The Only Birria Beef Recipe You’ll Ever Need

Birria tacos on red platter

Photo: T. Tseng / Wikimedia Commons

Since hitting the big food leagues, Birria has been apparently appear everywhere, from LA to Nasvhille, and on everything from melty quesabirria to Chicago-style pizza and even transcontinental creations like gyozas. But before you can start using birria as a sort of all-purpose garnish on any old fashionable street food menu, you must first understand what good birria looks like and how it should be done.

A good birria is a heavenly concoction of slightly viscous broth and tender meat. The consomé should be a perfect potion of melted fat, gravy, and adobo sauce that should feel like it’s sitting on your tongue when you sip it. The adobo sauce, which gives the dish flavor, is made from a combination of rehydrated peppers and Mexican spices.

If done right, birria is a flavorful affair with the perfect balance of complex flavors that each get their due in every bite you take. This recipe for a stovetop version taps into all of the traditional flavors of Birria, and once you’ve done it, you’ll want to put it on everything.

Traditional beef birria, stovetop version

Makes 10-12 servings

  • 4 pounds. beef (2 lb chuck roast, 2 lb rib end)
  • 3-4 cups of water
  • 6 dried chilli guajillo
  • 2 dried anchos from Chile
  • 2 cups low sodium beef broth (to a boil)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 large onion, dry skin removed, chopped
  • 1 C. dried oregano
  • 1 C. dried thyme
  • 1 clove
  • ¼ whole cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp. Beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves (or bay leaves)
  • 2 tbsp. cooking oil
  • salt and pepper
  • onions, cilantro and lime, to garnish
  • Optional: hot tortillas for making birria tacos


  • Large cast iron saucepan
  • Large Dutch oven (5 quarts)
  • Heat resistant bowl
  • Pan


  1. In a saucepan, bring your beef broth to a boil over high heat.
  2. Heat a large cast iron skillet on the stove over medium heat.
  3. Grill the peppers in the pan for 2-3 minutes over medium heat, turning them frequently, making sure they do not burn. (Discard and replace all burnt peppers.)
  4. Grill the onion in the cast iron over medium heat for about 5 minutes until the onion begins to brown.
  5. Transfer the grilled peppers to a heatproof bowl, add 1 cup of the boiling beef broth and let the peppers soak for 5 minutes, or until soft.
  6. Remove the stems from the peppers and pull them open. Remove the yellow veins and seeds, then strain and reserve the broth.
  7. Add the reserved broth, peppers, onion, garlic, oregano, thyme, cloves, cinnamon, broth and bay leaves (or bay leaves) in a blender and mix until smooth. Filter and reserve.
  8. In a cast iron skillet, heat two tablespoons of oil.
  9. Cut your beef into medium cubes, then add salt and pepper to the meat. In the cast iron pan, sear the beef on all sides until the meat is golden brown, then transfer to the Dutch oven.
  10. Add the filtered chili mixture on top of your meat in the Dutch oven. Add enough beef broth to cover the meat.
  11. Bring the pot to a boil, then cook over medium heat for at least 3 hours, but up to 5 hours. (When cooking is complete, the meat should be tender enough to begin to fall apart with a fork.)
  12. Skim the fat from the top. (Reserve this fat and use it as a cooking oil if you plan to make quesabirria tacos.) Remove bones and cartilage from mixture before serving.
  13. To serve, pour the desired amount of meat into a bowl with spoonfuls of the soup. Garnish with finely chopped onions, cilantro and lime and serve with hot tortillas.

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