Birria tacos are taking over the mexican street food industry

Birria, also known as birria de res, is a Mexican meat stew that originated from the State of Jalisco, a lively part of Mexico known for its mariachi music and tequila. With this fact in mind, you already know that any food coming from them is going to be lively and very delicious. Traditionally, birria is served on celebratory occasions and made with goat meat, but now it is more commonly made with beef or mutton. Regardless of which meat you choose to go with, it’ll be cooked in tons of chiles, spices, and aromatics until juicy & fork tender. Oh, and nothing goes to waste here, what’s left in the pot gets blended into a thick and unctuous sauce that is served with the beef. Sounds delicious, right?

Although the history of birria isn’t too well known, it came to the food scene about a year or two ago. Not as a stew but as a taco, one of its many variations! Late night street carts have been popping up and only selling birria items while established taco shops have been adding the coveted item to their existing menu. I, for one, couldn’t be happier about their explosion and hope they are here for good.

Birria tacos start out with the corn tortilla being dipped into a vat of reserved birra fat that stains the tacos bright red that you can see a mile away. Next, it’s placed on a flattop and topped with a generous helping of tender birria meat and a handful of shredded good quality melting cheese, preferably oaxacan aka quesillo cheese. The tortilla warms up and gets nice and crispy on the edges, the cheese gets all ooey gooey, and then it gets topped with diced onion and roughly chopped cilantro for a touch of freshness. Off to the side, you’ll have a cup filled to the brim of birria consomme for dipping purposes. This taco is not your average lackluster taco. It’s got attitude, color, flavor, and its ready to rock your world.

Birria de Res

Birria meat is not only reserved for the infamous tacos that paved the way for their fame. It is also perfectly delicious on its own, on top of some chips and guac, in a steamy hot burrito with all the fix-ins you can think of, or my favorite, mixed into a burrito bowl. If you have tons of leftover birria meat, don’t fret because it’s a good thing. Freeze it for a meal later in the week or turn it into something delicious for tomorrow’s lunch.


  • 1 ancho chile (mild), stem and seeds removed

  • 6 dried guajillo chilies (mild), stem and seeds removed

  • 2 dried chipotle chilies (mild), stem and seeds removed

  • 1 dried pasilla chili (spicy), stem and seeds removed

  • 3 – 4 tablespoons neutral oil with a high smoke point (avocado, veggie, or grapeseed)

  • 3 pounds of beef (shank, boneless chuck, or short rib)

  • 1 onion , sliced

  • 1 head of garlic, peeled

  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste or 1 roma tomato

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 cinnamon stick of 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder

  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano or oregano

  • 1½ teaspoon cumin powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 2 cups unsalted chicken stock or high-quality unsalted beef stock or water

  • 2 tablespoons vinegar or lime

  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce

  • Salt & ground black pepper


  1. Start by washing then pat drying your beef. Sprinkle them with some salt and pepper and set aside. Rip or cut your peppers into 1 – 1.5 inch pieces.

  2. Next, set an instant pot or pressure cooker to the saute setting and add in all the deseeded and stemmed chilies. Saute in the dry instant pot for 3 – 4 minutes or until you smell the really fragrant chile smells. Remove from the heat and set aside

  3. To the now empty instant pot, add in a couple glugs of oil. Grab your seasoned beef and pat dry if there is any moisture. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add in your beef and sear on one side until golden brown. Do this in batches if you need to! Once the last piece of beef is seared, take it out and set all the meat aside.

  4. Next, add in the sliced onion and peeled garlic. Toss to coat in oil/beef drippings and let them cook until the onion becomes translucent (about 3 minutes).

  5. Add in the tomato paste and all the dried herbs and spices. Saute until everything is super fragrant (about 1-2 minutes). Pour in your stock, vinegar, fish sauce, toasted chilies, and seared beef. Give it a pinch of salt and pepper and pressure cook for 45 minutes. Make sure to turn the venting knob to the sealed position.

  6. Once the timer goes off, let it naturally release for 15 mintues then carefully release the steam to open it up. Do not touch anything.

  7. Using a ladle or turkey baster, carefully scoop out the layer of fat and reserve it for assembly. You should get at least ¼ cup.

  8. Take out the meat and bones and set aside to cool. Once cooled down, shred into small to medium sized pieces. Set aside. Discard the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Pour everything else into a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside and reserve.

Making Birria Tacos


  • 3 pounds of cooked birria meat

  • Reserved birria oil

  • Reserved birria consomme

  • 16 ounces of good quality melting cheese (low moisture mozzarella or oaxaca cheese)

  • 15 corn tortillas

  • 1 white onion, diced

  • ¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro, for serving

  • 2 – 3 limes cut into wedges, for serving


  1. Bring a heavy bottomed pan, like a cast iron skillet, to a medium heat. Drizzle on a generous 2 tablespoons of birria oil.

  2. Drop your corn tortilla in the fat, flip to coat both sides. While the tortilla is frying, add about ¼ cup of birria meat and a handful of shredded cheese.

  3. Let fry for 1 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Gently fold the corn tortilla over and fry for 30 seconds longer. Take off the pan and repeat until all the meat, cheese, or tortillas have been used up.

  4. Top your birria tacos, with a sprinkle of white onion and cilantro. Serve with fresh lime wedges and a bowl of your delicious consomme. Enjoy!

Recipe Details
By Alex Chung

Senior Food Writer at Pro Home Cooks