A simple authentic recipe for the BEST 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 dutch oven, slow cooker, or 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 

These Birria Tacos are filled with flavorful Mexican stew, typically made with beef, lamb or sometimes goat. Tough cuts of meat are cooked until tender and juicy, infused with flavorful chilies and Mexican spices. Serve the stew in bowls, or serve them inside tortillas that have been dipped in the stew juices, and fried along with melty cheese, pickled onion and cilantro. 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
  • garlic
  • diced tomatoes– canned fire-roasted or fresh.
  • Mexican Spices: cumin, coriander, oregano, bay leaves, chile powder, cinnamon stick
  • apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

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

How to make Birria: 

STEP 1: Saute the onion and garlic in the dutch oven or Instant Pot.  Add all the spices and toast for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes and their juices.

STEP 2: Season the meat with salt and pepper and add the meat to the pot with the stock.

STEP 3:  Remove the stems and seed of the chilies, and toast the chilies in a dry skillet until they soften and release their oils, about 1- 2 minutes.

Step 4:  Nestle 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.

Step 5: Remove the chilies and blend with 1 cup of broth from the stew.

Step 6: Pour this back into the dutch oven or Instant pot. If serving as a stew in bowls, feel free to add more broth or water to loosen.

birria in a pot

Step 7: 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!

Step one: 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

Step two: Place the dipped corn tortillas in a hot grease skillet to crisp them up. Add melty cheese like queso fresco or Oaxacan string cheese.

Step three: 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 the Birria Tacos with any of 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.

Serve Birria with any of the following: 

  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 Tacos

  • 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. Loved this! We went super traditional and used goat – we had to simmer it a little longer but the end result was tender fall apart deliciousness! Thank you for the note about how to make it mild – it worked really well for the kiddos! We will slowly increase the heat level in the future.

  2. So I’m completely obsessed with this recipe, I now cook this on a monthly bases! It has now become a staple in our dinner menu.

  3. Amazing recipe, thank you so much!

    I made it in the slow cooker, and I used lamb shoulder and beef poulet, the addition of the orange peel is delicious! Normally when I search for recipes I use it as inspiration and add ingredients in my mind that will make it even better, and I was happy to see you had all these great optional ingredients, that’s when I knew I stumbled upon a great foodblog 😉 Today we eat it with your mexican pinto beans and rice, and the leftovers will be tacos.

  4. I’m laughing because this is the recipe that is closest to my mom’s. She’s from Jalisco and it is her special. Super good!

  5. This is fun and delicious. If you’re sensitive, lighten up on the peppers—- although most of the folks I made it for thought it was perfect. I could have had a bit less heat. Super yummy though!!!

  6. I made this yesterday with what I had on hand – pork shoulder and ancho chilies. WOW! My house smelled so good, I knew dinner was going to be fabulous. And it was. I look forward to using some of the leftovers for tacos later in the week. Another knock out recipe. Thank you!

  7. The addition of the orange peel siched it for me. My grocer did not have Pajillo peppers so we used Ancho. It was fantastic either way. Thanks for postin this recipe. The instapot was 50 minutes cooking and 32 minutes naturall decompress so it still was about an hour an a half. I did the saute on the stove top as I have pinto beans in the Instapot and once those were done I put the whole mixtur eand the beef in the pot. man it was good. We had Cojito cheese, pickled red onions, avacado, and sour cream on top.

  8. I love this birria recipe. It’s flavors all come together in the broth. I make it sometimes with lamb and other times with beef. My family loves the lamb version better. The pickled onions are a must. I’ve printed and have it saved in my kitchen. Thanks happy holidays 2020.

  9. can’t wait to try this recipe! quick novice question – if you’re using a slow cooker, do you set it on low or high?

  10. My fiancé has requested I make this. He loves spicy; I do not. Does this recipe pack a lot of heat? I’m wondering if I could substitute the chilies if I find it too spicy.

    1. Pick mild dried chilies like guajillo chillies (maybe leave out the pasillas and use more guajillo chillies)that are not on overly spicy (they will say on the back of package usually). You do need the chilies but some are much spicier than others. Also leave out the chipotles, but do use the adobo sauce from the can.

  11. omg the broth (?) was out of this world spectacular! the depth of flavor b/w the heat, smokiness and subtle sweetness was unlike anything i’ve had before. super impressed. in my case, however, the meat itself was still a bit bland and i’m not sure why. i used both beef and lamb and maybe the lamb was slightly more flavorful but both paled in comaprison to the broth itself.

    any idea what i may have done wrong? thank you again for another fabulous recipe!

    1. Did you make this in the stovetop or instant pot? Searing the salted meat will always elevate the flavor, but we skip this step in the instant pot ot save time. You could try that next time?

  12. I’m making this now! I put it in the crockpot though so hopefully it turns out just as good as everybody else’s.. the recipe looks amazing!! also, why add vinegar? What does the vinegar do?

  13. Definitely read and understand all of the directions before starting! 🙂 I inadvertently put the whole spices into the tomato mixture instead of the blender – whoops. Even still, it turned out AMAZING! This recipe is an unexpected and delicious blend of flavors and we love it, like all of the other recipes by Sylvia that we tried! The orange peel added a nice touch – wow!

  14. This will be our first attempt at birria and your recipe looks delicious; I can almosst taste and smell it from the photos! What is your opinion on using a beef brisket?

  15. Amazing and easy! This is my go to recipe. I make it almost weekly. I have used different cuts of meat and comes out perfect every time! Thanks for the awesome recipe.

      1. At the end, do you just pick out the cinnamon stick? Or what happens to it? I got lost in the recipe and didn’t follow along to see what happens to the cinnamon stick 🙂 Thank you!

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Hi, I'm Sylvia!

Chef and author of the whole-foods recipe blog, Feasting at Home, Sylvia Fountaine is a former restaurant owner and caterer turned full-time food blogger. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest and shares seasonal, healthy recipes along with tips and tricks from her home kitchen.

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