Beef Birria Tacos

This beef birria recipe requires time and effort but promises maximum satisfaction, and is made using ingredients accessible to you.
8 servings
Wait Time
3 Hrs
Active Time
1 Hr

You've probably heard of quesabirria tacos. These red, cheesy, beefy tacos are everywhere nowadays. Although included in this recipe, quesabirria tacos won't be our main focus. Instead, it's for birria de res or beef birria, which is basically the stew that makes up the famed tacos.

Traditionally, making the dish is a long and labor-intensive process. Our beef birria recipe takes four hours to get done, but it's not at all complicated. In fact, if you really time it, you'll only be really working on the dish for half to a full hour. The rest is merely cooking time. The wait is totally worth it, though, to get this rich, smokey, fatty stew with extra tender meat.


  • 3 tbsp neutral oil
  • 3 kg beef brisket, chuck, short-rib, or oxtail
  • 1 large white onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3–4 bay leaves
  • salt, to taste

Chili Paste

For Serving

  • 1 white onion, diced
  • cilantro
  • corn or flour tortillas, optional
  • mozzarella cheese, optional

Add oil to a large pot on medium-high heat.


Once oil is hot, sear half of the beef just to develop some browning and to form fond at the bottom of the pot. No need to fully cook the beef nor to brown all sides.


Place the remaining beef into the pot with just enough water to cover.


Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf, and salt. Bring the beef to a boil then turn down the heat to a simmer.


While the beef is cooking, make the chili paste by adding 1 ½ cups of water and the chili de Arbol in a small pot. Boil the chili until soft.


Add the entire chili mixture to a blender along with the rest of the chili paste ingredients and blend until completely smooth.


About 1 hr after bringing the beef to a simmer, remove the bay leaves then pour the chili paste into the pot and stir.


Cover and cook until the beef is tender and falling apart, about 1 ½ to 2 hrs more.


Turn the heat off and remove the meat from the consommé.


Shred the meat, then keep the meat and broth warm.

Serve as Main Dish


Place shredded meat with consommé on bowls. Top with white onions and cilantro.


Serve with toasted tortillas on the side.

Serve as Quesabirria Tacos


Dip corn tortillas in the consommé.


Place a pan over medium heat and add the dipped tortilla.


Add cheese to half of the tortilla. Top with shredded meat and fold in half.


Cook the taco on both sides until the tortillas are browned and the cheese is melted.


Serve broth on the side topped with white onion and cilantro for dipping.


You can also use the queso-taco method with large flour tortillas to make quesadillas.

Substitutions & FAQs