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Published April 28, 2021. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Stop everything and immediately make these classic homemade birria tacos that are loaded with delicious zesty chile flavors.
Seriously, who doesn’t love tacos? They are an absolute staple in our home, and we love doing them up in the most classic traditional way possible. If you love making the real deal as well, then definitely check out my Baja Fish Tacos or my Chicken Tinga.
Birria tacos come from birria consomé, which is a zesty shredded meat stew that originated in Jalisco, Mexico. The meat from the stew is then cooked inside of corn tortillas that have been dipped in the stew liquid in a hot pan along with shredded Oaxaca cheese and often garnished with diced yellow or white onions and chopped cilantro.
These flavorful tacos will have slight nuances in flavor depending on which Mexican restaurant or street cart you get them from, but rest assured they are all delicious. This traditional breakfast or lunch tacos are classically made with goat meat, but most often nowadays will be made with beef or lamb meat. I used a combination of beef and lamb in my birra taco recipe.
Is It the Same as Barbacoa?
There is some confusion around this, so let’s set the record straight. Barbacoa is a cooking method, and birria is the final product from that cooking method. Classically, barbacoa is the process where meat is marinated, or not, and cooked wrapped in banana leaves in a dug hole that has a fire in it. The meat would cook for several hours or until very tender.
Birria is made by placing that meat cooked using that specific method that is then served in a flavorful broth, which is where you get birria consomé from.
Obviously, this can be a challenging cooking method, so nowadays birria is most often cooked in a pot on the stove. However, if you do get a chance to make it the barbacoa way then I highly recommend it.
How to Make Tacos de Birria
Follow along with these easy-to-follow step by step procedures to make these amazing birria tacos:
Brown the seasoned meat in a large pot and set aside.
Next, caramelize onions in the pot for about 20 minutes and then stew with the garlic, tomatoes, chiles, and spices until the chiles are soft and tender.
Blend the chile mixture until very smooth and then place back in the pot along with water or beef stock, salt and pepper, and the meat and cook for 2 hours over medium heat or until very tender.
Remove the beef and roughly chop or shred using forks.
Strain the remaining liquid and return it to the pot.
Lightly dip a corn tortilla in the liquid and then place it in a hot cast-iron skillet.
Immediately add on cheese and chopped meat, and optional onions and cilantro.
Fold the taco cover in the pan and sear until it is shut.
Serve the tacos with a bowl of meatless consomé liquid that has been seasoned with freshly squeezed lemon juice, onions, and cilantro.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: The tacos are meant to be eaten right away but you can make them up to 30 minutes ahead of time and keep them warm covered in foil at the lowest temperature in the oven.
How to Store: It is best to store the beef separate from the corn tortilla shells. Store the beef covered for up to 6 days in its liquid, or consomé. This will freeze very well covered for up to 6 months in its liquid, or consomé. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 day before reheating.
How to Reheat: Place the desired amount of beef in its liquid, or consomé, in a medium-size pot and heat over low heat until hot. You can also heat in the microwave until hot.
chef notes + tips
- If you cannot get Oaxaca cheese, then you may substitute it with shredded panela or chihuahua cheese.
- There should be enough fat on the top of the consomé when you dip the tortilla in there to brown it while cooking in the pan. If there is not, add a little oil or butter to the pan first.
- You may need to use two corn tortilla shells so that they don’t rip from the liquid.
More Beef Recipes
Homemade Birria Tacos Recipe (Quesa Tacos)
- Prepare the birria consomé but do not add the chopped meat back to the strained liquid in the pot.
- Making 1 taco at a time, lightly dip two corn tortillas into the top part of the consomé liquid and place on top of each other in a cast-iron skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
- Immediately evenly sprinkle some of the cheese onto the top of the corn tortilla, followed up with evenly adding some of the chopped meat to the one-half side of the taco on top of the cheese.
- At this point you can also add on diced onions and cilantro, but that part is optional.
- Cook for a minute or two and then fold the taco over to help form it. Cook for about one more minute.
- Repeat the process until all of the meat has been used.
- Serve each taco with a small bowl of the consomé liquid that has been garnished with lemon juice, diced onions, and cilantro.