Whether serving these as a side dish or a full meal, this delicious Birria tacos recipe is sure to satisfy! Thanks to the savory, juicy, tender meat and the contrasting tartness of the Oaxaca cheese and cilantro, birria tacos are heaven in your mouth.
What are Birria Tacos?
Birria Tacos are corn tortillas dipped in birria stew, then filled with meat from the Birria stew, along with Oaxaca cheese, onions, and cilantro, and finally pan-fried until deliciously crispy. They are then hand-dipped into the birria stew (consomme).
What is Birria de Res?
Mexican birria or birria de res is a delicious stew made with goat meat and originating from Jalisco but is now typically made with beef or mutton.
Birria (beef stew) is traditionally reserved for special occasions, such as birthdays and graduations. But over the years, it’s become such a beloved dish that it’s become a weekly dinner staple in many families.
Origins of Birria
Legends tell of shepherds making this dish on the plains of Jalisco. Other legends tell that this stew was born out of the necessity to rid the countryside of the overpopulation of goats.
Either way, let’s thank those goats because some truly G.O.A.T. tacos were born from their collective extermination.
Stewed in Mystery?
The origins of the name Birria are also controversial. Who knew this was such a controversial strew! “Birrioso” is the adjective version of Birria and refers to someone of the lowest class and typically has a derogatory connotation, so people have come up with various, kinder theories about the origin of the name.
For example, some believe that “berrear” is the Spanish word for a goat’s bleating. Berrear eventually turned into Birria.
Why This is the Best Birria Tacos Recipe:
1. You Can Use Cheap Cuts of Meat
You can use chicken, pork, lamb, buffalo, unicorn, centaur. Any protein will do! And you can use cheap cuts of meat as well. Since we’re pressure-cooking the meat and adding a TON of spices, the cut of the meat doesn’t matter.
2. You Can Make the Birria in Advance
You can make the chile sauce in advance and freeze it for months. It’ll last even longer if you use a Food Saver. We swear by the FoodSaver in our house!
You can store the birria de res for three days in the refrigerator or months in the freezer. Then, when you want to reheat it, defrost in the fridge and reheat in the microwave or stovetop.
3. Easy to Reheat
Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop. I suppose you could reheat in your car on a hot day, but this wouldn’t be food safe.
What Other Methods Can I Use to Make Birria Tacos?
There are many other methods you can use to make birria tacos. If you don’t have an instant pot, you’re going to be just fine. Instead, try any of the following methods:
How to Cook Birria Tacos in a Classic Pressure Cooker
If you’re wondering how to cook birria using a classic pressure cooker, follow the same steps as the Instant Pot recipe until the pressure cooking portion.
Lock the lid of your pressure cooker and place it on high heat. Wait ten minutes and then reduce the stovetop heat to medium and cook for 40 minutes. Wait for the pressure to release on its own for about 15 minutes.
How to Cook Birria Tacos in a Slow Cooker / Crockpot
Follow the same steps as the instant pot recipe, but use a crockpot or a large, deep saucepan. Once the ingredients are ready, transfer them to a slow cooker. Cook on the low setting for 8 – 10 hours.
How to Cook Birria Tacos in a Dutch oven
Using your dutch oven, aka your beautiful red Le Creuset, do everything mentioned in this recipe and then cook over medium heat for 4 hours.
How to Make Birria Tacos
The ingredients for this Birria Tacos Recipe will be easy to find. Shop a local Mexican market or your larger neighborhood grocery store. Keep an eye out for the small Mexican spice section of the aisle.
Meat: Cheap cuts of beef; chuck roast, shoulder roast, are perfect cuts for Birria. You can go with the more expensive cuts, oxtails, or short ribs, which are ideal because they add a ton of flavor & fat.
I always use a cheap, well-marbled chuck roast. They’re only $3 to $4. Use 3 lbs. of any of the following:
- Pork loin
- goat shoulder
- other stew meats.
Fats / Oils:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil + 1 tablespoon for frying tacos
- 3 Ancho chilies (mild & smoky)
- 3 Guajillo chilies (smoky & sweet)
- 1 new Mexican chile (mild & sweet)
- Increase spiciness option: 1 Chile de árbol (really spicy)
- 1 yellow or white onion, sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
Herbs & Spices:
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder (or 1 cinnamon stick)
- 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
- 1½ teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- Salt & pepper
- 1 cup unsalted chicken broth (or stock)
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (optional)
Garnish Ingredients (Optional):
- Oaxaca cheese (Substitute any good melting cheese like mozzarella or white cheddar)
- 1 chopped white onion
- 8 high-quality corn tortillas (harder to work with but taste insanely good)
- 8 small flour tortillas (easier to work with)
Note: If you don’t have access to a Mexican/Hispanic/Latino grocery store, you can always order ingredients via Amazon: Mexican Oregano, Ancho Chiles, Guajillo Chiles, Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, and Cumin powder.
- Instant Pot pressure cooker
- Cuisinart food processor (optional)
- Immersion hand blender
- Wooden cutting board (Boos block, used by pros)
- Wooden spoons
- Measuring cups
- Knife set (these are Shun knives and I swear by them)
- Mixing bowls
Step 1: Prepare the Dried Chiles
Remove the stems and seeds from the dried chiles. Next, cut the chiles into smaller pieces. The seeds carry an insane amount of spice and should fall out of the chilies easily.
Note: Since we’re pressure-cooking the dried chiles in liquid for a long time, we don’t need to rehydrate them before cooking.
Adjust spiciness: If you want this birria to be spicy, add an extra Chile de árbol. If you want it to be less spicy, remove the Chile de árbol from the recipe.
Step 2: Toast Dried Chiles in Instant Pot
First, place all the chiles into the pressure cooker (don’t add oil yet). Next, on the Instant Pot, press the “saute” button until it reads “saute more.”
Saute the chiles for 5 minutes, stirring now and then. Then, gently dump the peppers onto a plate. You’ll know they’re ready when you smell the rich aroma.
Place the metal pot back into the Instant Pot.
Step 3: Sear the Meat
When you sear the meat, you lock in many flavors while caramelizing the outside of the meat. This is known as the Maillard reaction.
Note: I’m using 3 lbs beef shoulder roast.
Make sure your instant pot is still on saute and reads “HOT.” Using a paper towel, pat any excess moisture off your meat.
Season one side of the beef with salt & black pepper. Pour 1 tbsp of vegetable into the instant pot, making sure to cover the whole bottom of the pot.
Next, place your meat gently into the instant pot. You may get hit with a few pieces of popping oil.
Brown this side of the meat for 5 minutes. Then turn the meat over and brown the other side for five more minutes.
Lastly, take the birria meat out of the instant pot and set it aside to rest in a large pot or other container.
Step 4: Saute the Garlic and Onions
Add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil to the still-hot instant pot. Drop your sliced onions and whole cloves of garlic into the pot and sauté for 4 minutes.
Step 5: Add Spices
Add the following spices to the onions and garlic:
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
- 1½ tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp coriander
Saute these spices with the onions and stir for 1 minute.
Step 6: Deglaze the Instant Pot
Next, pour 1 cup of your unsalted chicken or beef stock into the Instant Pot. Scrape all the brown crusted bits off the bottom and sides using a wooden spoon.
Step 7: Pressure Cook Everything
Add the following wet ingredients and mix. 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp soy sauce, and 1 cup of chicken stock. Next, add the toasted chiles that you made earlier.
Make sure the liquid is fully covering the chiles. Then, place the browned meat on top of the sauce.
Put the lid on your Instant Pot, and make sure the vent position is set to “closed.” Set the cooking time for 42 minutes. This is a good default time for all types of meats. If you’re using chicken, set the timer for 20 minutes instead.
Note: This is a great time to prep the garnish ingredients!
Once the timer goes off, vent the Birria in the Instant Pot and let it sit for 15 minutes.
Step 8: Shred Your Meat
You can use a few different meat-shredding methods depending on how quickly you want to get the job done.
Standard Meat-Shredding Method:
Using tongs, transfer the cooked beef into a large mixing bowl. Once the meat has cooled, use two forks and shred the meat apart. It should come apart quickly.
Quick Meat-Shredding Method:
Using a Cuisinart food processor, pulse the meat 5 or 6 times. Don’t over pulse. If you overmix, you’ll end up with a meat paste. You want chunks of shredded beef.
Step 9: Blend The Birria Sauce
Look for the bay leaves in the Instant Pot mixture and remove them. Keep the chiles in the Instant Pot.
Using an immersion hand blender, blend all the ingredients left in the Instant Pot, including the chiles. It will take 2 or 3 minutes to combine everything sufficiently.
Next, add the meat back into the birria sauce and stir until the consommé is mixed.
Step 10: Making the Instant Pot Birria Tacos
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil if you’d like. Using tongs, dip tortillas on top of the Instant Pot birria sauce mixture. Push it down a bit with tongs but be careful not to poke a hole or rip the tortilla.
Flip the tortilla over and coat the other side in the mixture. You want your tortilla to be completely covered in sauce. Using your tongs, place the tortilla in the hot skillet.
Note: Make sure your pan is hot enough before placing the tortilla. Also, be wary of grease splatter.
Next, put a handful of grated cheese on the tortilla, and let it melt. The cheese will melt very quickly.
Next, using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop up 1/4 cup of the meat stew and pour it onto the melted cheese.
Using tongs, carefully bend the tortilla in half so that it looks like a taco. Let this side cook for 1 minute. Next, carefully flip the taco onto the other side to let that side crisp up.
Remove the taco and place it on a dry paper towel to soak up some leftover oil.
Repeat this process until you have all the quesabirria tacos you could want! Then, use the extra flavorful broth to dip your tacos into. I suggest putting the stew into a small ramekin.
Instant Pot Birria Tacos Recipe
- 3 pounds beef (shoulder roast, chuck roast, stew meat, short ribs) lamb, goat, chicken, bufallo
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 dried ancho chilies (mild & smoky)
- 3 dried guajillo chilies (smoky & sweet)
- 1 new Mexican chile (mild & sweet)
- 1 chile de árbol (really spicy) (optional)
- 1 white or yellow onion sliced
- 6 cloves garlic whole
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ tsp cinnamon (ground)
- 2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
- 1½ tsp cumin (ground)
- 1 tsp coriander (ground)
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- 2 cups chicken or beef stock
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce (optional)
- salt and pepper
- 12 corn or flower tortillas
- 1 block or bag melting cheese (Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese) grated
- 1 white onion finely chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro (optional)
- 1 lime cut into wedges
Making the Birria sauce:
- Prepare the dried chilies by removing the seeds and stems.
- Toast the chilies in your instant potFirst, place all the chiles into the pressure cooker (don’t add oil yet). Saute the chiles for 5 minutes, stirring now and then. You’ll know they’re ready when you smell the rich aroma. Dump the peppers onto a plate. Place the metal pot back into the Instant Pot.
- Sear the meat in your Instant PotMake sure your instant pot is still on saute and reads “HOT.” Season one side of the beef with salt & black pepper.Pour 1 tbsp of vegetable into the instant pot. Next, place your meat gently into the instant pot. Brown each side for 5 minutes. Take the birria meat out of the instant pot and set it aside to rest.
- Saute the garlic and onionsAdd 1 tbsp of vegetable oil to the still-hot instant pot. Drop your sliced onions and full cloves of garlic into the pot and sauté for 4 minutes.
- Add the following spices to the onions and garlic2 bay leaves, 2 tsp tomato paste, 2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp dried Mexican oregano, 1½ tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp coriander. Saute these spices with the onions and stir for 1 minute.
- Deglaze your Instant Pot using brothNext, pour 1 cup of your unsalted chicken or beef stock into the Instant Pot. Using a wooden spoon, scrape all the brown crusted bits off the bottom and sides.
- Add the rest of the ingredients & meatAdd 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (optional), 1 tbsp soy sauce (optional), and the 2nd cup of chicken stock. Mix this all together. Next, add the toasted chiles that you made earlier.Make sure the liquid is fully covering the chiles. Place the browned meat on top of the sauce.
- Cook the BirriaPut the lid on your Instant Pot, and make sure the vent position is set to “closed.” Set the cooking time for 42 minutes.This is a good default time for all types of beef. If you're using chicken, cook for 20 minutes.
- Bled the Birria sauceLook for the bay leaves in the instant pot mixture and remove them. Using an immersion hand blender, blend all the ingredients left in the Instant Pot, including the chiles.It will take 2 or 3 minutes to blend everything sufficiently. Next, add the meat back into the birria sauce and stir until the consommé is well mixed.
- Shred the meat & add back to sauceUsing tongs, transfer the cooked beef into a large mixing bowl. Using 2 forks, shred the meat. It should come apart easily. Alternatively, you can use a Cuisinart Mixer to quickly shred the meat. Put the meat in the Cuisinart and pulse the meat 5 or 6 times. Don’t over pulse. If you overmix, you’ll end up with a meat paste. You want chunks of shredded beef. Add the meat back to the birria sauce.
Making the Birria Tacos:
- Heat your skilletHeat up a large skillet over medium heat and add a tablespoon of vegetable oil.
- Drench the tortilla in birriaUsing tongs, drop the corn or flour tortilla on top of the Instant Pot birria sauce mixture. Push it down a bit with tongs but be careful not to poke a hole or rip the tortilla. Flip the tortilla over and coat the other side in the mixture. You want your tortilla to be completely covered in sauce. Using your tongs, place the tortilla in the hot skillet.
- Add cheesePut a handful of grated cheese on the tortilla, and let it melt. The cheese will melt very quickly.
- Add meatUsing a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop up 1/4 cup of birria mixture and empty it onto the melted cheese.
- Fry the tortillaUsing tongs, carefully bend the tortilla in half so that it looks like a taco. Let this side cook for 1 minute. Next, carefully flip the taco onto the other side to let that side crisp up for a minute or so. The taco should be crisp enough to hold its shape. Remove the taco and place it on a dry paper towel to soak up some leftover oil. Repeat this process until you have all the birria tacos you could possibly want!
Your Own Notes
The Golden Lamb provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietician.Love it? Pin it! Share on Facebook
How Do I Make Healthier Birria Tacos?
Here’s a healthy birria de res recipe: Make the birria de res (the stew) in advance. Once you refrigerate the birria, the fat will solidify at the top! You can scoop this fat off and have a much healthier dinner.
Thanks for stopping by! I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Is this your new favorite comfort food? Did you try dipping the birria tacos into the rich consomme sauce? Do you have any birria taco recipe tips?
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