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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. 


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  • 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


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. 


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.


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.)


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.


  • 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