Meet the holy grail of tacos!!! These birria tacos w/ quesadilla shells are served Mexican style with a side of rich and flavorful consomé for dipping. One bite of these tacos and you’ll understand how they became the hottest taco trend.
Last updated February 10, 2021 @ 11:15 AM.
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Let me introduce you to the holy grail of tacos 🙌
I hope you caught my recipe for beef birria (Mexican stew), because it’s the BEST (in my opinion anyhow). In case you didn’t, let me begin by telling you a little bit about it.
Birria is a Mexican stew originating from the state of Jalisco. Traditionally it was made with goat, however, this recipe calls for beef as it is more accessible. Alternately it can be made with chicken, veal, lamb, or pork.
The incredible depth of flavor and richness of this dish is the result of the plethora of spices and aromatics that were originally incorporated in an attempt to mask the gaminess of the goat meat.
Since it is slow-cooked at a low temperature the beef is super tender and infused with flavor. The broth is hearty, uber flavorful, and contains just the right amount of fat. The flavors of this dish are so complex and enticing.
That all sounds absolutely wonderful, right???
Now let’s take that one step further. Imagine this…..
Two corn tortillas dipped in the rich and fatty birria broth (consomé), filled with cheese, and fried. You may be conjuring up images of quesadillas at this point; if you are you’re on the right track. Let’s keep going.
Imagine filling the quesadilla shell with the juicy beef pulled directly out of the birria consomé 🤤 and then topping it off with cilantro, diced onion, and a squeeze or two of fresh lime juice.
Sounds like heaven, right?!? And it is! BUT we’re not finished yet, so I hope your imaginative juices are still flowing.
Next we are going to take that mouthwateringly delicious taco and dip it in the consomé. *drip, drip, drip*
Ok, I’m done teasing you now. Go on and make them for yourself. Your mind is about to be blown!! For realz!!!!
Seriously, two out of my four kids said these babies are the BEST tacos they have ever had. And my two-year-old, who can’t really speak much yet, chowed his down in no time, so I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say he enjoyed them as well. Definitely warmed this mama’s heart 💗.
Ingredients + notes & substitutions
- Beef chuck roast: You may also make this dish with chicken, veal, goat, lamb, pork, or even another cut of beef such as short ribs, oxtail, or beef cheek another option is to use a combination of any of the aforementioned proteins. Aside from beef, I have only tried pork thus far. If you opt to sub pork, I recommend a pork butt roast. The recipe calls for three pounds, however, it does not need to be exact. I’ve used the same ratio of ingredients for a 3 1/3 pound roast.
- Kosher salt: To season the meat and for the chile sauce.
- Ground black pepper: To season the meat and for the chile sauce
- Chile de árbol: Chile de árbol are a small Mexican chile pepper that falls between a Serrano pepper and a cayenne pepper on the Scoville scale. Your local grocery store may carry them if they have a decent Mexican section. If not they can be found at Mexican markets and are available for purchase online. Check out my product recommendations below for a link to my favorite chile de árbol on Amazon. Additionally, the chiles will need to be destemmed and deseeded. The stems can easily be pulled off. The simplest way to deseed them is to cut them open with kitchen shears and then scoop/scrape out the seeds.
- Guajillo chile peppers: Guajillo chiles are the dried version of mirasol chili. They are one of the most commonly used Mexican dried chiles and like the chile de árbol can often be found in the grocery store as well as Mexican markets and online (I have included an Amazon link below). These chiles are rich in flavor; smokey and fruity and are mild to medium as far as heat goes. If you are unable to find these chiles, pasilla or ancho would be the best alternative.
- Garlic: The recipe calls for six cloves, but feel free to use up to an entire head of garlic.
- White onion: For the birria and to top the tacos.
- Paprika: Traditionally birria does not contain paprika, so feel free to leave it out if you’d like to keep it more authentic. Personally, I love paprika and what it adds to this dish, especially the smoked variety.
- Ground cumin
- Dried oregano: Mexican oregano if you have it.
- Ground clove: For some people, the taste of clove can be overpowering. If you are not a big fan of clove, feel free to leave it out or add just a pinch.
- Bay leaves
- Cinnamon stick: If you do not have a cinnamon stick, you can use 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
- Soft corn tortillas: White or yellow.
- Oaxaca cheese: Oaxaca is a Mexican cheese that is quite similar to Mozzarella. It’s a mild creamy cheese made from cow’s milk that melts really well. If you have access to a Mexican market you can find it there or at some grocery stores with the other Mexican cheeses that typically come in round packages. If you are unable to find Oaxaca, queso quesadilla, mozzarella, or even Monterey Jack are suitable alternatives.
- Non-stick cooking spray
- Cilantro: Cilantro is a staple in Mexican style tacos and adds a nice freshness to the dish. If you do not like cilantro, however, feel free to skip it.
- Lime wedges: Some acid to cut the richness.
How do you make beef birria tacos w/ consomé? (+ tips)
Birria is actually very simple to make. It requires little prep, but does need to cook for a significant amount of time. However, since it’s kept at a simmer, it requires little monitoring.
The first step is to sprinkle the meat liberally with salt and pepper. Make sure you cover both sides, then rub it in and set it aside.
Next you will need to remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and place them in a pot along with the onion and garlic. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Continue boiling for 15 minutes.
Transfer one cup of the cooking liquid, the chiles, onion, and garlic to a blender. Add the paprika, cumin, oregano, ground clove, salt, and black pepper and pulse until smooth. *If you wish to remove any chunks from the sauce you can run it through a fine sieve.
Cut the meat into large chunks and place in a large pot or dutch oven. Pour in the chile mixture and add just enough water to submerge the meat. It is important not to to add too much water as it will dilute the consomé and you will lose flavor. Add the bay leaves and cinnamon stick. ***If you wish and have time, you can cover the meat in just the chile sauce and marinate for up to 24 hours.
For stovetop: Bring it to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for four to six hours. The longer the better as the meat will be much more tender and flavorful.
Remove the meat and shred it using to forks.
Then return it to the pot/dutch oven and simmer for an additional one to two hours.
For slow cooker: Cook on low heat for 8-10 hours or high for 5-6 hours; shred meat and return to pot. At this point you can go and serve it or allow to cook an additional 1-2 hours if time allows. The extra cooking time really allows the meat to absorb more flavor and tenderizes it more.
For Instant Pot: Close the lid and pressure valve and pressure cook on high for 45 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally, then do a quick release. Shred the meat and return to pot.
Finally, to prepare the tacos, preheat a skillet to medium heat.
Dip a tortilla in the consomé (birria broth).
Shake off the excess liquid, transfer to a plate or cutting board, and sprinkle with cheese (approximately 1-2 tablespoons). Dip a second tortilla in consume, shake off excess liquid, and place atop the cheese.
Spray the skillet with non-stick cooking oil and fry the quesadilla for approximately 30 seconds or until slightly browned, then flip and fry an additional 30 seconds or until slightly browned and cheese is melted. Repeat with remaining tortillas/cheese.
Fill each quesadilla/taco shell with approximately 1/4 cup of the beef from the birria. It works really well to use tongs and is advised to shake off some of the excess liquid. Top the tacos with onion, cilantro, and your choice of toppings. Serve with lime wedges and a side of consomé for dipping.
How to store
Refrigerate beef birria in an airtight container or up to four days or freeze for up to three months.
As is common with chile peppers there can be quite a bit of variation in the level heat. This variation does effect the end result of this dish as far as spiciness goes. Regardless of the batch of chiles used, it is a bit spicy. If you would like to make this recipe, but would prefer it to keep on the milder side my recommendation is to either cut down on the number of chile de árbol or to leave them out all together and instead add 2-3 extra guajilo chiles.
This is my take on birria and it is not authentic. I have no connection to the state of Jalisco where the recipe originated nor have I ever traveled there. As mentioned above, birria was originally made with goat or lamb meat. My recipe calls for beef instead as it is more accessible in America and also more palatable to most Americans. I have also included paprika in this dish which is not traditional.
Ideas for leftover birria:
- Birria Ramen w/ Quesadilla Strips: Birria ramen is a wonderful way to use up leftover birria. It begins with a consomé based broth that is thick, rich, and a bit spicy, then noodles, tender beef, soft boiled eggs, crispy quesadilla strips, and of course, TOPPINGS! This fusion style ramen is guaranteed to knock your socks off!!
- Birria Baked Potato: Don’t let a single bit of birria go to waste. Use up your leftovers to make this birria baked potato loaded with cheese, white onion, and cilantro. Naturally gluten-free and dairy-free adaptable.
If you make this beef birria tacos w/ consomé I’d love your feedback. Please leave a comment and/or a rating below as I greatly value your opinion. Or snap a pic and tag me on Instragram @taoofspiceblog. Love, light and happy cooking ya’ll ♥
- 3 pound beef chuck roast (see notes)
- 2 teaspoons salt + more to taste
- 1 teaspoon Ground black pepper + more to taste
- 10 dried chile de árbol peppers, destemmed and deseeded (see notes)
- 6 dried guajillo chile peppers, destemmed and deseeded
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 large white onion, quartered
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon cumin powder
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1/2 tablespoon ground clove (see notes)
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
For the Tacos
- 48 corn tortillas, white or yellow
- 10 ounces Oaxaca cheese, queso quesadilla cheese or Monterey jack, shredded
- Non-stick cooking spray
- Chopped cilantro
- Diced white onion
- Lime wedges
- Liberally sprinkle beef chuck roast with salt and pepper, rub into roast, and set aside.
- Place the chile de árbols, guajillo chiles, garlic, and onions in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove from stove. Transfer one cup of the cooking liquid, the chiles, garlic, and onion to a blender. Add the paprika, cumin, oregano, clove, two teaspoons salt, and one teaspoon pepper. Pulse until smooth. *If you wish to remove any chunks from the sauce you can run it through a fine sieve.
- Cut the beef chuck roast into large pieces. Place in a dutch oven or stockpot, slow cooker, or Instant Pot. Add the sauce from step three and enough water to cover the beef by no more than one inch. Add the bay leaves and cinnamon stick.
- For stovetop: Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 4-6 hours; shred meat and return to stove to simmer for an additional 1-2 hours. For slow cooker: Cook on low heat for 8-10 hours or high for 5-6 hours; shred meat and return to pot. Go ahead and serve or allow to cook an additional 1-2 hours. For Instant Pot: Close the lid and pressure valve and pressure cook on high for 45 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally, then do a quick release. Shred the meat and return to pot.
- Discard the bay leaves and cinnamon stick.
For the Tacos
- Heat a skillet to medium heat and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
- Lightly dip a tortilla in consomé (birria broth), shake off excess liquid, and place in the skillet. Sprinkle with cheese (approximately 1-2 tablespoons), then dip a second tortilla in consomé, shake off excess liquid, and place atop the cheese.
- Fry for approximately 30 seconds or until slightly browned, then flip and fry an additional 30 seconds or until slightly browned and cheese is melted. Repeat with remaining tortillas/cheese.
- Fill each shell with approximately 1/4 cup shredded beef and top with onion and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges and side of consomé for dipping.
Storage: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to four days or freeze for up to three months.
- You may sub the beef for chicken, veal, goat, lamb, or pork. I have personally only tried pork. If you opt to sub pork, I recommend a pork butt roast. Additionally, this recipe calls for three pounds of meat however, it does not need to be exact. I have used all the way up to a 3 1/3 pound roast.
- To cut some of the heat, I recommend either cutting down the chile de arbol or leaving them out completely and instead adding 2-3 extra guajilo chiles.
- For some people, the taste of clove can be overpowering. If you are not a big fan of clove, feel free to leave it out or add just a pinch.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 3 tacos
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1058Total Fat: 51gSaturated Fat: 23gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 198mgSodium: 1233mgCarbohydrates: 88gFiber: 13gSugar: 9gProtein: 67g
The nutritional information provided is computer generated. It is only an estimate and intended for informational purposes only. Nutrition details may vary depending on various factors such as origin, freshness of ingredients, etc