If making the ultimate chicken taco is on your list of foodie goals, these Chicken Birria Tacos are a checkmark waiting to happen. Expect juicy shredded chicken, melty cheese, crispy corn tortilla, and a birria sauce that won’t quit.
In a world overrun with ground beef, there is just something extra special and delicious about a chicken taco. Especially when the chicken is slow-cooked, on the bone, in an incredibly flavorful sauce!
Dinner at home just got a major upgrade that your family will thank you for!
Looking for more awesome Mexican food to add to your recipe lineup? Bookmark our hearty, fully-flavored Birria de Res in your internet browser for next time!
WHAT ARE BIRRIA TACOS?
Birria Tacos, also known as quesabirria tacos, are pan-fried tacos filled with shredded meat and melty cheese.
These particular tacos are also referred to as red tacos, as both the filling inside and the tortilla are stained red from flavorful chile sauce. This chile sauce is a key ingredient in any Birria taco recipe.
ABOUT THE BIRRIA SAUCE
This authentic Mexican dish kicks off with a homemade chile sauce; no surprise there. For traditional Birria, we are indeed going to make our own chile sauce. But, don’t fret — even if you’ve never worked with dried chiles before, you’re going to find this sauce really easy to make.
ABOUT CHICKEN BIRRIA TACOS
Though this may not be the absolute easiest taco recipe out there, as long as you do a tiny bit of planning ahead, the reward on investment really is amazing! These things pack so much flavor.
The corn tortilla takes a dip in some greasy goodness left behind from the chicken, and goes straight into a hot skillet along with cheese and slow-cooked chile-drenched chicken. At this point, the whole shebang gets pan-fried until that red-stained tortilla is perfectly crisped up, and then it’s time to serve.
Chicken Birria Tacos are traditionally garnished with diced white onion and cilantro and served alongside a small bowl of Birria sauce for dipping.
HOW TO MAKE BIRRIA DE POLLO
- Make the guajillo sauce.
- Cook the chicken in a crockpot on low for about 3 hours.
- Skim fat from the top of the cooking liquid and reserve.
- Shred the chicken and return it to the crockpot.
- Dip tortilla in reserved grease and place in a hot pan.
- Add cheese and chicken, fold over, and cook until crispy.
- Serve with sauce on the side and enjoy!
1. MAKE THE BIRRIA SAUCE
The first thing you’ll have to do to prepare Chicken Birria Tacos is make the Birria sauce. This chile sauce comes together quickly and easily with simple ingredients.
To prepare the chiles, cut away the stems and gently tear them open. Knock out any loose seeds, lay the chile flat on your work surface, and use the tip of a small knife to scrape away any remaining seeds.
Add the deseeded chiles, broth, tomatoes, white onion, garlic, and bay leaf to a saucepan over medium-high heat and allow the broth to reach a boil. Then, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and allow the mixture to cook on the stovetop for about 20 minutes, just until both the Guajillo chile and onion are fork-tender.
Next, remove the bay leaf and transfer the remaining contents of the saucepan to either a blender or a food processor. Add in the sugar, vinegar, oregano, cloves, cumin, salt, and pepper, and blend until the sauce is smooth to your liking.
Set about 3/4 cup of Guajillo sauce off to the side; you will use the reserved sauce for dipping later.
2. PREP AND COOK THE CHICKEN
Now, it’s on to the chicken portion of Chicken Birria Tacos! You will need 4 to 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. The bone and skin of the chicken thighs will add a great deal of flavor to the braising sauce, and, therefore, your overall dish. Not to mention, that juicy meat ensures succulent poultry perfection encased within your tacos!
Rub the exterior of your chicken thighs with a seasoning mixture of salt, cumin, pepper, and oregano. Then, you’ll add about a half cup of sauce to the bottom of your slow cooker, followed by your chicken thighs and the rest of the guajillo sauce.
Cover the crockpot and cook on low for about three hours, or until the chicken is fully cooked and has reached an internal temperature of 165°F.
3. SKIM AWAY AND RESERVE FAT
Once the chicken is ready, skim away the fat from the top of the crockpot and transfer it to a shallow bowl or dish to reserve.
You will use this grease for dipping your corn tortillas when it comes time to assemble and cook the tacos! Note, this grease gives your Chicken Birria Tacos their red coloring and is considered an essential part of the recipe. Don’t skip this step!
4. SHRED CHICKEN AND RETURN TO SAUCE
Remove the chicken thighs from the crockpot and place them on a work surface. As soon as the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and pull the chicken away from the bone by hand or use two forks to shred it. Once all of the chicken is shredded, add it back to the sauce, along with the juice of one lime, and stir.
5. DIP THE TORTILLAS IN RESERVED GREASE
To make the Chicken Birria Tacos, have ready a large pan, preferably a skillet, over medium heat and drizzle with a scant tablespoon of oil. It is best to use either a nonstick skillet or a seasoned cast iron skillet for making these tacos.
Once the oil in the pan has come to temperature, dip the corn tortilla in the reserved grease and transfer it directly to the hot pan.
6. ASSEMBLE AND COOK QUESABIRRIA TACOS
Scatter either Oaxaca or Monterey Jack cheese across the face of the tortilla, and add the shredded chicken to half of the tortilla.
As soon as the cheese begins to melt, fold the tortilla over the chicken and hold it down for about 30 seconds. Then, carefully flip the tortilla and allow it to cook for about two minutes more or until the tacos are crispy to your liking.
7. SERVE AND ENJOY!
Serve Chicken Birria Tacos with a garnish of chopped white onion, cilantro, and Birria sauce on the side for dipping!
6 MORE MEXICAN RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Tinga de Pollo
- Shredded Chicken Tacos
- Tacos de Pollo
- Chicken Empanadas
- Skillet Chicken Fajitas
Perfectly tender chicken, melty cheese, and crunchy tortillas. Chicken Birria Tacos are incredibly delicious and full of bold flavors.
- 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
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 4-6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 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 chicken 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 chicken thighs.
Place the lid on the slow cooker, and cook for 3 hours on the low setting.
Once the chicken is fully cooked through, skim the grease off the top of the cooking liquid and place it in a shallow dish, like a pie plate. Then, transfer the chicken to a work surface, remove the skin, and shred the chicken 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 chicken over half of the tortilla.
Once the cheese has melted, fold the tortilla over the chicken 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!