True Story: I live in the middle of nowhere, Canada, which is too far from good Beef Birria Tacos. So, I decided to make them on my own and here is how I did it so that you can do it at home too! Don't be scared. It's easy to do. There are many steps, but they are all simple, and you know what? You deserve some good tacos so let's do this.
It's important for me to say that I am not Mexican, there are many Mexican food bloggers who have shared their recipes for this. I worked off of Charbel's recipe from her site My Latin Table. Please check out her site for amazing authentic Mexican recipes! On this site you will see recipes from cuisines around the world, these recipes are created from me reading many recipes and adapting them to my own tastes and substituting ingredients that are available to me in rural Canada.
How is this recipe different from Authentic Birria Tacos?
- Beef - authentic uses goat or lamb
- New Mexico Chiles - Authentic recipes call for Guajillo and Ancho
- Sugar - I added some brown sugar to balance this dish out as a personal preference. I read that the ancho and Guajillo chiles are sweeter than the new Mexico chiles so this may not be necessary if using them.
- Tortillas - I made tortillas from all-purpose flour and cornmeal - authentic calls for corn tortillas.
- Mozzarella Cheese - Oaxaca Cheese is the authentic cheese used in this recipe but there are also many sources that state no cheese is also common. Mozzarella is a common substitute for Oaxaca cheese. my advice is to get the really good string mozzarella such as Saputo brand. cheap ”mozzarella” won't work well here.
Let's note right here and now that you can make this without using dried peppers. I have no idea if it tastes as good but people do it. You can make it with a can of Chiles in Adobo Sauce and some broth. Here is a recipe that you can reference if you want to go that route.
- 8 New Mexico Chiles (Deseeded) - Traditionally 4 Anchos and 4 Guajillo Chiles are used however I was unable to source them. New Mexico Chiles are a comparable pepper and it turned out great using them. Try to source Anchos and Guajillos but if you can't here is an article about substituting Chiles to see what will work vs what you have available.
- 1 Dried Chipotle Pepper - These are relatively easy to find. If you can't find one, The best substitute for chipotle peppers is chipotle powder. Or you can add an extra New Mexico pepper, ancho pepper or guajillo pepper.
- 8 Peppercorns - If you don't have whole peppercorns you can use ¼ teaspoon of black pepper (this is an equal amount to 8 peppercorns)
- 2 Cloves - If you don't have cloves, you can use ½ teaspoon of ground cloves when you add the cumin, If you don't have ground cloves - don't sweat it. They are an insignificant part of this recipe and leaving them out is ok.
- 1 Large Onion - Roughly Diced. Use Red, White or Yellow.
- 8 Cloves of Garlic - Peeled and then Roughly Diced. If you don't have fresh garlic you could use garlic powder but in my opinion, it's not an equal substitute. Your Garlic powder bottle will give you a measurement for how much is equal to one clove.. (it varies by brand)
- 2 Bay Leaves - If you don't have a bay leaf you can substitute the two bay leaves for ½ teaspoon of dried thyme.
- 1 Cinnamon Stick - If you don't have cinnamon sticks you can add ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon into the sauce when you add the cumin.
- Dried Thyme
- Dried Marjoram or Dried Basil
- Dried Oregano
- Brown Sugar - Optional
- 28 oz/ 796 ml Can of diced Tomatoes - You can use an equal amount of canned tomatoes that are whole or whatever - you're blending this so the quantity of tomatoes matters more than the way the tomatoes are cut. You can also use fresh tomatoes if you're some kind of professional gardener or rich person who just loves buying fresh tomatoes hahaha. If you're using fresh tomatoes use 4 large ones.
- Apple Cider Vinegar - you could also use white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar or even good old plain white vinegar.
Beef - Any cut works. However, since you are braising the meat and that is perfect for tough cuts! I used a Beef Shoulder Roast. This is from the Chuck part of the animal. Other popular cuts are blade steak/roast, Short Ribs, Stew Meat etc. Traditionally, this dish is made with goat meat. Some authentic recipes call for a mix of lamb and goat ribs with beef shank. The moral of the story is you can use whichever red meat you have available to make this, including game.
Tortillas and Toppings
- Corn Tortillas - Below is a recipe to make your own wheat-corn tortillas if you are motivated to do so. However, you can buy corn tortillas If you prefer.
- Cilantro - Optional but always delicious
- White Onion - Finely Diced
- Mozzarella or Ozcaca Cheese - Oaxaca cheese is also. known as quessillo. It is a white semi-hard cheese that originated in Mexico. It is similar to unaged Monterey Jack cheese but with a texture of Mozzarella.
Steps to Make Beef Birria Tacos
- Make the Sauce/Marinade
- Cut up and trim the meat and then marinate the meat in the fridge
- Cook the meat
- Separate the sauce from the meat, and shred the meat.
- Make the Tortillas
- Dip the tortillas in the sauce
- Melt the Cheese in the pan, top with sauced tortilla, flip the tortilla over, add meat then fold the tortilla over and crisp up both sides of the taco.
- Serve with sauce to dip in and garnish with cilantro and chopped onion.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. The flavour will be waaaaaaay too intense. Fish them out before blending the sauce.
1 week in the fridge 3 months in the freezer. I wouldn't assemble the tacos until ready to eat. Freeze or Refrigerate the beef and sauce individually until ready to serve.
Yes, Follow the steps the same. For Instant pot cook at high pressure for 45minutes. For the Slow Cooker cook on high for 6-8 hours or low for 8-10.
They aren't spicy at all! the peppers have their seeds removed. Seeds are what carry the heat in peppers. You use the peppers to build flavour, not heat. If you want to spice em up Add a hot sauce such as This one from walmart.
More Great Recipes
Beef Birria Tacos
Chiles for Marinade
- 8 Dried New Mexico Chiles or 4 ancho and 4 guajillo
- 1 Chipotle Pepper
- 2 Cups Water
Other Marinade Ingredients
- 1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
- 1 Large Onion
- 8 Cloves Garlic
- 28 oz Can Diced Tomatoes
- ¼ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 8 Peppercorns
- 2 Cloves
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1½ Tablespoons Salt
- 1½ Teaspoons Cumin
- ½ Teaspoon Ginger
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Basil or Marjoram
- ¼ Cup Brown Sugar Packed
- 5 Pound Beef Shoulder Roast See Ingredients list for various cuts that are great to use for this recipe.
Tortillas (Can use 20 small store bought corn tortillas instead, if desired.)
- 1⅓ Cups all-purpose flour
- ⅔ Cup Cornmeal
- 4 Tablespoons Canola Oil or whatever oil you prefer
- ½ Cup Water
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- ½ Cup Cilantro Diced
- 1 Red, Yellow or White Onion Finely Diced
- 2 Cups Oaxaca or Mozzarella Cheese about 2 tablespoons per taco
- Preheat your oven to 350°F, Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and then: PUT SOME GLOVES ON. Use a damp paper towel to wipe off each Chile. Roast the Chiles for 6 minutes or until they start to puff up. Remove from oven. Turn off the oven.
- using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors: cut the top off of the chiles and chipotle pepper and cut the pepper in half so you can remove the seeds.
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Add deseeded pepper and chiles to the water and simmer for 10 minutes
- While your pepper and Chiles are simmering: In a large pot (Dutch Oven) add your oil to coat the pan. Saute the onion and garlic until fragrant.
- Add in Tomatoes, Vinegar and the rest of the seasonings and sugar. Once the pepepr and chiles are done simmering, add them in too. Now simmer all of this for 10 minutes. Sitrring occasionally.
- REMOVE and discard the bay leaves and cinnamon stick.
- Use an immersion blender to blend the marinade into a nice sauce. You can also use a food processor or regular stand blender. If using either of these be mindful of the steam and you might be better off to let the sauce cool before blending.
- Cool the marinade in the fridge.
- Cut the meat down into 3" chunks, trim off any silver skin, excess fat etc. If you are working with bone in meat you can keep the bone with the meat to both marinate it and cook it. This will infuse more flavour. Place the meat in the dish you plan on cooking it in.
- Pour the chilled marinade over the meat, cover with a lid, and place this all in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours and up to 12 hours.
- Place meat, still in its marinade, in a preheated 350°F oven for 3 hours, or until tender.
Tortillas (if making from scratch)
- Mix together the ingredients until a ball is formed. Knead until the dough is smooth. If the dough is too dry add 1 tablespoon of water. If it is too sticky add 1 tablespoon of flour.
- Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces. PLace on a plate and cover for atleast 30 minutes.
- When ready to fry your tortiallas: Works one at a time. Flour a clean work surface and your rolling pin. Roll the tortilla out to a 5-6" diameter. Meanwhile have an UNGREASED frying pan on medium heat ready to go. Fry each side until bubbles start to form (about 45 seconds) as one tortilla cooks, roll out the next one.
Prep Taco Ingredients
- Shred the Meat, Strain the sauce that the meat cooked in and set aside. You will dip each tortilla in this consomme and also serve a small bowl of it with the tacos for dippins. Dice the Onione and Cilantro.
Heat up a skillet, electric frying pan or cast iron pan onto medium heat.
- Melt 1.5 Tablespoons of cheese in a 4" diamter area. While cheese is melting take a fried tortilla and dip it in the sauce. Place the tortiall ontop of the cheese. Use a thin metal spatula to flip the cheese and tortilla over. Place a small amount og fhredded meat on half the tortilla. Add half a tablespoon more of cheese. Fold the tortilla over and continue to fry until both sides are crisped up.
- Plate 2-3 tacos per person. Serve with a small bowl of sauce and garnish with cilantro and onion.
Please leave a review and let me know what you think of this Birria Taco Recipe. Thank you for checking out aqueenathekitchen.com!
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