Homemade Beef Birria

Birria is a heavenly combination of slowly cooked tender beef and a beautifully spicy broth. Serve it as is or make birria tacos!

Birria in a bowl

Susy Villasuso / Simply Recipes

Originally from Jalisco, Mexico, birria is a stew traditionally prepared with beef, goat, or lamb. For this recipe, I use beef. Cooked slowly in a rich and spicy consomé—a deeply flavorful red broth made with dried Mexican chiles, herbs, spices, and aromatics—the meat becomes tender and is served shredded in the consomé. It’s a stew that is built on layers upon layers of flavor with smart techniques and little effort. 

Pro Tips for the Best Tasting Consomé

The beef cooks low and slow in the highly flavorful consomé. That’s why it’s important that it tastes delicious. Here are some tips to getting a flavor-packed consomé:

  • I use a blend of dried chiles de arbol, guajillo, and ancho chiles. In contrast to using just one type of chile, the combination creates an earthy, spicy, and deeply flavorful sauce. 
  • It is important to lightly toast the dried chiles before soaking them in hot water to rehydrate. Toasting wakes up the aromas and flavors of the chiles. Rehydrating makes them easier to blend into a smooth sauce. 
  • Lightly charred tomatoes, onions, and garlic, all of which add more flavor, get blended into the consomé. You want these vegetables to get charred, so there is no need to add oil to the pan. 
  • Use chicken or beef stock instead of just water for more added flavor. 
  • Cumin, dried oregano, and bay leaves are key flavors in birria—and in Mexican cooking in general. This recipe calls for Mexican dried oregano, which has a stronger flavor and is more pungent, earthy, and bitter than other varieties of dried oregano. 
Birria

Susy Villasuso / Simply Recipes

3 Ways To Cook the Birria 

  • Cook the birria on the stove top: This is my preferred method for cooking birria. Use a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot—both retain heat well and are great for low and slow cooking. By cutting the meat into bite-sized pieces, it can get nice and tender in two hours.
  • Cook the birria in a slow cooker: This option is perfect for when you want to set and forget the birria. Set the slow cooker to high heat. It will take about 6 hours. 
  • Cook the birria in an Instant Pot: In a hurry? Use an Instant Pot or pressure cooker set to high pressure. The birria will be ready within an hour. 

Equally Delicious and Traditional Substitutions

  • This recipe calls for beef chuck, but goat, lamb shoulder, or any type of stewing meat can be used. You want to use a tough meat that becomes tender as it cooks low and slow, like beef shank, round, or brisket. 
  • Swap the chiles de arbol with pequin chiles, the guajillo for cascabel or Anaheim chiles, and the ancho with mulato or pasilla chiles. All are considered varieties of Mexican chiles. 

How To Serve Birria

Birria is served in bowls with a good amount of tender meat and a ladle or two of the consomé. It’s garnished simply with the classic combination of cilantro and finely chopped white onions. A little pinch of crushed dried chiles de arbol add another layer of spiciness. 

As with most Mexican meals, birria is accompanied by limes—a good squeeze of lime in the spicy broth is a match made in Mexican heaven—and corn tortillas or tostadas. The latter is better as they are sturdier and can hold up the meat and consomé. A very cold beer will helps cool down the spice.

Then, if you have leftover birria, make birria tacos

Birria

Susy Villasuso / Simply Recipes

More Low and Slow Mexican Cooking

Homemade Beef Birria

Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 3 hrs
Servings 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 10 dried chiles (10g) de arbol, stems and seeds removed and discarded, divided

  • 6 dried guajillo chiles (30g), stems and seeds removed and discarded

  • 2 dried ancho chiles (25g), stems and seeds removed and discarded

  • 5 very ripe tomatoes (about 1 pound), halved

  • 1 large white onion, roughly chopped

  • 3 large cloves garlic

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano 

  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

  • 2 dried bay leaves

  • 2 cups beef stock

  • 1 cup water

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Finely chopped white onion, for garnish

  • Finely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish 

  • Lime wedges, for garnish

Method

  1. Toast and rehydrate the chiles:

    Set a kettle or small pot with 3 cups of water over high heat to boil. 

    Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 6 chiles de arbol, and all the guajillo and ancho chiles, and toast them for 1 to 2 minutes. (The remaining 4 chiles de arbol will be used to garnish the birria.) The chiles are ready when you can smell them.

    Transfer the toasted chiles into a medium bowl and cover with the boiled water. Soak them for 20 minutes, until they turn nice and soft.

    Remove Seeds from Peppers for Birria

    Susy Villasuso / Simply Recipes

    Toast Peppers for Birria

    Susy Villasuso / Simply Recipes

    Soak Peppers for Birria

    Susy Villasuso / Simply Recipes

  2. Char the vegetables and garlic: 

    Heat the same skillet used to toast the chiles over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, onion, and garlic. You don’t need to add any oil. Lightly char them all around, stirring occasionally. This will take you 15 to 20 minutes.

    Char Tomatoes and Onions for Birria

    Susy Villasuso / Simply Recipes

  3. Blend the red chile sauce: 

    Transfer the rehydrated chiles and the soaking water, the charred vegetables, cumin, oregano, peppercorns, salt, and vinegar into a blender. Blend until you get a bright red smooth sauce. This is the flavor base for your consomé.

    Blend Peppers, Tomatoes, and Onions for Birria

    Susy Villasuso / Simply Recipes

  4. Make the birria: 

    In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, add the olive oil and heat it over high heat. Carefully add the red chile sauce and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. 

    Stir in the beef, bay leaves, beef stock, and water. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot with a lid and let it simmer for 2 hours.

    Pour puree in pot for birria

    Susy Villasuso / Simply Recipes

    Add meat for Birria

    Susy Villasuso / Simply Recipes

  5. Prepare the garnishes: 

    You’ll have three small bowls with garnishes: One with the finely chopped onion and cilantro mixed together. Use your hands to roughly crumble the remaining 4 chiles de arbol into a separate small bowl.  And the last bowl will hold the lime wedges.

  6. Shred the beef: 

    Remove the pot away from the heat. With a slotted spoon, transfer the meat into a large bowl. With the help of two forks, shred the meat and return it to the pot. Taste your birria and adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper, if needed.

    Shred beef for birria

    Susy Villasuso / Simply Recipes

  7. Serve:

    Serve warm in a bowl, garnished with the onions and cilantro, crushed chiles de arbol, and a good squeeze of lime. Enjoy and turn leftovers into birria tacos

    Refrigerate leftovers in a lidded container for 1 week and in the freezer for up to 1 month. To reheat, defrost it overnight in the fridge and warm it up in a saucepan on the stove top with a splash of beef stock or water. 

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    Garnish Birria with Cilantro

    Susy Villasuso / Simply Recipes

    Birria

    Susy Villasuso / Simply Recipes

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
400 Calories
15g Fat
15g Carbs
53g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 400
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 20%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 150mg 50%
Sodium 1264mg 55%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 6%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 53g
Vitamin C 43mg 217%
Calcium 94mg 7%
Iron 6mg 35%
Potassium 1032mg 22%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.