Move over, carnitas; we have a new taco in town! Try this easy birria tacos recipe with rich, stewed beef slow-cooked in the Instant Pot, Crockpot, or simmered on the stovetop with guajillo and chipotle peppers!
What's better than a Mexican beef stew? Mexican beef stew stuffed into a soft taco shell, dipped into its own fat, then fried; that's what!
Birria, traditional Mexican stewed meat, is enjoying a recent resurgence as tacos de birria are taking over our social media feeds. We decided to try our hands and built this simple recipe so you can enjoy these tasty handhelds at home with the help of a slow cooker or Instant Pot.
This beef flank and cab sirloin take some time to marinade and cook, but the preparation is primarily hands-off, keeping it a simple meal to prepare. We infused the marinade with guajillo and chipotle peppers, which gives a nice kick while keeping the dish reasonably mild.
After stewing the meat to perfection, we added it along with fresh onions, cilantro, and grated cheese into a tortilla dipped in the stewing liquid and pan-fried it. These Instant Pot birria tacos have an addictive crunch and load of flavor in that moist stewed beef.
Follow our recipe below to make some delicious tacos de birria in your Instant Pot, slow cooker, or favorite stovetop soup pot.
Birria Tacos Recipe With Tender Stewed Beef And Spicy Guajillo Peppers
1.5 lb beef shank
1 lb CAB top sirloin or other steaks
3 dried guajillo peppers
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo
1/4 c. white vinegar
1/2 c. crushed tomatoes
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 medium onion, peeled & chopped
1 whole cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
6 whole cloves
~ 1 quart of chicken stock
12-16 4" corn or wheat tortillas
1 med onion, peeled & chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro chopped
1 cup cheddar or Monterey Jack, grated
Instant Pot or slow cooker
Tacos & Toppings
Bring a large-sized pot of water to a boil, then remove it from the heat. Place your dried guajillo peppers in the pot to soak for 15 mins and rehydrate. Meanwhile, cube your CAB sirloin steak, and season the sirloin and the shank with salt and pepper. Place the beef cuts in a medium-sized mixing bowl and set them aside.
Place all the birria meat marinade ingredients in a high-powered blender - chipotle peppers, white vinegar, crushed tomatoes, garlic, oregano, paprika, and cumin.
Once the guajillo peppers finish soaking, hold them upside down over the sink and use kitchen scissors to remove the stem. Allow the guajillos' seeds to fall out of the pepper to cut down their heat, then add the peppers to your blender.
Place the lid on your blender and process the mixture into a smooth paste. Pour the mixture over the meat and stir with a large spoon until well combined. Cover the steak bowl and place it in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hrs.
Once your beef is marinated, and you're ready to start cooking, set your Instant Pot on saute high, or preheat and cook in a cast-iron Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium heat.
When heated, add 1-2 Tbsp cooking oil of your choice and saute the diced onions until translucent and slightly brown, ~ 6-8 min.
Toss in your steak along with the marinade, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, and whole cloves. Cover with chicken broth, close the lid, and set to high pressure for 45 mins. (On a stovetop, turn the heat down to low, cover, and leave to cook for 4-6 hrs.)
If using an Instant Pot, allow a natural pressure release, then remove your meat. Shred the beef and set aside, discarding any bones.
Preheat a cast-iron skillet to medium on the stovetop, then place one tortilla at a time on the pan to warm. If you own a gas stovetop, you can set your tortillas directly over the grates on the burners - they'll burn quickly, so keep a very close watch. Keep the skillet over the flames.
Dip the tortillas in the leftover stew and build your tacos de birria with the pulled beef, chopped onion, fresh cilantro, and cheese.
Roll up your beef birria tacos and fry them in the heated skillet for 2-3 mins.
Remove your tacos from the skillet, serve warm, and enjoy your homemade birria tacos!
Authentic birria tacos recipe - Nutrition information
Per Serving: 3 tacos
Calories: 626 kcal; Fat 17.4 g; Cholesterol 152 mg; Sodium 1644 mg; Carbohydrates: 31.8 g; Fiber 9.5 g; Sugar 7.5 g; Protein 61 g.
*Nutrition facts are based on an estimate only and will change with different preparations.
Birria tacos FAQ and helpful tips
What are birria tacos made of?
These tasty tacos are part-stew, part-taco topping, and you can eat it as both! Traditionally, the birria recipe was a rich dish of stewed meat, made with tougher cuts of beef, slow-cooked, and stewed until so tender it falls right off the bone.
The modern version of Birria stew is tacos de birria, a sweet, spicy stewed beef stuffed into soft tacos shells, then dipped into the stew and pan-fried to finish.
What meat goes in birria tacos?
Mexicans traditionally use goat for birria tacos meat, but generally, it contains beef or lamb in Southern California and America.
The best meat to make birria dipping tacos is a good-quality beef shank mixed with another cut, like ribs. Incorporating a few beef cuts adds some texture and variety to the stew - we like cab top sirloin mixed into the shank for some extra flavorful and tender meat.
Feel free to try your hand with other meat, like chicken or lamb. If you're using chicken, use a blend of light and dark meat to give the stew an ample fat base. Whichever meat you choose, keep in mind that cooking times will vary - keep a close watch on your pot.
What can I serve with birria tacos?
Mexican birria tacos taste delicious with all of the typical accompaniments in standard Mexican fare - homemade corn tortilla chips with bean dip, Mexican rice and beans, or a simple green salad will do.
Whip up a quick bowl of fresh guacamole with some mashed avocado, garlic, onion, salt, and fresh lime juice, then use it as a birria tacos dipping sauce to make this already-decadent dish even more indulgent!
Are birria tacos spicy?
In our recipe, the spiciest birria tacos ingredients are guajillo peppers and chipotle adobo peppers.
The sun-dried guajillo peppers are sweet, tangy, and smoky with a slight heat that's still considered relatively mild at 2,500 to 5,000 rating on the Scoville heat scale. Comparatively, a jalapeno ranks at 2,500 to 8,000 SHU. By removing the guajillo's seeds, you also remove much of the pepper's heat.
Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce can be a little spicier than the guajillos in the 2,500 to 8,000 range.
If you can't find these peppers at your local grocery stores, you can substitute them with ancho, California, New Mexico, or pasilla peppers instead.
If you want some more heat, try adding a spicier pepper instead, or add a few squirts of your favorite hot sauce into the pot once cooked.
Is this recipe gluten-free?
This recipe for birria tacos is primarily gluten-free, with one big exception - tortillas. Most corn tortillas are gluten-free, so use those or other certified gluten-free tortilla alternatives instead of those made with wheat flour.
Other fresh topping options
Almost anything that tastes delicious on a regular taco will be delicious wrapped up in your birria beef tacos.
Here are a few of our favorites:
- A squeeze of fresh lime juice
- Thinly sliced radishes or cucumber
- Pickled red onions or shallots
- Extra hot sauce
- Sliced avocado
- Chipotle mayo
- Mexican lime crema
- Tomatillo salsa
- Pico de gallo
- Fried sweet potato cubes
Alternative cooking methods
We used an Instant Pot to make our birria tacos because it's the fastest and easiest method, but you can also use the stovetop or a slow cooker.
- Instant Pot Method: Once you saute the onion directly in the slow cooker, place the meat, marinade, and other seasonings in the Instant Pot to cook on high pressure for 45 mins. Let the pressure release naturally.
- Stovetop Method: Once you brown your onions directly in your Dutch oven over medium heat, add the meat, marinade, and seasonings into the pot. Turn down the burner's heat to its lowest setting, place the lid on the pot, and leave to simmer for 4-6 hrs, checking occasionally.
- Slow Cooker Method: Once cooking your onions directly in your slow cooker, add the meat, marinade, and seasonings into the cooker. Cover your cooker with a lid and cook on low for 4-6 hrs, or medium for 3-4 hrs.
Final notes & storage tips
Serve these beautiful stewed tacos in one of our favorite taco night accessories, the taco holder!
The stewed beef from your birria tacos lasts for up to 3 days in a sealed container in your fridge. You can freeze the meat separately for up to 6 months - it will need to be reheated on the stovetop to prevent sogginess upon thawing.
This recipe makes a decent amount of meat, so if you end up with plenty of leftovers, make some birria soup topped with homemade tortilla strips!
Enjoyed this recipe? Check out our recipes for carne asada tacos, korean tacos, and adobada tacos!
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