Simple Beef Birria

This super flavorful Beef Biria recipe is the result of a fabulous sauce made with dried chilies. Although it may not be easy to source all the chiles - if you can it’s worth it. The beef stews/braises in that sauce until it’s super tender and easy to pull apart soaking in all the amazing smoky flavors of the sauce. Enjoy beef birria with warm tortillas or rice or make birria tacos/quesabirria tacos, or quesadillas or this tasty pulled beef is great over nachos or fries.

Simple Beef Birria

What is Birria?

Birria is a meat stew or sometimes a soup (depending on how it is made) made from goat, beef, lamb, mutton, or chicken. The meat is cooked in a Mexican style adobo sauce made of vinegar, dried chiles, garlic, tomatoes, herbs and spices. Birria is a dish from Mexico specifically the Mexican state of Jalisco. This version is made with beef chuck roast but other recipes may be made with short ribs, or even a mixture of oxtail and beef shanks.

Simple Beef Birria Ingredients

Beef Birria Recipe Ingredients

  • BEEF: Beef chuck roast or blade roast is what I use - the best cut for slow braising as it becomes tender and juicier the longer you cook it.
  • DRIED CHILES: I used a combination of: chiles de arbol, guajillo chiles, and ancho chiles. Most traditional recipe use a combination of these three chiles - feel free to adjust amounts to taste. The overall dish is more smoky with a little heat. If you want more heat increase the amount of guajillo chiles you add, for less heat reduce the amount.
  • VINEGAR: I like to use apple cider vinegar but regular white vinegar works too
  • SPICES: I use a combination of whole dried spices and ground spices, but you can do either or. I used a whole cinnamon stick (use Mexican cinnamon if possible) black peppercorns and bay leaves. For ground spices I used ground cumin, dried oregano (use Mexican oregano if possible) and ground clove.
  • TOMATOES: I like to use ripe roma tomatoes but any variety will work
  • ONION & GARLIC: I use ½ a white onion peeled and left whole and 3 cloves of garlic peeled and left whole - if you prefer more garlic feel free to add more
  • BROTH/STOCK: I like to use beef broth/ beef stock but you can easily use chicken broth.
  • ALTERNATE ADD INS: I don’t add any canned chipotle peppers but some recipe call for adding them with adobo sauce. Some recipes also add in ginger and coriander seed as well. Feel free to adjust flavors as desired.

How to make Beef Birria Sauce

How To Make Beef Birria

  1. Make Adobo Sauce/Chile Sauce: Place the whole ingredients (onion, garlic, tomatoes, cinnamon, peppercorns) and dried chiles in a small pot, cover with water and simmer 10-15 min then transfer all the chiles and rest of the whole ingredients to a blender and blend with some of the cooking liquid
  2. Season & Sear Beef: Season beef with salt and pepper then sear in a hot dutch over or heavy bottom pan
  3. Braise Beef With Sauce: Pour sauce over beef then braise until fall apart tender
  4. Shred Beef: Remove beef from braising liquid and shred, serve with sauce on the side or place back in sauce and serve as a stew
  5. Serve: As a stew with diced onions, Cilantro and lime wedges or make birria tacos

Simple Beef Birria How to make in steps

Simple Beef Birria How to make in steps

Beef Birria Storage, Make Ahead, & Freezing

  • STORAGE: Shredded beef can be stored in the sauce or kept seperate in airtight containers in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat stovetop or in the microwave.
  • MAKE AHEAD: Of course this whole dish can be made 1-2 days ahead - like any stew the flavors just keep getting better as they sit. Store chilled in an airtight container. Reheat and serve. The adobo sauce can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for 1 week or longer. You can freeze it for up to 6 months. Simply pour over seared beef when ready to use it.
  • FREEZING: Shredded beef can be stored in the sauce or kept seperate in airtight freezer containers for up to 3-6 months. Thaw in fridge and reheat stovetop or in the microwave.

Simple Beef Birria up close

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Servings: 4-6
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 3½ hrs
Total Time: 3 hours 45 mins


  • 2½-3 pounds/lbs beef chuck, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more if needed
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 3 dried chiles de arbol, stems and seeds removed and discarded
  • 6 dried guajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed and discarded
  • 3 dried ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed and discarded
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, halved (I used Roma tomatoes)
  • ½ white onion peeled and left whole
  • 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
  • ½-1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½-1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns, whole
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, or 2-3 whole cloves
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 cup beef stock, plus more if needed
  • 1 ½ cups water plus more if needed

For Serving

  • Chopped Onion
  • Lime wedges
  • Cilantro

For the Birria Tacos

  • 15 corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded Oaxaca cheese, Monterrey Jack cheese/or mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Fresh limes wedges for serving


Sear Beef

  1. Season beef chunks generously with salt and black pepper. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. In 2 batches, sear/brown the beef chunks on all sides, using more oil as needed.
  2. Transfer the seared chuck roast to a plate and set aside. Remove from skillet and set aside when done

Make Adobo Sauce

  1. In the meantime, Place the guajillo chiles, ancho chiles, arbol chiles, tomatoes, onion, garlic, cinnamon stick, and peppercorns in a medium pot. Cover completely with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover pot with lid, and simmer for 10-15 minutes then remove from heat.
  2. Transfer the softened chiles and all the other ingredients in the pot to a large blender with a slotted spoon. Add 1 cup of the cooking water from the pot, along with the beef broth, vinegar, cumin, oregano, and ground clove/cloves. Blend on high for a few minutes until completely smooth. Straining is optional

Cook Beef With Sauce

  1. Transfer sauce into the pot with the seared meat. Add the bay leaves at this point. stir well to fully coat meat and cover it adding more water if needed to do so.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 3 to 3½ hours until the meat is fall-apart tender.
  3. Use tongs or slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a large bowl and shred it with 2 forks.
  4. Add the meat back into the sauce and serve as a stew in bowls with diced onion and chopped cilantro or as tacos in corn tortillas with shredded cheese, cilantro, and diced onions. Or make tacos - directions below.

Make Birria Tacos (optional)

  1. Working 1 tortilla at a time, dip the tortilla in the reserved sauce. Place the tortilla on a large-non stick skillet set over medium heat.
  2. Top half of the tortilla with 1-2 tablespoons of shredded cheese, 2-3 tablespoons of shredded beef, and a sprinkle of onion and cilantro. Fold the tortilla in half to close.
  3. Cook the tacos for 30-45 seconds on each side until crisp. Transfer to a serving platter.
  4. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and serve with any remaining braising liquid on the side for dipping.
  5. Serve warm with extra sauce on the side and lime wedges or a squeeze of fresh lime juice over the top.

Recipe Notes

  • This is a stove top version but can easily be made in the oven too (see below). I have not tested this recipe on the slow cooker or instant pot yet but the recipe would be great in either. Simply sear meat and make sauce then either slow cook it slow cooker for 8-10 hours on low or 4-6 on high or cook in the instant pot with the sauce for 40 minutes on high pressure and 10 minute natural release. Then shred and serve with the pan liquids/sauce. You may need to add extra liquid when using the instant pot or slow cooker. Usually will top up with ore broth or water.
  • For the over version simply preheat oven to 325°F then once the beef is boiling with the sauce core and transfer to oven and braise in oven for 2½ -3 hours, or until the meat can easily come apart with forks.
  • Some recipes call for charring the onion, tomatoes, garlic and the dried chiles before adding to pot in a dry skillet for added flavor. Feel free to do so if you would like
  • Some recipes call for straining the sauce after you blend it. I never do but if you feel like you want a thinner sauce or don’t want it as thick or pulpy feel free to strain it before adding it to the beef.

Simple Beef Birria in tacos on a plate