These delicious and authentic Mexican Chicken Birria Tacos are filled with tender shredded chicken in a spicy red sauce served in crispy corn tortillas with melted cheese, cilantro, onion, lime wedges, and consommé for dipping.
Once you have made this incredible Chicken Birria, it’s time to make some delicious Chicken Birria Tacos.
It’s not hard to understand why. This fork-tender, smoky, slightly spicy dish is just so insanely flavorful and good. It makes the ultimate taco.
Today’s recipe takes the traditional birria and switches things up by swapping in chicken for beef or goat. Then all that delicious, shredded chicken is folded into corn tortillas with melted cheese, cilantro, and onion.
What are chicken birria tacos?
Birria is a traditional Mexican dish normally made with goat or beef. The meat is slow-cooked in a rich sauce made from dried guajillo chiles, dried ancho chilies, and dried arbol chilies. The dried chile peppers are rehydrated and combined with spices, herbs, onion, garlic, and broth. Birria sauce is a labor of love, but it is so so delicious.
Birria is normally served with consommé and corn tortillas. In the US, it is often served as delicious quesabirria tacos with crispy corn tortillas, melted cheese, cilantro, and white onion.
These chicken birria tacos are a twist on those traditional tacos made with chicken instead of beef or goat. The chicken is cooked in the same rich and spicy broth. Then it is shredded and served up in warm corn tortillas with the traditional consommé, cilantro, and red onion.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here is everything you need to make these chicken birria tacos.
- Chicken birria: Birria de pollo can be made with chicken breasts, chicken thighs, or chicken legs. The chicken is cooked until fork tender in a broth made with guajillo chiles, ancho chiles, and arbol chiles combined with garlic, onion, tomatoes, cinnamon oregano, cumin, and bay leaves.
- Corn tortillas: Almost all birria tacos are served with warm corn tortillas. Swap in flour or alternative tortillas if you like.
- Cheese: If you want to make quesabirria tacos, then you need a good melting cheese. Monterey jack is the most common but swap in shredded mozzarella, pepper jack, or queso Oaxaca. You can also make chicken birria tacos without the cheese.
- Onion: White onion is the most commonly used in Mexico but yellow onion or red onion can be used. For a punch of flavors, add some pickled red onions as well.
- Cilantro: Cilantro brightens up what can be heavier. It is usually added to both the tacos and to the consommé.
- Consommé (pronounced "con-som-AY"): The consommé is basically the cooking liquid from braising the chicken. Sometimes it is strained or combined with a bit more broth to thin it out. Then it is served with cilantro, diced onions, and lime juice. Traditionally birria tacos are dipped into the consommé as you eat them.
How to Make Birria de Pollo
Let’s start with a brief overview of how to make chicken birria.
The key to birria is making the sauce. It always starts with dried chiles. The traditional combination of guajillo, ancho, and arbol chiles but you can mix it up if you like. The chiles are toasted in a hot skillet to bring out the flavors and oils.
From there the dried chilies are cooked with onion, garlic, and Roma tomatoes until everything softens. Cumin, oregano, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, salt, and pepper are added to that mixture.
To finish the sauce, chicken broth is added and the sauce simmers until the chilies and vegetables are nice and tender. Then it is blended with an immersion blender or in batches with a standard blender.
The last step is to braise the chicken in this delicious sauce. This can be done in the slow cooker, Instant Pot, stove-top, or oven. The exact cooking time will depend on the method and type of chicken used. Refer to the chicken birria recipe for exact directions.
Looknig for an easier option? Try this simple Mexican Shredded Chicken.
How to Make Quesabirria Chicken Tacos
Once the chicken birria is cooked and shredded, it’s only a few more steps to make the tacos.
1. Fry the tortillas
Birria tacos are usually served lightly fried and crispy. Heat up some oil in a heavy skillet. Then dip the corn tortillas into the consommé the chicken cooking liquid) and place the tortillas in the hot skillet.
Cook for about 30 seconds on each side until they are softened.
2. Add the chicken and cheese
Add the shredded birria chicken and cheese to one-half of the tortilla. Fold the tortilla over and cook for about 1 minute on each side or until everything is melted and crispy and delicious.
Some of the chicken or cheese may seep out as they cook, that’s part of the flavor! Let those edges get super crispy and tasty.
Feel free to leave the cheese out if you prefer. They will still be really good.
3. Serve with consommé
Birria tacos are always served with a side of consommé for dipping. This is basically just the cooking liquid. If the liquid is too thick, add some extra chicken broth to thin it out.
Make sure to add some diced cilantro, diced white onion, and lime juice to the consommé.
Side Dish Ideas
These tacos are really filling on their own, especially if you make the version with cheese. Although they are often served with rice and beans, we like to reach for something lighter to balance the heavy flavors.
- Serve these tacos with cilantro lime cauliflower rice or Mexican cauliflower rice.
- Add some veggies with this Mexican chopped salad or a creamy Mexican slaw.
- Make a full Mexican feast with some Mexican Street Corn Salad or Frijoles Charros on the side.
Leftovers, Storing, and Freezing
Like most tacos, these are best served hot and fresh out of the pan. If you plan on having leftovers, try and pack the birria on its own and then assemble tacos when it’s time to eat.
If you end up with some leftover assembled tacos, let them fully cool before storing them in the fridge. Heat up the leftover tacos in a skillet or in the air fryer to help them get crispy again.
Leftover chicken birria can be frozen for up to 3 months in an airtight container.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions about making these chicken tacos.
Birria is also delicious as a soft taco. Just make sure to warm up the tortillas before adding the chicken, onion, and cilantro. Since birria is a heavier filling, consider using double corn tortillas so they don’t break apart as you eat.
Chicken birria isn’t traditionally very spicy. Instead, it is a rich, complex flavor from all the chiles, spices, and aromatics. As the chilies cook, they actually become less spicy.
If you want a spicier chicken, consider adding more arbol chilies You could also add some chipotle peppers in adobo, but it will make the birria both smokier and spicier.
Chicken Birria Tacos
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- 2 cups chicken birria (with consommé)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 8 corn tortillas
- 1/2 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
- 1/4 cup white onion, diced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
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Add the shredded chicken to the tortilla and fold it over. If desired, add a sprinkle of shredded cheese as well to make a quesabirria taco. Make sure to use a good white melting cheese like quesadilla cheese, Oaxaca cheese, or Monterey jack. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until the taco is browned and crispy.
* 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.
These tacos can be made with or without cheese depending on your preferences. They generally do not need salsa since they are served with consommé, but you could add pico de gallo or a spicy red salsa if you like.
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