Making authentic Birria de Res at home is easy with my simple Slow Cooker Birria recipe! This traditional birria beef stew is a set-it-and-forget-it meal that can be transformed into dozens of delicious dishes like quesabirria tacos with consomé dipping sauce, birria ramen, or birria nachos. 

three quesabirria tacos on a grey plate with a side of birria dipping sauce and fresh lime wedges.

If you need the perfect excuse to roll those R’s this is it. Say it with me…Birrrrrrria. Satisfying, right? Well just wait until you taste this magnificent, fork-tender meat served with a juicy, flavorful broth.

What is Birria?

I was telling my Mom about the cheesy beef birria tacos served with consommé that became all the craze in 2020. When I asked her if she knew how to make birria, she said, “Wow, I haven’t heard about that dish in years!” 

According to Mom, birria is a traditional meat stew from the Mexican state of Jalisco. It is usually made from goat meat in Mexico, but can also be made using beef or lamb. Since birria beef was not a dish I grew up eating, I wanted to be sure to share an authentic Mexican recipe with you. 

In my search, I stumbled upon this Birria de Res recipe by Doña Angela, the adorable YouTube grandma from De Mi Rancho A Tu Cocina. Her recipe is very rustic, made in a big pot on her wood-burning stove. I opted to develop my beef birria recipe in a crock pot to make it easier for the everyday home cook.

This birria de res recipe reminds me of a cross between tender barbacoa or brisket and spicy adovada. The main difference is the birria consomé, which is a byproduct of making the traditional stew. This rich, flavorful broth becomes a perfect dipping sauce for the crunchy, crispy fried quesabirria (cheesy birria de res tacos), creating what I like to think of as the Mexican version of a French dip sandwich. 

Ingredients & Substitutions

As promised, this simple beef birria recipe is made with easy-to-find ingredients. See recipe card below for the full recipe.

  • Boneless Beef Chuck Roast: Since Doña Angela’s recipe called for slow-cooking meat, I opted for chuck roast. It’s relatively inexpensive and has lots of connective tissue, which makes it a tough cut at first, but slow cooking turns it deliciously fork-tender. You’re also welcome to use beef shank or even beef short ribs, though the latter are quite expensive.
  • Onion: I used white, but yellow would also work fine. 
  • Garlic: You’ll want fresh garlic cloves for the best flavor.
  • Bay Leaves: It’s kind of wild how much flavor a few little leaves can impart. I recommend buying them from your local Latin American grocer; they are generally much cheaper since they are packed in plastic bags rather than glass jars.
  • Dried Oregano: If possible, reach for Mexican oregano rather than Mediterranean. If you don’t have any on hand, dried marjoram is the closest substitute.
  • Fresh Marjoram & Mint: I love using fresh herbs from my garden whenever I can. If you only have dried herbs on hand, use one-third as much as you would fresh. 
  • Fresh Thyme: While optional, I highly recommend it. Again, if you only have dried leaves, use one-third as much.
  • Dried Guajillo Chiles: For adding sweet, smoky, fruity flavor in the flavorful red chile sauce. Dried California or New Mexico chiles will also work beautifully!
  • Dried Ancho Chiles: Optional, but lovely for adding an almost chocolaty flavor to the red chile sauce. 
  • Salt & Black Peppercorns: For seasoning. Note that this beef birria slow cooker recipe calls for whole peppercorns, not ground pepper. 

How to Make Birria de Res in a Slow Cooker

While this birria de res recipe does take a bit of time, I can guarantee that it is neither difficult to pull off nor does it require any fancy equipment. I’ve also made sure to tailor the recipe to ingredients that can easily be sourced from a regular U.S. grocery store.

Cook beef in slow cooker: In a slow cooker add water, beef chunks (cut into 4-inch cubes), onion, garlic, salt, black peppercorns, bay leaves, oregano, marjoram, mint, and thyme (if using). Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

Shred: Remove the beef and shred the meat and discard fat pieces. Season to taste. Place shredded meat back in the slow cooker with beef broth liquid.

Make red chile sauce: While the meat is cooking, whip up this easy 30-minute sauce. Remove stems, seeds, and veins from the chile pods. Place in a colander and rinse well with cool water. Add chiles, garlic, onion, and water to a large pot. Bring water to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes. After 10 minutes turn the chiles over with tongs to make sure the chiles soften evenly. Allow time to cool down before blending. Do not discard water.

Blend: Once cooled, place in blender with salt. Blend until smooth. If necessary, season with more salt.

Strain: Strain the sauce through a fine sieve into the slow cooker and stir. The broth combined with the red chile sauce is the “birria consomé”. Discard any skins and seeds that the sieve catches. 

wooden spoonful of birria de res in a slow cooker.

Serve: If you’re serving this slow cooker birria as a traditional stew, I recommend topping it with radishes, onions, chiles, lime wedges, and fresh cilantro. Fresh, homemade corn tortillas and tomatillo salsa verde are also very welcome additions.

birria de res stew in terracotta bowl with a turquoise enameled spoon and three bowls filled with onion, cilantro and radish for garnish.

How to Make Quesabirria (a.k.a. Birria Cheese Tacos)

  1. Heat a comal (cast iron griddle) over medium-low heat. Dip the tortillas one at a time in the consommé (beef broth combined with red chile sauce). Place on the comal and top with cheese, I recommend Queso Oaxaca, if making quesatacos (cheese birria tacos). Add shredded beef over half the tortilla and chopped cilantro and onion. Drizzle the beef with a little more consommé.
  2. When the cheese is melted, fold each tortilla in half. Cook, flipping halfway through, until browned and slightly crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  3. Serve tacos garnished with additional diced onion, cilantro, and lime wedges, and small bowls of warm consommé (beef broth red chile sauce mixture) for dipping.
  4. Keep warm: Transfer the tacos to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat assembling and cooking the remaining tacos.

Optional Variations

  • Birria de Chivo: For an even more traditional birria con consomé, swap in goat meat. I recommend using goat leg or goat shoulder.
  • Birria de Borrego: You can also make authentic birria tacos using lamb leg or lamb shoulder. Check out my latest cookbook, Muy Bueno Fiestas for a Lamb Birria recipe.
  • Vegan Birria: Don’t eat meat? Try making a yummy vegan birria using pulled oyster mushrooms and pulled green jackfruit.
overhead shot of a dark grey slate plate filled with cheesy quesabirria tacos and three bowls of cilantro, onion and birria dipping sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between birria de res and barbacoa?

While both of these popular dishes can be made using beef, goat, or lamb, they’re quite different. “Barbacoa” refers to a style of cooking that is similar to barbecue, so marinated meat is cooked low and slow without any extra liquid. Birria, on the other hand, refers to a dish that’s more like stew, so the meat is braised in a flavorful broth. 

What meat is commonly used for birria?

In Jalisco, goat meat is most common. In Tijuana and most of the US, beef is most common. There are also versions made with lamb or mutton.

What is the best cut of beef for birria de res?

I personally love using inexpensive stew meat like boneless chuck. Whatever cut you choose, opt for one that can withstand slow cooking (e.g. shank, brisket, or short rib).

How many tacos will 1 pound of meat make?

It depends on what size your tortillas are and how stuffed you like your tacos to be. In our house, one pound of birria yields about 8 tacos. 

Are birria tacos healthy?

I’m not a nutrition professional, so I’m not comfortable declaring something “healthy” or not. That said, considering the fact that quesabirria tacos are filled with cheese and pan-fried, they’re a bit on the rich side, and not what I would consider “diet food.” To keep it lighter, stick with serving birria as a stew topped with lots of colorful veggies. 

Does birria de res have vinegar?

Traditionally speaking, birria simply refers to a blend of chiles and spices that are in the stew. There are a ton of birria recipes out there, with some including things like beer, pulque, cinnamon, or ginger. While many birria recipes call for vinegar, mine does not as I find that lime wedges give enough acidity to the final dish. Feel free to experiment to your liking!

What’s the difference between quesabirria and birria tacos?

Queso is the Spanish word for cheese, so quesatacos or quesabirria simply refers to a taco that has cheese melted into it. You can make birria tacos with or without cheese to your own liking!

What if I’m not a fan of spicy foods?

This dish is very flavorful, but not fiery spicy. If you prefer a milder dish, feel free to omit the ancho chiles. Also, be sure to remove the seeds and membranes from the dried chiles prior to making the sauce, as that is where the majority of the capsaicin lives. Learn about Mexican chiles here.

Also, since dairy inhibits your taste buds from interacting with the capsaicin, I recommend that you serve your tacos as quesabirria to help reduce the spiciness!

What should I serve with birria?

If you’re serving it as a traditional stew, I recommend topping it with radishes, onions, chiles, lime wedges, and fresh cilantro. Serve with fresh homemade corn tortillas and tomatillo salsa verde are also very welcome additions.

If you’re going the birria taco route, I recommend serving with the same toppings, as well as some melty cheese and the consommé on the side for dipping.

Serving Suggestions

The best thing about this birria crock pot recipe is that it makes a ton of meat, which you can use for a different meal for each day of the week. Here are a few of my favorite ideas:

Storage & Heating Instructions

  • The red chile sauce can be made in advance and kept in airtight containers in the refrigerator or freezer. Red chile sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week or frozen for up to six months.
  • As with most soups and stews, birria de res does beautifully in the fridge, making it a perfect recipe for your meal prep day. Any leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to three months.
  • To serve leftovers, allow them to defrost overnight in the fridge, then warm both the birria and consomé in a microwave, crockpot, or saucepan on the stovetop until heated through.

Recommended Equipment

More Mexican Slow Cooker Recipes

If you tried my simple recipe for authentic Birria de Res, please rate and review it below! Or, if you decide to Instagram your creations, tag me (@muybuenocooking) so I can see your delicious birria tacos.

three quesabirria tacos on a grey plate with a side of birria dipping sauce and fresh lime wedges.

Birria de Res Recipe

4.96 (113 ratings)
Making Birria de Res at home is an easy way to pump up the flavor quotient for any number of celebrations. Try this trendy authentic Mexican recipe that can be eaten as either new-world tacos or old-world stew.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups water
  • 4 pounds boneless beef chuck roast or beef shank
  • 1/2 onion
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 sprigs marjoram
  • 1 sprig mint
  • 2 springs thyme (optional)

Red Chile Sauce

Toppings

  • chopped white onion
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped radishes
  • lime wedges

Tacos

  • yellow corn tortillas
  • Chihuahua, Oaxaca, or Monterey jack cheese, shredded (optional for quesatacos)

Instructions 

  • In a slow cooker add water, beef chunks (cut into 4-inch cubes), onion, garlic, salt, black peppercorns, bay leaves, oregano, marjoram, mint, and thyme (if using).
  • Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
  • Remove the beef and shred the meat and discard fat pieces. Season to taste. Place shredded meat back in the slow cooker with beef broth liquid.

Red Chile Sauce

  • Remove stems, seeds, and veins from the chile pods. Place in a colander and rinse well with cool water.
  • Add chiles, garlic, onion, and water to a large pot. Bring water to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes. After 10 minutes turn the chiles over with tongs to make sure the chiles soften evenly. Allow time to cool down before blending. Do not discard water.
  • Once cooled, place the chiles, garlic, onion, and liquid in blender with salt. Blend until smooth. If necessary, season with more salt.
  • Strain red chile sauce through a fine sieve into the slow cooker and stir. This broth is the "consommé". Discard skins and seeds. 

Stew

  • Serve birria (shredded beef) in a bowl with broth as a stew with diced onion, radishes, and fresh cilantro and serve with corn tortillas.

Tacos

  • Heat a comal (cast iron griddle) over medium-low heat. 
  • Dip the corn tortillas one at a time in the consommé (broth with red chile sauce). Place on the comal and top with cheese if making quesatacos (cheese birria tacos). Add shredded beef over half the tortilla and chopped cilantro and onion. Drizzle the beef with a little more consommé.
  • When the cheese is melted, fold each tortilla in half. Cook, flipping halfway through, until browned and slightly crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  • Serve tacos garnished with additional diced onion, cilantro, and lime wedges, and small bowls of warm consommé (beef broth red chile sauce mixture) for dipping.

Notes

  • Keep warm: Transfer the tacos to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat assembling and cooking the remaining tacos.
  • Make ahead: The red chile sauce can be made in advance and kept in airtight containers in the refrigerator or freezer. Red chile sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week or frozen for up to six months.
  • For leftovers: As with most soups and stews, birria de res does beautifully in the fridge, making it a perfect recipe for your meal prep day. Leftovers make delicious birria flautas or ramen! Any leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to three months.
  • Nutrition facts do not include any toppings, cheese, or tortillas.
Calories: 461kcal, Carbohydrates: 12g, Protein: 45g, Fat: 27g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Trans Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 156mg, Sodium: 1669mg, Potassium: 1030mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 3320IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 78mg, Iron: 6mg

Originally published: March 2021.