Saucy Birria Tacos Recipe

Tacos are a favorite dining option no matter the night of the week. Stuff them with chicken, ground beef, shrimp, or more, and load up your toppings of choice for a tasty dinner that's easy to customize. Food Republic recipe developer Julianne De Witt takes it up a notch with this saucy birria tacos recipe that's sure to satisfy. The preparation is traditionally from the Mexican state of Jalisco and commonly calls for goat meat. De Witt sticks with beef here, but there's nothing basic about this delicious concoction. 

She describes the dish as, "Beef, slow-braised in a savory, mildly spicy stew then shredded and added to a tortilla and fried until crispy — it's a flavor explosion, a little messy and fun to eat!" Plus, the braising liquid is served alongside as a dipping sauce for the ultimate treat. What's not to love? The cooking time is fairly lengthy, however, the prep work is straightforward and doesn't call for any fancy tricks, so just make a point to plan ahead. It's well worth the added anticipation for taco night once you bite into the tender, saucy meat.

Gather the ingredients for these saucy birria tacos

For the meat marinade, get dried guajillo chiles, then trim off the ends and de-seed them. De Witt explains, "You can find them in the Mexican foods section of your grocery store. They add a mild and somewhat fruity flavoring to the broth." Next, you'll need peeled whole garlic cloves, Mexican oregano, smoked paprika, cumin, apple cider vinegar, canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and crushed tomatoes. The canned chipotle peppers add "heat, a little sweetness, and depth," according to De Witt.

The stew calls for both beef chuck roast and beef short ribs (bone-in), because "the bones and fattier meat in the short ribs add richness to the broth," De Witt explains. Meanwhile, "Chuck roast, when braised in the sauce, is so tender and melts in your mouth," making them a winning duo. Next, get kosher salt, olive oil, a yellow onion (diced), a carton of beef stock, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves. To assemble the tacos, get white corn tortillas, and prep a white onion (diced), cilantro (minced), and a jalapeño (thinly sliced). 

Prep the marinade

Once the guajillo peppers are trimmed and de-seeded, add them to a medium-sized bowl with boiling water to cover them. Set them aside to soften for about 10 minutes. Set up your blender and add the soaked peppers, garlic cloves, Mexican oregano, smoked paprika, cumin, apple cider vinegar, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and crushed tomatoes. Blend the contents on high speed until the mixture is smooth and uniform.

Marinate the meat

Get a large container with a lid and add in the chuck roast and short ribs. Season the meat with kosher salt and pour the marinade from the blender over the top. Toss the meat to coat, then seal the container and transfer it to the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight if possible.

Cook the meat with the seasonings

Once the meat is sufficiently marinated, preheat the oven to 300 F. Pour the olive oil into a Dutch oven on medium heat, then toss in the diced onion and saute for 2 minutes. Next, add the marinated meat with the excess marinade, beef stock, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves. Stir the contents of the pot to distribute everything evenly, then raise the heat to bring it to a boil. 

Place the lid on top and transfer the vessel to the oven for 3 hours, or until the meat is tender. Take the pot out of the oven and carefully remove the pieces of meat from the broth, discarding the bones. Use two forks to shred the meat and transfer it to a bowl. Pour 1 cup of the broth from the pot over the shredded meat, and save the rest of it to use for dipping.

Assemble the birria tacos and serve

Get a non-stick skillet and place it on the burner over medium heat. First, dip a tortilla into the broth then lay it in the skillet. Add shredded meat to one half of the tortilla, then fold the other half over, frying the taco for 1 minute. Flip and fry it for another minute until the two sides are golden and lightly browned. If you're a fan of cheese, De Witt describes, "the quesabirria taco option for those who would like cheese on their tacos. Add shredded Oaxaca (or mozzarella) cheese to the meat before folding over the tortilla." 

One by one, transfer the cooked tacos to a plate as they are ready. Top them with chopped cilantro, onions, and jalapeños, and serve more broth to dip. De Witt recommends serving these delicious tacos "with a side of rice and beans, Mexican street corn, even a simple salad with tomato and avocado salad." Any leftover meat will last 4 to 5 days in the fridge in a sealed container and up to 3 months in the freezer.

Saucy Birria Tacos Recipe
5 from 29 ratings
These saucy birria tacos have beef that's been slow-braised in a savory, mildly spicy stew and then shredded, added to a tortilla, and fried until crispy
Prep Time
Cook Time
saucy birria tacos on plate
Total time: 7 hours, 30 minutes
  • For the marinade
  • 4 dried guajillo chiles, ends trimmed and de-seeded
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 (7-ounce) can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • ½ cup crushed tomatoes
  • For the stew
  • 1 ½ pounds beef chuck roast
  • 2 pounds beef short ribs, bone-in
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 (32-ounce) carton beef stock
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • For the tacos
  • 12 white corn tortillas
  • ½ cup diced white onion
  • ¼ cup minced cilantro
  • 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
Optional Ingredients
  • Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese, shredded
  1. Add guajillo chiles to a medium bowl. Cover with boiling water and allow to soften, approximately 10 minutes.
  2. Add softened guajillos and remaining marinade ingredients to a blender. Blend on high speed until smooth.
  3. Place chuck roast and short ribs in a sealable container and season with kosher salt.
  4. Add marinade to meat, cover, and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours, or ideally overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  6. Add olive oil to a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add yellow onion and sauté for 2 minutes.
  7. Add the meat, marinade, beef stock, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves. Stir well.
  8. Bring to a boil, then cover the Dutch oven with a lid. Transfer to the oven and cook for 3 hours, until the meat is tender.
  9. Remove the meat from the broth and take out the bones. Shred the meat using two forks
  10. Add meat to a bowl, and top with 1 cup of the broth the meat braised in. Reserve the rest of the broth for dipping tortillas.
  11. Place a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Dip a tortilla into the broth and add to the skillet. Add some shredded meat, fold the tortilla over, and fry for 1 minute. Flip and fry for 1 minute more until both sides of the tortilla are lightly browned. (If you want extra cheese, try the quesabirria taco option by adding shredded Oaxaca (or mozzarella) cheese to the meat before folding over the tortilla.)
  12. Transfer tacos to a plate, top with onions, cilantro, and jalapeños. Serve with more broth to dip.
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