An authentic recipe for Birria, a flavorful Mexican Stew made with beef, lamb or goat, that can be cooked in an Instant Pot, Dutch Oven or Slow Cooker. Serve as stew- in a big bowl or make Birria Tacos – the best!
Oh hello Birria! (Pronounced “beer-ya” with a lovely rolling rrrrr.) Turns out Birria, though hailing from Mexico, is all the rage down here in Southern California. And it’s not hard to see why. Tough cuts of meat are cooked until tender and juicy with flavorful chilies and Mexican spices. Traditionally goat is used, but more often here in the states we see it with lamb or beef.
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 stove for about 3 hours. Lastly you can cook this in your slow cooker for 6-8 hours. Lots of options here friends.
Serve Birria up like a stew, topped with all the good stuff (pickled onons, queso fresco, cilantro, avocado) or make Birria Tacos, also super delicious.
It starts with seasoning the meat with salt. A good rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon salt per pound of meat.
Chop one onion and 4-6 garlic cloves.
You’ll also toast dried chilis, hydrate them in hot broth and blend into a paste for the flavoful broth.
Here I’m cooking everything in an Instant pot– which turned out surprisingly easy and fast! Of course, you can do this on your stovetop, in the oven or in a slow cooker.
After 45 mins of pressure cooking the meat is tender and easily shreddable.
Shred with two forks and place back into the flavorful juices.
From here, you can simply serve as a stew, dividing among bowls. For a brothier soup, add more chicken stock and season with salt to taste.
Top with cilantro, onions or pickled onions, queso fresco if you like or sour cream and avocado is nice. Radishes are also a nice touch.
Now to make the traditional Birria Tacos- dip tortillas right into the flavorful fatty broth at the top, then onto a greased griddle, flat top or skillet. This will also help to skim some of the fat from the stew itself.
See notes about removing fat.
Flip, then top with melty cheese and some birria. Both queso fresco or Oaxacan string cheese work great here.
Then top with all your favorite fixings.
The leftover Birria can be used in enchiladas, quesadillas, nachos, or even frozen for another time.
I hope you enjoy this as much as we do! Please let me know what you think in the comments below!Print
How to Make Birria- a traditional Mexican Stew (with Beef, Lamb, or Goat) 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 tacos. Great for meal prep and freezes well. Serve with Cilantro Lime Rice and Mexican Pinto Beans
- 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
- 3 lbs stew meat (beef, lamb or goat) cut into 1- 2 inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 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
Season meat with salt and set aside.
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 heat off, until softened.
In the same warm skillet, toast any whole spices you are using-cinamon 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 aside ( you’ll add the softened chilies and broth to this later).
In the mean time, 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 bay leaves, and scrape up any browned bits (important) using a wood spoon. Turn heat off.
Add the soften chilies and broth to the blender plus roughly one cup of the tomato mixture from the 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, use the adobo sauce out of the can. Blend till smooth.
Add the salted meat and stir to combine.
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).
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.
SLOW COOKER: You could also place this in a slow cooker for 6-8 hours.
Once meat is tender, taste for salt and add in the honey.
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, chopped onion or pickled onion, cojia cheese or sour cream and lime.
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’. Decadant but amazing.
If cooking in a Dutch oven, preheat oven to 350F
SPICES: sub 1 teaspoon cinnamon (for cinamon stice) and 1/2 teaspoon cloves
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 attenting to heat level.) Add Chipotles for more heat and smoky flavor. If you want a milder stew, I suggest use 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.
FAT: This can be made ahead; cooled – the fat will solidify, and then can be removed more easily if going for a leaner version.
Keywords: Birria Tacos, Birria Recipe, How to Make Birria, Instant Pot Birria, Slow Cooker Birria, Beef Birria, Lamb Birria