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Beef birria tacos.

Photo: iStock

Beef birria tacos

A birria taco is a traditional Mexican dish made with braised meat inside a taco shell that's been pan-fried in the fat from the birria – a spicy and savoury beef or goat stew. 

The magic happens when you dip the tortilla into the stew and fry it until crispy. The birria tacos are then filled with Oaxacan cheese (quesillo), coriander, lime and white onion. A small bowl of consommé is served on the side for dipping. One bite into the gloriously crispy shell dipped in succulent beef birria sauce, and you’ll never go back. 

24 February, 2023
Average: 4.3 (3 votes)

serves for


total time

6 HR 0 MIN


Beef shank
1.5lb (680g)
Sirloin steak
1lb (450g) or other roast
Dried guajillo peppers
Chipotle pepper
1 can
1/4 cup (59ml)
1/2 cup (90g), crushed
Garlic cloves
Dried oregano
1 tsp (1g)
Smoked paprika
1/2 tsp (1.15g)
1 tsp (2.02 g)
1 medium, chopped
Cinnamon sticks
Bay leaf
Whole cloves
Chicken stock
Corn or flour tortillas
12-16 4" (10 cm)
1 chopped, optional
Chopped, optional
Mexican cheese blend grated
1 cup (113g)


Step 01

Bring a pot of water to a boil and then remove from heat. Soak the guajillo peppers for 15 minutes. Cube your sirloin, then season the steak and the shank with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Step 02

Add the marinade ingredients to the blender. When the peppers are done soaking, cut their stems off, remove the seeds, and then add them to the blender. Blend the marinade into a smooth paste. Let the meats marinate for at least two hours or even overnight.

Step 03

Set your Instant Pot on saute high or use a skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp (30ml) oil, then saute the onions until golden and translucent.

Step 04

Add the meats, marinade, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, and cloves to the Pot. Cover with chicken broth and cook at high pressure for 45 minutes – If cooking on the stovetop or in a slow cooker, set it to low heat for 4-6 hours.

Step 05

When the Instant Pot has finished cooking, wait for a natural release, then remove the meat. Shred and set aside.

Step 06

Warm the tortillas, then dip them in the stew. Assemble your tacos, add optional toppings, and fry them in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. 


  • Use a cast iron or non-stick skillet. If you use a cast iron skillet, warm it with oil; otherwise, the tortilla will stick. 
  • It's important to have an adequately heated skillet before adding your tortillas to ensure they come out crispy. The tortillas will only crisp up if the skillet is hot enough. However, if the skillet is too hot, the tortillas may burn before the cheese is melted. Use medium heat to cook the tortillas, then cover the skillet with a lid immediately after adding the cheese.
  • Before pan-frying the tortillas, prepare your ingredients so you can bite into the birria tacos while they're hot and oozing with cheese.
  • Warm up your tortillas so they can be folded without breaking – wrap them in damp paper towels and microwave them for 30 seconds.
  • To make extra crispy tacos, dip the tortillas in the top layer of the consommé, where the fat is.
  • To make the best birria tacos, use a good beef shank. Alternatively, you can use veal, lamb, pork or chicken. 
  • Don't skimp on the toppings. The bright freshness of coriander and lime enhances birria tacos. Onions are also an excellent addition to enrich the beef's flavour.

How to serve your beef birria tacos

Birria tacos are so tasty that you could eat dozens on their own. But if you want to serve them with a side, here are some suggestions:


Coriander lime rice

Pickled onions

Tomato salsa




Oaxaca cheese – also known as quesillo – is traditionally used in this dish, but you can also use other melting cheeses, such as mozzarella, Chihuahua, asadero, or Monterrey Jack cheese.

Give your tacos an additional kick and serve them with sliced or chopped jalapenos or hot sauce. 

Mix in some sour cream to add an extra touch of flavour and a delightful contrast. Its vibrant and velvety texture complements the crunchy and cheesy richness for an irresistible combination.

For colourful, punchy freshness, combine tomatoes with onions and coriander to make pico de gallo.

Top the tacos with black bean corn salsa, avocado corn salsa, pineapple salsa, or mango salsa

Load up on the toppings – you can be as basic or as fancy as you like. Get creative and include guacamole, sliced avocados, avocado crema, shredded lettuce, Cotija, pickled red onions, and jalapenos.


Birria tacos can be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days. If you have yet to make all the meat into tacos, freeze the leftover meat in an airtight container for up to 3 months. 

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