Homemade Beef Birria Tacos

Prep Time
Cook Time
3h 55m
Ready In

"To make the recipe easier to put together, the components (sauce, meat, etc.) work beautifully when made ahead and then saving the last step of cooking the tortillas right before serving. It is a delicious dish and worth it."

Original is 10 servings
  • Sauce
  • Tacos:


  • Serving Size: 1 (349.4 g)
  • Calories 462.2
  • Total Fat - 17.4 g
  • Saturated Fat - 7.9 g
  • Cholesterol - 108.4 mg
  • Sodium - 488.7 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate - 36.6 g
  • Dietary Fiber - 6.3 g
  • Sugars - 3.6 g
  • Protein - 40.6 g
  • Calcium - 365.3 mg
  • Iron - 4.9 mg
  • Vitamin C - 11.4 mg
  • Thiamin - 0.2 mg

Step by Step Method

Step 1

Though this recipe says serves 10, these are the small sized corn tortillas, so about 2 tortillas per person. Adjust amounts for serving less.

Searing the Meat:

Step 2

Bring the meat to room temperature, about 30 minutes and then sprinkle liberally on all sides with kosher salt. In a large Dutch oven (or a pot with an oven-proof lid), set over medium-high heat, add the oil. When hot, add the meat and sear (a hard sear) on all sides until browned. Remove pot from heat; set aside.

Making the Sauce:

Step 3

In another medium pot, add all sauce ingredients and add cold water until it covers everything. Place over medium heat and simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes. Pour through a strainer and transfer everything (except for the cinnamon sticks) to a blender. If your blender is small you may need to do this in batches. Reserve liquid for another use like making rice (See Note III).

Step 4

Add the apple cider vinegar and about 1 cup of beef broth and blend until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Add salt to taste (about 1 tablespoon of kosher salt).

Step 5

*Note: a high-powered blender results in a super smooth sauce. If you have a blender that is meh, you may want to run the sauce through a strainer to discard any big bits the blender didn’t puree.*

Braising the Meat:

Step 6

Preheat the oven to 300-degrees-F. To the Dutch oven containing the beef, pour the sauce over it. To the blender, add the remaining 2 cups of broth and swish it around to pick up any leftover sauce and pour it over the beef. Depending on consistency, you may want to also add some of the reserved liquid that chillis were cooked in. Place Dutch oven back over medium heat until it reaches a gentle simmer and then immediately cover and transfer to the preheated oven. Cook for about 3 hours, until the meat is tender.

Assembling the Tacos:

Step 7

Mix together the cilantro, white onion, lime and salt; set aside.

Step 8

Once meat is tender, remove the meat from the sauce and shred using a couple of forks. Ladle the sauce remaining in the Dutch oven into a bowl and add a handful of diced cilantro.

Step 9

Place a skillet over medium heat. Dip the tortilla into the top of the sauce (or with with a spoon shmear it over the top of the tortilla) and add it to the skillet, shmeared side down (See Note II). Pan fry on one side for about 30 seconds, then flip over. Then, place meat, some of the sauce, shredded cheese, and onion cilantro mixture onto one side of the tortilla. Fold over with the help of a couple of forks or spoons and press down with back of fork (or spoon) to keep it closed and uniform, once crisped, turn over and pan fry until crisped on the opposite side about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate and serve alongside the sauce.

NOTE II: I made this with dipping tortilla into the sauce as described, but I didn't care for this method because it turned out soggy-ish and not crisp. I preferred to placing the tortilla to the skillet with the hot oil as it makes the tortilla crispy which is more to our liking, but it's all up to your personal taste.

NOTE III: You will end up some liquid from cooking the chillis, use this liquid to cook rice (with some added chicken stock or water if you prefer it a bit milder), along with some diced onions and a 14 oz can of fire-roasted tomatoes (drained, use tomato juice as part of your total liquid measure), season with salt and pepper. This makes a dynamite flavored Mexican rice.


No special items needed.

Editorial Notes

The ingredient tips, suggestions, variations, facts, questions and answers below are not edits to the original author's recipe. They are not meant to imply any change would improve the recipe. They're offered for convenience, alternative ideas, and points of interest. If you have any comments about them, please post in the Help & Ideas forum.

  • Be sure to de-seed the ancho, guajillo, and chiles de arbol chiles before adding them to the sauce.
  • For the beef, it is recommended to use a combination of beef chuck and beef shanks, but beef chuck can be used alone.

  • Substitute the beef chuck and beef shanks combo with ground beef. This substitution will make the dish easier to prepare, as it eliminates the need to sear the large pieces of meat. It is also a more cost-effective option.
  • Substitute the Oaxacan cheese with a combination of mozzarella and cheddar cheese. This substitution will still provide the desired cheesy flavor, but is more widely available and affordable than Oaxacan cheese.

Vegetarian Birria Tacos Replace the beef with 2-2 1/2 pounds of diced potatoes, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Follow the same instructions for making the sauce and assembling the tacos, but omit the searing step.

Mexican Rice: A delicious and flavorful accompaniment to the beef birria tacos, this Mexican rice is made with fire-roasted tomatoes, onions, and the liquid from cooking the chiles for the sauce. The addition of chicken stock or water makes it a milder dish, perfect for those who don't like spicy food.

Refried Beans: Refried beans are a classic Mexican side dish that pairs perfectly with Mexican rice. Made with pinto beans, onion, garlic, and spices, these creamy beans are a great source of protein and fiber. They provide a delicious and hearty accompaniment to the beef birria tacos, and are a great way to add a little extra flavor to the meal.


Q: How do I make sure the tacos stay crispy?

A: To make sure the tacos stay crispy, pan fry them in a skillet over medium heat. Dip the tortilla into the sauce (or with with a spoon shmear it over the top of the tortilla) and add it to the skillet, shmeared side down. Pan fry on one side for about 30 seconds, then flip over. Press down with back of fork (or spoon) to keep it closed and uniform, once crisped, turn over and pan fry until crisped on the opposite side about 1 minute.

Q: How do I keep tacos warm?

A: To keep tacos warm, wrap them in aluminum foil and place them in a warm oven (200°F) for about 10 minutes. You can also place them in a slow cooker on low heat for up to 1 hour.

1 Reviews


Made this last night for the grandson...he's twelve and ate 5 of them...my daughter had two I only ate one...I was so busy at the stove making them...I really did enjoy the dish and the creation of it...I gave half of the leftover meat mixture to my daughter to take home...I have the other half in the freezer to enjoy with the hubby...I do think I'll try it with the tortillas not being dipped in the sauce...I was surprised that I was able to locate the dried peppers...and I even purchased the Mexican oregano...I used white corn tortillas...served it with a side of tortilla chips and enjoyed them with my grandsons homemade guacamole...made for "WOTM" tag game...


review by:
(3 Jun 2022)

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Fun facts:

The ancho chiles used in this recipe are a type of dried pepper native to Mexico and have been used in Mexican cuisine for centuries. The Aztecs and Mayans used them in their cooking and they were even found in the tombs of the Aztecs.

The recipe for Beef Birria Tacos was made popular by Chef Juan Carlos Gomez, who is a celebrity chef in Mexico and has appeared on various cooking shows. He is known for his innovative and delicious dishes, including this one.