Prep 20 mins
Cook 50 mins
Total 1 hr 10 mins
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Smokey and spicy, this Beef Birria is the king of stewed meats in chile sauces. Simmered until tender, this pull-apart beef is served in a richly spiced broth that’s cozy comfort food at its finest.

The Best Birria Recipe

Richly spiced, this birria with thickened consomé and pull-apart beef is a comforting hug waiting to happen. Perfect for chilly winter nights, every spoonful is sweet, smokey, and just the right bit of spicy.

Don’t worry if you need to head out, just throw everything into the crockpot. By the time you remember the birria is cooking, it’ll be done and ready to be generously ladled into large bowls. Topped with lots of lettuce, onion, cilantro, and spicy radishes, all it needs is a squeeze of lime juice for some acidity.

With the perfect combination of dried chiles and spices, you won’t need to head down to Mexico for a fresh bowl of authentic birria. Just in case you need a quick kitchen “getaway”, though. Dunk bolillo or corn tortillas into the flavorful broth to eat it like a true local and let the streets of Mexico come to you.

Bowls of beef birria with toppings.

What Is Birria?

Birria is a traditional stewed meat dish from Jalisco, Mexico. It is simmered in a chile and tomato-based sauce with lots of spices to give it heat, sweetness, and smokiness. The meat is usually served in a bowl of its consomé and can be enjoyed on its own but is typically used to make tacos de birria on the grill.

Ingredients for beef birria.

Recipe Ingredients

If you love spices, this beef birria is for you. Check the recipe card at the bottom of this post for exact ingredient amounts.

  • Dried Pasilla Chiles: You can find Dried Pasilla Chiles in the Latin section of the grocery store.
  • Dried Guajillo Chiles: You can find Dried Guajillo Chiles in the Latin section of the grocery store.
  • Roma Tomatoes – Heirloom tomatoes with most of the seeds removed will do too.
  • Onion – White or yellow will work fine.
  • Garlic – You will need fresh garlic for this unless you want to dump the entire container of garlic powder in.
  • Mexican Oregano: You can use regular oregano in a pinch, but Mexican Oregano will give you the best flavor.
  • Dried Thyme: The same amount of fresh thyme works as well.
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Ground Cinnamon: 1/4 cinnamon stick is a good substitute.
  • Ground Cloves
  • Allspice
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: You can also use white vinegar but reduce the amount by 1/2.
  • Beef Broth: I prefer low-sodium, but use your favorite.
  • Bay Leaves
  • Boneless Beef Chuck: Beef shank and brisket are also good alternatives.
  • Radishes
  • Cilantro
  • Lime wedges

What Cut of Meat Should I Use?

Boneless beef chuck, shank, or brisket are the best cuts of meat for birria. They hold up well during long hours of cooking and have sufficient fat to make the dish comforting but not greasy.

How to Make Birria

This is the path to amazing beef birria. Don’t stray too far from it.

  • Toast the chiles. Cut the stems off the chiles and remove all the seeds. Place them in a pan or griddle over low heat. Toast them for 3-4 minutes or until lightly blackened on all sides. Throw them in the blender.
  • Char the tomatoes. Place the onions and tomatoes in the same pan. Raise the heat to medium and let them char for 3-4 minutes on all sides until they’re black all over. Remove them from the heat and set them aside.
  • Blend the sauce. Add half the onion to the blender. Add all the tomatoes, garlic, oregano, thyme, salt, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, black pepper, vinegar, and broth to the blender. Process until you get a smooth mixture.
  • Strain it. Use a large mesh sieve to strain the sauce and discard the pulp.
  • Cook it. Add the sauce, bay leaves, and meat to the pot. Mix to combine and let it simmer over low heat for 3 hours. Check back every hour and add more water as needed. Remove from the heat when the meat falls apart easily.
  • Serve. Remove the meat from the pot. Carefully use 2 forks to shred it. Ladle consomé into bowls and add birria meat to taste. Top with radishes, onion, and cilantro to taste. Serve with a lime wedge.

Tips for Making This Mexican Beef Stew

With these tips, you might as well start taking orders for beef birria.

  • Do it over low heat. Raising the heat will only result in dry, tough birria. Be patient and let it cook low and slow.
  • Scrape the bottom of the pot. Scrape the bottom of the pot every 30 minutes to avoid anything from sticking and burning.
  • Make a spice sachet. Add all your spices and aromatics to a piece of cheesecloth and tie it to make a sachet. Throw it into the pot and cook the birria. When done, just remove the sachet.
  • Reduce it. The longer you let the birria simmer, the more the consomé will thicken. For a stew-like dish, reduce it for 20-30 minutes longer.
  • Save the broth. Once you’ve finished the meat, save the consomé. You can use it to prepare “sopa de fideo” and “birriamen” with it.
  • Use chicken. Using chicken thighs and breasts instead of beef makes for a yummy variation.
Two bowls of beef birria with toppings.

Can You Make Beef Birria in the Crockpot?

Absolutely! Set it to LOW and let it cook for 6-8 hours or until the meat is tender and easy to shred.

What to Serve with Birria

Don’t worry about main dishes since birria is considered a meal of its own.

It’s usually served with tostadas, bolillo, or tortillas for dunking into the broth. Optional sides include frijoles charros, frijoles de la olla, and even guacamole for something creamy.

Bowl of beef birria with radish, cilantro, onion, and a lemon wedge.

How to Store Leftovers

Refrigerate any cooled leftovers with their cooking juices in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

To reheat it pop it into the microwave for up to 3 minutes or until warm. Make sure the lid is slightly open to avoid splattering. You can also heat it in a pot over medium heat for 5-7 minutes.

Can I Freeze This?

You can also freeze it in a freezer-friendly bag or container for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the fridge for 24 hours before reheating it.

More Mexican Recipes

Yield: 5-6 servings


Recipe card photo for beef birria.

Soupy and comforting, this smokey beef birria will cure any broken heart. Spiced, sweet, and spicy, it shows there's hope for true love.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 3 dried pasilla chilis
  • 5 dried guajillo chilis
  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 white onion, diced, divided
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled (approximately 12 garlic cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon {Mexican oregano]({nofollow="false"}
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 pounds boneless beef chuck, beef shank or brisket
  • 3 sliced radishes
  • Cilantro leaves, garnish
  • Lime wedges, garnish


  1. Cut the tops off the chilis and remove the seeds. Toast the pasilla chilis and guajillo chilis in a cast iron skillet until lightly blackened on all sides.  Remove from the heat and place in the blender. 
  2. Add the tomatoes and onions to the pan and toast till tomato and onion are blackened on all sides. Remove from the heat.
  3. Add half the onion, all the tomato, garlic cloves, Mexican oregano, thyme, salt, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, pepper, apple cider vinegar and beef broth to a blender and blend until smooth.
  4. Pour into a large sieve and press through with a spatula. Throw away any remaining pulp.
  5. Add the sauce to a large pot, then add the bay leaves and meat. Bring to a simmer and cook over a low simmer for 3 hours. If necessary, add some water to thin down the sauce if it gets too thick as it cooks. 
  6. When the meat is falling apart, or easily pulls apart with two forks, it is ready to serve.
  7. Spoon large bowls of the broth and chunks of meat into bowls, then add sliced radishes, diced onion, and cilantro. Serve with a lime wedge.


Storage: Refrigerate any cooled leftovers with their cooking juices in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Reheat: Pop it into the microwave for up to 3 minutes or until warm. Make sure the lid is slightly open to avoid splattering. You can also heat it in a pot over medium heat for 5-7 minutes.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1554Total Fat: 78gSaturated Fat: 27gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 36gCholesterol: 462mgSodium: 4152mgCarbohydrates: 55gFiber: 6gSugar: 11gProtein: 160g


This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

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I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.
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