Beef Birria


This beef birria is one of the best stews ever. I'm really excited to show you this recipe because after we enjoy this in stew form, we're doing a follow-up video using this to make some of the most incredible tacos you've ever had. If you like beef stew and you're a fan of chili, you're going to go nuts over this. Serve with lime wedges as-is or with warm flour tortillas, chili oil, salsa, and diced avocado next to some Spanish rice and a nice green salad.

Prep Time:
30 mins
Cook Time:
3 hrs 40 mins
Additional Time:
6 hrs
Total Time:
10 hrs 10 mins

This Beef Birria is based on two things: An amazing stewed beef recipe from the Mexican restaurant I worked in during college, as well as the equally incredible goat birrias I've been enjoying in San Francisco's Mission District for many years. It's one of my favorite stews of all time, and I don't need any ulterior motives to make a batch. But having said that, this stew was really just the first step toward a follow-up video, in which I used the leftover meat to make some of the greatest tacos I've ever had.

There's no way to prove that Beef Birria Queso Tacos are the best tacos, but at the moment, they're certainly the trendiest. As in so trendy, I couldn't wait the usual three years before filming them, which is my normal M.O. when it comes to these edible viral sensations.

Anyway, back to the stew, which could not be simpler. That's because we're doing a sort of shortcut method, which doesn't involve making a proper bone broth first, using marrow bones, oxtails, and/or shanks. If you have time, feel free, and then proceed with the recipe as shown. But this was plenty rich and beefy, thanks to a combo of short ribs and chuck.

As I mentioned, this is traditionally made with goat, and that is my favorite way to enjoy it. Or you can use lamb, which has a very similar flavor. But even made with the easier to find and milder beef, this really was fantastic. Since this is a stew, go ahead and toss in whatever stew-friendly vegetables you want (although the best birrias I've had were pretty much just meat and sauce).

I say "sauce" because I like to reduce the cooking liquids to get something a little thicker in viscosity, but the classic birria is much more brothy, and soup-like. That's an easy adjustment for you to make. But either way, you're going to want to whip up a batch soon. Just don't forget to not eat it all! Save some for the tacos...

If you've managed the impossible — made a batch of beef birria without devouring it all —you're ready to make the world's trendiest tacos. And, unlike a few other viral edibles I can think of (I'm looking at you, cake pops), this one deserves all the attention, and more. This recipe is the best answer to the rhetorical question, "how can beef and cheese tacos get any better?"

And that would be by pan-frying them in chili-infused beef fat, and then dunking them into a super-savory soup made from the sauce. If you've always thought French dip sandwiches were a good idea, then you're going to think this is genius. By the way, if you make a traditional birria, which as I mentioned in the previous video is much more brothy than my stew-like version, then you don't have to bother prepping the consomé part, since that's what you already have.

Although, if you didn't add veggies to your original stewing liquid, I suggest you do, as I think it makes the whole experience more special, which is saying something. One last piece of advice I'll pass along is do not overstuff your taco. Just like when we make pizza, or sandwiches, if we're too generous, there's a point of diminishing returns.

Yes, we want lots of beef and cheese, and just the right amount of onion and cilantro, but we also want to be able to dip it into the consomé, and have it absorb a decent amount, rather than our bowl of broth absorbing beef and cheese as they tumble out of our tortilla. Either way, I recommend you give these amazing tacos a try soon, and hedge your bets with a spoon. Enjoy!

Get the recipe for Chef John's Beef Birria Queso Tacos with Consomé.


  • 1 (2 1/2 pound) beef chuck

  • 3 (8 ounce) beef short ribs

  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

  • 7 dried guajillo chilies

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped

  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled

  • 1 (1 inch) piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced

  • 3 large tomatoes, cored and chopped

  • 2 cups water

  • 4 cups chicken broth

  • ¼ cup white vinegar

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 2 tablespoons finely diced white onion

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

  • 1 medium lime, sliced


  1. Cut beef chuck in half; cut each half into 3- to 4-inch pieces. Cut each beef short rib through the middle, all the way down to the bone.

  2. Place beef chuck and short ribs into a soup pot; season with kosher salt, oregano, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, and cloves. Toss thoroughly until meat is evenly coated with spices, 2 to 3 minutes. Cover and keep in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours to overnight.

  3. Prep guajillo chiles by snipping off stems with scissors; slice open and scrape or shake out seeds onto a plate to discard.

  4. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add guajillo chiles and toss in hot oil, about 30 seconds. Add onion, garlic, and ginger; toss to combine. Add tomatoes and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 30 minutes.

  5. Turn off heat and use an immersion blender to purée mixture as smooth as possible, or use a countertop blender, working in batches as needed.

  6. Remove the soup pot with meat from the refrigerator. Strain puréed chili mixture into the pot using a large mesh strainer. Add chicken broth, vinegar, bay leaves, and honey to the pot.

  7. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until meat is fall-apart tender, 3 to 4 hours. Skim fat off of the top and reserve for future birria queso tacos.

  8. To serve, place a few chunks of beef into a soup bowl and spoon some cooking liquid on the top. Sprinkle with some white onion and cilantro; squeeze lime juice over the top.

    close up view of Beef Birria in a bowl, garnished with onions, fresh herbs, and a lime slice
    Chef John

Chef's Notes:

The rule of thumb for this kind of thing is to use 1 teaspoon kosher salt per pound of meat.

This will work with other dried chiles, such as ancho, pasilla, or California.

You can use water with chicken bouillon powder instead of chicken broth.

Water or broth can be added as needed to keep the stew brothy as it simmers, or it can be allowed to reduce and thicken as it cooks. The beef can be served in large chunks or shredded with a fork.

If you enjoyed this with beef, you should really get some goat or lamb and prepare it the same way. That little bit of extra gaminess you gain with those meats really does work out, even with this flavor profile.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

375 Calories
28g Fat
8g Carbs
21g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 10
Calories 375
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 28g 36%
Saturated Fat 11g 54%
Cholesterol 82mg 27%
Sodium 1287mg 56%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 5%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 21g
Vitamin C 11mg 55%
Calcium 34mg 3%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 368mg 8%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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