Birria Tacos, AKA Quesabirria, are the ultimate taco experience. If there is a King or Queen of tacos, this is it.
That moment when you dunk these Beef Birria Tacos into its rich colored consommé and take a big bite…
All those amazing flavors coming from shredded tender meat mixed in with melty cheese and fried to crunchy perfection, taken to next level when dunked into Birria consommé…
Get ready for the most famous media sensation trending everywhere… Learn how to make authentic Birria Tacos, just the way you would get them from any Mexican street food truck.
All you need is some shredded meat from Birria, some tortillas and some cheese, and we will tell you how to fry them to them into crunchy, gooey, melty, cheesy, meaty bites.
In our last post, we told you how to make Birria de Res, that famous Mexican stew full of earthy, rich flavors, where meat cooks slow and low for hours, resulting in the tenderest meat.
Well, now is the time to use that meat in your tacos, these Quesabirria tacos. They are not your regular tacos.
Yes they are stuffed with meat and cheese, but then they get folded and fried in the fat from the Birria stew, resulting in an ooey-gooey-cheesy taco experience.
What are Birria Tacos?
Known as Quesabirria, Quesotacos, Tacos de Birra, or simply Red Tacos, they can be a cross between a taco and a quesadilla. They are inspired by the traditional Birria stew from Jalisco, Mexico.
Someone in Tijuana had a brilliant idea of loading the shredded Birria meat with plenty of cheese in between tacos, frying them in its fat, and dipping the tacos in its consommé.
These consommé dunking tacos gained popularity all over Mexico, and in no time arrived to the states in the Southwest, then spread thanks to Instagram. Instagram literally helped make Quesabirria a cult food all over the United States, Mexico and Canada.
Quesabirria lovers are known to go great distances and wait in long lines to get a bite into these delicious tacos.
These tacos are mostly made with corn tortillas with any melty Mexican cheese with stewed meat. The meat is often beef, in contrast to Birria in Mexico, which is traditionally made with goat.
The meat is stewed sometimes up to 8-10 hours with chilies and spices. Then the tortilla is folded over on a grill, melting the cheese and meat together, often served with onions and cilantro as toppings.
The dish is served hot with a side of consommé for the diner to dip the taco. The consommé is the result of hours of stewing the meat used in the tacos, and is also great for sipping.
For Birria – We have entire post on how to make Birria. You can make it on stove top, instant pot, or even in a crock pot. Simply click on Birria to get the in depth instructions.
We are using thick marbled boneless beef chuck roast, but you can use bone in beef cuts, too, like beef shank, short ribs or a combination of all.
The rest of ingredients are Mexican dried chilis (guajillo, ancho, árbol), onion, tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, ginger, apple cider vinegar, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, ground clove powder, coriander powder, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper, and oil.
Tortillas – We are using corn tortillas, which is traditional, but you can use whatever type of tortillas you like.
Cheese – We recommend some type of soft Mexican melting cheese for Quesatacos, like oaxaca cheese, chihuahua, asadero, or quesadilla cheese. These cheeses are easily available in the Latin American section of your grocery store, or in your local Mexican stores. Shred them by hand if they are sold as a whole round. In their absence, you can use mozzarella or any Mexican blend cheese.
Toppings – Fresh cilantro, chopped white or red onions, and fresh lime wedges are the most common toppings. You can use jalapeño slices or some avocado, too.
How to Make Birria Tacos
For Birria Stew:
1. Dry toast and rehydrate the chilis: Toasting the chilis adds great depth to the stew. Cut the stems off and make a slit along the side to open them and discard the seeds. Dry toast them in a hot pan for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant (don’t burn them, as they can turn bitter). Put them in a bowl, pour in a cup of hot water, and let it sit for 20 minutes.
2. Sauté the veggies: In a large pot, heat oil and sauté the onion, garlic and tomato until softened. Then transfer the veggies to a blender.
3. Make the Birria sauce: In the blender, blend the above veggie mixture along with rehydrated chilis, spices and herbs, ginger, vinegar, tomato paste and beef stock. Blend it till the mixture is completely smooth.
4. Prepare and sear the meat: Cut the chuck roast into large chunks and generously season it with salt and pepper.
We always like to sear the meat before putting it in the stew, as it adds tons of flavors. Heat the vegetable oil in a large dutch oven and brown the meat on all sides.
5. Cook Birria: Then combine the meat with the Birria sauce, along with the rest of the beef stock and cook it until tender. See recipe card for stove top, slow cooker and instant pot directions.
For Birria Tacos
1. Reserve the fat on top of the stew to fry the tacos. (Very important, DO NOT discard it, you would need this fat to make the Birria tacos crispy)
2. Shred the meat – When the stew is ready, taste and adjust the seasonings like salt and pepper. Remove meat from stew and shred with two forks.
3. Dip Tortillas: Heat a large griddle or skillet over medium heat. Add a small amount of oil to the griddle and swirl it around. Dip the corn tortillas into the reserved fat from Birria and lay the tortillas on the hot pan.
4. Assemble the tacos: Quickly top the tortillas with shredded cheese along with a spoonful of shredded beef, and a little chopped onion and cilantro. Don’t overfill the tacos, especially with the cheese, which will ooze out of the tacos while they are frying if you add in too much. You will get the hang of it after frying a few.
5. Fry Tacos: Fold the tortilla over, in half. Fry for several minutes, until crispy and browned on both sides, flipping once. Remove to a plate for serving.
6. Serve: Sprinkle remaining chopped white onion and cilantro on top. Serve with a cup of consommé broth, for dipping.
Expert Tips for the BEST Tacos de Birria
- Authentic Chiles: Make sure to get high-quality, authentic Mexican chilis. It makes a world of difference in the depth of flavor.
- Customize the Heat: Chiles de árbol can be pretty spicy and hot. Use according to your spice tolerance. Start with just 1 if you prefer a milder stew. Alternately, if you prefer spicy, add 3 or more árbol chilis.
- Toast Your Spices: Briefly toasting cumin, coriander, and cloves maximize their aromatic impact. Please don’t skip this step.
- Deglaze the Pan: Use beef stock to scrape up browned bits after searing the meat for added umami.
- Be Patient: This isn’t your quick weeknight taco recipe. Let the beef cook low and slow to become super tender and flavorful.
- Taste and Adjust: Always taste your consommé and adjust salt and other seasonings to your palate.
- Use the Right Cooking Surface: If you have a Blackstone, that’s perfect. If you don’t have a griddle, cast iron is the next best option. Check out our collection of favorite Blackstone Recipes.
- Don’t Overfill: Though it might be tempting to load your tacos de birria up, it’s best not to overfill them.
- Assemble Right Before Serving: Keep the stew warm and assemble tacos last-minute to maintain that glorious, gooey cheese pull.
What to Serve with Quesabirria
Quesabirra are amazing on their own, but it never hurts to have a tasty side dish.
For more inspiration, check out our collection of favorite Sides for Tacos.
Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions
To Make Ahead: The Birria meat and stew can be cooked a few days in advance. Refrigerate in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
To Freeze: Birria meat and consommé may be frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw completely in the fridge before rewarming, to make tacos next time in the future.
- Use different meat: Try making Birria the traditional way using goat meat, lamb or sheep. The flavors and textures would be a little different.
- Play with spices and seasonings: You can experiment adding different spices and herbs like smoked paprika, allspice or marjoram for a different flavor profile. Adjust the spice level by adding more or less árbol chilis according to your heat preference.
- Use canned tomatoes or fire roasted tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes for a little different taste
- For a thinner consommé, strain the Birria sauce after blending.
- Skip frying!! Make a healthier version of Mexican street-style soft Birria tacos. Just load up some soft corn tortillas with Birria meat and your favorite toppings.
More Great Taco Recipes
Let us know if you hop onto the Birria Taco bandwagon. Tell us all about your Birria experience.
We’re sure you are going to agree that these tacos are uniquely delicious. Keep making, keep frying and keep dunking…
Birria Tacos, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 5 dried ancho chiles
- 5 dried guajillo chiles
- 2-3 Chiles de árbol (see note 1)
- 1 Tbsp oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and diced
- 4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 inch ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1.5 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp thyme
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 cloves, ground into powder
- 3-3.5 lbs chuck roast, cut into large chunks
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 4 cups beef stock
- 15-20 white or yellow corn tortillas
- 2 cups shredded Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 white or red onion, diced
- bunch of cilantro, chopped
- lime wedges, to serve
For Birria and Consommé
- Dry toast and rehydrate the chilis: Cut the stems off and make a slit along the side to open them and discard the seeds. Dry toast them in hot pan for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant (don’t burn them, as they can turn bitter). Put them in a bowl, pour in a cup of hot water, and let it sit for 20 minutes.
- Sauté the veggies: Heat oil and Sauté the onion, garlic and tomato until softened. Then transfer the veggies to the blender.
- Make Birria Sauce: In the blender, blend above veggie mixture along with rehydrated chilis, spices and herbs (oregano, cumin, cinnamon, coriander powder, ground clove, thyme, salt and pepper), apple cider vinegar, ginger, tomato paste, and 1 cup of beef stock. Blend it till the mixture in completely smooth.
- Prepare and sear the meat: Cut the chuck roast into large chunks and generously season it with salt and pepper. We always like to sear the meat before putting it in the stew, as it adds tons of flavors. Heat the oil in the stew pot (or instant pot on saute mode) and brown the meat on all sides.
- Cook the stew:
- Stovetop: In a big stew pot, combine the meat with the Birria sauce. Add in 4 cups of beef stock. Cover and cook over low heat on the stovetop for 4 to 6 hours, or until the meat is completely tender. Keep an eye on the stew and stir it every 20 minutes or so, as not to burn the meat at the bottom.
- Crock Pot Birria Tacos: Combine meat and sauce in a large crockpot, along with 4 cups of beef stock. Cover and slow cook on low for 9 hours, or until the meat is completely tender.
- Instant Pot Birria Tacos: Add in Birria sauce along with remaining 4 cups of beef stock, and give the mixture a quick toss. Cover and seal the lid. Pressure cook on “Manual” for 45 minutes, followed by a quick release.
For Birria Tacos
- Reserve the fat on top of the stew to fry the tacos. (very important, DO NOT discard it, you would need this fat to make the Birria tacos crispy)
- Shred the meat: Taste and adjust the seasonings like salt and pepper. Remove the beef from the consommé and shred with two forks.
- Dip Tortillas: Heat a large griddle or skillet over medium heat. Add a small amount of oil to the griddle and swirl it around. Dip a corn tortilla into the reserved fat from Birria and lay it on the hot pan.
- Assemble the taco: Quickly top it with shredded cheese along with a spoonful of shredded meat, and a little chopped onion and cilantro. Don’t overfill the tacos. Especially with the cheese, which will ooze out of the tacos while they are frying if you add in too much. You will get the hang of it after frying few.
- Fry Tacos: Fold tortilla over, in half. Fry for several minutes, until crispy and browned on both sides, flipping once. Remove to a plate for serving.
- Serve: Sprinkle remaining chopped white onion and cilantro on top. Serve with a cup of consommé broth, for dipping.
- Chiles de árbol can be pretty spicy and hot. Use according to your spice tolerance. Start with just 1 if you prefer a milder stew. Alternately, if you prefer spicy, add 3 or more árbol chilis.
- You can follow the same recipe with other cuts of beef like shank, short ribs or oxtail. Or, try different meats like goat or lamb.
- If you have a Blackstone griddle, this is a perfect recipe to cook on it. After a griddle, a good cast iron skillet is a good choice.
- Leftover Birria can be refrigerated along with consommé in an airtight container for 3-4 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.
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