This outstanding beef birria recipe is a wonderfully satisfying and hearty recipe. After you taste it, you will want to make it again and again. Birria's deep rich flavors make it a clear Mexican favorite and now a global favorite.
The original birria recipe, made for special occasions, uses goat meat or lamb. Like any favorite recipe, even the best recipe gets modified. But, the flavorful broth and tender meat remain consistent.
A centerpiece birria recipe is made with lean, full-flavored beef. This beef simmers with fruity, tangy, and smoky chile pepper flavors. The result is a sensational melding of flavors that creates a spectacular meat stew. Make beef birria once and eat twice using the leftover birria for these amazing birria tacos.
⭐ Why This Birria Recipe Is a Keeper
Deep rich flavor that will arouse your senses. A long simmer of chile peppers, herbs, and spices, along with beef, is the key. This process creates a deep reddish-brown rich broth with tender meat.
Unlimited variations. Serve beef birria as a beef stew with warm corn tortillas on the side. Use leftover birria for these superb birria tacos. Adapt your birria tacos recipe to quesabirria tacos that ooze with melty cheese. Or, how about some birria quesadillas or birria tortas.
Comfort food bliss. Beef birria is a type of Mexican beef stew (guisado). A hearty beef stew is an all-time comfort food. To me, birria tacos or any kind of taco is a comfort food favorite too.
- Dried guajillo chiles. They are one of the most popular dried chiles in Mexican cooking. You will taste them in the foundation of many sauces and marinades. Guajillo peppers are sweet, fruity, tangy, and smoky with a mild heat level. They register 2500 to 5000 Scoville heat units which are between a mild poblano and a spicier jalapeño.
- Ancho chiles. They are the dried version of red poblano chiles. Ancho chiles have a light smoky fruity flavor that is ideal for adobe sauce. They are also very mild, registering 1000 to 1500 Scoville heat units.
- Fire roasted tomatoes. For simplicity in this birria recipe, I like to use a can of fire-roasted tomatoes. Fire roasting deepens the flavor of the tomatoes and adds even more depth to this dish.
- White Onion. Use the onion both in the simmering birria sauce and as a garnish on top of the finished dish.
- Apple cider vinegar. n acidic ingredient that adds a sweet-sour flavor. Vinegar also helps tenderize the meat.
- Garlic cloves.
- Herbs and spices. Dried Mexican oregano, dried thyme leaves, cumin seeds, and a dried bay leaf. Salt and pepper are staples. Use fresh cilantro as a garnish.
- Beef tri tip roast. This cut is a favorite because it is semi-lean and has a terrific beefy flavor. This cut of beef lends itself to braising and oven roasting, among other methods.
- Lime wedges. The tangy lime juice accents the taste.
- Corn tortillas. Served warm they are the ideal accompaniment to beef birria. Dip the tortillas in the juices or use them to make the best birria tacos.
- Tomatoes. Replace the can of diced tomatoes with 1-½ cups diced tomatoes which equates to about 3 medium tomatoes.
- Mexican oregano. Use dried marjoram in place of Mexican oregano. Marjoram more closely compares with Mexican oregano because of its floral citrusy flavor. Do not substitute with dried Mediterranean oregano because their flavors are very different.
- Thyme. If you want to use fresh thyme, use about ½ teaspoon of fresh leaves since dried leaves are more concentrated in flavor than fresh.
- Water or broth. You can add beef broth or beef stock to this birria recipe. I strongly recommend that you replace, at most, only half of the water with broth and use low sodium or unsalted beef broth. This way you can control the saltiness of your beef birria and still have a flavorful broth.
- Cinnamon stick. You can add a cinnamon stick to the birria recipe at the same time you add the bay leaf if you prefer. After simmering, discard both the bay leaf and cinnamon stick.
Warm Tortillas and Keep Them Soft
Always warm tortillas before serving them. If you are making a large batch of tortillas the same post will tell you how to keep them warm.
- Soak the chiles. Simmer the guajillo and ancho chiles in a small pot of water. This step rehydrates the chiles so you can blend them for the adobo sauce. The hot water also makes removing the seeds and stems much easier. Don't discard the cooking liquid!
- Blend. Add the softened chiles and some of their cooking liquid to a blender. Add in the remaining ingredients for the sauce and blend until smooth.
- Marinate. Pour the adobo sauce into a 1-gallon zip-top bag or another airtight container. Add the beef chunks and bay leaves and seal the bag, tossing gently to coat the beef with the sauce. Refrigerate for 4 hours and up to 1 day to allow the beef to absorb all the wonderful flavors of the birria sauce.
- Simmer. Transfer the beef and adobo sauce into a large Dutch oven or a heavy-duty large pot. Stir in 4 cups of water. Over medium-high heat, cook, stirring occasionally, until boiling. Reduce the heat to medium heat, cover, and cook for 3 to 4 hours or until the meat pulls apart easily with a fork. Discard the bay leaf. Season to taste with kosher salt.
- Serve. Ladle the beef and broth into individual serving bowls. Top with the remaining onion and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges and warm corn tortillas.
💭 Cook's Tips
- Wear kitchen gloves when handling chili peppers and avoid touching your face or eyes.
- Before blending the ingredients make sure the liquid has cooled. Hot liquid can explode in a blender.
- Tri tip shape is like a triangle with a slightly bent tip. The intersection of those two parts is where the grain changes direction. Where the grain changes, change the direction of your cutting for the most tender results.
- Save time chopping the onion. Chop only half of the white onion to use for garnish. Cut the other half of the onion into wedges and put them in the blender where the blender will do the chopping for you.
- Save a zip-loc bag. Transfer the sauce and the beef chunks to the Dutch oven you will use to cook the beef birria. Seal the Dutch oven tightly and transfer it to the refrigerator.
- Storing leftovers. Beef birria can be refrigerated for 3 to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
This recipe for beef birria calls for a beef tri tip. However, you can use other cuts of meat if they are easier to for you to find or if their price point is much better. Beef birria doesn't need an expensive cut of beef to be delicious.
Beef roast variations:
- Beef chuck roast. Chuck roast is a flavorful cut that lends itself well to slow cooking. A chuck roast can contain more fat than a tri tip. You can always skim some of the fat off if you want or use that fat to make birria tacos or quesabirria tacos.
- Bottom sirloin. Roasts from the sirloin section are a very good alternative for making beef birria.
- Combination cuts. Beef shanks are an inexpensive cut to add along with larger roasts. For example, you could use a smaller sirloin (about 2 pounds) and add in a pound or more of beef shanks. Beef shank adds enormous beefy flavor to beef birria. Short ribs are another good addition to add beefy flavor and fat.
Cooking methods. You can make Instant Pot beef birria or a slow cooker birria recipe. Both of these small appliances are perfect for cooking tender and flavorful beef.
Make tacos. Arrange the shredded beef birria on top of the warm tortillas. Top with chopped onions and cilantro. You may also want to top the birria taco with a little Oaxaca cheese or your favorite shredded cheese.
🍽 Kitchen Equipment
For this birria de res you will want a Dutch oven or a large deep pot. I use this All Clad Dutch Oven that was a gift from my mom many years ago and it works beautifully. If you don't already have one, there are many good Dutch ovens in all price points.
A countertop blender or immersion blender for making the birria broth.
If you love this birria recipe, try another of my favorites the best birria tacos recipe.
The Best Beef Birria Recipe - Mexican Birria de Res
- Dutch Oven 6 quart or larger
- 1-¼ ounce dried guajillo chiles 5 large chiles
- ½ ounce ancho chiles 1 chile
- 1 14-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes with juice or 1 ½ cups diced tomatoes
- 1 white onion, finely chopped divided
- ¾ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 3 cloves garlic peeled
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano see Chef's Tips
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves or ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
- Kosher salt
- 4 cups water approximately
- 2-½ pounds beef loin tri-tip roast cut into large chunks
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ bunch fresh cilantro coarsely chopped
- 1 lime cut into wedges
- Corn tortillas, warmed
- In a medium saucepan over high heat, add the guajillo and ancho chiles. Add enough water to cover the chiles and heat until boiling. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes or until the chiles are soft. Remove from the heat and let cool. Using gloves, remove the stems and seeds.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chiles to a blender. Add 1 cup of the chiles’ cooking liquid, tomatoes with juice, ½ of the diced onion, the vinegar, garlic, peppercorns, oregano, thyme, cumin and 1-½ teaspoons kosher salt. Cover and blend, 1 minute or until smooth.
- Pour the adobo sauce in to a 1-gallon zip-top bag. Add the beef and bay leaf and seal the bag, tossing gently to coat the beef with sauce. Refrigerate for 4 hours and up to 1 day.
- Transfer the beef and adobo sauce into the Dutch oven. Stir in 4 cups of water. Over high heat, cook, stirring occasionally, until boiling. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook 3 to 4 hours or until the meat shreds easily with a fork. Discard bay leaf. Season to taste with salt.
- Ladle the beef and broth into individual serving bowls. Top with the remaining onion and the cilantro. Serve with the lime wedges and warm tortillas.
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