This Birria de Res (Beef Birria) and Birria Taco recipewill 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!
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. Discard the bay leaves.
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.
*See the post for step by step photos, tips, tricks, recipe variations and how to use leftovers.
Follow following the recipe through making the sauce. Add the beef, chili sauce and 1 1/2 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.
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.
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.