There’s no denying it — really good Beef Birria Tacos take more than a little kitchen dedication to achieve. That’s why this quesabirria taco recipe eliminates any and all frivolous steps and takes you straight to that end result you can’t stop thinking about.
That’s right –the daydream is over and you don’t need a taco truck nearby to end it. Red-stained, crispy corn tortillas stuffed with melty cheese and juicy shredded beef, rich in chile flavor, are in your very near future.
The slow cooker does half the work for you and the preassembled, quesadilla-like form of these tacos makes them easy to serve without having to set up an entire taco bar. Make these for a weekend family dinner or even hosting a few friends.
WHAT IS A QUESABIRRIA TACO?
There has been a recent foodie-driven social media explosion and the spotlight is shining bright on the quesabirria taco (also called a Birria Taco). If you’ve yet to see or read about it, think quesadilla in taco form. Like a quesadilla, it comes equipped with melted cheese that keeps all of that savory filling intact. Only these tacos come equipped with more meat than your standard quesadilla, and they are served folded over rather than cut into triangles.
Another distinct factor when it comes to Birria Tacos is the red tortilla. The tortilla (and the meat) take on their red coloring from the consomé, a guajillo pepper-based sauce.
ABOUT THE CHILES
The sauce for your Birria Tacos will be used for braising and dipping. It is what adds that distinct Birria flavor and coloring to the dish.
To make the sauce for your Birria Tacos, you will need to prep some dried chiles for hydrating! For simplicity’s sake, this recipe calls for guajillo chiles only, although it is not uncommon to find pasilla and ancho chiles in a sauce recipe for Birria de Res.
Guajillo chiles are a fruity, full-bodied chili with tons of flavor, and they do the job just fine on their own!
WHICH CUT OF BEEF IS BEST FOR BIRRIA DE RES?
As far as the meat goes for Beef Birria you’ll find it’s often a toss-up between short ribs and chuck roast. While short ribs are an excellent cut for slow cooking, imparting a ton of beefy flavor thanks to that bone, you’ll get a lot more meat for your buck with a chuck roast.
When cooked low and slow, chuck roast breaks down into an incredibly beefy, super tender cut of meat and is, therefore, our go-to beef cut of choice for making the best quesabirria tacos!
HOW TO MAKE BEEF BIRRIA TACOS
- Make the guajillo sauce and reserve about 3/4 cup for dipping later.
- Cook beef and sauce on low in a crockpot for 8-10 hours.
- Skim fat from the top of the cooking liquid and set it aside.
- Shred the beef and return it to the sauce.
- Dip the tortilla in the grease and place in a hot pan.
- Add cheese and beef to the tortilla, fold over, and cook for about 2 minutes on each side.
- Serve with reserved sauce and enjoy!
1. MAKE THE GUAJILLO SAUCE
To prepare the chiles, cut away the stems, knock out any loose seeds, and gently tear the chiles open. Lay them flat on your work surface and use a paring knife to scrape away any seeds sticking to the interior.
Once you have your chiles ready, you can add them to a saucepan along with broth, tomatoes, white onion, garlic, and a bay leaf. Bring this mix to a boil and then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Allow everything to simmer together until the onions, and the chiles are fork-tender. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes.
Then, you’ll remove the bay leaf from the mix and transfer the contents of the saucepan to a blender or food processor. Next, add the remaining guajillo sauce ingredients – sugar, vinegar, salt, oregano, cloves, and cumin. Blend until the sauce is smooth to your liking and set it aside to prepare the beef. Note that this exact same sauce can also be used for delicious Chicken Birria Tacos!
2. PREP AND SLOW COOK THE BEEF
To prepare the chuck roast for your Beef Birria Tacos, pat away the excess moisture from the exterior of the beef and rub it down with a spice rub that consists of salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin.
Now it’s time to do a little slow cooking. To make sure you have some sauce reserved for dipping, set aside about 3/4 cup of your sauce. Then, add a half cup of guajillo sauce to the slow cooker, followed by the chuck roast, and pour the remaining sauce over it.
Cover the slow cooker and cook for 8 to 10 hours on low heat.
3. RESERVE THE FAT
Once your chuck roast is fork-tender, skim away the fat/grease accumulated across the top of your cooking liquid and transfer it to a shallow dish, such as a pie plate.
Reserving the grease is an essential step in making Beef Birria Tacos; it is the grease that gives your tortillas that red Birria coloring!
4. SHRED THE BEEF
Remove the beef from the slow cooker and use two forks to make great, big shreds. Return the meat to the slow cooker and squeeze in the juice of a lime. Stir, and it’s time to make some Birria Tacos! If you’re a fan of shredded beef tacos, be sure to check out our Beef Barbacoa Tacos as well!
5. READY A HOT PAN AND DIP THE TORTILLAS
Your Beef Birria Tacos will cook for about 2 minutes per side, and you’ll have enough beef to cook 12 of them. Using a large skillet will allow you to cook two tacos at a time and significantly decrease your cook time.
Drizzle a scant tablespoon of oil into a large skillet over medium heat. I found a nonstick skillet is best for this task! Once the pan and the oil have come to temperature, dip a corn tortilla in the reserved grease and place it directly in the pan.
6. ASSEMBLE AND CRISP UP THE BIRRIA TACOS
Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of shredded Monterey Jack or Oaxaca cheese across the entire face of the tortilla, and scatter about 1/3 cup of shredded beef over only half the tortilla.
Once the cheese begins to melt, fold the tortilla over the beef and use a spatula to press it down and hold it in place for a few seconds. Let it cook on that side for about 1 minute. Then, carefully flip the taco and allow it to cook for about 1 to 2 minutes more.
7. SERVE AND ENJOY!
Serve your Beef Birria Tacos with a garnish of onions and cilantro and a bowl of guajillo consomé on the side.
6 MORE BEEFY MEXICAN RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Steak Ranchero
- Mexican Shredded Beef
- Carne Asada Tacos
- Steak Fajitas
- Tacos al Carbon
- Tex-Mex Beef Enchiladas
Delicious and vibrant, these Beef Birria Tacos are loaded with bold, authentic flavor, melty cheese, and perfectly tender meat.
- 8 Guajillo chiles, stem and seeds removed
- 2 1/2 cups unsalted chicken broth
- 4 tomatoes, seeded and cut into quarters
- 1/2 white onion, cut into chunks
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 3 pound chuck roast
- Juice of a lime
- Canola or avocado oil for drizzling
- 12 corn tortillas
- 2 cups shredded Oaxaca or Monterey Jack cheese
Add the chiles, broth, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and bay leaf to a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the mixture reaches a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.
Stir occasionally and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the onions and chiles are fork-tender.
Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf. Transfer the mixture to a blender or a food processor fitted with a blade attachment, and add the sugar, vinegar, salt, oregano, cloves, and cumin.
Cover, remove the small blender cap or feed tube, cover with a dishtowel, and blend until smooth. Reserve about a 3/4 cup of guajillo sauce for dipping.
In a small bowl, mix the Kosher salt, cumin, pepper, and oregano.
Add about a half cup of guajillo sauce to the crockpot and set it aside. Pat the exterior of the beef dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with the seasoning. Rub all over to adhere and transfer the seasoned meat to the crockpot. Pour the remaining guajillo sauce over the beef.
Place the lid on the slow cooker, and cook for 8-10 hours on the low setting.
Once the beef is fork-tender, skim the grease off the top of the cooking liquid and place it in a shallow dish, like a pie plate. Then, transfer the beef to a work surface and shred it using two forks. Add it back to the crockpot, along with the juice of fresh lime, and stir.
Have ready a nonstick sauté pan over medium heat with a scant drizzle of oil. Once the pan has come to temperature, dip a tortilla in the reserved grease and place it directly in the hot pan.
Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of cheese across the tortilla and add about a 1/3 cup of shredded beef over half of the tortilla.
Once the cheese has melted, fold the tortilla over the beef and hold it closed with a spatula for about 30 seconds. Flip the taco and allow it to cook for about 2 minutes more, or until crispy to your liking.
Once all of the tacos are assembled, serve with guajillo sauce on the side and enjoy!