Because Steph still has RSI, I’ve been making all our dinners while we chat and watch youtube each night, and in our house that always means taco nights. While my go-to tacos are al pastor, carnitas, carne adovada, and carne asada, Steph asked to mix things up a bit with something a little more modern, and suggested birria tacos. It was so good and so simple I think this just jumped to the top of my list for all of our future taco nights.

What are Birria Tacos?

Birria tacos, if you haven’t heard of them yet all over social media and the internet, is traditionally an addictive sweet, sour, slightly spicy, and utterly savory Mexican beef stew that’s slow cooked until the beef is tender and fall-apart juicy and delicious. Someone had the bright idea to stuff this beefy goodness into a taco shell, and then dip the whole mess into the stew and fry it up. They blew up after that, and the rest is history. But unlike most fad foods, Birria tacos are so good you’ll be making them every week.

Birria Tacos Recipe |

The best birria tacos are dipped in the stew and then fried to crispy gloriousness

It’s really in dipping the tortilla into the stew and frying it to a crisp that the magic happens, so don’t skip this step. Tacos are good but very few people who don’t live in the southwest know that tacos only become truly transcendent once you cook the tortilla in fat. Traditionally they do this in butter or lard, but here we use the fat from the top of the stew to give it that extra kick. Once you bite into a crisp fried taco shell, you’ll never go back.

Birria Tacos Recipe |

Instant Pot vs Slow cooker vs Stovetop

You can make this stew any way you like, but I prefer it in the instant pot because it’s so much faster, and keeps more of the flavor locked inside the dish. Those yummy smells that fill up your house when you slow cook for hours? Those are flavor particles, and that means that’s flavor that’s not in your soup. But, regardless of how you make this, it’ll come out absolutely delicious, so pick whatever method is best for you.

Birria Tacos Recipe |

Birria Ingredients

  • The best cut of beef for birria tacos. For the ultimate birria tacos, use a good beef shank. This is non-negotiable. You can, and should, mix up another cut as well for texture and variety. I prefer meat that’s a little on the lean side for tacos, so I mixed it up with a cheap roast like cab sirloin, but if Steph had her way, she would use short ribs. But, since she’s not cooking, we ended up with a cab sirloin.
  • Dried Guajillo Peppers. These sun dried peppers add an authentic touch of mexican flavor to any stew and you can usually find them in the Mexican aisle of your local grocery store (if you live in America). They are like a mild-medium pepper and don’t add any heat, so you don’t have to worry at all. If you can’t find them, sub any dried mexican/southwestern peppers you can find, such as ancho, new mexico, california, or pasilla. If you really can’t find them, you can skip them, but they’re worth looking for!
  • Chipotle peppers in adobo. These come in a little can and they are salty-sweet-spicy delicious. They form the base of many mexican stews and marinades and you can find them pretty much everywhere in the world, they’re that good. We usually keep 3-4 cans around just for tacos al pastor.
  • Mexican oregano. This version of oregano is always cheaper and almost always fresher and better than the spice aisle stuff, so if you’re already in the Mexican aisle, be sure to pick up a bag, usually only 99 cents or so.

Birria Tacos Recipe |

How to make Birria Stew

Making Birria stew is easy and quick:

  1. Soak the peppers. Bring a pot of water to a boil and then take it off the heat, soak the dried peppers while you do the next steps.
  2. Season the meat. While you wait for the peppers to soak, cube up the roast and season the meat with salt and pepper
  3. Make the marinade. Throw together everything left except the cloves, bay leaves, and cinnamon into a blender. Remove the peppers from the now warm water and let them get cool enough to handle. Hold them by the tip over the sink and cut the tops off with scissors. The seeds will just fall right out. Then drop them into the blender too. Blend it all up into a smooth paste.
  4. Marinate the beef overnight. Two hours is good enough too, but longer is always better when it comes to stews.
  5. Make the stew. Saute the onions. Onions are the base of all flavor, so make sure they are extra delicious – transparent and golden. Take your time. Then add the meats, cover with chicken stock, and add the last few spices. That’s all there is to it!

Birria Tacos Recipe |

How to make Birria Tacos

Once you have the stew, making the tacos is super easy:

  1. Shred your meats. Fry them up too, if you like. I skipped this step and it was ok, but if you like your meat extra crispy and hot, here’s where you would do that.
  2. Warm up your tortillas. This makes them pliable and soft. We use a tortilla warmer, but you can just wrap them up in damp paper towels and microwave for 30 seconds.
  3. Dip and fill. Dip your tortillas in the soup, the fat is near the surface so you don’t need to dip too far, but make sure they get coverage. Then top half of the tortilla with beef, onions, cilantro (optional), and cheese (optional).
  4. Fold and fry. Fry your tacos in a non stick skillet over medium heat until they crisp up, 2-3 minutes per side. Serve with a side of the stew to use as a dip.

Birria Tacos Recipe |

What to serve with Birria Tacos?

These birria tacos are good enough to eat dozens on their own. If you wanted to do a side though, you can serve them up with homemade tortilla chips, mexican rice, and you even have all the ingredients necessary to make a birria tortilla soup.

Birria Tacos Recipe |

Birria Tacos Recipe

Step up your next taco night with our ultimate guide to the best homemade tacos ever.
Serves 4
4.73 from 92 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 40 mins
Total Time 2 hrs


  • 1.5 lb beef shank
  • 1 lb cab sirloin or other roast/steak


  • 3 dried guajillo peppers see notes
  • 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin


  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 whole cloves
  • chicken stock to cover sodium free, about 1 quart


  • 4" corn or flour tortillas as needed, 12-16
  • 1 medium onion chopped, optional
  • 1 bunch cilantro chopped, optional
  • 1 cup mexican cheese blend grated, optional

Special Equipment

  • instant pot or slow cooker


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and then remove from heat. Soak your dried guajillo peppers for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cube your cab sirloin, then season both the steak and the shank with salt and pepper. Set aside.
    Birria Tacos Recipe |
  • Add marinade ingredients to the blender. When the peppers are done soaking, hold them by the tip over the sink and use scissors to cut the stem off and allow the seeds to fall out, then add to blender. Blend the marinade into a smooth paste. Marinate the meats for a minimum of two hours or up to overnight.
    Birria Tacos Recipe |
  • Set your Instant Pot on saute high or use a skillet over medium heat. Add 1-2 tbsp oil, then saute the onions until golden and translucent (6-8 minutes).
    Saute your onions in an Instant Pot |
  • Add the meats, marinade, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, and cloves to the pot. Cover with chicken broth, then set to high pressure for 45 minutes. If using a slow cooker or stovetop, set to low heat for 4-6 hours.
    Birria Tacos Recipe |
  • When the instant pot is finished, allow a natural release, then remove the meat. Shred, set aside, and discard the bones.
    Birria Tacos Recipe |
  • Warm up some tortillas, then dip the tortillas in the stew. Build your tacos, top with any optional toppings, then fry over medium heat on a nonstick skillet. Enjoy immediately, preferably with a margarita or cold Mexican beer.
    Birria Tacos Recipe |


If you can’t find dried guajillo peppers, sub any dried mexican/southwestern peppers you can find, such as ancho, new mexico, california, or pasilla.

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Birria Tacos Recipe
Amount Per Serving (3 tacos)
Calories 626 Calories from Fat 157
% Daily Value*
Fat 17.4g27%
Saturated Fat 4.2g26%
Cholesterol 152mg51%
Sodium 1644mg71%
Potassium 788mg23%
Carbohydrates 31.8g11%
Fiber 9.5g40%
Sugar 7.5g8%
Protein 61g122%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


  1. I’ve never heard of these but they look delicious!!! We are taco lovers and this recipe looks like a potential new family staple. Can’t wait to try!!!

  2. Tammy says:

    how many servings does this recipe yield? I would love to try!!

    1. Stephanie says:

      i would say it makes enough meat for about 12 generous tacos!

  3. That looks incredibly good. Gonna try it out soon. Thank you for the recipe oh btw i really like your picture :D Have a nice day!

    1. Bryan says:

      5 stars
      Going in the crockpot now hopefully when I arrive home this evening it will be ready ..

  4. Barbara says:

    Can I substitute beef for pork? With the pandemic, there is never any beef at the stores. All I have is a beautiful boneless Boston butt.
    It’s 5.83 lbs.

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi barbara,
      you can definitely sub pork butt :)

      1. Brittany says:

        5 stars
        How long in the slow cooker for pork? Planning on making these tomorrow with Boston butt chunks!

        1. Stephanie says:

          hi brittany,
          i would do low for 7-8 hours :)

  5. Jay Behrendt says:

    How many ounces are your cans of chipotle peppers and crushed tomatoes?

    1. Mike says:

      Hi Jay, it’s the 7oz cans for the chipotle in adobo. The crushed tomatoes are 1/2 cup, which is 4oz, though I don’t think you can find smaller than 6oz cans for those.

      1. Amber says:

        When you say can of chipotle peppers….do you mean a 7oz or 12oz?

        1. Stephanie says:

          hi amber, it’s the 7 oz can

  6. Gigi says:

    5 stars
    Absolutely amazing recipe and so complete and well explained! Thank you! Desde PR :)

  7. Stella L Gonzalez says:

    5 stars
    I will be trying this in the next couple of days I will post a picture….Thank u👍

  8. Alexus says:

    Heyy so how do you do the shells i tried and they keep falling apart?

    1. Mike says:

      If your shells are falling apart they could be a little old/dry. You can steam them before dipping, just microwave them in a microwave tortilla warmer or damp paper towel for 10-30 seconds (depending on how many tortillas you are doing at once, 10s for 2-4, 30s for 6-8+), that should make them soft and pliable.

      1. Jill says:

        I’m dying to try this but I’ve never heard of or seen cab sirloin in my local grocery stores. Did I understand you correctly that you can sub short ribs for the cab sirloin? Or is there another sub for it? Thank you!

        1. Mike says:

          Hi Jill, cab sirloin is just angus sirloin, short ribs would be a great sub – it will make your stew a little fattier, especially in combination with the shank – but that’s just extra helpful for dipping the tortillas :) you should do it!

  9. Stella L Gonzalez says:

    Can you use mine garlic?are it have to be fresh?and the chipotle peppers the whole can it want make it to spice will it?
    Thank you

    1. Mike says:

      5 stars
      Hi Stella – you can use minced garlic, and if you add the whole can of chipotle it will make it much spicier!

      1. Natalie says:

        So use the whole can of chipotle in Adobe or not the recipe says whole can but I don’t want my chest burning

        1. Mike says:

          Hi Natalie, if you are not good with spice, leave out some or all of the chipotle peppers but include the adobo sauce (the can typically has 3-4 peppers and the rest is sauce). You might want to go for the larger can if you decide to leave out all the peppers. I don’t personally find the adobo sauce to be spicy at all – I would call it around black pepper levels of spice – but you might want to taste a tiny bit first before deciding.

  10. Jessica Bailey says:

    Hi! Can these be done without the tomatoes? I’ve had them once and loved them however I wasn’t a huge fan of the tomato flavor.

    1. Mike says:

      Hi Jessica, these won’t taste very tomato-ey at all, but feel free to sub for beef broth if you want to avoid any hint of tomato.

  11. Sarah says:

    5 stars
    Just made this. OMG so good! Really great recipe. I like the amount of heat this has. Spicy but great flavor! Thank you for a new regular in our house.

  12. Brandon Moore says:

    Ever made with ground beef?

  13. Jennifer flemjng says:

    What can I use for the chipotle and adobo something said sub cayenne and smoked paprika for the flavor I have the other peppers 🌶 And also the tortillas come fresh made by my house mmmmm

    1. Karen says:

      This looks amazing, can’t wait to try out the recipe. Do you have any tips to reduce the spice level/heat? Will removing the seeds from chipotle peppers and/or using less than full can help bring down the spiciness? Or is there a sub for the chipotle pepper in adobo sauce?

      1. Mike says:

        Hi Karen, I think your best bet would be to just use the adobo sauce with no peppers at all. You’ll lose a bit of smokiness but the peppers themselves can be pretty spicy, seeds or not. I would buy the bigger 14oz can if you choose to skip out on the peppers.

  14. Cindy says:

    Are you using bone in beef shank or boneless? Does it matter which one we use?

    1. Stephanie says:

      try to get bone-in if you can!

  15. Nakia says:

    I will be trying this with a whole chicken. Do you just season with salt and pepper or put it in the marinade overnight and then add the chicken and left over Marinade to the stew

    1. Mike says:

      Hi Nakia, I would marinate overnight and do all the other steps the same, but change your instant pot time to 30 minutes instead of the 45.

  16. Robert Heatley says:

    Curios if it matters what size insta pot ? I have the big 8 quart .

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi robert,
      the 8 quart is great, that’s what we have too and there’s more than enough liquid (1 quart)

  17. Carly says:

    Are the roasts cut prior to cooking? Or would you leave them as a whole roast?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi carly,
      the roast is cut into cubes (step 1) and we leave the shank whole.

  18. Luis Galarza says:

    I know these will be great. Added some rib eye to the mix.

  19. Kaite says:

    Do you put onions and cilantro in the soup part when it’s finished?

    1. Stephanie says:

      yes, onions and cilantro!

    2. Natasia says:

      I did added a great flavor also added some lime

  20. Natasia says:

    Little bland to my liking added my own seasoning in with the seasonings included in this recipe. I used chuck roast next time I’ll try beef shank

  21. Tameka says:

    How important are the cloves and cinnamon and NO sodium broth. Can broth with sodium be used.

    1. Mike says:

      Hi Tameka, you can skip the cloves and use regular broth, no problem at all!

  22. Romeo Lopez says:

    5 stars
    We made them tonight and they were phenomenal. Started to marinate the meat at 1pm and let them go for 3 hours. We followed your recipe and it was an outer body experience. Slow cooked it for 3 hours on the stove top. We are on a Birria food coma. We are full and satisfied. Thank you!!! We thought it was going to be spicy but no. It was sweet with a little kick.

    1. Helen says:

      Was wondering if you happen to know the carb count without the tortillas. I do low carb so I would be using low carb tortillas with this.

      1. Mike says:

        Hi Helen, our nutrition is always estimated but without tortillas or the extra onions on top, it is 16.2g carbs, 7.6g fiber, 6.6g sugar per serving, so roughly 10g net carbs per serving.

  23. Phoenix Garcia says:

    5 stars
    Made this for kids and myself last night and omg so delicious!!!. Thank you so much

  24. Irfan says:

    I don’t have chipotle and other chilli. But we have chipotle chilli sauce . Any substitute

    1. Mike says:

      Hi Irfan, the chipotle chilli sauce probably isn’t a good substitute, sorry. Please contact us if you would like more one-on-one help making adobo sauce.

  25. SHEILA says:

    I made this last week without marinating the meat and cooked in a slow cooker for 5 hours. Filled my tortillas with meat, topped with cheese, cilantro and onions then fried them on the stove top and dipped it in the sauce. Holly hell it was soooo good. I’m making them again tonight with plenty of left over for lunch all week long.

  26. Memo says:

    What is the serving size for the nutrition facts? Is it 626 calories for one taco? Recipe looks great, can’t wait to give it a try!

    1. Mike says:

      It’s for 3 tacos including the tortilla and meat but not including any toppings you may put on. I’ve updated the nutrition card to reflect, serving size is always going to be a little wonky with tacos since it’s a DIY load-as-much-as-you-want kind of item, but hope this helps!

  27. A. Burnette says:

    OMG! These look delicious! Two questions though. So, I’d like to try them with chicken (I know, don’t stone me)! I’m sure they would taste great as well! Do you recommend that? Also, for the dipping sauce on the side, do you by chance have a recipe for that? I could be overlooking it!!!

    1. Mike says:

      Thanks! You can do it with chicken, just cook it for 30 minutes instead of 45 and it should be good to go – the dipping sauce is the stew (consomé) that the meat is made in.

  28. Katherine says:

    On the heels of this week’s Taco Tuesday, I’m elated to find this post! I’ll gear up for my Birria food coma event next week. I’m already salivating 🌮🌮🌮🤤

  29. Katherine says:

    Incidentally! What type of vinegar is used for this; red wine, distilled white or apple cider?

    Can’t wait to make these!!

    1. Mike says:

      Hi Katherine, we did the recipe once with distilled white and another time with apple cider, both were great, I’d use whichever one you already have at home.

  30. Diamond says:

    Not the biggest fan of spicy and the sauce is 🥵 haven’t assembled yet hoping it comes out good right now I just taste HOT 😂. Was excited to try these but I was expecting some amazing flavor which I’m not getting at all. Its just hot, followed all directions hooefully it taste better once made into a taco but I definitely won’t be dipping them in the soup but will let my fiancé try it he loves spicy food but I’m definitely looking for something to give it an amazing flavor. Thanks for the very detailed recipe.

  31. Pamela says:

    5 stars
    Yum yum yum! Made this a few weeks ago and the entire family raved over it. I just heard the beep telling me it’s done pressure cooking. We can’t wait to have it again today. Thanks for the recipe- I follow it exactly for the marinade and soup.

  32. Lisha says:

    This looks amazing and we are trying it this week. Tho there’s only 3 of us. Is this a freezeable dish by chance? Can the soup be frozen as well?

    1. Mike says:

      You can definitely freeze both. I suggest freezing the meat and the soup separately so it’s easier to make for next time!

  33. anna says:

    How long would you reccomend for stovetop cooking?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi anna,
      simmer for 4-6 hours on low in step 4 :)

    2. Sue Aguilar says:

      I just started this—the meat is marinating right now. The marinade tasted great. What happens if I don’t use cloves and cinnamon when I am cooking the meat? Does that take away the entire point of birria tacos? Don’t mean to sound like a baby—I’m just not used to those spices in beef.

      1. Mike says:

        Hi Sue, it’ll be fine if you skip them. If you make it again I think you should try the cloves and cinnamon if you have it on hand; many (most?) cultures love and add these two spices to beef, so I think you’ll find yourself enjoying the flavor combo. They go together really well. If you love pho for instance, that’s cloves + cinnamon + beef.

        1. Sue Aguilar says:

          Not a fan of pho (I Know). But we do make a tri-tip rub that has cloves and cinnamon in it, so I will probably be ok!

  34. Sue Aguilar says:

    5 stars
    We just finished making this recipe, and I included the cinnamon and whole cloves and LOVED it! Such a great recipe!

  35. Amy says:

    Do you add all of the marinade into the soup with the meat? Or meat only? How long do you slow cook the meat it for? I’m not seeing this.

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi amy,
      yes, add all the marinade to the soup with the meat. the slow cooker instructions are in step 4. :)

  36. Kait says:

    I have a 4 lb pork butt. Do I need to add more ingredients/ double the cooking time?

    1. Mike says:

      Hi Kait, if your pork butt is boneless, cube it up into 2″ cubes and you should be fine with the recipe as is. no changes needed if its bone-in. If you want the pork on the softer side, cook for 1hr instead of 45min. Hope this helps!

  37. Stephanie N says:

    5 stars
    I followed this recipe to a T. We went the slow cooking route and WOW. Be warned, this recipe is quite spicy for those not used to it. It had a great smokey flavor. I was cautious about the cloves and cinnamon but it was definitely necessary! I wouldn’t change anything about the recipe and will make it again in the future

  38. Verna says:

    5 stars
    I made these last night! Delish! I think next time I will use only one chipotle pepper. My day got away from me so I could only marinate one hour but figured it wouldn’t make much of a difference since they’re cooking in a pressure cooker. I think I was right…??? Anyway, amazing recipe! Thank you very much

  39. Kristine says:

    5 stars
    Tacos de birria is like a craze here in NJ. Our favorite spot is too far and I tried using your recipe tonight, the first one that popped up. My mexican family is super impressed! A keeper recipe for sure!

  40. Ruby says:

    5 stars
    It was amazing kids and hubby enjoyed it

  41. sherry says:

    5 stars
    Tried this recipe yesterday in the instant pot and WOW!!! Came out SOOOO good! It was easy to shred. I added more Kosher salt to the meat when it was done. It gave it a boost of flavor. Ate this with an avocado cream salsa and was amazing. I got multiple compliments. I was wondering what brand of tortillas do you use? :) I heated it over the fire then dipped it in the stew. It had the tendency to want to break so I was very delicate. But the corn tortillas I got were “extra soft” so maybe that has something to do with it.

    Either way this is 5+++ stars. Thank you for the recipe and tips!!! :)

  42. MargaretAnn Reeves says:

    5 stars
    I made this for my family in the instant pot and it was a huge success. I doubled it and I’m glad I did. That shank meet was absolutely the best. Your recipes are consistently awesome and I appreciate your awesome recipes.

  43. Angelina says:

    How much vinegar

  44. Danny says:

    Is there a way to make this WITHOUT it being spicy at all? I want to have good flavor but no heat factor with these any suggestions? Thanks

    1. Mike says:

      Hi Danny, try using only the adobo sauce with no peppers, you’ll need two or three cans to make up for the lack of volume. Guajillo peppers aren’t spicy to me, maybe like black pepper level, but you can skip those as well if you are looking for zero heat factor.

  45. Jenni Silva says:

    5 stars
    Omg! I made these tonight for the first time and they were amazing!! So much flavor and I only marinated it for 4 hours. We love spicy and this did not disappoint!! If you don’t like so much spice I would recommend eliminating the chipotles that are in the adobo. Still use the sauce bit not the actual peppers. But if you love spice like we do, put the whole can in! Thank you for this recipe!!

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Thanks for reading as always!
-Steph & Mike