Beef Birria Recipe

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Fall-apart tender Beef Birria with guajillo and ancho chiles is a satisfying, hearty, home-cooked meal. You’ll love this flavorful beef served in tacos, burritos, or over rice. It’s juicy, tender, perfectly seasoned, and feeds a crowd!

Beef birria in a serving dish with a spoon. Tortillas and garnishes are nearby on the table.


Have you seen those vids and photos of beef birria tacos floating around the Internet? This latest taco trend is mouthwatering, to say the least. If you’ve never made beef birria, it’s a bold, traditional shredded beef stew flavored with stewed chiles. Originally, it was made with goat meat, but birria de res (aka beef birria) is hugely popular these days, too. This recipe uses easily accessible chuck roast for a homemade birria that’ll have your mouth in party mode.

Why We Love Homemade Beef Birria

  • Versatile. Not only is it amazing in tacos, but it’s also fantastic over rice, tucked into warm tortillas, or served just about any other way you can imagine.
  • Authentic Flavor. Embrace the bold, traditional flavors of beef birria using accessible ingredients like chuck roast. This recipe brings the authentic taste of Mexican cuisine right to your kitchen, promising a homemade feast that’s a celebration in itself.
  • Crowd-Pleaser. Whether you’re feeding your family or hosting a larger gathering, this beef birria recipe is a guaranteed hit. The juicy, tender, and perfectly seasoned beef caters to a variety of tastes and preferences, making it a meal everyone will rave about.
Beef birria in a serving dish.

Birria Vs Barbacoa

These two beloved dishes are pretty similar, but a beef barbacoa recipe usually involves smoking or grilling rather than braising, while beef birria is a soupy, slow-cooked braise with plenty of flavorful juices. Another difference is that beef barbacoa may or may not have dried, reconstituted chiles involved, while chiles are a huge part of beef birria, giving the dish its distinctive flavor.

The Ingredients You’ll Need

I absolutely love the spice blend in this recipe. The addition of cumin and ginger is so warming, and works so well with pungent bay leaves, thyme, and Mexican oregano! Paired with chiles and beef, this is one satisfying dish.

From top: Dried chilies, garlic, onion, tomato, salt and pepper, beef roast, beef broth, olive oil, seasonings, cilantro.
  • Dried Chiles: You’ll need some dried guajillo chiles and dried ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed.
  • Hot Water: For soaking the chiles.
  • Onion: One large onion, cut into quarters. I used a white onion, but any kind is fine.
  • Tomato: Quarter a large tomato, as well.
  • Garlic: No need to mince or anything – just smash the cloves with the side of your knife, and remove the papery skins.
  • Herbs and Spices: Dried thyme, Mexican oregano, cumin, ginger, salt, and pepper. If you don’t have Mexican oregano, marjoram is a good substitute.
  • Olive Oil: For browning the beef.
  • Chuck Roast: Cut the roast into four large pieces. 
  • Bay Leaves
  • Beef Broth: I like low-sodium beef broth, but you could use regular beef broth, bone broth, chicken broth, or even water. 
  • Garnishes: Chopped white onion and fresh cilantro are bold, zesty garnishes!

How to Make Beef Birria

You’ll need a blender to make this recipe, because it starts with a homemade blended chile sauce. From there, you just need to brown the meat on all sides, and let it cook low and slow until tender. Here’s the rundown:

  1. Make the Chile Sauce: First, you’ll need to soften the dried chiles by soaking them in hot water for about 20 minutes. Next, put half the onion in a blender, along with the tomatoes, garlic, thyme, oregano, cumin, ginger, chiles, and the soaking liquid from the chiles too. Process until you have a smooth sauce. 
  2. Brown the Beef. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot or Dutch oven, set over medium heat. Sprinkle your chuck roast with salt and pepper, and brown it in the hot oil for about 3 minutes per side. 
  3. Add the Remaining Ingredients and Bring to a Boil. Toss the bay leaves and the remaining onion into the pot with the beef, and pour the chile sauce all over the meat. Add the beef broth, as well. Let all of these ingredients come to a boil. 
  4. Simmer Until Tender. Once the liquid is boiling, turn the heat down so that it’s gently simmering. Cover the pot, and simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Check on the meat every so often and make sure nothing is scorching, adjusting the heat if necessary. 
  5. Finish the Dish. Once the beef is fall-apart tender, transfer it to a large dish or cutting board. Let it rest while you remove the onion and bay leaves from the cooking liquid. Simmer the liquid for about 20 minutes more, until it’s reduced by half. At that point, shred the beef and add it back to the pot.
  6. Enjoy! Stir the beef and sauce together to coat, and then place in a serving dish. Garnish with onions and cilantro, and serve warm with tortillas or other sides. 
Shredded beef on a tray.

Recipe Tips

There are almost as many recipes for beef birria as there are cooks, so you can bet there are tons of ways to tweak this basic recipe. Here are just a few tips for making adjustments:

  • Slow Cooker Option: If you like, you can make this recipe until the step where you simmer the beef, and then let it finish in the slow cooker. It should take 2 to 3 hours on LOW, or 5 to 6 hours on HIGH for the beef to become tender.
  • Add Cinnamon: Some birria recipes include cinnamon, which is a wonderful, warm option! If you would like to add cinnamon to yours, start small – I recommend adding ¼ to ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the sauce.
  • Spice It Up: Because this recipe uses only guajillo and ancho chiles, it doesn’t have a whole lot of heat. If you’d like to spike it with some spicier chilies, cayenne pepper, or crushed red pepper, go for it!

Serving Suggestions

Beef birria is perfect piled into tacos, or layered into a quesadilla. But it can also be a hearty main course with a few simple side dishes like this authentic Elote, aka Mexican Street Corn, which is a gorgeously messy corn-on-the-cob loaded with a creamy topping that includes cilantro, lime, and chile flavors. This saucy beef dish is fantastic when served over Cumin Rice or Cauliflower Rice. Lastly, no matter how you serve beef birria, make sure you include some fresh Restaurant-Style Salsa on your menu!

Mexican shredded beef in a white serving dish.

How to Store and Reheat the Leftovers

  • To store leftover birria, place it in a zip-top bag or airtight container, along with the juices. Keep refrigerated until you are ready to reheat and serve. Properly stored, it will keep for 3 to 4 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the fridge before reheating.
  • To reheat, place the steak and juices in a covered skillet over low heat. Allow to heat until the meat is completely warmed through, but do not overcook or it may become dry.

More Flavorful Beef Recipes

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5 from 3 votes

Beef Birria

Fall-apart tender Beef Birria spiced up with guajillo and ancho chiles makes for a hearty and satisfying dish. It's perfect for stuffing into tacos, rolling into burritos, or heaping over rice.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8


  • 4 dried guajillo chiles,, stems and seeds removed, and discarded
  • 2 dried ancho chiles,, stems and seeds removed, and discarded
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 1 large white onion,, quartered and divided
  • 1 large tomato,, quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic,, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pound boneless beef chuck roast,, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups low sodium beef broth
  • chopped white onion,, for garnish
  • chopped fresh cilantro,, for garnish
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  • Combine the chilis and the hot water in a large pot or bowl, and let stand 20 minutes, or until chiles are softened.
  • In a blender, combine two quarters of the onion, tomatoes, garlic, thyme, oregano, cumin, ginger, and the chiles and liquid. Process until smooth.
  • Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a Dutch oven set over medium heat.
  • Season the beef with salt and pepper. Add the beef to the heated oil and brown it on all sides; about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  • Add in the bay leaves and remaining onions. Stir in the blended sauce and add in the beef broth. Bring the mixture to a boil; then, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1-½ to 2 hours, or until meat is fall-apart tender.
  • Remove the cooked meat from the pot and transfer it to a cutting board. Remove the onions and bay leaves from the pot, too.
  • Continue to simmer the liquid, uncovered, until reduced by half; about 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, shred the meat with forks and then stir it back into the pot until well combined.
  • Transfer the beef mixture to a serving bowl or a platter and garnish with onions and cilantro.
  • Serve in warm tortillas, over rice, or as a filling for tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and more.



  • Beef: I only use chuck roast to make this recipe, but it’s important to note that different regions in Mexico all prepare birria in their own way. Some places use beef, others use goat, or even lamb. 
  • Chile Peppers: The Guajillo and Ancho peppers are mild, so if you want to add some heat, don’t skip the guajillo, but go ahead and add in some cayenne pepper, or even arbol chiles. 
  • Cinnamon: Birria recipes can include cinnamon, and if you would like to use cinnamon, start small, with about 1/4 teaspoon, and adjust later. Or, you can use a small cinnamon stick, too.
  • Using Beef Birria: Use the shredded meat to make tacos, or as a consomme (soup), fill tamales, serve over noodles, serve over rice, etc…
  • Make Ahead: Make this recipe up to 3 days ahead of time. Warm it up on the stove and then use the shredded meat in tacos, quesadillas, or as you wish. 


Calories: 390kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 117mg | Sodium: 556mg | Potassium: 960mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 2946IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

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1 Comment

  1. Rosa R says:

    I love all your recipes, they’re great. Can this be made in the instant pot? How many minutes?