Birria

30 Comments

This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy.

Jump to RecipeJump to Video

Mexican birria de res from the heart of Jalisco is a hearty slow-cooked stew with the utmost flavor and juicy, fall-apart tender beef. You can serve it in a bowl with fresh toppings like onion, cilantro, and lime juice, or go the extra step to make cheesy birria tacos.

A bowl of Mexican beef birria.
Photo: Gayle McLeod

Why You’ll Love This Birria Recipe

Let me start by saying there’s no one exact way to make birria. It was originally made with goat meat (birria de chivo), but now, different regions of Mexico have put their own spin on this classic dish with beef as the preferred meat. This Crockpot birria recipe I’m sharing today stems from all the delicious experiences I’ve had with it — from local taco stands in Mexico to authentic, home-cooked versions. Here’s why you’ll love it too:

  • It’s similar to barbacoa, but more brothy and spicy. Many of you love my slow cooker barbacoa and carnitas. But if you want a beefy meal that’s juicier and layered with warming, spicy flavors, this slow cooker birria recipe is for you.
  • It’s foolproof and easy to make. The only hard part is gathering the right Mexican chiles and then deseeding them. But once that’s done, the rest is easy because the slow cooker does all the work.
  • There are multiple ways to enjoy it. Traditionally, you serve it as a deliciously spicy Mexican beef stew you can eat on its own. But you can also use the shredded beef for nachos, quesadillas, and especially tacos. Not just any tacos though, but “quesabirria” dipped in the tastiest consommé. It’s one of the best ways to enjoy this recipe (and possibly my favorite taco ever now).
Ingredients for beef birria.

Beef Birria Ingredients

  • Beef Chuck Roast: This cut of meat is what is commonly used to make birria, and will become extremely tender once it undergoes a slow cooking process.
  • Dried Chiles: For the birria sauce, I’m using three types of dried chiles — guajillo chiles, ancho chiles, and arbol chiles. Guajillo chilies add richness and vibrant color, ancho chilies adds a sweet and smoky flavor, and chiles de arbol (aka arbol chilies) kick up the heat (see infographic below). Head to your local Mexican market to find these or order online with the links below!
  • Spices and Aromatics: To accompany the chiles, the spices you’ll need are Mexican oregano, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Plus onion, tomatoes and garlic for the best tasting sauce.
  • Broth and Vinegar: Low-sodium beef broth and apple cider vinegar complete the sauce base to keep the meat tender as it cooks.

Find the printable recipe with measurements below.

The different chiles for birria sauce.

How To Make Birria De Res

  • First, deseed and simmer the chilies. Slice the stems off the chilies and shake out the seeds. Then, give them a quick rinse to remove any dust or dirt from the outside. In a medium pot, add the guajillo chilies, ancho chilies, arbol chilies. Cover them completely with water, bring to a simmer over medium heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, until they’re nice and soft.
  • Roast the veggies. While the chilies are simmering, add the tomatoes, onion, and garlic cloves to a small sheet pan. Broil them for 4 to 6 minutes, until lightly charred.
  • Make the sauce. Transfer the chilies and 1 cup of the remaining water to a high-powered blender. Remove the garlic from it’s peel and add it to the blender along with the tomatoes, onion, broth, vinegar, cumin, oregano, cloves, and cinnamon. Blend on high for 1 to 2 minutes, until completely smooth.
Boiling Mexican chiles in a pot.
Blending birria sauce in a Vitamix.
  • Slow cook the birria. Place the beef chunks in the slow cooker. Pour the birria sauce on top, and add the bay leaves. Use tongs to gently mix it all together, and cover. Cook on low for 8 to 9 hours, or on high for 4 to 5 hours. The beef should be super tender and fall apart easily when shredded with a fork. If it doesn’t shred easily, cook it a bit longer.
  • Shred the meat and combine it with the sauce. Discard the bay leaves. Remove the beef to a cutting board and use two forks to shred it. Then, place the shredded beef back in the slow cooker, stir it, and let it absorb the liquid. This incredibly delicious liquid is known as the consommé.
  • Serve. Serve the birria straight from the slow cooker for a variety of meals (see ideas below) or transfer it to bowls with the consommé for a traditional birria stew. Garnish with chopped onion, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.
Birria de res in a crockpot.
Beef birria in a slow cooker.

Helpful Tips

  • If you’re making this in a Dutch oven, here’s what to do: Sear the chuck roast on all sides in the pot until browned, then set aside. Make the sauce as is, pour it into the pot with the meat, and toss it all together. Bring this to a boil over high heat, reduce to low, cover, and simmer for 3 to 3 ½ hours.
  • Add extra smoky flavor by searing the beef first. This is optional, but tastes so good if you have the time! Once the chuck roast is sliced into pieces, sear each piece on all sides before adding it to the slow cooker to cook.
  • Make the sauce the night before. If you’re on a time crunch, you can make the sauce the night before and store it in the fridge. Then, let it come to room temperature before adding it to the slow cooker.
  • If you want to bring down the heat, reduce the amount of arbol chiles. Use just one or two. You could also omit them completely.
  • If you don’t have access to any of the Mexican chiles, you can use chipotles in adobo sauce. The flavor will be more similar to my barbacoa recipe though.
  • If the beef doesn’t shred easily, it hasn’t been cooked long enough for the connective fibers to break down. Just pop it back in the slow cooker for another 30 minutes, or until it shreds easily.
Beef birria in a bowl.

Ways To Serve Birria

  • Birria tacos (quesa birria): Watch the video below to see how I make these! But essentially, you’ll first dip the tortilla in the birria consommé and cook one side on the grill until crispy. Then flip it and top with cheese across the whole tortilla. Add a portion of birria on half the tortilla, along with a sprinkle of onion and cilantro. Once the cheese has melted, fold the tacos in half, continuing to fry for 2 to 3 minutes each side, until crispy. 
  • Birria quesadilla: The way the tacos are made is very similar to a quesadilla but with a larger tortilla and more of each ingredient.
  • Topped onto nachos: Switch up the meat on your ground beef nachos with shredded birria! You can follow the steps on my carnitas nachos for reference.
Beef birria tacos.

More Mexican Recipes

  • Chicken Fajitas: A classic fajita dish everyone loves!
  • Carne Asada: The carne asada marinade is what makes this SO good.
  • Shrimp Tacos: The best way to make shrimp tacos with a savory slaw.
  • Ceviche: The ultimate light and fresh party appetizer.
  • Elote: This is Mexican grilled corn at its finest.
  • Or check out my list of Mexican recipes for more ideas!

I can’t wait for you to try this birria recipe! If you make it, I’d love to know how yours turned out in the comment box below. Your review will help other readers in the community.

A white bowl of birria.

Birria (Slow Cooker)

4.80 from 10 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 8 hours 15 minutes
Total: 8 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

Mexican birria de res is a hearty slow-cooked stew with the utmost flavor and juicy, fall-apart tender beef. You can serve it in a bowl with fresh toppings like onion, cilantro, and lime juice, or go the extra step to make birria tacos. Watch how I make both in my kitchen in the video below!

Video

Equipment

Ingredients 
 

Beef Birria (Birria de Rez)

  • 4 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 3-inch chunks

Birria Sauce

Instructions 

  • Deseed the chilies. Slice the stems off the chilies and shake out the seeds. Then, give them a quick rinse to remove any dust or dirt from the outside.
    Deseeding chiles on a wooden board.
  • Simmer the chilies. In a medium pot, add the guajillo chilies, ancho chilies, arbol chilies. Cover completely with water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 15 minutes, until the chilies have softened.
    A pot boiling Mexican chiles.
  • Roast the veggies. While the chilies are simmering, add the tomatoes, onion, and garlic cloves to a quarter sheet pan. Broil them for 4 to 6 minutes, until lightly charred.
    Roasting vegetables on a sheet pan.
  • Make the sauce. Transfer the chilies and 1 cup of the remaining water to a high-powered blender. Remove the garlic from it's peel and add it to the blender along with the tomatoes, onion, broth, vinegar, cumin, oregano, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. Blend on high for 1 to 2 minutes, until completely smooth.
    Blended birria sauce.
  • Slow cook the birria. Place the beef chunks in the slow cooker. Pour the birria sauce on top, and add the bay leaves. Use tongs to gently mix it all together. then cover. Cook on low for 8 to 9 hours, or on high for 4 to 5 hours. The beef should be tender and fall apart easily when shredded with a fork. If it doesn't shred easily, cook it a bit longer.
    Birria de res in a crockpot.
  • Shred the meat. Discard the bay leaves. Remove the beef to a cutting board and use two forks to shred it.
    Shredding birria on a board.
  • Combine the meat and sauce. Place the shredded beef back in the slow cooker, give it a stir, and let it absorb the liquid (aka consommé).
    Beef birria in a crockpot.
  • Serve. Serve the birria straight from the slow cooker for a variety of meals (see ideas above) or transfer to bowls with the consommé for a traditional birria stew. Garnish with chopped onion, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.
    A bowl of birria de res with a lime.

Lisa’s Tips

  • If you’re making this in a Dutch oven, here’s what to do: Sear the chuck roast on all sides in the pot until browned, then set aside. Make the sauce as is, pour it into the pot with the meat, and toss it all together. Bring this to a boil over high heat, reduce to low, cover, and simmer for 3 to 3 ½ hours.
  • If you can’t find Mexican oregano, substitute it with marjoram.
  • For less heat, reduce or omit the arbol chilies. They’re the ones that pack in heat!
  • If you have a Mexican cinnamon stick, you can sub a 4-inch piece for the ground cinnamon.
  • To store for the week: Let the meat come to room temperature before placing it in an airtight container. It’ll stay good for 4 to 5 days in the fridge.
  • To freeze for later: Store any leftovers in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, let it thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat in the microwave for a few minutes, until warmed through.

Nutrition

Calories: 514kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 48g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 156mg | Sodium: 902mg | Potassium: 1454mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 7174IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 7mg
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Birra Recipe, Birria, Crockpot Birria, Slow Cooker Birria
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

You May Also Like

About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before appearing on the site. Thank you for sharing your feedback!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




30 Comments

  1. Just made this for a get together and it was a crowd pleaser. I added one less cup of liquid and it was perfect. Used it for quesadillas. I added more salt as well since it brought out the flavors more. Definitely going to keep this one in rotation3 stars

  2. Lisa, This is an awesome recipe. I’ve been looking for an authentic recipe with the flavors that remind me of an old family friend’s Beef Birria.

    I added a Roasted Red Bell Pepper and some Cayenne Pepper to the sauce.

    You Nailed it. Thank you for sharing!5 stars

  3. Good recipe. Not sure it’s necessary to broil the vegetables in the oven. I also don’t think it’s necessary to buy Mexican oregano. The recipe only calls for 1 t. I would just substitute regular oregano. I omitted the chiles de arbol and the recipe was perfectly spicy for me. You can also use a cup less of broth. I used water as broth was not necessary given all the flavor already in the recipe. The amount called for in the blender was too much for the blender to handle, so be careful. I had several cups of leftover sauce, which I’m freezing and will use for another recipe.5 stars

    1. Hi Hibber – Thanks for sharing your experience and tweaks! Glad your birria still turned out great in the end.

  4. I serve it over pasta, with cojita cheese, lime crema and Pico de Gallo on the side. With the crema and pasta, you don’t have to worry about too much heat for your guests.5 stars

  5. I went out of my way to locate the correct chilies for this recipe and it was worth it! Everyone in my family LOVED the birra beef! I think it was the first time in the past few years that I made something everyone wowed. Thank you so much for this delightful recipe that will surly be made again.5 stars

    1. Hi Christine – I’m so glad this birria recipe was a hit! Now you have a dish you can always wow your guests with.

  6. Hi Lisa,
    I made your birria recipe tonight for dinner with pork roast as that is what I had on hand in my freezer. It turned out really good and I also made your cassava flour tortillas to go along with it. I didn’t add the Chiles de árbol because I didn’t want to risk it in being too spicy because I have low tolerance for spicy food. The birria had just enough spice for me, thank you another great easy delicious recipe!

  7. I made this recipe on Sunday when the family planned on being here. Everyone loved it and we made it into tacos. There was only a small serving leftover for me to have for lunch this week. The recipe is easy to follow and I will be making it again.5 stars

  8. Hi Lisa! I just wanted to say this recipe was an absolute hit at home with my husband. He said it was the best meal I have made, EVER! And I’m a pretty decent cook and he went to culinary school so it’s hard to impress him. The flavors are so vibrant. We have birria tacos for a few days and used the remainder as filling for pupusas. I will be making this again for sure!5 stars

    1. Hi Jessica – Yay, I’m so thrilled to hear that you both loved the recipe! And using the leftovers in pupusas sounds like a fabulous idea. Enjoy!

  9. I just got the peppers and oregano delivered and had the thought…..Could this be made with chciken instead of beef? Same weight of chciken thighs? Ajust cooking time…..let me know and if I give it I go I will let you know how it turned out.5 stars

    1. Hi Ann – I haven’t tried this with chicken, but I think it might turn out. You’ll just need the same amount of chicken. I would also reference my salsa verde chicken recipe.

  10. Can a pork roast be used? I ask only because I have some in my freezer at the moment. Or should I just go out and buy beef?

    1. Hi Daril – I haven’t tried this with pork, but I think it could work! You could also reference my carnitas recipe for proper cooking times and instructions.

    1. Hi Helene – Birria is cooked in a richer and spicer broth than barbacoa. You can also see how the birria sauce is pretty different compared to what’s added to the barbacoa recipe.

    1. Hi Mary – I’m sure you can, but you’ll need to look up an Instant Pot recipe to make sure you have the correct cooking time and temperature!