This Beef Birria, or Birria de Res, is a Mexican shredded beef dish made with a flavorful combination of dried chile peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and broth. This tender and juicy be birria is perfect for tacos, burritos, tortas, and more!
Birria de Res (beef birria) is a deeply rich and ultra-satisfying Mexican beef recipe that is so insanely flavorful—you won’t believe it’s made with just a few simple ingredients.
Beef Birria is a popular Mexican dish made up of a spice-infused broth and tender, slow-cooked meat. It’s shredded and served with fresh onions, cilantro, and corn tortillas. The flavors are spicy, smoky, and savory.
Birria is definitely having a moment right now and is being seen on menus everywhere. From classic birria tacos served with consome to quesabirria tacos and birria quesadillas overflowing with crispy cheese, this savory shredded beef is so good. We also love birria de pollo if you are in the mood for chicken.
What is Birria?
Beef Birria (or birria de res) is a rich, hearty, and satisfying dish that became famous in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Traditionally, birria is made with goat meat. Nowadays, it’s more common to find it prepared with beef due to availability.
If you’ve ever tried birria in Mexico, you’ll know how incredibly flavorful it is. The base starts with a spicy broth featuring guajillo, ancho, and arbol chiles. Bone-in beef is then simmered in the broth with aromatic spices like oregano, cumin, and cinnamon.
There are a variety of ways to serve birria, from soup to tacos and quesadillas. In this recipe, we’re sharing birria in its most traditional form, shredded and served with consome on the side.
Consome, sometimes called birria sauce, is simply the chili-infused broth the beef cooks in. Normally it is served on the side with lots of fresh diced onions and cilantro. Then you dip the tacos into the broth to add even more flavor. So good!
Birria de Res Ingredients
Let’s quickly cover the ingredients you’ll need to bring this birria beef recipe to life.
- Beef: Lean beef chuck roast is our personal favorite option for birria. You can also swap in lean beef brisket, beef stewing meat, or top-round roast. Bone-in or boneless cuts can be used. Bone-in is more traditional in Mexico to get a super flavorful consome, but it can be harder to find here.
- Dried Chiles: A combination of guajillo, ancho, and arbol chiles provides sweet, smoky, and spicy elements. You should be able to find them in the international aisle or a Mexican food market. If you don’t have access, swap in chipotles in adobo and chili powder.
- Onion and garlic: Both add necessary savory and zesty notes. I recommend white onion, but you can substitute yellow onion. Definitely use fresh, whole garlic cloves!
- Roma tomatoes: Bring a juicy and vibrant component to the broth. If you’re in a pinch, canned tomatoes can be used.
- Herbs and spices: Typical seasonings include Mexican oregano, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and bay leaves. Make sure they’re fresh for the perfect balance of flavors.
- Apple cider vinegar: Provides tanginess and brightens the stew. If you don’t have any apple cider vinegar on hand, try white vinegar, or even light Mexican beer.
- Broth: Beef or chicken broth both work, but beef broth makes for a more savory consome.
How to Make Beef Birria
If you have never cooked with dried chilies before, it's slightly time-consuming, but surprisingly easy. Follow the steps below to make this delicious dish.
1. Toast the chiles
Toasting chiles helps release their oils, which brings so much more flavor to recipes. I never recommend skipping this step! The easiest way to open them up is with kitchen shears versus a knife. You can remove the seeds, or you can leave some of the seeds in for more spice.
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 as burnt chiles taste very bitter!
2. Rehydrate the chile peppers and add spices
Add the onion, garlic, tomatoes, and spices to the pan and saute until softened. Add the vinegar to the pan and scrape off any browned bits from the bottom. Then add the broth and bring it to a simmer.
Turn off the heat and cover for 30 minutes. Covering the pan will soften the chiles, making them easier to blend.
It may seem like a lot of spices go into this dish, but it’s for good reason! Traditionally, they are all added to balance the gamey taste of goat. But, the combination is too good not to include in beef versions as well.
3. Blend the chile 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.
For the smoothest sauce, use a high-speed blender and strain it through a fine-mesh strainer.
4. Cook the beef
Give the beef a quick sear in a hot heavy skillet. You just want it to be browned on the outside on both sides, but it will finish cooking as it simmers in the chile sauce. I always recommend starting with dry, room temperature beef for the best results. Don’t move it for 2-3 minutes, or until the crust forms.
Add the seared beef and chile sauce to a slow cooker. Cook the beef on low for 8 hours, or until it shreds easily. The slow-cooking method is important to achieve tender, fall-off-the-bone meat!
Recipe Tips and Variations
Want to make the best-ever Birria de Res? Here are some of my top tips and recipe variations to help you do just that:
- Meat: Try different meat like goat, lamb, or even chicken for a different flavor.
- Chiles: Add in other dried Mexican peppers like pasilla, piquin, or morita chiles for an equally fragrant and complex flavor. If you’re worried about the heat, feel free to omit the ancho chiles or simply reduce the amount you use. Even with the ancho chile peppers, this dish is not overly spicy. As long as you can handle a little bit of spice, you’ll be fine.
- Ramen: Try making your own birria ramen by adding ramen noodles at the end of the cooking process.
- Quesabirria tacos: Prepare birria tacos or quesabirria tacos for a different style of serving birria. Dip the tortillas in the consome, fill them with shredded beef and cheese, then cook them like a quesadilla!
What to Serve with Beef Birria
Beef Birria is traditionally served in corn tortillas with consome (the cooking broth) on the side for dipping. You can’t forget a garnish of fresh cilantro and diced white onion.
If you are lucky enough to have leftovers, here are some more ideas:
- Make birria nachos by adding beef to tortilla chips along with melted cheese, fresh cilantro, and chopped green onions.
- Whip up burrito bowls with a base of brown rice or cauliflower rice, followed by your beef and any other toppings you like.
- Serve your beef over warm corn tortillas with queso fresco and pickled onions for delicious birria tacos.
- Load up this dish into tortillas and bake a drool-worthy beef enchilada entree that works great for serving large groups.
- Lighten it up with a birria taco salad by serving this dish over a bed of leafy greens with corn, black beans, queso fresco, and avocado chunks.
Tips for Making Beef Birria
Follow these tips to make really delicious birria every time.
- Choose the right cut: When it comes to beef birria, chuck roast is the cut of beef you’re looking for. You can also use brisket or shank.
- Watch the chiles: It’s important to dry cook the chiles until just fragrant. If you burn them, they will impart a bitter flavor that’s hard to fix.
- Have patience: Allow the meat to slow cook for the full cooking time so the flavors have time to meld together. If you know you’re going to be making this recipe ahead of time, cook it early in the morning or set it to finish overnight.
- Taste and adjust: Birria is a spice-forward dish. Start with the recommended amounts, then gradually add more as you go.
- Refrigerate overnight: Like many slow cooked and braised dishes, this only gets better with a night in the fridge. If you can, cook this ahead of time and then gently reheat in a large pot the next day.
Storage and Reheating
Beef Birria is just as good (if not better) the next day since the flavors have a chance to meld together. Here are some quick and easy storage and reheating tips:
- Fridge: Store leftover birria in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5-6 days.
- Freezer: Once cooled, transfer leftover birria to a freezer-safe container and keep it frozen for up to 3 months.
- Reheating: Thaw birria in the fridge overnight if frozen. Otherwise, heat it over medium-low, while stirring occasionally, until warmed through.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to some of the most popular questions about this slow cooker birria de res recipe:
The first birria recipes were made with goat meat, which is why it’s largely considered the most traditional protein to use. As it became more popular, different types of meat (like lamb and beef) became more widely used due to their availability and cost.
Classic beef birria tastes spicy, tangy, smoky, savory, and herbaceous. It’s a very bold and intensely flavored dish.
Birria is most often made with beef, goat, or lamb. However, you could also use pork or chicken if you prefer. Because this dish is cooked to juicy perfection low and slow in the slow cooker, you really can’t go wrong with any type of meat you want to use.
Yes! You can make Instant Pot Birria de Res by following the recipe up to the point where you would ordinarily add the meat and sauce to the slow cooker. Instead, add everything to your Instant Pot and set it to high pressure for 60 minutes. Then, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes before manually releasing the rest.
Beef Birria (Slow Cooker, Instant Pot, or Dutch Oven)
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- 3 lbs lean beef chuck roast (cut into 3-4 pieces)
- 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 and vinegar to the saucepan. Scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes until the chiles are soft and pliable.
Slow cooker: Add the beef and chile sauce to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours until the beef is fork-tender and easily shreds. Shred the beef. Instant Pot: Sear the beef in the Instant Pot. Add the birria sauce and set it to high pressure for 60 minutes. Then, allow the pressure to release naturally for at least 10 minutes before manually releasing the rest. Dutch oven: After searing the beef, add the birria sauce. Bring it to a simmer on low. Cover and cook for 2.5-3 hours until the meat is fork tender. You can also place the Dutch oven in a 300 degree oven for about 3 hours if you prefer.
* 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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