Try these birria tacos, then check out our vegan tacos, chicken tacos, quick pork tacos and more Mexican recipes.

What are birria tacos?

Birria tacos originate from the Jalisco region of Mexico, on the Pacific side of the country, just below the Gulf of California. In this version, beef is braised in a rich charred tomato sauce, flavoured with three types of chilli, pulled then stuffed into tortillas and fried with fresh onion, coriander and melting mozzarella to cool and complement the richness of the beef. Dip into the smoky cooking juices and consider it taco night done right.

How to make the perfect birria tacos: cook's tips

  • The tacos can be served soft without crisping in a pan, if preferred
  • If you like your beef crispy, heat a generous amount of oil or lard in a frying pan over a medium-high heat and cook the shredded beef until crisp before stuffing into the tortilla
  • Test your soaked chilli for the level of heat before blending and add them to the mixture accordingly. If you like it hot, add the seeds, too

How to serve birria tacos: Serve family-style on a platter with lime, jalapeños, onion and coriander in bowls for everyone to top up their tacos.

How to store birria tacos: Left-over beef will keep in the fridge for up to three days or can be frozen for up to three months.

*Chillies are available online at

Birria tacos recipe


  • 1 whole dried Ancho chilli
  • 1 whole dried Chipotle chilli
  • 1 whole dried Guajillo chilli
  • 1 white onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp malt vinegar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1½kg braising beef, cut into 10cm chunks
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 12 small tortillas

To serve

  • 50g coriander, roughly chopped
  • 2 white onions, finely chopped
  • 250g grated mozzarella
  • 3 limes, quartered
  • 2 jalapeños, thinly sliced


  • STEP 1

    Heat a frying pan over a high heat. Dry fry the three types of chilli, onion, tomatoes and garlic until lightly blistered. Add the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick and cloves for the final 30 seconds until the spices have released their aroma.

  • STEP 2

    Put the chillies in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for 10 mins until soft then pull off the stems and discard any seeds. Save the soaking water.

  • STEP 3

    Put the chillies, cumin seeds, blistered onion, tomatoes, garlic, oregano, vinegar and a splash of the chilli soaking water, roughly 50ml, in a high-powered food processor and blend until smooth. Season to taste with sea salt then pour over the beef in a non-metallic bowl and leave to marinate for a minimum of 4 hrs or ideally overnight in the fridge.

  • STEP 4

    The next day, remove the beef from the marinade, scraping off as much marinade as possible. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large casserole dish and fry the beef until evenly browned. Add the marinade, cinnamon stick, cloves and bay leaves to the pan and cover with chicken stock so the beef is fully submerged, adding a splash of water if needed. Bring to the boil then simmer for 3-4 hrs over a medium heat until the beef pulls apart easily with two forks. Alternatively, cook over a very low heat for 6-8 hrs for a more intense braise. Stir occasionally to check the sauce isn’t catching on the base of the pan, adding a splash of water if needed.

  • STEP 5

    Once braised, discard the cinnamon stick and bay, and use a slotted spoon to remove the beef to a bowl and roughly pull apart with two forks. Add enough of the cooking liquor to generously coat the beef, tossing to combine, and season to taste.

  • STEP 6

    To serve, warm the tortillas for 20 seconds in the microwave until soft, then fill with shredded beef, a little coriander, onion and mozzarella. Fold over to create a half moon and fry in batches in a drizzle of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat for 1-2 mins on each side until the tortilla is crisp and the cheese has melted. Serve with a bowl of gravy for dipping and extra coriander, onion, lime and jalapeños for everyone to help themselves.

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