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 a stew-or make Birria Tacos – the best! Watch the video below!
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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.
Watch how to Make Birria! |a 60-second Video
Make Birria Tacos or serve as a Stew:
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.
Is Birria goat meat?
Authentic Birria is often made with goat meat in Mexico, but beef or lamb are both good substitutes.
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.
What is Birria Sauce made of?
- chicken or beef broth
- dried guajillo chiles
- dried Pasilla chilies
- diced tomatoes
What type of meat to use in Birria?
Tougher cuts of red meat work well here and will tenderize in the flavorful sauce. Beef like stew meat, chuck, short ribs, or beef shoulder. Lamb leg or shoulder, or goat meat all work great. Here I’m using a combo of beef and lamb stew meat. A good rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon salt per pound of meat.
How to make the Birria Sauce:
STEP 1: Chop the onion and garlic.
STEP 2: Toast the whole spices.
STEP 3: Make a Paste! You’ll toast dried chilis, hydrate them in hot broth and blend into a paste for the flavorful broth.
STEP 4: Add sauce to an Instant pot– ( pressure cooker ) which turned out surprisingly easy and fast!
Alternatively, you can do this on your stovetop in a large pot dutch oven, in the oven or in a slow cooker. See notes.
STEP 5: Salt the meat and mix with the flavorful sauce.
STEP 6: Pressure cook! After 45 mins of pressure cooking the meat is tender and easily shreddable.
Step 7: Shred the flavorful Birria with two forks and place back into the flavorful juices.
Step 8: Serve! From here, you can simply serve as a stew, dividing among bowls adding any of the toppings below.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.
Make Birria Tacos:
To make the oh-so-popular Birria Tacos, dip the corn tortillas into the rich birria broth, then place onto a greased griddle, flat top, or skillet. Tip: This will also help to skim some of the fat from the stew itself.
Place the warm corn tortillas in a hot skillet to crisp them up.
Flip the corn tortilla, then top with melty cheese like queso fresco and some Birria. Both queso fresco or Oaxacan string cheese works great here.
Then garnish the Birria Tacos with all your favorite fixings- pickled onions, avocado, and hot sauce. The pickled onions really help to cut the richness of the fat here. Mexican Slaw would also work! These turned out so incredibly good- the family loved them!
The leftover Birria can be used in enchiladas, quesadillas, nachos, or even frozen for another time.
Serve Birria with any of the following:
- Cilantro Lime Rice
- Mexican Pinto Beans
- Mexican Slaw
- Homemade Tortillas
- Mexican Papaya Salad!
- Fresh Tomatillo Salsa
- 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!
You may also enjoy:
- 20 Instant Pot Recipes from around the Globe!
- How to Create a Mexican Feast!
- Chicken Carnitas
- Mexican Short Rib Tacos
- Pulled Pork Tacos with Five spice
- Grilled Steak Tacos with Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce
- Greek Lamb Tacos with Minted Yogurt Sauce
How to Make Birria ( and Birria Tacos)- 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
- 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
- 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted (and juices) or 1 1/2 cups fresh, diced tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or sub white)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano(or thyme)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- optional: 3-inch piece of orange zest ( 1/2 inch wide) use a veggie peeler
- optional: (not traditional) 1-2 canned chipotle peppers or 2-3 tablespoons adobo sauce (from the can) for a smoky flavor.
- 1 tablespoon honey, or sugar
Toasted Whole Spices
- 1 small cinnamon stick (or see notes)
- 6 whole cloves (or see notes)
- 2 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 8–10 peppercorns
- Read all the way through before starting. 🙂
- Season meat with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Toast and rehydrate chilies: Break dry chilies apart, remove stems and most seeds, and toast them in a dry large skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant and slightly darkened (do not burn- or they get bitter!). Place toasted chiles in a small pot with the chicken broth, bring to a simmer, cover, and let stand 20 minutes covered, turning the heat off, until softened.
- 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, turn the heat off, set aside.
- 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 tomatoes and their juices,, simmer 2-3 minutes until tomatoes are breaking down, then add vinegar, oregano, the toasted cinnamon stick, (or ground cinnamon) bay leaves and allspice. Stir and scrape up any browned bits (important, to prevent burn error) using a wood spoon. Turn heat off.
- Place the rehydrated chilies and broth to the blender along with the toasted 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, blending until smooth. Turn blender off. (At this point you could add the canned chipotle peppers if using. 1-3 peppers will suffice, or for milder, just use the adobo sauce out of the can.) Blend again till very smooth.
- Pour this flavorful sauce back into the instant pot or Dutch oven and stir. Add the salted meat and stir to coat well. Feel free to add a piece of orange zest if you like.
- INSTANT POT: Set instant pot to 45 minutes on high pressure. Let it 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.
- Season: After the meat is shredded and mixed back into the cooking liquid, stir in the honey. Taste, adjusting the salt, honey or vinegar to your liking. Sometimes I’ll add a little more ground cinnamon or cumin to taste.
- Serving Options: BOWL OF STEW: you could serve this as a hearty stew (feel free to thin this out with a little more broth if you prefer) 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.)
- TACOS: You can use Birria as a 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 fixings’. Decadent, but amazing!
If cooking in a Dutch oven, preheat oven to 350F
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.
FAT: This can be made ahead; cooled – the fat will solidify, and then can be removed more easily if going for a leaner version.
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