This authentic recipe for Birria has the best flavor.  Tender, flavorful Mexican beef or lamb stew is spooned into tortillas with melty cheese, pickled onions, avocado and cilantro. Birria can be cooked in a dutch oven, a slow cooker or in an Instant Pot. Video.

A simple authentic recipe for Birria Tacos, a flavorful Mexican beef or lamb stew that is spooned into tortillas with melty cheese, pickled onions, avocado and cilantro. Cook this in a ducth oven, slow cooker, or instant pot. 

Divine guidance always arises like a whisper. It does not yell and it does not insist. It is a quiet thing. We cannot hear the whispers of divine guidance until we have embraced who we are. ~Adyashanti 

What is Birria?

Birria is a Mexican stew, typically made with beef, lamb or sometimes goat. Tough cuts of meat are cooked long and slow until tender and falling off the bone. Infused with Mexican chilies and spices, the stew can be served in bowls or used as the filling for Birria Tacos, where tortillas are dipped in the flavorful stew juices, stuffed with birria meat, melty cheese, pickled onion and cilantro and fried. A total flavor bomb!

Using an Instant Pot takes a third of the time and yields the tenderest of meat in about 45 minutes of pressure cooking time. You can also roast this in a dutch oven or simmer on the stovetop for about 2 1/2 hours. Lastly, you can cook this in your slow cooker for 6-8 hours. Lots of options here friends!

How to Make Birria Tacos | Video

Ingredients in Birria

Ingredients in Birria

  • Beef or Lamb- Tougher cuts of red stew meat work well here and will tenderize in the flavorful sauce. Beef stew meat, chuck roast,  or beef shoulder, lamb leg, lamb shoulder,lamb stew meat or goat meat all work great.
  • beef stock (or sub chicken stock)
  • Dried Mexican chilies-  guajillo chiles or ancho chilies, or Pasilla chilies, chipotles, etc)
  • onion and garlic 
  • diced tomatoes– canned fire-roasted or fresh.
  • Mexican Spices: cumin, coriander, oregano, bay leaves, chile powder, chipotle, cinnamon stick
  • apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Serve with tortillas, melty cheese, pickled onions, cilantro and avocado.

How to make Birria:

Heat oil in a dutch oven and saute the onions and garlic.

onions sautéing in a pot

Add the all the spices, and saute a few minutes.

spices added to the onions

Then add the tomatoes and their juices.

Season the meat with salt and pepper.

Add the meat to the pot, along with the stock.

Remove the stems and seed of the chilies, and toast them in a dry skillet until they soften and release their oils, about 1- 2 minutes.

Nestle the toasted chilies in the stew, cover tightly and simmer on low heat for 2 1/2 hours, checking every 45 minutes, adding water ( just enough to cover the meat)(Alternatively, Pressure cook on high for 45 minutes.)

Create a tighter seal by placing a thin kitchen towel between the pot and the lid.

When the meat is tender, remove the chilies and blend with 1 cup of broth from the stew.

Blend into a smoother puree.

Pour this back into the Birria.

If serving as a stew in bowls, feel free to add more broth or water to loosen it. Or keep it thick for tacos.

birria in a pot

If serving in tacos, shred the flavorful Birria with two forks and place it back into the flavorful juices.

Shredding Birria

How to make Birria Tacos!

Dip tortillas into the rich Birria broth, then place them onto a greased griddle, flat top, or skillet.

Tip: This will also help to skim some of the fat from the stew itself.

dip tortillas in the the birria broth

Place the dipped corn tortillas in a hot greased skillet (or griddle or flat top) to crisp them up.

how to make birria tacos

Add melty cheese like queso fresco or Oaxacan string cheese.

how to make birria tacos

Fill with Birra meat.

how to make birria tacos

Top with some Birria stew meat and cilantro, fold the tortilla over and pan-sear each side until crispy and melty. Keep in a warm oven until ready to serve.

Serve Birria Tacos with your favorite toppings- pickled onions, avocado,or this hot sauce.   Mexican Slaw would also work! These turned out so incredibly good- the family loved them!

A simple authentic recipe for Birria Tacos, a flavorful Mexican beef or lamb stew that is spooned into tortillas with melty cheese, pickled onions, avocado and cilantro. Cook this in a ducth oven, slow cooker, or instant pot. 

Birria Stew

Birria can also be served in bowls as a stew. Top with cilantro, onions or pickled onions, queso fresco if you like or sour cream and avocado is nice. Crunchy radishes are also a nice touch. The pickled onions really help to cut the richness of the fat here. See recipe notes for removing fat.

An authentic recipe for Birria, a flavorful Mexican Stew made with beef, lamb or goat that can be made in an Instant Pot, Dutch Oven or Slow Cooker. Serve this in a big bowl or make Birria Tacos - the best! #birria #birriatacos #mexicanstew #tacos

Birria FAQS

  1. What does Birria taste like? Birria is a rich, brothy, flavorful stew, infused with Mexican chilies and tastes slightly spicy, earthy, and full of flavor. The meat is deliciously tender with the perfect amount of heat.
  2. Is Birria goat meat? Authentic Birria is often made with goat meat in Mexico, but beef or lamb are both good substitutes.
  3. What is the difference between Birria and Barbacoa? Birria originates from Jalisco Mexico and is meat braised in a flavorful chili-infused sauce. Barbacoa is the traditional Mexican technique of barbequing the meat- typically placed in a hole in the ground over hot stones.
An authentic recipe for Birria, a flavorful Mexican Stew made with beef, lamb or goat that can be made in an Instant Pot, Dutch Oven or Slow Cooker. Serve this in a big bowl or make Birria Tacos - the best! #birria #birriatacos #mexicanstew #tacos

The leftover Birria can be used in enchiladas, tostadas, quesadillas, nachos, or even frozen for another time.

WHAT to Serve with Birria

  1. Cilantro Lime Rice
  2. Mexican Pinto Beans
  3. Mexican Slaw
  4. Homemade Tortillas
  5. Mexican Papaya Salad!
  6. Fresh Tomatillo Salsa 
  7. Pickled Red Onions

I hope you enjoy this Birria Recipe as much as we do! Please let me know what you think in the comments below!

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A simple authentic recipe for Birria Tacos, a flavorful Mexican beef or lamb stew that is spooned into tortillas with melty cheese, pickled onions, avocado and cilantro. Cook this in a ducth oven, slow cooker, or instant pot. 

Birria

  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine | Feasting at Home
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 60
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Stew, beef, lamb
  • Method: Instant Pot, Baked, Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

How to Make Birria ( and Birria Tacos)- a traditional Mexican Stew, that can be made in an Instant Pot,  Dutch Oven (Baked or Stovetop), or in a slow cooker. Serve in a bowl as a hearty stew, or use inside Birria tacos. Great for meal prep and freezes well. This recipe has been simplified and updated- but see notes for the link to the original recipe. 


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 12 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick ( or sub 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon)
  • 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted (and juices) or 1 1/2 cups fresh, diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups beef stock ( or chicken stock)
  • 3 lbs beef stew meat (or lamb or goat) cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces – chuck roast, shoulder, lamb leg, lamb shoulder.
  • 46 dried chilies- guajillo chiles, pasilla, ancho – see notes.
  • 13 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, optional
  • 13 teaspoons honey to taste, optional
  • Optional additions: 3-inch piece orange zest, 1-2 chipotle chiles (or 2-3 tablespoons adobo sauce sauce from the can)

Serve with: Tortillas, melty cheese, cilantro, chopped onions or pickled onions, Hot Sauce, avocado, sour cream, and radishes.


Instructions

Birria Stew

  1. Season meat with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Saute: Heat oil in  Instant pot on SAUTE setting, (or large Dutch oven over medium heat) and add onion and garlic, stirring and sauteing until fragrant, tender and golden. Add all the spices, saute 2 minutes, add the bay leaves & tomatoes and their juices and the beef stock. Stir and scrape up any browned bits.
  3.  Add the salted meat and stir.
  4. Toast the chilies in a dry large skillet over medium-low heat until softened, releasing their oils, about 2 minutes. Nestle into the stew. Add optional orange zest.
  5. INSTANT POT: Set instant pot to 45 minutes on high pressure. Let it naturally release.
  6. Dutch Oven: If using a dutch oven,  add one more cups of water, cover tightly, and simmer gently on the stovetop, on low heat (or bake in a 350F oven). Check every 45 minutes, adding more water to keep water level just slightly over the meat for roughly 2 – 2 1/2 hours, until meat is tender and falling part.
  7. SLOW COOKER: You could also place this in a slow cooker on low for 8 hours.
  8. Once the meat is tender, fish out the chilies, and blend with a cup of the warm broth in a blender until pureed. Return to the pot, stirring it in. Shred the meat with two forks.
  9. Season: Taste and season, adding a splash of vinegar and honey to taste, and adjust salt and pepper to taste. For more heat blend in chipotle or add more adobo from the can.

Serving Options:  

  1. Make Birria Tacos:  Dip tortillas into the rich broth, lightly coating each side and place in a greased skillet, over medium heat, top with cheese, birria stew meat, and any fixings.  Fold the over ( like a quesadilla) and pan-sear each side until crispy. Keep warm in the oven until serving.
  2. BOWL OF STEW: (feel free to thin this out with a little more broth if you prefer) Serve in a bowl, topped with cilantro, radish, cucumber, chopped onion or pickled onion, cotija cheese or sour cream and lime. (Fresh chopped things add good texture.)

Notes

Chilies: Use dry mild chilies like Guajillo and Pasilla Chiles to add flavor and depth – but not too much heat. (Feel free to use other dried chilies, paying attention to heat level.) Add Chipotle for more heat and smoky flavor. If you want a milder stew, I suggest using only Guajillos (like 6). You can always add more spice at the end (cayenne, chili flakes, chipotle powder) if not sure. Using dried chilies really makes this dish. 

If you prefer a brothier stew, you can always add more chicken or beef broth at the end of cooking, seasoning with a little more salt.

MEAT: I used a mixture of lamb and beef. Tougher cuts of meat work great here like stew meat. Shoulder, shank, leg, etc. Goat meat is traditional.

To Remove Fat: Make the stew ahead and cool – the fat will solidify at the top and then can be easily removed.

MY ORIGINAL RECIPE: Find it here.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: using beef, and no toppings
  • Calories: 392
  • Sugar: 9.3 g
  • Sodium: 1764.7 mg
  • Fat: 12.7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 19.7 g
  • Fiber: 5.7 g
  • Protein: 52.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 151.3 mg

Keywords: Birria Tacos, Birria Recipe, How to Make Birria, Instant Pot Birria, Slow Cooker Birria, Beef Birria, Lamb Birria

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Comments

  1. I have been making this for years since I first found your recipe. It is always a huge hit. My extended family loves it as much as I do.

    Question though.

    My family has a “chili” cook-off every year. Thoughts on how to modify this to a “chili”?

    Was thinking about making this in a Dutch oven and just adding beans at the very end?

    Pros/cons? Any feedback is appreciated.

  2. How long could we store this recipe for? Made this for my first time and it was phenomenal! Definitely will be making it again..and again… and again! 🥰

  3. While I was visiting my Mexican sister in law, she wanted us to go out for these tacos. I’d never heard of them, but she was called to work and we ended up having Greek food instead. Now home, I find this recipe! It’s delicious! Husband and I have been working through a half batch for several days. Tonight I heated up the leftovers, added some frozen spinach and dried cherries (which I might use instead of the honey next time). I’m serving it over a bowl of pumpkin polenta, lightly sweetened with maple syrup and seasoned with parmesan & chili powder. The spices of this recipe and the mix of fruity, smoky peppers are the bomb! Thanks.

  4. This is an awesome recipe easier than the original which was still fabulous. Any thoughts on how to make this vegan. I have stopped eating meat. I made it with oyster mushrooms and it was nowhere as good. You are a goddess chef

  5. Love this recipe. I have used it 4 times! The only change I would recommend is to first sear the meat then remove. Then add onions so and garlic this way they can soak up all that flavor from the seared meat. Again, love this recipe.

    Thanks!

    1. also…once you add the onions add a splash of broth and deglaze the pan. Then go from there with original recipe.

  6. Good recipe

    I used two each, guajillo, anchor, pasilla and added 2 chipotle.
    Pressure cooker for 45 min. Meat was perfect.
    Consumme was a bit bitter on the finish. Maybe too much peppers, maybe a toasted them too much.
    Not sure
    I cut the broth with chicken stock to mellow it out.
    Otherwise was a hit.
    Any suggestions to avoid the bitter taste is appreciated.

    Side note: the constant pop ads really suck.

    1. Over-toasting the peppers can make them bitter. Glad you were able to mellow it out. Sorry about the ads- were you on your phone or desktop? just curious.;)

  7. I’m glad to see other comments that the recipe has been updated, I thought I was losing it! Thankfully, I’ve made the previous version so much I remembered the steps. If this one is similar results with fewer steps, I’ll try it next time (but I’ve grown to enjoy toasting the spices & simmering the chilis in the broth.) I think cloves, peppercorns & orange peel have been removed from this version? Either way, I’m sure it’s delicious & still better than any I’ve gotten in a restaurant,

  8. This is delicious, however I agree with the previous posters that the original recipe was even better! I wish I had printed or copied it but unfortunately only saved the link, so if there is any way you could post the old version of the recipe or possibly email it to me? My family would be so grateful! Thank you for all of the fresh and flavorful recipes you post!

    1. OK Jeannette- I will see what I can do and add to the recipe notes. Give me a few days. 😉

  9. Delicious, it was hard to source the Mexican chilies but well worth the effort, they add so much to the dish. I served it with coriander rice (also delicious), sour cream, radishes, and pickled onions. Everyone loved it. My husband had the leftovers for breakfast!! Thank you for another great recipe Sylvia. I am going to try and make a vegetarian version

  10. Hi,
    Did you update your recipe? I was such a huge fan of the previous recipe. Is there any way you can send it to me? I’d love to have it and keep it!

    1. The recipe itself is the same- except I just took out the orange peel, and changed the order of things (blending after, instead of before). Feel free to add the orange peel.:)

      1. Hi there! I have the ingredients screen shotted and I can assure you that it is NOT the same at all…. I had to attempt it from memory because I loved that older recipe so much! These current ingredients are lacking… is there any way I could get the old one as well? It was my go too and now I am very sad. You are awesome! Thanks!

        1. Hi Sage- just curious- have you tried making the current version as written? Do you mind sending me your screenshot to my email sylvia @ feastingathome .com? thanks so much!

  11. We tried this recipe for the first time today, I prepped everything this morning and popped it into my trusty slow cooker – when we got home the whole house smelled so good and I couldn’t wait to dig in. All we had to do was assemble the tacos and everyone wanted seconds. This will definitely be added to our family staples, it’s delicious!

  12. This was delicious and so easy in the Instant Pot. Blending the broth and chiles gave it the most amazing flavor. Thank you!

  13. Made this for the first time tonight. Delicious! Any tips for the corn tortillas? Mine didn’t hold up as well as those in the pictures when I put them in the skillet.

    1. Oh shoot Jenna! If you warm them up a bit first, they are more pliable and bendy.

  14. I’ve made this recipe several times and we can’t get enough of it. I noticed it has been updated, but no longer has instructions for cooking in a Dutch oven in the oven. I appreciated that method because you can pop it in the oven and forget about it for a few hours. I don’t remember the oven temp or duration, could you remind me? Thank you!

    1. Ooops! Ok I added that back in- 350F for 2-2 1/2 hours, checking liquid level every 45-60 mins. 🙂

  15. I somehow managed to print out a version of this recipe prior to the last update, and can no longer find that version. It was a bit more complicated, but was what I used. It called for toasting the spices, and toasting, then soaking, the chiles in the broth alone before blending them and adding them back to the tomato mixture. I haven’t tried this version, which looks like it’s been simplified. Glad I printed the first version, though it’s a bit spattered now–the dish is fantastic!

    1. Yes, I did update this recipe, making it simpler. It honestly does not taste a whole lot different!

    2. Original Birria Recipe
      3 lbs stew meat (beef, lamb or goat) cut into 1- 2 inch pieces
      1 tablespoon salt
      pepper to taste
      ——
      2 cups chicken or beef broth
      4 dried guajillo chile (see notes)
      2 dried Pasilla chilies (optional)
      ——-
      1-2 tablespoon olive oil
      1 large onion, diced
      6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
      1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted (and juices) or 1 1/2 cups fresh, diced tomatoes
      3 tablespoons vinegar (white or apple cider)
      1 tablespoon dried Oregano(or thyme)
      2 bay leaves
      optional: 3-inch piece of orange zest ( 1/2 inch wide) use a veggie peeler
      1 cinnamon stick (or see notes)
      6 whole cloves ( or see notes)
      1 teaspoon cumin seeds
      2 teaspoon coriander seeds
      8 peppercorns
      2 bay leaves

      1-2 canned chipotle peppers (optional), or 2-3 tablespoons adobo sauce ( from the can)
      1 tablespoon honey, or sugar

      Read all the way through before starting. 🙂

      2. Season meat with salt and pepper and set aside.

      3. Break dry chilies apart, remove stems and most seeds, and toast them in a dry skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant and slightly darkened (do not burn- they get bitter). Place chilies in a small pot with the chicken broth, bring to a simmer, cover, and let stand 20 minutes turning the heat off, until softened.

      4. In the same warm skillet, toast any whole spices you are using-cinnamon stick, cloves, cumin, coriander, peppercorns– until it smells amazing- 1-2 minutes.  Place all but the cinnamon stick in a blender and pulse a few times, then set this aside ( you’ll add the softened chilies and broth to this blender later).

      5. In the meantime, heat oil in Instant pot  on SAUTE setting, (or large Dutch oven over medium heat) and add onion and garlic, stirring until fragrant and golden. Add tomatoes and their juices, simmer 2-3 minutes until breaking down, then add vinegar and oregano, and scrape up any browned bits (important) using a wood spoon. Turn heat off.

      6. Add the softened chilies and broth to the blender with the spices plus roughly one cup of the tomato mixture from the Instant Pot (leave the rest of the tomatoes in the instant pot).  Place a towel over the blender lid, and hold it firmly down (to prevent a blender explosion!), starting on low, and increasing to high. Turn blender off, and at this point add the canned chipotle peppers. 1-3 peppers will suffice, or for milder, just use the adobo sauce out of the can. Blend till very smooth.

      7. Pour this flavorful sauce back into the instant pot  or Dutch oven and stir.

      8. Add the bay leaves and salted meat and stir to coat well.

      9. INSTANT POT: Set instant pot to 45 minutes on high pressure. Let naturally release. Shred the meat using two forks. You can skim the fat if you like, or use it for dipping tortillas, before frying them (traditional).

      10. Dutch Oven: If using a dutch oven,  cover tightly, and either simmer on the stove over medium-low heat, 3 hours or bake in a 350F oven, 3 hours.  Check at hour 2, for dryness, adding a little more broth if you think necessary.

      11. SLOW COOKER: You could also place this in a slow cooker for 6-8 hours.

      12. Stir in the honey. Taste, adjusting the salt, honey to your liking. Sometimes I’ll add a little more ground cinnamon.

      13. Serving Options:  BOWL OF STEW: you could serve this as a hearty stew ( feel free to thin with a little more broth if you prefer) in a bowl, topped with cilantro, radish, cucumber, chopped onion or pickled onion, cojia cheese or sour cream and lime. (Fresh chopped things add good texture.)

      14. TACOS: You can use birria as taco filling. Often you’ll see (Food truck versions) the tortillas dipped into the rich broth, before being fried in a skillet, covered in melty cheese (Oaxacan string cheese) then filled with the birria and all the fixins’.  Decadent but amazing!

  16. Gonna try this on the weekend… I managed to find some dried epazote which is rare here…can I swap out the same measurement of oregano for this epazote to give it a more Mexican taste? Or should I use less/more? Your advice greatly appreciated!

  17. Absolutely delicious! We so so enjoyed every last bite of these.
    The pickled onions are a must. Just love the spice combo.

  18. Wonderful and easy.
    I added some oj to this and it added a bit more of sweetness.
    Jamie

    1. Goat is often used in the traditional recipe in Mexico and since it is harder to find here in the states, I modified this. You can still use goat- see the recipe notes. 🙂

  19. Nothing about this dish is authentic. It is an insult to people like my grandfather that have been making it for decades in Jalisco. Change this name to a stew because birria it is not!!

    1. Interesting, did you make this Teresa? Can you tell me what you would change, or how the Jalisco version differs? Just curious.

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