Beef Birria is the king of spicy, fall-apart tender stewed meat. This rich and flavorful Mexican recipe is served in a richly spiced broth and can be enjoyed in everything from birria tacos to quesadillas!
Easy Homemade Birria
This flavorful beef birria recipe is incredibly easy to make and can be used in so many ways. Topped with lots of lettuce, onion, cilantro, and spicy radishes, all it needs is a squeeze of lime juice for some acidity. Serve it in tacos, in quesadillas or even as-is with some refried beans and Mexican red rice on the side. Everyone at your table is going to go back for seconds!
Why You’ll Love This Birria Recipe
- Easy. Even though this recipe will make birria so good you’ll think you’re at a Mexican restaurant, the process is incredible simple. Just make the sauce, add the meat and cook.
- Flavorful. Every bite of this Mexican beef is fall-apart tender and bursting with rich flavor.
- Flexible. You can enjoy your birria on its own, or turn it into anything from tacos and taquitos to quesadillas. Make one batch of birria, then serve the leftovers in different ways throughout the week.
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.
This kind of Mexican stew is also called “birria de res,” which means “beef stew” in Spanish.
Ingredients for Homemade Birria
Here is a quick overview of what you’ll need to make birria at home. 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
- 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.
- 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 de Res
Are you ready to make the best beef birria ever? Here’s how to make authentic birria de res right in your own kitchen:
- 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.
Can You Make 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.
Tips for the Best Birria
- Keep it low and slow. 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.
- Adjust the stew thickness. 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.
- Want to use chicken? Using chicken thighs and breasts instead of beef makes for a yummy variation.
Birria de res is usually served with bolillos or tortillas, both of which are dunked into the broth. Optional sides include frijoles charros, frijoles de la olla, and even guacamole for something creamy.
You can also enjoy the birria meat in tacos, taquitos and quesadillas. Just drain and shred the meat and stuff it inside corn or flour tortillas. You can serve warm consomé on the side and dip your food into the broth – so good!
How to Store Leftovers
- Fridge: Refrigerate cooled leftovers with their cooking juices in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Freezer: You can freeze birria in a freezer-friendly container for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the fridge for 24 hours before reheating it.
- To reheat: Place single servings in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for up to 3 minutes or until warm. (Cover with a plate to avoid splattering.) You can also birria it in a pot over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.
More Mexican Recipes to Try
- Carne Asada
- Avocado Salsa
- Colorado Green Chili (Chili Verde)
- Mexican Street Corn Salad (Esquites)
- Pork Pozole Verde
- Camarones a la Diabla
- 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
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 cups beef broth
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 pounds boneless beef chuck, beef shank or brisket, cut into 3-inch chunks
- Radishes, sliced
- Cilantro leaves
- Lime wedges
- Onions, diced
- 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.
- Add the tomatoes and onions to the pan and toast till tomato and onion are blackened on all sides. Remove from the heat.
- 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.
- Pour into a large sieve and press through with a spatula. Throw away any remaining pulp. Set sauce aside.
- Generously season the roast chunks with salt and pepper on all sides. Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed pot, like a Dutch oven, over medium-high heat.
- Once oil is hot, add the meat to the pot in batches and quickly sear on all sides. You are not cooking the meat through, just giving it a good sear.
- Once all meat is seared, add it all into the pot and add the sauce, bay leaves and remaining diced onion. Bring to a simmer and cook over a low simmer for 3 hours. If necessary, add some water or beef broth to thin down the sauce if it gets too thick as it cooks.
- When the meat is falling apart, or easily pulls apart with two forks, it is ready to serve.
- 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.
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