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Beef Birria Recipe

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 2 hrs 45 min
  • Calories: 366
beef barrio in a bowl topped with cilantro and chopped onions next to corn tortillas and bowls of extra onion and cilantro

Though birria is traditionally made with goat, we’ve become partial to this beef birria recipe. Full of chiles and spices, it’s a stewy braise that always satisfies.

Chile-Loaded and Versatile, Our Beef Birria Is One for the Books

We first encountered birria when we tried it in the infamously amazing tacos served at Teddy’s Red Tacos in Venice, CA. It was love at first bite, and we’ve been working hard to create a version of birria that’s easy enough to make at home, but still bursting with the beefy, chile-y, spicy goodness that stole our hearts. And sure enough, we eventually figured it out. This recipe hits the spot! If you’re not familiar with it, birria is a traditional dish from the Mexican state of Jalisco, though it can be found throughout Mexico these days, not to mention in homes and restaurants all over the U.S., too! Rich with chilies and cozy, warm spices like cinnamon and ginger, birria is most authentically made with goat meat, but beef birria—”birria de res”—has become popular of late. We just adore this hearty, fragrant, chile-heavy stew-like braise, and we know you will, too.

Beef Birria Ingredients laid out on a counter Chuck roast, chiles, cilantro, onion, spices and corn tortillas

Meet Your Main Beef Birria Ingredients

Beef birria is a wonderful recipe to make on a weekend day, when you have time to just let the beef braise slowly—good old low-and-slow—and fill your home with its deeply spiced, wonderfully heady aromas. Though you will need to set aside some time, you won’t need to make any special grocery runs for the ingredients. The main components of this recipe are just:

  • Dried chiles. We love a combination of three easy-to-find dried chiles! Ancho chiles (which are dried poblanos), guajillo chiles (a tangy, sweet chile that’s really delicious), chiles de árbol (a thin, classic Mexican chile that’s 6 times as hot as a jalapeño!).

  • Dried herbs and spices: cinnamon, oregano, cumin, bay leaves, ginger

  • Beef! Beef birria recipes really vary a lot in terms of what cut of beef they call for. We favor chuck roast, which is ideal for a low-and-slow braise like this. Plus, it’s not usually too expensive.

  • Onion

  • Fresh garlic

  • Beef stock

  • Fire-roasted tomatoes

  • Vinegar

dried chiles in a skillet
dried chiles in a sauce pan covered in water
Beef Birria Sauce in a blender ready to be blended
Beef Birria sauce blended in a blender

How to Make Beef Birria

If you’ve ever made a braised beef dish, this whole process will be mostly familiar. Here’s how to make beef birria:

  1. Prepare the dried chiles. Seed, toast, and soak the chiles. It sounds like a whole thing, but it only takes about 20 minutes. Detailed how-to is in the recipe at the bottom of the page.

  2. Brown the beef. Cook it in batches if need be, and make sure you get a nice browning on all sides. Set it aside, or just go ahead and put it right into your Dutch oven.

  3. Make the birria sauce / broth base! There should be some fat and oil left in the pan from searing the beef—that’s a good thing! Use it to cook the onion wedges a bit, then add garlic, cinnamon, oregano, cumin, bay leaves, and ginger. After a minute or two, pour in the beef stock and vinegar.

  4. Time to blend! Pour the onion, broth and spice mixture into a blender, and add the seeded, soaked and drained chiles. Blend! Voila! You’ve made the world's best braising liquid.

  5. Pour your chile sauce over all of the beef into a Dutch oven, and cook for about 3 to 3.5 hours, until the meat is falling apart.

brown chuck roast beef in a skillet
onion, garlic, cinnamon, oregano, cumin, bay leaves, and ginger in a skillet for beef birria recipe
Beef Birria recipe ingredients in a pot
beef covered in beef barrio sauce in a pot

How To Serve Beef Birria

There’s so much you can do with beef birria! Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Serve it as a hearty, rich stew in bowls, garnished with chopped onion and cilantro with warm tortillas on the side.

  • As a filling for quesadillas.

  • Or try our birria tacos!

beef birria shredded in a bowl on a counter
beef barria in a bowl topped with cilantro and chopped onions next to corn tortillas and bowls of extra onion and cilantro

Tools You’ll Need

More Beefy Braises

beef birria in a bowl topped with chopped onion and cilantro with a spoon

We Want to See Your Stuff!

If you make this beef birria recipe, let us know how you like it! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

Beef Birria Recipe

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 2 hrs 45 min
  • Calories: 366

Ingredients

  • 2 Dried Ancho Chiles, large
  • 2 Dried Guajillo Chiles
  • 2-3 Dried Chiles de Árbol
  • 3-3 1/2 lbs Chuck roast, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, cut into 4 wedges
  • 4 garlic cloves smashed
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 cups Beef stock
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can fire roasted tomatoes

For Serving

  • raw white onion, chopped
  • cilantro, roughly chopped
  • tortillas, warmed

Method

  1. Cut open the dried chiles with kitchen scissors or a knife and discard the seeds. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Toast the dried chiles for 4 minutes, moving them occasionally so they don't burn, turn heat off.
  2. Cover the chiles with 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once the water begins to boil, turn the heat off and let the chilis soak until softened, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  4. Pat the beef dry with a paper towel and season the meat with salt and pepper.
  5. In a large dutch oven heat the oil over medium high heat. Working in batches, cook the meat on all sides until browned, about 15-18 minutes total. Transfer the meat to a plate.
  6. In the same pot, reduce the heat to medium and add the onion wedges. Cook until onions are browned on both sides, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and toss until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the cinnamon, oregano, cumin, bay leaves, and ginger to the pan, cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
  7. Deglaze the pan by adding the beef stock and vinegar and scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen anything stuck to it. Remove the pot from the heat and allow ingredients to cool slightly.
  8. Add the contents of the pot to a blender along with the canned tomatoes. Drain the softened chilis (discarding the water used for soaking) and add them to the blender. Blend on high until fully combined and a smooth sauce is achieved.
  9. Add the beef along with the prepared chili sauce back to the dutch oven, cover and cook on center rack until beef is tender and can be shredded with a fork, about 3-3.5 hours.
  10. Remove the meat and shred it, discarding any large pieces of fat.
  11. Serve the meat along with the remaining broth/sauce in bowls garnished with chopped onion and cilantro, in warm tortillas, as a filling for quesadillas OR try our Birria Tacos!

Note: If you don't have a dutch oven, brown the meat and onions in a large skillet and transfer contents to a large baking dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories 366
  • Protein 57 g
  • Carbohydrates 9 g
  • Total Fat 13 g
  • Dietary Fiber 3 g
  • Cholesterol 130 mg
  • sodium 963 mg
  • Total Sugars 3 g

Beef Birria Recipe

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

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  • Monique Renae Henley

    So im making the sauce out the juice from the meat?

    Yes, but you will also be adding beef stock. Hope you enjoy Monique!

  • Makaela Franzen

    Hello!
    Could I make this in a slow cooker?

    You could but we don't have instructions for that method at this time. thanks Makaela!

  • L Matthews

    How long do I cook the beef in a pressure cooker?

    We have never tried this recipe in a pressure cooker. We'd probably recommend about 45 minutes. Again, this hasn't been tested so we can't say for sure. Hope it works out for you!

  • Kristen Davis

    Hi! I made this for super bowl and it was so delicious! The only thing I had an issue with was my sauce turned out really thick. I used a Dutch oven in the oven to cook. I ended up adding some chicken bone broth (it’s all I had on hand), heating it up and then using a sieve to strain out the liquid. I didn’t end up with much liquid but enough to coat the tortillas in for tacos. Any advice for next time would be much appreciated! Thank you :)

    Hi Kristen, so glad you made this work and loved it! We aren't sure why you didn't end up with enough sauce. If you used 2 cups of beef stock, the can of tomatoes with their juices and covered the pot there should have been plenty of juices.

  • Amanda

    Could I substitute the beef for pork shoulder?

    We haven't tried this recipe with pork shoulder so tough to say for certain how it would turn out. It will change the cook times, typically a good rule of thumb for pork shoulder is 30 minutes per pound. If you try it out, we'd love to hear how it goes!

  • Brad

    I made this for Cinco de Mayo and made tacos for my family. It was an absolute hit with my son who usually shies away from tacos. The only downside I encountered (and I believe someone else mentioned this) is after braising the meat in the oven for 3 hours the sauce had reduced by a lot. We couldn't get any consomme for dipping the tortillas. Still the birria was very moist and delicious, but I would have loved to have that consomme!

    Thanks Brad, we are so glad that your family loved this recipe! We will test this recipe again to see if we experience the same thing with the sauce. Thanks for letting us know!

  • Lindsay

    Do yourself a favor and make this. I made it for a taco night and my friends were so impressed. I followed the recipe exactly apart from adding a little more water while it was in the oven.

    Thanks so much Lindsay, so happy you and your friends loved it!

  • Sarah Crawford

    I used pork shoulder in mine, and it was great. I cut it into 1 - 1.5 inch cubes and seared for 3 minutes in two batches. Then cooked it in the dutch oven per your instructions (325) above for 3 hours -- at that point it was soft and melty and easily pulled apart.

    Also I doubled the beef stock to 4 cups (I think most birria recipes I've found have 4 cups of stock or even more) and it was reduced perfect, I had plenty of creamy sauce. Hope this helps some folks.

    LOVE YOUR SITE AND RECIPES!!

    Thank you so much Sarah, we are so happy to hear that! We are glad you enjoyed this one!

  • Leslie

    It was a little mild. I would use extra peppers next time. I did cook it in a pressure cooker for 50 minutes and it was perfectly tender. I also had chopped white radish instead of the onion with fresh cilantro. I will try it again. :)

    Thanks Leslie, we are glad you liked it and will be making it again!

  • Katy Fitzgerald

    I made this today in my dutch oven and it was easy and delicious! I added a few more dried chilis and about 1/4 tsp of ground cloves as well as extra garlic. I also left the roast whole instead of cutting into pieces, that seems like an unnecessary step (that can lead to overcooked meat if one is not careful) and the result is same, tender melty beef. I also added more salt to the finished sauce. I served with chopped scallion, cilantro, fresh queso fresco, and shredded green cabbage. I am going to freeze my left over sauce for another use. Overall a terrific recipe that will make another appearance in my kitchen. Thank you for sharing.

    Thanks Katy, we are so glad you loved it!