Birria tacos with consome have recently taken the world and social media in particular by storm, and lemme tell you: I am HERE for it. Unfortunately they aren't super here for me, with the closest sources about 45 minutes away, and lines around the block. After a few day trips for tacos, I realized I need to figure out how to make them at home.
Birria Tacos Recipe
If you are looking for a super easy birria tacos recipe, you might be disappointed - this dish is inherently a bit of a labor of love. BUT I have tried to make mine as straightforward and streamlined as possible, while still staying true to the original flavors of the dish.
okay but what are they?
Crispy on the outside, and filled with tender, super flavorful meat, these tacos are set apart from your standard street taco in a few ways:
- traditionally made with goat meat
- corn tortilla shells are dipped in the cooking sauce of the meat before being filled and crisped up on a skillet
- served with a side of dipping sauce, reserved from the stewing of the meat
I like mine with cheese (technically a quesabirria taco), but you should know that the OG ones usually don't have it.
what are birria tacos made of?
Traditionally they are corn tortillas filled with goat meat! ( Scroll down to learn the history of this - it's pretty cool ). They can be made with whatever goat, beef, pork, or lamb you can get your hands on though. I like a mixture of goat and beef.
How to make birria tacos
- Stew meat in a flavorful broth of spices, herbs, and chiles
- Remove meat from the stew and shred. Pick out any large aromatics ( cinnamon stick and bay leaves )
- Prepare a hot skillet
- Dip corn tortillas in the sauce, and place on the hot skillet. Add cheese to the entire surface area of the tortilla (optional) and birria meat to one side of it.
- Melt and fold. Once the cheese has melted and the shell has begun to crisp, fold it over.
- Flip and cook the other side until it is crispy
- Serve with a bowl of the consome on the side for dipping
But what is the birria tacos dipping sauce?
I've had these tacos made a ton of different ways, and the places I've been have served everything from a thin beef dipping sauce to a thicker blended style sauce. I prefer the thicker style that clings to the tacos a little more ( and has a TON of flavor packed into it.)
No matter the sauce, it's almost always garnished with fresh cilantro and chopped onions.
History of birria tacos
Birria tacos / quesabirria tacos are originally from the Jalisco state of Mexico, and they have a rich history! In the 16th Century, the Spanish brought all kinds of animals with them to Mexico, including goats.
The goats began taking over the region, and unlike pigs and cows, which were highly desirable for both their meat and byproducts like milk, goats were not so loved. They destroyed crops and multiplied quickly, plus the meat can be stringy and very gamey, but necessity lead to their consumption. The residents adapted to cook the meat for extended periods of time to tenderize it, and added heavy spices to mask the gamey flavor.
Once the birria style of cooking meat was created, it was applied to many other types of meat like beef, pork, and lamb, and used as a taco filling to make "tacos de birria", which were dipped in the flavorful sauce from cooking the meat.
Over the centuries, the crispy, flavorful tacos moved north to Tijuana, ultimately landing in Los Angeles a few years ago. By 2019, they'd exploded in California, and started making their way across the country, with social media photos of deliciously crispy, cheesy, meaty tacos dripping with sauce driving the craze.
Other recipes you might like:
For the Birria:
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 8 dried Guajillo or Pasilla Peppers
- 3 lbs bone-in beef shanks short rib, or oxtail
- 2 lbs stew meat cut into 2" cubes ( beef top or bottom sirloin, beef chuck, goat shoulder, see Notes)
- 12 ounces Chipotle Peppers in Adobo
- ½ cup cider vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Cumin
- 1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
- 1 Tablespoon Paprika
- 1 cup Crushed Tomatoes
- 7 cloves Garlic minced
- 5 Bay Leaves
- 2 Sticks of Cinnamon
- 10 Cloves
- 8 cups Chicken or Beef Broth low sodium or sodium free
For the tacos:
- 18 4" tortillas
- 1 lb shredded cheese quesadilla, pepper jack, or other white cheese
- fresh cilantro optional, for serving
- chopped white onion optional, for serving
- lime wedges optional, for serving
To Make the Birria (Meat Filling) on the Stove Top:
- Bring 6 cups of water to a boil, and add the dried peppers to it. Let them soak for about 15 minutes, or until completely softened. After they have softened, cut off the stem/top of each pepper, shake out and discard the seeds and stem.
- Add the olive oil to a very large pot set over medium low heat. Once the oil has heated through, add the chopped onions. Sautee the onions for 8 - 12 minutes, or until they start to soften. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
- While the onions are cooking, add the softened peppers, chipotle peppers in adobo, vinegar, cumin, oregano, paprika, cider vinegar, crushed tomatoes, and 4 cups of broth to a blender. Blend until smooth.
- To the pot with the onions, add the beef, puree from the blender, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and remaining 4 cups of broth.Pro Tip: After you pour out the puree from the blender, use the remaining broth to rinse any of the puree still lingering on the walls or blade of the blender before pouring it into the pot.The meat should be completely covered by the liquid in the pot. If it is not, fill the pot with water until it is just barely covered.
- Turn the heat up under the pot, and bring it to a simmer. Simmer covered for 3-4 hours, or until the meat is fall-apart tender.
- Once the meat is cooked, remove the bay leaf and cloves, and remove the meat from the pot.Shred the meat, and return it back to the pot to simmer until you are ready to make your tacos ( up to 1 hour.)Simmering is NOT required. Feel free to add the meat back to the pot and then start making tacos immediately.
To Make the Tacos:
- Preheat a skillet over medium heat. You do not need to add any oil or grease to the pan.
- For each tortilla: Dip the tortilla in the sauce the meat was cooked in. Place the tortilla on the hot pan.Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of shredded cheese over the entire top of the tortilla (feel free to double the cheese if you want more of quesabirria or birria quesadilla style). Place a heaping tablespoon of meat on one half of the tortilla.
- Cook until the cheese melts and the tortilla is just starting to crisp - about 2 minutes. Fold the un-meated side of the tortilla over the meat side, and flip the taco. Cook for another 2 minutes or until both sides are crispy.
- Serve the tacos with a bowl of the cooking liquid on the side topped with fresh cilantro and diced onion, and limes.
The shoulder is a great cut for this. My local shop also sells what they call "Goat cubes" which is an assortment of cut up goat meat - it also works wonderfully for this recipe.