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    Birria Tacos

    I have a special place in my heart for Birria Tacos, or Quesabirria as some call them. They aren’t just any tacos but the ultimate taco experience. If there is a King or Queen of tacos, this is it.

    Whenever I spot Birria tacos on the menu at any Mexican restaurant or food truck, I have to order them. It’s a must for me.

    Now, let me share my recipe for making the perfect Birria taco. It’s all about getting that crispy taco shell filled with tender, shredded meat and oozing with melty cheese. And don’t forget the Birria consommé. It’s full of amazing flavors, ready to dunk your taco into for that extra zing. Trust me, this recipe will bring those incredible street food vibes right into your kitchen!

    Birria Tacos, AKA Quesabirria, are the ultimate taco experience. If there is a King or Queen of tacos, this is it.

    I remember eating these crunchy tacos for the first time at a food festival in our town at the Mexican food truck. I always order food unfamiliar to me, and the word Birria and its photo on the food truck made me want to try these new tacos. They came stuffed with juicy meat and melty cheese, and when I dipped them into a spicy broth, that made them even more delicious.

    Birria tacos at Food Truck

    Later, I kept seeing them all over the internet and every time someone dunked one and stuffed it in their mouth, it made me want them more. So I decided to have my own recipe that I can make anytime.

    It all starts with 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. You can make this with chuck roast or even short ribs, as we did later with our Short Rib Birria (we make Birria tacos all the time).

    Then all I do is shred the meat from Birria. Stuff them in corn tortillas along with melty cheese and fry them in the fat from the Birria stew on my hot griddle. The end result is oh my god ooey-gooey-cheesy tacos. But wait. Don’t forget the best part. Always eat them dipping in the Birria consommé. That’s what the whole Quesabirria experience is.

    Birria Tacos, AKA Quesabirria, are the ultimate taco experience. If there is a King or Queen of tacos, this is it.

    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.

    Birria Tacos, AKA Quesabirria, are the ultimate taco experience. If there is a King or Queen of tacos, this is it.

    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.

    dunking a birria taco into consommé

    Ingredients Needed

    For Birria – I 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.

    I am 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 – I use corn tortillas, which is traditional, but you can use whatever type of tortillas you like.

    Cheese – I like to use some type of soft Mexican melting cheese for Quesatacos, like oaxaca cheese, chihuahua, asadero, or quesadilla cheese. These cheeses are readily 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. I cut off the stems, make a slit down the side, and shake out the seeds. Then, I dry toast them in a hot pan for about 1-2 minutes until they start to release a fragrant aroma. Just be careful not to burn them because they’ll turn bitter. After toasting, I put the chilis in a bowl, pour a cup of hot water over them, and let them soak for 20 minutes.

    a bunch of dried chilis on a cutting board

    2. Sauté the veggies and Make Birria sauce: In a large pot, I heat up some oil and then sauté the onion, garlic, and tomato until they’re all softened. Once they’re done, I blend them with soaked chilis, spices, herbs, ginger, vinegar, tomato paste, and beef stock. I blend it all until it’s totally smooth and this is the base for the Birria.

    the birria sauce

    4. Prepare and sear the meat: Now I start by cutting the chuck roast into large chunks and seasoning them well with salt and pepper.

    cut up chunks of beef in a bowl

    Searing the meat before adding it to the stew really enhances the flavor. So, I heat some vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven and brown the meat on all sides.

    beef added to the birria sauce

    5. Cook Birria: Next, I mix the browned meat with the Birria sauce and add the rest of the beef stock. I cook everything until the meat is tender. Check the recipe card for specific directions on how to cook this on the stove top, in a slow cooker, or in an instant pot.

    the stew all finished cooking in a pot

    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)

    fat from top of birria in a small white bowl

    2. Shred the meat – Once the stew is ready, I taste it and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Then, I take the meat out of the stew and shred it using two forks.

    shredded birria meat

    3. Dip Tortillas: Time to heat up a large griddle or skillet over medium heat and add a bit of oil, swirling it around to coat the surface. Then I dip the corn tortillas into the reserved fat from the Birria and place them on the hot pan.

    4. Assemble the tacos: Once the tortillas are on the griddle, I quickly top them with shredded cheese, a spoonful of shredded beef, and a bit of chopped onion and cilantro. I make sure not to overfill the tacos, especially with the cheese, because it can ooze out while frying if there’s too much. After frying a few, you’ll start to get the hang of how much filling to use.

    frying tortilla topped with cheese and birria meat

    5. Fry Tacos: I fold the tortilla over in half and let it fry for several minutes until it’s crispy and browned on both sides, flipping it once. Once done, I remove it 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.

    platter of birria tacos with a cup of consommé

    Alpana’s Tips

    • 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 (which is what I use).
    • 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’s tempting to pack my tacos de birria with loads of filling, I’ve learned it’s best not to overfill them. Keeping the fillings to a reasonable amount makes sure they cook evenly and are easier to handle while frying them.
    • Assemble Right Before Serving: Keep the stew warm and assemble tacos last-minute to maintain that glorious, gooey cheese pull.
    platter of birria tacos with a cup of consommé

    What to Serve with

    Quesabirra are amazing on their own, but it never hurts to have a tasty side dish.

    My top choice is a combo of Cilantro Lime Rice and Refried Beans. The flavors go so great with these tacos.

    For more inspiration, check out our collection of favorite Sides for Tacos.

    platter of birria tacos with a cup of consommé

    Some Variations 

    • Use different meat: I recommend trying Birria the traditional way using goat meat, lamb, or sheep.
    • Play with spices and seasonings. I love to experiment with 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, I some times 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.
    platter of birria tacos with a cup of consommé

    There you go, my take on very traditional and authentic Mexican tacos, Birria Tacos! Let me know if you decide to try these amazing flavors. I’d love to hear all about your experience with them. I’m sure you’ll agree that these tacos are uniquely delicious.

    Keep making, keep frying, and keep dunking… and enjoy every bite!

    Birria Tacos, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!

    three birria tacos and a bowl of consommé on the Gypsy Plate

    More Great Taco Recipes:
    Blackened Salmon Tacos
    Smash Burger Tacos
    Street Style Chicken Tacos
    Chili Lime Shrimp Tacos
    Baja Shrimp Tacos
    Tacos Gobernador
    Korean Beef Tacos

    featured image for birria tacos post

    Birria Tacos (Quesabirria)

    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
    Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes

    Birria Tacos, AKA Quesabirria, are the ultimate taco experience. If there is a King or Queen of tacos, this is it.

    The Birria meat can be prepared on stovetop, or in a Crock Pot or Instant Pot.

    Ingredients

    Birria Sauce

    • 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
    • ¼ 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

    For Stew

    • 3-3.5 lbs chuck roast, cut into large chunks
    • Salt to taste
    • Pepper to taste
    • 2 Tbsp oil
    • 4 cups beef stock

    For Tacos

    • 15-20 white or yellow corn tortillas
    • 2 cups shredded Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese
    • ½ white or red onion, diced
    • bunch of cilantro, chopped
    • lime wedges, to serve

    Instructions

    For Birria and Consommé

    1. 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.
    2. Sauté the veggies: Heat oil and Sauté the onion, garlic and tomato until softened. Then transfer the veggies to the blender.
    3. 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.
    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 oil in the stew pot (or instant pot on saute mode) and brown the meat on all sides.
    5. 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 3 to 4 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

    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: Taste and adjust the seasonings like salt and pepper. Remove the beef from the consommé 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 a corn tortilla into the reserved fat from Birria and lay it on the hot pan.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Serve: Sprinkle remaining chopped white onion and cilantro on top. Serve with a cup of consommé broth, for dipping.

    Notes

      1. 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.
      2. 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.
      3. 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.
      4. 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.
      5. If you want to do something totally different with your leftover stew, try Birria Ramen, it's amazing!

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest


    Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

    Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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      1 thought on “Birria Tacos”

      • I like this recipe, it looks VERY promising and the way it is has a common sense approach. I’m going to go through with it and make the sauce to determine the flavor before investing in the meat and the whole dinner thing. This recipe is very dependent on how good the sauce is. This is written in a way where you can get a sauce to your liking and then move forward from there. I think by making the sauce first (letting it sit and meld for a day if you can, you will know if you are going love it or hate it. I love the approach, but I’m very hesitant on pulling the trigger on going forward with a full dinner first try. I’m going to make the sauce tomorrow morning, By that evening, I’ll know what my tweaks will need to be (even if it is a total re-do). The following day, I ‘ll cook the meat and go forward with whatever changes I thought I needed with the sauce. Will update with a review to follow (I will do the “sauce” portion of this recipe exactly at first try). One could only hope this is perfect first time, no tweaks. #babysteps

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