This homemade birria sauce, also known as birria consome, is spicy and smoky. It makes the most delicious homemade birria when combined with beef or chicken. Perfect for stew, tacos, enchiladas, and more.
Whether you’re new to Mexican cuisine or well-versed in it, learn how to make homemade birria sauce full of bold, spicy, and balanced flavors.
Use it as the base for birria made with beef, chicken, lamb, or goat. Add it to tacos, enchiladas, or bowls. Use it anywhere you would use salsa or enchilada sauce for extra flavor.
Plus since it freezes well, you can make a big batch of this labor-intensive sauce and store it.
Why you’ll Love Birria Sauce
- Easy: Making a complex-tasting sauce is much easier than you think. Once you learn a few simple techniques, you’ll even be able to customize it to suit your preferences!
- Flavorful: Birria sauce is one of the most flavor-rich and unique sauces in Mexican cuisine. Take part in the incredible birria experience by making it in your own home.
- Versatile: Use it as a base for stew, as a dip for tacos, as an enchilada sauce, or infused into ramen. The options are endless!
What is birria sauce (birria consome)?
When it comes to Mexican cuisine, most people have heard of birria sauce by now. If you haven’t, this flavor-packed consome makes up the base of the infamous Birria de Res (or beef birria stew).
Birria sauce is made by blending dried chiles, Mexican oregano, cloves, garlic, cumin, and a few other spices together. The final result is a smooth, rich, and spicy sauce perfect for flavoring meats and other proteins. It’s one of those recipes that you really need to taste to understand.
As mentioned, we often use the sauce to marinate and slow-cook beef. The flavors of the meat merge with the birria sauce, creating a rich and intoxicating consome.
However, you can also use it as a dip for birria tacos, as a filling in tamales, or a sauce for enchiladas, or in place of salsa with tacos.
This is one of those sauces that must be in your kitchen repertoire if you’re a Mexican food lover!
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here is what you need to make this authentic birria sauce.
- Dried Chiles: We love the sweet, spicy, and smoky combination of guajillo, arbol, and ancho chiles. Look for dried Mexican chiles in the international aisle of the grocery store. If you can’t find them there, try to find a local Mexican food market or order some online.
- Onion and garlic: This combination packs some serious flavor! Fresh onion and garlic infuse the broth with a full-bodied savory aroma and taste. White onion is best, but yellow onion will work.
- Roma tomatoes: We use Roma tomatoes for a bright, acidic, and juicy element in the broth. Feel free to use another tomato variety if you’d prefer.
- Herbs and spices: Traditional birria sauce herbs and spices include Mexican oregano, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and bay leaves. Whole spices provide the most vibrant flavor, but ground spices are more convenient. Use what you prefer!
- Apple cider vinegar: Adds a tangy note that balances the richness of the birria sauce. It also helps tenderize meat if it’s used to marinate it. White wine vinegar, coconut vinegar, or light Mexican beer all have similar effects.
- Broth: Homemade or store-bought chicken broth both work. You can also use beef broth for a richer, more traditional taste.
How to Make Birria Sauce
Follow these step-by-step instructions to make this sauce at home.
1. Toast the dried chile peppers
Toasting chiles is an essential step to making a really good birria sauce. It helps release their oils, which makes the sauce more flavorful. I never recommend skipping this step!
Start by opening the dried chile peppers and removing the seeds. The easiest way to open them up is with kitchen shears versus a knife.
Heat a cast-iron or heavy skillet over medium-high. Toast the chiles in a single layer until they’re fragrant and puffing up. Watch them closely since they can burn quickly and burnt chiles taste very bitter.
If the fumes from dried chilies bother you, you can also pop them on a baking sheet in a 400-degree oven for 6-8 minutes until lightly browned and softened.
2. Soak the peppers in broth
Add the onions, tomatoes, garlic, and spices to a heavy skillet. Cook them for 7-10 minutes until beginning to soften. Add the vinegar to the pan and scrape any browned bits off the bottom. Then add the chicken or beef broth to the pan and bring it to a low simmer.
Now it's time to let the toasted chile peppers soak and rehydrate. Turn off the heat and cover for 30 minutes. Covering the pan will keep the liquid warm so that the dried chiles soften. This makes them easier to blend and creates a smoother sauce.
3. Blend the birria sauce
Blend everything in a blender, or use an immersion blender. Scrape down the sides a few times if the mixture is in a blender. Blend it until very smooth.
For an even smoother sauce, use a high-speed blender and strain it through a fine-mesh strainer.
If the sauce seems too thick, add some extra broth. But remember that if you are cooking the sauce with beef, chicken, or goat - the protein will release some liquid into the sauce.
Ways to Use Birria sauce
Once simmered, birria sauce can be used in several different applications. Test out one of these ideas:
- Beef Birria: Simmer beef in birria sauce on the stove, slow cooker, or Instant Pot for the most delicious meal.
- Chicken birria: Simmer chicken in birria sauce on the stove, slow cooker, or Instant Pot for the most delicious meal.
- Quesabirria Tacos: Nothing goes better with quesabirria tacos than a side of birria consome.
- Birria Ramen: Add birria sauce to a ramen bowl for a unique fusion dish.
- Birria Pizza: Instead of traditional tomato sauce, use birria sauce as the base of homemade pizzas. Add shredded beef and cheese on top for a quesabirria-style pizza.
- Rice: Jazz up plain Brown Rice or Cauliflower Rice by tossing it in some birria sauce.
- Scrambled eggs: Switch up your mornings by mixing some birria sauce into your regular scrambled eggs. It’s one way to awaken the senses!
- Tamales: Use a combination of birria sauce and your favorite meat or vegetables as a filling for tamales. Alternatively, mix the birria sauce right into the masa!
- Enchiladas: Instead of your typical enchilada sauce, swap in birria sauce and stuff them with your favorite fillings.
- Burrito: Add a drizzle of birria sauce inside burritos or chimichangas for a flavorful twist!
Storage and Reheating
You can never have too much birria sauce. If you end up with leftovers, follow these simple storage and reheating instructions:
- Fridge: Cool the sauce to room temperature, then store it in an airtight container like a mason jar. You want a sturdy container that won’t allow any leaching of flavors. You can expect it to last up to 5-6 days in the fridge.
- Freezer: Store birria sauce in the freezer for up to 3 months. Once it’s cooled, transfer it to a freezer-safe bag or container and add a label before freezing it.
- Thaw: When you need more sauce, thaw it in the fridge overnight.
- Reheat: Reheat your birria sauce in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5-7 minutes.
Variations and Recipe Ideas
There are a few ways to customize this sauce and adjust the spiciness and smokiness to fit your preferences.
- Spicy: Add more heat by increasing the number of arbol chiles, adding piquin chiles, or even dried habaneros. You can also leave some of the seeds in the chiles, but some people find them bitter.
- Smoky: For a smoky flavor, add morita or meco chipotle peppers. You could also add some canned chipotle peppers in adobo.
- Consistency: Adjust the consistency of this sauce by adding or removing broth. If you’re using it as a dip, make it thicker. If it’s being added to a soup or ramen, thin it out.
Tips for Making Birria Sauce
Follow these tips to make sure your sauce comes out delicious every time.
- Remove the seeds: Although you don’t have to remove every seed from the chiles, the seeds often add a bitter taste and ruin the flavor of the sauce.
- Strain: For the smoothest consistency, make sure to pass the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer.
- Watch the chiles: Avoid burning the chiles by heating them just until fragrant. Burnt chiles will impart a very bitter flavor to the sauce.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions about making birria consome at home.
This birria sauce is made with ancho, arbol, and guajillo chiles, so it has a medium heat level. If you’re looking for a milder spice, omit the arbol chiles completely.
I don’t recommend using anything but dried chiles in this recipe. Birria sauce has a very distinct flavor that comes from specific Mexican chiles, and it can’t be replicated with fresh ones.
Birria Sauce (Birria Consomé)
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- 4 dried guajillo peppers (seeded)
- 4 dried ancho chiles (seeded)
- 2 dried chiles de arbol (seeded)
- 1 white onion, chopped (large pieces)
- 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped (large pieces)
- 8 garlic cloves (whole)
- 2 tsp kosher salt (more to taste)
- 2 tsp Mexican oregano (or regular)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups chicken broth (or beef)
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Add the spices to the pan (kosher salt, oregano, cumin, coriander, black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves). Stir and cook for one minute. Add the broth to the pan. Scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20-30 minutes until the chiles are soft and pliable.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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