Make rich and flavorful birria right at home! This authentic Mexican dish can be enjoyed as a stew topped with onions, cilantro, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice or as the famous birria tacos! The possibilities are endless, and all taste incredible.
Introducing the famous birria recipe that is so flavorful and has become so popular! Birria has gained so much popularity, and for good reason: it’s freaking delicious!
The richness of the spicy and savory red chile broth mixed into the melt-in-your-mouth juicy beef is so satisfying and packed with layers of flavors.
What is Birria?
Birria is a traditional Mexican dish from the state of Jalisco made from slow-cooked fall-apart juicy and tender beef in a rich and flavorful red chile broth, or consomé.
It’s traditionally cooked for special occasions, holidays, weddings, parties, and even baptisms, but it has become so incredibly popular on social media that it can be found everywhere nowadays!
It’s usually enjoyed as a savory stew served with toppings like cilantro, onions, and freshly squeezed lime juice or served as tacos with lots of melted cheese, aka quesabirria tacos!
- Dried Chiles: You need guajillo chiles, ancho chiles, and arbol chiles. You can find them in the international foods aisle of your local grocery store or in a specialty Mexican grocer. If you can’t find them in your area, buying them online is always a great option! If you’ve never worked with dried chiles before, don’t worry. It’s easy, and I walk you through step by step how to use them in the recipe.
- Spices and bay leaves: I used a combination of garlic, cumin, ground clove, Mexican oregano, Mexican cinnamon stick, black peppercorns, and 3 bay leaves. If you don’t have Mexican oregano, you can use regular oregano. If you can’t find Mexican cinnamon sticks (or Ceylon cinnamon sticks), you can use 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon.
- Beef: I recommend using chuck roast for the fat amount and how well it tenderizes, but you can also use rump roast.
- Broth: Using beef broth enhances the beef flavor in the consomé, but you can opt for vegetable broth.
- Vinegar: Adds a really delicious tangy element to the consomé that pairs really well with the red chiles!
- Tomato, garlic, and onion: Staple ingredients that add more depth of flavor.
Did you know?
The most common type of meat used to make birria is beef, but traditionally it was made with goat’s meat. Beef is the most popular meat to use now since everyone has access to it. They both work, but I use beef to keep it simple.
How to Make Birria
Season and sear: Season your meat on both sides with salt and pepper. Then set a Dutch oven over medium-high heat with olive oil. Add the meat and sear on all sides until browned. You might need to work in two batches. Once all meat is seared, set aside.
Soak the chiles: In a medium pot, add all of the dried chiles, tomatoes, onion, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and peppercorns, covering everything completely with water. Bring this to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
Blend: Once the chiles are softened, transfer everything to a blender and add 1 cup of chile-soaked water. Add in the broth, vinegar, and the remaining spices. Blend until smooth, about 5 minutes.
Cook: Strain the blended sauce into the pot with the seared meat (if necessary, depending on the power of your blender), gently stir, and bring to a boil. Bring heat to low, cover, and cook for 3-3 ½ hours, until meat is fall-apart tender.
Shred: Take the meat out to shred, and add shredded meat back to consumé.
Birria can be enjoyed in a lot of ways which is the best part of making it! Whichever way you choose to enjoy your birria, make sure to dip it into the consumé or enjoy it as a stew with plenty of that broth.
- Birria: Serve as a stew in bowls with diced onion, chopped cilantro, and freshly squeezed lime juice.
- Birria tacos: Dip a corn tortilla in the consomé, then lightly fry it in a hot skillet. The consomé has plenty of fat in it from the rendered shredded beef, so it will fry beautifully without having to add additional oil. Add in some shredded beef, and top your taco with cilantro, diced onions, and lime juice.
- Quesabirria: Same as above, except add plenty of shredded Oaxaca cheese (or your favorite melting cheese)! Fold the tortilla to create a taco and cook it in a skillet until the cheese has melted. Serve with cilantro and diced onions.
Adjusting the Spice Level
Birria is traditionally somewhere between a medium to hot spice level, which is how I would classify this recipe.
For a true medium spice, I recommend using only 3 arbol chiles. For a mild spice, don’t use any arbol chiles. For a hot spice level, use anywhere from 7 to 10 arbol chiles.
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
- Dutch oven: This is one of my most-used kitchen tools and is oven safe!
- Slotted spoon: Use this one often when transferring rehydrated chiles to a blender for all my Mexican sauces.
- Blender: A powerful blender is a must when blending up chiles to make Mexican sauces.
- Strainer: If you don’t have a super powerful blender, a strainer comes in handy to ensure your chile sauce and consomé are smooth.
Storing and Reheating
Birria can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To reheat, let the birria thaw in the refrigerator overnight if frozen, then heat in the microwave or in a pot over medium-high heat 5 minutes until heated.
- 4 to 5 pounds chuck roast, cut into large 4-inch chunks
- ½ tablespoon kosher salt
- ½ tablespoon black pepper
- 1 ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 12 guajillo chiles, rinsed, stemmed, and seeded (about 2.5 oz)
- 5 ancho chiles, rinsed, stemmed, and seeded (about 2 oz)
- 5 árbol chiles, rinsed and stemmed (about 0.1 oz)
- 2 large Roma tomatoes
- ½ medium yellow onion
- 1 4-inch Mexican cinnamon stick*
- 3 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- water, as needed
- 2 cups beef broth
- ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano*
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- Generously season the meat with salt and pepper on all sides, and heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Working in 2 batches, add the meat and sear on all sides until browned. Remove the pot from the heat, add the seared meat back into the pot, and set aside.
- While the meat is searing, add the guajillo chiles, ancho chiles, arbol chiles, tomatoes, onion, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and peppercorns to a medium pot. Cover completely with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the softened chiles and all the other ingredients to a large blender.
- Add 1 cup of the chile-soaked cooking water, the beef broth, white vinegar, garlic, cumin, oregano, and cloves. Blend on high for a few minutes until completely smooth. (You may have to do this in 2 batches if your blender isn’t big enough.)
- Strain the blended sauce through a fine mesh strainer into the pot with the seared meat. Discard any solids left behind.
- Stir the meat and chile sauce together to combine and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 3 to 3 ½ hours until the meat is fall-apart tender.
- Transfer the meat to a large bowl and shred it with 2 forks. Add the meat back into the consomé and serve as a stew in bowls with diced onion and chopped cilantro or as tacos in corn tortillas with shredded Oaxaca cheese, cilantro, and diced onions.
- Mexican cinnamon: If you don’t have a Mexican cinnamon stick (also known as Ceylon cinnamon), you can use 2 teaspoons of ground Ceylon cinnamon instead. If you can’t find Ceylon cinnamon, I recommend using 2 teaspoons of ground Cassia cinnamon. If your cinnamon doesn’t indicate which kind it is on the label, it’s likely Cassia cinnamon.
- Mexican oregano: If you don’t have Mexican oregano, you can use regular oregano instead.
- Spice level: The spice level of this recipe is somewhere between medium and hot. For a true medium spice, use only 3 chiles de arbol. For mild spice, don’t use any chiles de arbol.