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Birria Tacos

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Get ready to live! These Birria Tacos (or sometimes called Tacos di Birria) are a slow braised beef that is cooked then shredded and fried in corn tortillas with cheese. Top it off with white onion and cilantro then dip away in the thick and flavorful au jus it cooked in. You have never eaten such a decadent taco and you will LOVE it.

birria tacos on plate

Birria Tacos: An Overview

Like I mentioned above, Birria Tacos are based off of Birria, a mexican stew, that is slow cooked in a flavorful savory and slightly spicy sauce. While you can enjoy this recipe just as a stew, I like to take it to the next level and turn it into tacos by frying corn tortillas in a pan with Oaxaca cheese and the birria beef. Top it with some white onion and cilantro, then dip away in the cooking liquid it braised in. Truly heaven in a tortilla.

Traditional Birria vs. Birria Tacos

Birria is a slow cooked stew, traditionally made with goat. While this recipe certainly would work by substituting out the beef for the goat, it is harder to find and will certainly have a different flavor. Most of the recipes online call for beef chuck roast and sometimes short ribs (to help thicken the sauce and add flavor).

Birria Tacos are simply this same meat taken from the stew and fried in corn tortillas and turned into tacos. It’s a slightly crispy exterior with a creamy and flavorful filling. Topped with the much needed freshness of the onion and cilantro, it’s the perfect balance between salty, spicy and flavorful.

ingredients on cutting board for birria tacos

Birria Tacos: Flavor Packed, Slow Cooked

There is a reason this recipe is super popular on tiktok and instagram….it’s a delicious, decadent taco that is flavor city. Building that flavor takes time and the right ingredients, but it is SO worth it. These Birria Tacos do not disappoint.

Peppers to Use

  • Dried Guajillo Peppers– these are sweeter peppers and are added for flavor and not spice. Found in the Mexican food aisles or online. I paid $2.99 for a bag. If you can’t find Guajillo peppers, try dried ancho chiles. But be warned anchos do have a little more heat that the Guajillos.
  • Dried Chiles de Arbol– these are added for flavor, but mainly for heat. A little goes a long way! These are about 6 times spicier than jalapeños. I marked these as optional on the recipe card. I did not use these the first time I made this because I was feeding it to my children and they don’t handle spicy foods well.
  • Jalapeños– I love the flavor of cooked jalapeno, plus it adds a little heat to the overall dish. I remove the ribs and seeds for the least amount of heat.

Lots of Spices, But all Important!

The flavor profile of the cooked Birria is layered and complex and that is thanks to all of these spices! They are all fantastic and I used everything for a reason:

  • Cinnamon– adds warmth; you won’t taste cinnamon in the finished dish
  • Smoked Paprika– love the light smokey flavor this adds
  • Cumin– a classic Mexican spice
  • Oregano– really common in Mexican cooking
  • Bay Leaves– adds a mild and light undertone. Again, you won’t notice that it’s been added, but it makes a difference.
browned meat on plate

How to Make Birria Tacos

Slow and steady wins the race…or in this case enjoys the tacos. Here’s how to make Homemade Birria Tacos from scratch:

Toast & Reconstitute Dried Chiles

Cut open dried guajillo chiles and chiles de Arbol (if using; see notes below) using scissors and remove seeds and dried stems. Add to a dry skillet and toast over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Once they start becoming fragrant, add water to cover and bring water to a boil. Once water has boiled, turn off completely and let chiles sit 15-20 minutes. Discard water and reserve reconstituted chiles.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Brown the Meat

In a large dutch oven pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Pat all pieces of meat dry with paper towels and sprinkle all sides with salt and pepper. Brown meat in batches, searing a few pieces at a time as to not crowd the pan. Place browned meat onto a plate and continue browning until all meat has been seared.

Make the Sauce

Cut 3/4 of the white onion into large chunks. Finely dice the remaining 1/4 onion and reserve for serving. Crush the garlic. De-seed the jalapeno peppers and chop roughly.

In the same hot pot, reduce heat to medium and add in onion, jalapeno and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and cook 2 minutes to brown slightly and get a little color. Add in cinnamon, smoked paprika, oregano and cumin. Stir and cook another minute. Deglaze pan with beef stock and vinegar. Remove from heat.

Spoon pot contents into a blender. Add in reconstituted peppers and can of fire roasted tomatoes. Blend until smooth. Taste sauce and add salt if necessary.

Braise Birria

Add browned meat back to the dutch oven and pour sauce overtop. Add bay leaves. Bake covered 3-3.75 hours or until meat is very tender.

Shred the Birria for Tacos

Remove meat from braising liquid and shred using two forks. Remove excess fat and grissol and discard. Meat should be moist, but feel free to add in a little extra cooking liquid.

Spoon off excess fat from the top of the cooking liquid and reserve for frying tacos. Add extra beef stock to thin out sauce, if desired. Set aside and keep warm.

Make Birria Tacos

Place 8″ nonstick skillet over medium heat. Brush both sides of corn tortilla with reserved fat. Place tortilla onto hot skillet. Top tortilla with 3-4 tablespoons of shredded oaxaca cheese and warm shredded birria.

Once cheese has melted completely and tortilla is starting to get crispy, fold into a taco and remove from pan. Continue frying tacos.

shredded birria meat in bowl

Serve Birria Tacos with Jus (cooking liquid)

Top birria tacos with reserved white onion, cilantro. Ladle warm cooking liquid into a bowl and serve tacos on the side with lime wedges. I find that these tacos by themselves are fine, but are so much more delicious with the fresh hit of the onion, cilantro and the squeeze of lime juice. The acid and freshness really goes a long way.

What Cheese To Use for Birria Tacos

I would recommend using a good Mexican melting cheese like Oaxaca or Queso Asadero. Mozzarella or Monterey Jack is a great substitute, but honestly you can use what you have. As long as it melts and is mild in flavor, it should do the trick in these tacos.

Making Birria Ahead

The beauty of this recipe is you can easily make the Birria (stew portion) of this recipe days in advance and then fry up the tacos as you’d like. It will last up to five days in the refrigerator or up to three months in the freezer as long as it’s wrapped well. I would keep the meat separate from the au jus and store separately. Reheat meat on the stove or in the microwave and then fry the birria tacos according to the recipe card below.

birria tacos on plate

What to Serve with Birria Tacos

Here are some of my favorite Mexican Sides. While you can fill up completely just on these tacos, having a delicious variety is great!

Anyways, there you have the crazy-amazing, super popular Birria Tacos! It’s a delicious recipe I hope you will try this week! Be sure to save/bookmark/print/pin/share this recipe. It’s a good one you will want to make again and again. Have a great day, friends!

Birria Tacos (Tacos di Birria)

These Birria Tacos are a slow braised beef that is cooked then shredded and fried in corn tortillas with cheese.
servings 24 tacos
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs 30 mins

Ingredients

For the Birria

  • 3 dried guajillo chiles
  • 1-2 dried chiles de Arbol optional; see notes below
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3.5 pounds chuck roast cut into large pieces
  • 3 pounds short ribs 4-5 ribs
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 jalapeno peppers seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar
  • 14.5 oz fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 large bay leaves

For the Tacos

  • 24 corn tortillas
  • 16 oz oaxaca cheese grated
  • chopped cilantro, white onion, lime wedges for serving

Equipment

  • 1 dutch oven
  • 1 8" nonstick skillet

Instructions

Toast & Reconstitute Dried Chiles

  • Cut open dried guajillo chiles and chiles de Arbol (if using; see notes below) using scissors and remove seeds and dried stems. Add to a dry skillet and toast over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Once they start becoming fragrant, add water to cover and bring water to a boil. Once water has boiled, turn off completely and let chiles sit 15-20 minutes. Discard water and reserve reconstituted chiles.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Brown the Meat

  • In a large dutch oven pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Pat all pieces of meat dry with paper towels and sprinkle all sides with salt and pepper. Brown meat in batches, searing a few pieces at a time as to not crowd the pan. Place browned meat onto a plate and continue browning until all meat has been seared.

Make the Sauce

  • Cut 3/4 of the white onion into large chunks. Finely dice the remaining 1/4 onion and reserve for serving. Crush the garlic. De-seed the jalapeno peppers and chop roughly.
  • In the same hot pot, reduce heat to medium and add in onion, jalapeno and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and cook 2 minutes to brown slightly and get a little color. Add in cinnamon, smoked paprika, oregano and cumin. Stir and cook another minute. Deglaze pan with beef stock and vinegar. Remove from heat.
  • Spoon pot contents into a blender. Add in reconstituted peppers and can of fire roasted tomatoes. Blend until smooth. Taste sauce and add salt if necessary.

Braise Birria

  • Add browned meat back to the dutch oven and pour sauce overtop. Add bay leaves. Bake covered 3-3.75 hours or until meat is very tender.

Shred the Birria for Tacos

  • Remove meat from braising liquid and shred using two forks. Remove excess fat and grissol and discard. Meat should be moist, but feel free to add in a little extra cooking liquid.
  • Spoon off excess fat from the top of the cooking liquid and reserve for frying tacos. Remove and discard bay leaves. Add extra beef stock to thin out sauce, if desired. Set aside and keep warm.

Make Birria Tacos

  • Place 8" nonstick skillet over medium heat. Brush both sides of corn tortilla with reserved fat. Place tortilla onto hot skillet. Top tortilla with 3-4 tablespoons of shredded oaxaca cheese and warm shredded birria.
  • Once cheese has melted completely and tortilla is starting to get crispy, fold into a taco and remove from pan. Continue frying tacos.

Serve Birria Tacos with Jus

  • Top birria tacos with reserved white onion, cilantro. Ladle warm cooking liquid into a bowl and serve tacos on the side with lime wedges.

Notes

Dried Chiles de Arbol are very spicy peppers- they run around 15,000-30,000 Scoville Units. This is six times hotter than a jalapeno. I marked them as optional. I did not use them because I was feeding this to children, but feel free to make this as spicy as you’d like.

Nutrition

Calories: 340kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 338mg | Potassium: 482mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 142IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 61mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: birria tacos

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