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This warm bowl of flavorful beef birria is perfect for a cold night in. This authentic Mexican recipe is enjoyed with a side of tortillas, white onions, cilantro and a squeeze of lime. Use the leftovers to make my famous Birria Tacos!
When it’s chilly outside, I crave a warm bowl of beef birria.
Ingredients for Beef Birria
- Meat – I like to use a combination of boneless chuck and short ribs. The marbling of the short ribs adds a richness to this soup that is just divine. Oxtails can also be used in place of the short ribs.
- Spices – This adds tremendous flavor. I love this combination of a whole cinnamon stick, whole cloves, cumin, coriander, oregano and black peppercorns. And bay leaves.
- Dried chiles – You will need guajillo chiles, chiles de arbol and ancho chiles. You can find all of these at most Latin supermarkets or in the international aisle at your local grocery store.
- Apple cider vinegar – I prefer apple cider but you can use distilled white or red wine vinegar. It cuts through some of the fattiness adding a nice tart note.
For the rest of the ingredients, please refer to the recipe card below!
What is Birria
Birria is a traditional soup that originated in Jalisco, Mexico. It is a rich stew that’s typically made with either goat or lamb. But now, beef (rez) is the most commonly used meat. It’s traditionally served in a consomé broth, along with a mixture of white onion, cilantro and fresh lime juice.
Birria is most commonly made for special occasions: Christmas, weddings and parties. It’s usually served alongside cups of horchata or agua fresca. It’s a labor of love and does take a bit of time, but truly it pays off!
How to Make Birria
- Begin with salting and searing the meat. This will add a nice crust to all sides of the meat.
- In another pot, add the spices, dried chiles, onion, tomatoes and garlic. Cover it with water and bring it to a boil. This is going to soften everything so we can blend it in a little bit.
- Strain the chiles mixture and transfer everything to a blender (even the whole spices). Add in the beef broth and blend it until very smooth.
- Pour the sauce into the pot with the meat. Add broth to the blender to pick up any remaining bits of sauce and add that to the pot too.
- Transfer to the oven to braise for about 3 hours, until the meat is tender and delicious.
- Serve bowls of birria with diced onion, cilantro and fresh lime juice. YUM!
Absolutely! The braising time will be nearly the same. I say cut them into similar size chunks to ensure even cooking.
It absolutely has a kick to it but I wouldn’t quantify it as spicy. If you want to make it less spicy, I would say decrease the amount of arbol chiles. That’s where the heat comes from in this recipe.
Mexican cinnamon is very brittle and has a softer exterior; hence why it blends very easily after being simmered. If you’re using regular cinnamon (which is much tougher), I would remove it before you add everything to the blender.
Mexican oregano has a stronger flavor than regular oregano. I prefer it, especially when used in Mexican recipes. If you can’t find it, no worries; simply use regular oregano!
Tips and Tricks
- Cuts of meat: You can substitute in chunks of goat or lamb. You can also opt to use oxtail versus short ribs.
- To make this ahead: I actually think this is a great make-ahead meal. You can make the birria first, shred the meat and store the sauce in the fridge. The fat will solidify on the top. You can scrap off the fat and use the consomé at the bottom.
- Where to find Mexican ingredients: Most of these ingredients like Mexican cinnamon, dried chiles and Mexican oregano can all be found at a Latin supermarket or in the international aisle of your local grocery store.
- Mexican cinnamon vs. regular cinnamon: If you’re not using Mexican cinnamon, remove it and discard it when you’re done boiling all of the chiles. Mexican cinnamon is very brittle and will easily blend up. But if it’s from say Saigon or somewhere else, it tends to be very hard. I wouldn’t put your blender through that!
- To Make it in the Slow-Cooker: You can make this recipe in the slow-cooker by adding the meat and sauce to a slow cooker. Add the broth and set it to high and let it braise for 6-7 hours.
- To Make it in the Instant Pot: Sear the meat in the IP. Pour the sauce in, along with the broth. Close the seal, set the setting to “high pressure” and press the “Stew Meat” option. This should be about 50 minutes. Do a natural release. And it should be perfect!
More Mexican Recipes to Enjoy!
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- 2 pounds boneless chuck
- 2 pound oxtail or short ribs
- 1 teaspoon neutral oil, (avocado or vegetable oil)
- 7 ancho chiles, (ends trimmed and de-seeded)
- 7 guajillo chiles, (ends trimmed and de-seeded)
- 3 chiles de arbol, (ends trimmed and de-seeded)
- 1 white onion, (peeled and halved)
- 6 garlic cloves, (peeled)
- 4 roma tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 Mexican cinnamon stick, (See note if not using Mexican cinnamon)
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 6 to 8 cups beef broth or water, (divided)
- ¼ cup minced cilantro
- ¼ cup minced white onion, from 1/4 onion
- Lime wedges
To Sear The Meat:
- Bring the meat to room temperature, for about 30 minutes, and then sprinkle liberally on all sides with kosher salt. In a large Dutch oven (or a pot with an oven-proof lid), set over medium-high heat, add the neutral oil. When hot, add the meat and sear on all sides until browned. I like to do a hard sear. You’ll have to do this in batches. Transfer all back to the pot when you're done.
To Make the Sauce:
- Meanwhile, in another medium pot, add the dried chiles, halved white onion, garlic cloves, tomatoes, spices, bay leaves, and add cold water until it covers everything. Place over medium heat and simmer gently for about 15 minutes. Pour through a strainer and transfer everything (including the whole spices) to a blender. If your blender is small you may need to do this in batches.
- Add the apple cider vinegar and about 1 cup of beef broth or water and blend until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Add salt to taste (I added about 1 tablespoon of kosher salt).
- *Note: I have a high-powered blender and it resulted in a super smooth sauce. If you have a blender that is meh, you may want to run the sauce through a strainer to discard any big bits the blender didn’t puree. Very optional!
To Braise the Meat:
- Preheat the oven to 300F. Pour the sauce over the meat. To the blender, add the remaining 5 to 7 cups of broth or water. Swish it around to pick up any leftover sauce and pour it into the pot.
- Place over medium heat until it reaches a gentle simmer and then immediately cover and transfer to the preheated oven. Cook for about 3 hours or until the meat is tender.
- Ladle the broth into bowls and add a few pieces of meat to each bowl. Garnish with cilantro, onion, and some lime wedges.
- Cuts of meat – You can substitute in goat, lamb or if you can choose oxtail instead of short ribs.
- To make this ahead: I actually think this is a great make-ahead meal. You can make the birria first, shred the meat and store the sauce in the fridge. The fat will solidify on the top. You can use that to the pan with the tortillas if you like. Or you can warm it back up when you’re ready to serve.
- Most of these ingredients like Mexican cinnamon, dried chiles and Mexican oregano at a Latin supermarket.
- If you’re not using Mexican cinnamon, remove it and discard it when you’re done boiling all of the chiles. Mexican cinnamon is very brittle and will easily blend up. But if it’s from say Saigon or somewhere else, it tends to be very hard. I wouldn’t put your blender through that!
- To Make it in the Slow-Cooker – You can make this recipe in the slow-cooker by adding the meat and sauce to a slow cooker. Add the broth and set it to high and let it braise for 6-7 hours.
- To Make it in the Instant Pot – Sear the meat in the IP. Pour the sauce in, along with the broth. Close the seal, set the setting to “high pressure” and press the “Stew Meat” option. This should be about 50 minutes. Do a natural release. And it should be perfect!
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.