This authentic beef birria recipe is a traditional Mexican beef stew, aka birria de res. Full of fall-apart tender meat cooked in a rich beef broth flavored with dried chiles and spices. Serve as a delicious and comforting stew or use the recipe for fried birria tacos and more!
In part, thanks to social media, beef birria and especially quesabirria tacos, have taken the US by storm. And for good reason! Birria (beer-reea with a rolling ‘r’) is hearty and full of amazing flavor using simple, budget-friendly ingredients.
This goes down as one of the best things I make according to the fam along with these Chicken Mole Stuffed Sweet Potatoes and Mexican Chicken Tortilla Skillet!
Why You'll Love this Birria Recipe
- Basic Ingredients – Inexpensive cuts of meat are used with simple pantry ingredients!
- Cooking Methods – It can be made in a large Dutch oven, but you can also use a slow cooker or pressure cooker.
- Make Ahead – The recipe seems involved at first, but birria de res can be made days in advance of serving.
- Freezes Well – This birria recipe makes a large batch which you can halve or freeze leftovers for another time.
- Versatile – This amazing stew can easily turn into tacos as already mentioned along with several other ideas highlighted in the ‘How to Serve’ section.
- Gluten-free and Keto-friendly!
What is Birria?
Birria originated in the Mexican state of Jalisco. The most traditional preparation uses lamb or goat meat that’s slowly cooked in a broth made with chile peppers and spices until it’s fall-apart tender. Beef is more commonly consumed in the United States and a great option for this popular dish.
In addition to the beef this birria recipe uses basic vegetables and pantry ingredients.
- Beef – I combined beef chuck roast with bone-in short ribs. Other stew meat that's meant to cook low and slow will work. Be sure to include some cut with bones to make a more flavorful broth.
- Dried Chiles – I like combining these three chiles for their different flavors. Dried ancho chiles (dried poblanos) are slightly fruitier than guajillo peppers, and both are about a 3-4 on the heat index. Add just one or two chiles de árbol as they're hotter than a jalapeño. A variety of dried chiles can be easily found in the Latin American section of grocery stores.
- Dried Spices – Smoked paprika, oregano, cumin, cinnamon and bay leaves made the cut. Some recipes call for Mexican oregano which you can use if you have it.
- Adobo Sauce
- Roma Tomatoes
- White Onion
- Garlic Cloves
- Beef Stock
- Apple Cider Vinegar
How to Make Beef Birria
This easy birria recipe is worth your while as long as you plan ahead. It takes some time for all that deliciousness to develop as it cooks low and slow. We start out on the stovetop then the oven brings this beef birria across the finish line.
- Prep the Chiles: Snip off the stems with kitchen scissors and shake out the seeds. Then heat a large skillet over medium heat to toast the chiles for a few minutes.
Next, reconstitute them in a medium pot of water that was brought to a boil.
2. Brown the Beef: Season the meat generously with kosher salt and black pepper. Then sear in olive oil over medium-high heat until browned on all sides. Cook in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pot. Leave the rendered fat in the pot for the vegetables to cook in.
3. Make Birria Sauce Base: Cook onions and tomatoes until softened then add garlic, adobo and spices.
4. Deglaze the Pot: Once the garlic and spices become aromatic pour in beef broth and apple cider vinegar. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up brownings from the bottom of the pot.
5. Blending Time: Transfer the onion-tomato-spice mixture and softened chiles into a high-speed blender or food processor and blend until velvety smooth.
You’ll probably need to do this in a couple batches. Be sure not to fill the vessel more than halfway and leave an opening for steam to escape.
6. Ready to Braise: Add the beef back into the pot and pour in all of your luscious birria sauce. Toss in bay leaves and a cinnamon stick or two. Cover pot and cook in preheated oven for 3 to 3 ½ hours until the meat is falling apart.
7. Skim the Fat: You’ll see a shiny layer of grease floating on top when the birria comes out of the oven. With a ladle or spoon skim off as much fat as you can but don’t discard! It’s what we’re going to use to cook up some amazing crispy tacos de birria.
8. Shred the Meat: Once the stew is cool enough to handle, shred the braised meat into your desired size.
Birria Recipe Tips
Meat: Be sure to include at least some cuts of meat with bones in it to maximize the broth’s flavor. And let the beef sit out at room temperature 30-45 minutes before cooking.
Dried Peppers: Remove their seeds unless you’re looking for a super spicy birria. But don’t go crazy; a few left behind are fine. Toasting chiles in a dry skillet before reconstituting in hot water brings out more smoky flavor and it only takes a few extra minutes.
Adjust seasoning: Once the saucy broth is cool enough, give it a taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
How to Serve Beef Birria
Beef birria is so versatile it can be served several ways. This recipe makes a large batch so you can experiment with how you like birria best!
- Serve As Is! Birria is traditionally served in bowls with its consommé, warm corn tortillas and topped with diced onion, fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. Use extra lime wedges for garnish!
- Birria Tacos: Head over to the sister post of this recipe to make mouthwatering cheesy quesatacos (aka quesabirria tacos) which have a side of consommé dipping sauce from the stew.
- Birra Taquitos, Quesadillas, Burritos, Enchiladas and Tostadas!
- Ramen: Use birria with extra broth as a base for ramen noodles, veggies and other toppings (aka, birriamen).
Protein: While beef, lamb and goat are traditional meats used, you can also make chicken or pork birria.
Spices: You can dial the heat up or down to your liking with spicy seasonings like ancho chili powder or cayenne. And you can add other warm spices like cloves, ginger or allspice.
Beans: It’s totally legit to add some beans to your birria if you like. Several regions in Mexico include beans in their preparation.
Beer: Nothing wrong with deglazing the pot with some Mexican beer along with the broth to add more flare to the fiesta!
Birria Recipe FAQs
Leftover birria will last 5 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat in a small saucepan over medium on the stove until hot, or microwave. Plus, birria can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw completely before reheating.
Yes to both! When using a slow cooker, follow the same steps as a Dutch oven until it’s time to braise. Instead, place the browned beef and sauce in a slow cooker for 6-8 hours until beef is super tender. And, here is a great source for instant pot birria.
Barbacoa and birria can be prepared using the same meat, but it’s the cooking method that’s different. Barbacoa is steamed in banana leaves, and typically isn’t spicy. Birria, however, is a stew cooked in a sauce richly flavored with chile peppers and spices.
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Birria Recipe with Beef (Birria de Res)
Birria de Res
- 4 dried ancho chiles
- 3 dried guajillo chiles
- 2 dried chiles de Árbol
- 3 pounds chuck roast , quartered
- 3 pounds bone-in short ribs
- kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 white onion , cut into wedges
- 3 roma tomatoes
- 8 garlic cloves , peeled and left whole
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 cups beef stock , divided
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- White onion , chopped
- Green onion , chopped
- Fresh cilantro
- Lime wedges
- Warm corn tortillas
- Snip open the dried chiles with kitchen scissors or a knife to remove the stems and shake out seeds.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Toast the dried chiles for 3 minutes, moving them around occasionally so they don't burn. Remove from heat.
- Cover the chiles with enough water so they’re completely submerged. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once the water begins to boil, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook chiles until softened, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Pat the beef dry with a paper towel and season the meat generously with salt and pepper.
- In a large Dutch oven or oven-proof stock pot heat the oil over medium-high heat. In two batches, cook the meat on all sides until browned, about 15 minutes total. Transfer the meat to a plate and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.
- In the same pot, reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and roma tomatoes. Cook until onions and tomatoes begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic cloves, adobo sauce, paprika, oregano, cumin and cinnamon to the pan. Cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant, stirring frequently.
- Add 2 cups beef stock and vinegar to deglaze bottom of the pot and scrape up brownings. Remove the pot from the heat.
- Carefully transfer vegetable mixture from the pot to a blender or food processor. Drain the softened chiles and add them to the blender (discard the soaking water). Blend on high until fully combined and smooth.
- Add the beef back to Dutch oven and pour chili sauce over. Stir to cover meat completely. Toss in bay leaves and cinnamon sticks and cover with lid.
- Cook on center rack in preheated oven until beef is fall-apart tender, about 3 to 3 ½ hours.
- Try to skim off as much fat off the top as possible but don’t discard! Reserve to cook tacos in.
- Remove the meat when cool enough to handle and shred with two forks or your hands, discarding any excess fat.
- Stir remaining broth into the birria sauce. Add shredded meat back to the pot and carefully stir until the beef is well coated.
- Serve the birria with the consommé in bowls garnished with chopped white onion, green onion, cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice with warm tortillas on the side. OR, use as a filling for these mouthwatering Birria Tacos or one of the other suggestions mentioned in the post. Enjoy!
Birria Recipe TipsMeat: Be sure to include at least some cuts of meat with bones in it to maximize the broth’s flavor. And let the beef sit out at room temperature 30-45 minutes before cooking. Dried Peppers: Remove their seeds unless you’re looking for a super spicy birria. But don’t go crazy; a few left behind are fine. Slow Cooker Instructions: Follow the same steps as a Dutch oven until it’s time to braise. Instead, place the browned beef and sauce in a slow cooker for 6-8 hours on low until beef is tender. And, here is a source for instant pot birria. Storage & Reheating: Leftover birria will last 5 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat in a small saucepan over medium on the stove until hot, or microwave. Plus, birria can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw completely before reheating.
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Love all the detailed steps you have for prepping the chilies! Birria tacos are our favourite -- will have to give your recipe a try soon!
Kim Peterson says
Thanks so much Michelle! They are the epitome of ultimate tacos!
Chef Mimi says
I’ve made birria, but never followed through with the tacos! I need to make it again. For sure.
Kim Peterson says
Absolutely! Now you have the perfect excuse!😊