sides until deeply browned; remove to a plate with a slotted spoon. Repeat with remaining beef; set aside.

MAKE THE SAUCE

  • Dry toast the spices in a large skillet over medium heat until evenly toasted, shaking the skillet occasionally. They're done once they smell super fragrant. Transfer to a bowl or plate so they don’t continue to cook; set aside.
  • Add 1 tablespoon oil to the beef drippings in the Dutch oven; heat over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
  • Add the toasted spices to the pot followed by the deseeded chilies, and all the remaining consomé ingredients except the beef broth (chilies through thyme). Add 3 cups of beef broth. Bring to a simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the peppers are very soft, stirring occasionally.
  • Transfer the mixture to a high powered blender (in batches if needed) and purée until smooth, leaving a corner of the blender open and covered with a paper towel so steam can escape and it doesn’t explode. If you don’t have a high-powered blender, then strain the chili sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, using rubber spatula to push the mixture through. The solids left behind are the spices so don’t toss them! You can wrap them in a cheese cloth or mash them and add them to the broth.

BRAISE THE BEEF

  • Add the beef back to the Dutch oven followed by the chili sauce and 3 cups beef broth.
  • Cover, bring to a simmer, then transfer to the preheated oven. Cook for about 3 hours or until the meat is fall apart tender.

ASSEMBLE THE TACOS

  • In a medium bowl, mix together onion, cilantro, lime and salt to taste; set aside.
  • Transfer the beef to a bowl and shred with two forks. Taste and season with salt to taste (I like about ½ teaspoon more).
  • Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat; you can skip the oil if using a nonstick skillet. Working with one tortilla at a time, dip it into the top of the sauce (this should be mostly fat) and add it to the skillet. Press the tortilla down with a spatula because it will start to bubble and pull away as it cooks. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the bottom is golden.
  • Flip the tortilla over and immediately cover the entire surface with shredded cheese. Cover, and cook until the cheese is mostly melted. Uncover and top half of the cheese with shredded meat. Cook until the bottom is lightly charred then fold the tortilla over in half to form a taco.
  • Transfer to a plate and serve with the cilantro/onion mixture and a bowl of the consomé liquid (remaining broth) as a dipping sauce.

Video

Notes

*See the post for step by step photos, tips, tricks, recipe variations and how to use leftovers.

Crockpot Birria

Follow following the recipe through making the sauce.  Add the beef, chili sauce and 1 ½ cups of broth to a lightly greased 6 quarts (or larger). You’ll use less broth because less liquid is evaporated in the slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or until beef is very tender, then proceed with the Birria Taco recipe.

Stovetop Birria

Cover and gently simmer for 4 to 6 hours, until the beef is fall apart tender.  Keep an eye on the Birria and add additional broth if needed because more liquid will evaporate on the stove. Proceed with the Birria Taco recipe.

Instant pot Birria

Toast spices, stew chilies and tomatoes and sear the beef in the pressure cooker.  Add the seared beef, chili sauce and only 1 cup broth to the Instant Pot, and give the mixture a quick stir. (You will use less broth because less is evaporated in the Instant Pot).  Cover and set the lid to “Sealing.” Pressure cook on “Manual” for 50 minutes, followed by a quick release.

Prep ahead

  • RECOMMENDED – store assembled.  Add the seared beef, chili sauce and broth to your Dutch oven without cooking.  Cover and store for up to 24 hours.  This will marinate the beef and infuse it with deeper, richer flavor.  The next day, all you have to do is pop it in the oven and make your tacos. 
  • Spices:  can be toasted and stored in an airtight container for up to 1 year!
  • Sauce:  can be made and stored in the refrigerator up to 3 days ahead of time or frozen for up to 3 months. 
  • Meat: can be seasoned, seared and stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
  • Cheese:  string/shred the cheese and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Toppings:  chop the onions and cilantro and store in the refrigerator for up to two days.  Add the lime juice before serving.

Storing and Reheating Birria de Res

  • To store:  I recommending storing the Birria in the sauce so it stays extra juicy.  Let the Birria cool completely then transfer to an airtight container.  Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  • To freeze:  let the Birria cool completely then transfer the beef in the sauce to a freezer safe container or portion it into smaller containers.  Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
  • To reheat:  warm the Birria in the microwave for 1 minute then at 20 second intervals until warmed through or simmer gently on the stove until warmed through. 

Storing and Reheating Birria Tacos

Birria Tacos are best when served fresh.  They won’t be as crispy when reheated unless you use an air fryer, but they will still be tasty.   
  • Storage:  store tacos in a single layer (with parchment paper in between layers if stacked) in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 
  • Air fryer:  this is my #1 preferred method for reheating anything crispy – or formerly crispy.  It restores the Quesa Birria Tacos to their former crispy glory as if they were freshly made – seriously amazing!  Place your tacos in the air fryer basket and air fry at 400 degrees F for 6-8 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  • Stove:  heat a large nonstick skillet to low then add the taco(s). Cook until heated through, rotating as needed.  Once the inside is warm, you can crank the heat to medium-high to quickly toast the outside.
  • Oven:  place tacos on a wire rack placed over a baking pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until warmed through. 
  • Microwave:  this is my least favorite method because the exterior doesn’t crisp up, but it’s convenient for hands off reheating. Transfer tacos to a microwave safe plate and microwave on high or 45 seconds then at 15-second intervals as needed.

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2 Comments

  1. Ekta says

    OMG, Jennifer thank you so much, I have been waiting for birria recipe from you, had requested it a while ago..I am so excited to try this. This is the first thing I saw this morning…. yay!

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Ekta, I think you’ll find it was worth the wait! I’m so excited for you to try it!

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