Making Birria de Res at home is an easy way to pump up the flavor quotient for any number of celebrations. Try this trendy authentic Mexican recipe that can be eaten as either new-world tacos or old-world stew.

three quesabirria tacos on a grey plate with a side of birria dipping sauce and fresh lime wedges

If you need the perfect excuse to roll those R’s this is it. Say it with me…Birrrrrrria. Satisfying, right? Well just wait until you taste this magnificent, fork tender meat served with a juicy, flavorful broth.

What is Birria?

I asked my mom if she knew how to make birria and her answer was, “Wow, I haven’t heard about that dish in years!” She said it was usually made with goat and eaten as a stew. I was telling her about birria tacos served with consommé that have become all the craze, and she was amazed.

overhead shot of shredded birria de res in a terracotta bowl with a separate bowl filled with the birria broth

I think it’s so interesting how a very old-fashioned dish can be reinvented to become the new “it” thing. What was once served from a bowl has now been converted into the top searched taco recipe for 2020! Who’d have thunk it?!?

Traditionally speaking, birria is meat stew from the Mexican state of Jalisco. It is usually made from goat meat in Mexico, but can also be made using beef or sheep. I opted to develop a recipe for birria de res (beef birria) as it is easier to find beef than goat here in the U.S.

My birria de res taco recipe actually reminds me of a cross between tender barbacoa or brisket and spicy adovada. The main difference is that birria also has a flavorful consommé-like broth that accompanies it. Birria is traditionally a stew, after all.

Since we’re turning the meat into tacos, however, that broth becomes a perfect dipping sauce for the crunchy, crispy fried quesabirria (cheesy birria tacos).

Why This Recipe Works

Since birria was not a dish (or taco) I grew up eating, I wanted to be sure to share an authentic Mexican recipe with you. In my search, I stumbled upon this Birria de Res recipe by Doña Angela, the adorable YouTube grandma from De Mi Rancho A Tu Cocina. Her recipe is very rustic made in a big pot on her wood burning stove.

Doña Angela reminds me so much of my late grandma, Jesusita. My grandma never measured anything and always ventured into her garden to pick fresh herbs. Doña Angela uses herbs like marjoram, mint, and bay leaves in her birria de res. 

fresh mint, thyme, oregano and bay leaves on a gray background

I also included dried oregano, because my grandma always added a pinch of oregano to stews and red chile. I also added thyme, which pairs fantastically with beef and adds a touch of depth.

Since most of us don’t cook on a wooden stove these days, I made a few other tweaks to turn this old-world recipe into something anyone could easily recreate in their kitchen today. Using a slow cooker made the most sense to me, as it replicates the slow heat you would get from cooking on a wood burning stove.

While this birria de res recipe does take a bit of time, I can guarantee that it is neither difficult to pull off nor does it require any fancy equipment. I’ve also made sure to tailor the recipe to ingredients that can easily be sourced from a regular U.S. grocery store.

I also love that this recipe has dual uses. Feel free to serve it old school like Doña Angela by ladling it into bowls and topping with cilantro, onions, radish, and chiles like a stew. Or, if you’re feeling modern, try turning it into crispy tacos or cheesy quesabirria! No matter how you serve this yummy meat, you are sure to enjoy it.

slab of meat on a black plate with onion, garlic, salt, bay leaves and peppercorns

How to Make Birria de Res

Slow cook meat

This yummy stew recipe is actually quite simple. First, slow cook the meat.

In a slow cooker add water, beef chuck roast (cut into 4-inch cubes), onion, garlic, salt, black peppercorns, bay leaves, oregano, marjoram, mint, and thyme (if using).

Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

silver tongs holding a serving of shredded birria de res

Remove the beef and shred the meat and discard fat pieces. Season to taste. Place shredded meat back in the slow cooker with broth.

dried chiles and a fresh onion with a head of garlic on a wooden board

Make red chile sauce

While the beef is cooking, make your red chile sauce. This sauce will add a ton of flavor to the resulting birria stew.

homemade red chile sauce in a white enameled bowl with a blender pitcher and a cast iron dutch oven in the background

Remove stems, seeds, and veins from the chile pods. Place in a colander and rinse well with cool water.

Add chiles, garlic, onion, and water to a large pot. Bring water to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes. After 10 minutes turn the chiles over with tongs to make sure the chiles soften evenly. Allow time to cool down before blending. Do not discard water.

hand pouring homemade red chile sauce through a strainer into the crockpot with the birria

Once cooled, place in blender with salt. Blend until smooth. If necessary, season with more salt. Strain sauce through a fine sieve into the slow cooker and stir. Discard remaining skins and seeds.

Now all that is left to do is decide if you’d rather eat tacos or stew!

overhead shot peering down into bowl of slowcooker with a wooden spoonful of birria de res being pulled to the top

Make ahead: The red chile sauce can be made in advance and kept in airtight containers in the refrigerator or freezer. Red chile sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week or frozen for up to six months.

Serving and Storage

To make tacos or quesabirria: Heat a comal (cast iron griddle) over medium-low heat. Dip the tortillas one at a time in the consommé. Place on the comal and top with cheese if making quesatacos (cheese birria tacos). Add shredded beef over half the tortilla and chopped cilantro and onion. Drizzle the beef with a little more consommé.

a cheesy birria de res taco on the comal with a silver spatula

When the cheese is melted, fold each tortilla in half. Cook, flipping halfway through, until browned and slightly crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

overhead shot of a dark grey slate plate filled with cheesy quesabirria tacos and three bowls of cilantro, onion and birria dipping sauce

Keep warm: Transfer the tacos to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat assembling and cooking the remaining tacos.

Serve tacos garnished with additional diced onion, cilantro, and lime wedges, and small bowls of warm consommé for dipping.

birria de res stew in terracotta bowl with a turquoise enameled spoon and three bowls filled with onion, cilantro and radish for garnish

To make birria stew: Serve in a bowl as a stew with diced onion, radishes, and fresh cilantro, and serve with corn tortillas.

For leftovers: As with most soups and stews, birria de res does beautifully in the fridge, making it a perfect recipe for your meal prep day. Any leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to three months.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Birria de Res have vinegar?

Traditionally speaking, birria simply refers to a blend of chiles and spices that are in the stew. There are a ton of birria recipes out there, with some including things like beer, pulque, or ginger.

While many birria recipes call for vinegar, mine does not as I find that lime wedges give enough acidity to the final dish. Feel free to experiment to your liking!

What’s the difference between quesabirria and birria tacos?

Queso is the Spanish word for cheese, so quesatacos or quesabirria simply refers to a taco that has cheese melted into it. You can make birria tacos with or without cheese to your own liking!

What if I’m not a fan of spicy foods?

This dish is very flavorful, but not fiery spicy. If you prefer a milder dish, feel free to omit the ancho chiles. Also, be sure to remove the seeds and membranes from the dried chiles prior to making the sauce, as that is where the majority of the capsaicin lives. Learn about Mexican chiles here.

Also, since dairy inhibits your taste buds from interacting with the capsaicin, I recommend that you serve your tacos as quesabirria to help reduce the spiciness!

What should I serve with birria?

If you’re serving it as a traditional stew, I recommend doing as Doña Angela does and topping it with radishes, onions, chiles, lime wedges, and fresh cilantro. Fresh, homemade corn tortillas and tomatillo salsa verde are also very welcome additions.

If you’re going the birria taco route, I recommend serving with the same toppings, as well as some melty cheese and the consommé on the side for dipping. Yum!

hand dipping cheesy quesabirria taco into birria sauce

Need more inspiration?

  • Serve Birria Tacos with a classic Mexican beer or with a Chelada.
  • Want to serve tacos with a side dish? Serve with Sopa de Fideo.
  • Horchata is a great addition to any classic Mexican dish, pair Birria de Res with Strawberry Horchata.
  • Need something to cool your tongue? Serve Paletas de Tamarindo for dessert. 
  • Use leftover shredded beef and make nachos similar to these Brisket Nachos.

If you tried my simple recipe for authentic Birria de Res, please rate and review it below! Or, if you decide to Instagram your creations, tag me (@muybuenocooking) so I can see your delicious birria tacos.

Easy Slow Cooker Birria de Res

5 (13 ratings)
Making Birria de Res at home is an easy way to pump up the flavor quotient for any number of celebrations. Try this trendy authentic Mexican recipe that can be eaten as either new-world tacos or old-world stew.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups water
  • 4 pounds boneless beef chuck roast or beef shank
  • 1/2 onion
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 sprigs marjoram
  • 1 sprig mint
  • 2 springs thyme (optional)

Red Chile Sauce

  • 8 guajillo chiles or California or New Mexico
  • 2 ancho chiles (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 onion
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Toppings

  • chopped white onion
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped radishes
  • lime wedges

Tacos

  • yellow corn tortillas
  • Chihuahua, Oaxaca, or Monterey jack cheese, shredded (optional for quesatacos)

Instructions 

  • In a slow cooker add water, beef chunks (cut into 4-inch cubes), onion, garlic, salt, black peppercorns, bay leaves, oregano, marjoram, mint, and thyme (if using).
  • Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
  • Remove the beef and shred the meat and discard fat pieces. Season to taste. Place shredded meat back in the slow cooker with broth.

Red Chile Sauce

  • Remove stems, seeds, and veins from the chile pods. Place in a colander and rinse well with cool water.
  • Add chiles, garlic, onion, and water to a large pot. Bring water to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes. After 10 minutes turn the chiles over with tongs to make sure the chiles soften evenly. Allow time to cool down before blending. Do not discard water.
  • Once cooled, place the chiles, garlic, onion, and liquid in blender with salt. Blend until smooth. If necessary, season with more salt. Strain sauce through a fine sieve into the slow cooker and stir. Discard skins and seeds. 

Stew

  • Serve in a bowl as a stew with diced onion, radishes, and fresh cilantro and serve with corn tortillas.

Tacos

  • Heat a comal (cast iron griddle) over medium-low heat. 
  • Dip the tortillas one at a time in the consommé. Place on the comal and top with cheese if making quesatacos (cheese birria tacos). Add shredded beef over half the tortilla and chopped cilantro and onion. Drizzle the beef with a little more consommé.
  • When the cheese is melted, fold each tortilla in half. Cook, flipping halfway through, until browned and slightly crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  • Serve tacos garnished with additional diced onion, cilantro, and lime wedges, and small bowls of warm consommé for dipping.

Notes

  • Keep warm: Transfer the tacos to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat assembling and cooking the remaining tacos.
  • Make ahead: The red chile sauce can be made in advance and kept in airtight containers in the refrigerator or freezer. Red chile sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week or frozen for up to six months.
  • For leftovers: As with most soups and stews, birria de res does beautifully in the fridge, making it a perfect recipe for your meal prep day. Any leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to three months.
  • Nutrition facts do not include any toppings, cheese, or tortillas.
Calories: 461kcal, Carbohydrates: 12g, Protein: 45g, Fat: 27g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Trans Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 156mg, Sodium: 1669mg, Potassium: 1030mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 3320IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 78mg, Iron: 6mg

Photography by Raemi Vermiglio