Easy Slow Cooker Birria de Res
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.
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 asked my mom if she knew how to make birria and her answer was, “Wow, I haven’t heard about that dish in years!” She said it was usually made with goat and eaten as a stew. I was telling her about birria tacos served with consommé that have become all the craze, and she was amazed.
I think it’s so interesting how a very old-fashioned dish can be reinvented to become the new “it” thing. What was once served from a bowl has now been converted into the top searched taco recipe for 2020! Who’d have thunk it?!?
Traditionally speaking, birria is 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 sheep. I opted to develop a recipe for birria de res (beef birria) as it is easier to find beef than goat here in the U.S.
My birria de res taco recipe actually reminds me of a cross between tender barbacoa or brisket and spicy adovada. The main difference is that birria also has a flavorful consommé-like broth that accompanies it. Birria is traditionally a stew, after all.
Since we’re turning the meat into tacos, however, that broth becomes a perfect dipping sauce for the crunchy, crispy fried quesabirria (cheesy birria tacos).
Why This Recipe Works
Since birria was not a dish (or taco) 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.
Doña Angela reminds me so much of my late grandma, Jesusita. My grandma never measured anything and always ventured into her garden to pick fresh herbs. Doña Angela uses herbs like marjoram, mint, and bay leaves in her birria de res.
I also included dried oregano, because my grandma always added a pinch of oregano to stews and red chile. I also added thyme, which pairs fantastically with beef and adds a touch of depth.
Since most of us don’t cook on a wooden stove these days, I made a few other tweaks to turn this old-world recipe into something anyone could easily recreate in their kitchen today. Using a slow cooker made the most sense to me, as it replicates the slow heat you would get from cooking on a wood burning stove.
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.
I also love that this recipe has dual uses. Feel free to serve it old school like Doña Angela by ladling it into bowls and topping with cilantro, onions, radish, and chiles like a stew. Or, if you’re feeling modern, try turning it into crispy tacos or cheesy quesabirria! No matter how you serve this yummy meat, you are sure to enjoy it.
How to Make Birria de Res
Slow cook meat
This yummy stew recipe is actually quite simple. First, slow cook the meat.
In a slow cooker add water, beef chuck roast (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 broth.
Make red chile sauce
While the beef is cooking, make your red chile sauce. This sauce will add a ton of flavor to the resulting birria stew.
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 in blender with salt. Blend until smooth. If necessary, season with more salt. Strain sauce through a fine sieve into the slow cooker and stir. Discard remaining skins and seeds.
Now all that is left to do is decide if you’d rather eat tacos or stew!
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.
Serving and Storage
To make tacos or quesabirria: 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 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.
Keep warm: Transfer the tacos to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat assembling and cooking the remaining tacos.
Serve tacos garnished with additional diced onion, cilantro, and lime wedges, and small bowls of warm consommé for dipping.
To make birria stew: Serve in a bowl as a stew with diced onion, radishes, and fresh cilantro, and serve with corn tortillas.
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. Any leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to three months.
Frequently Asked Questions
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, 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!
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!
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!
If you’re serving it as a traditional stew, I recommend doing as Doña Angela does and topping it with radishes, onions, chiles, lime wedges, and fresh cilantro. 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. Yum!
Need more inspiration?
- Serve Birria Tacos with a classic Mexican beer or with a Chelada.
- Want to serve tacos with a side dish? Serve with Sopa de Fideo.
- Horchata is a great addition to any classic Mexican dish, pair Birria de Res with Strawberry Horchata.
- Need something to cool your tongue? Serve Paletas de Tamarindo for dessert.
- Use leftover shredded beef and make nachos similar to these Brisket Nachos.
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.
Easy Slow Cooker Birria de Res
- 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
- 8 guajillo chiles or California or New Mexico
- 2 ancho chiles (optional)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/4 onion
- 5 cups water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- chopped white onion
- chopped cilantro
- chopped radishes
- lime wedges
- yellow corn tortillas
- Chihuahua, Oaxaca, or Monterey jack cheese, shredded (optional for quesatacos)
- 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.
- Serve birria (shredded beef) in a bowl with broth as a stew with diced onion, radishes, and fresh cilantro and serve with corn tortillas.
- 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.
- 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. 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.
Photography by Raemi Vermiglio
62 Comments on “Easy Slow Cooker Birria de Res”
Are you able to cook this in the crockpot on high?
I made this for.my family tonight. It was soooo good. I used an instapot and slow cooked for 6 hours, then pressure cooked for 30 and it came out amazing.
Can I replace the water with a low sodium beef broth for extra flavor?
YES, of course! Enjoy!
For the chiles in the red sauce recipe, are they dried or fresh?
Dried Chile pods
Easy, simple recipe. One change though, anchos are not optional. Without them they lack the distinctive red color and the broth lacks depth of flavor. Made it without them and though it was good it was missing some. Ran to the store and added just two, BAM! Whole different dish.
I’m Cooking This For The First Time Now. That Looks Like A Lot Of Liquid To Keep. If Making This Strictly For Tacos, Should I Take The Meat Out With.A Slotted Spoon (After The Red Sauce IS Combined) (And Keep Some Of The Liquid For Dipping Separate) Or Should I Save The Meat In ALL Of The Liquid?
My family loves Mexican food and this sounds delicious. However our several senior members have doctors instructions to avoid red meat. How would I alter this recipe to accommodate turkey? Turkey isn’t a traditional meat for this dish but it might it still work?
I think you can use any meat, cooking time might have to change
Everything was great for me EXCEPT the chilis part… I tasted it and it was so bitter, so I was afraid to pour in. Is that how it is supposed to be? Very very bitter?
I made these for taco tuesday tonite and everyone loved them!!
Very simple recipe to follow and tasted great! I had Birria tacos at a taco truck in Austin TX and these weren’t as spicy hot, but tasted perfect for our whole family!!
Hi I have a large party on Saturday and will be spending the day on our boat on the lake so trying to make this that day will be hard. Can I make this ahead of time and freeze the tacos made and then heat up in the oven that evening?
My husband does not like Birria and his mom makes it for every gathering. Well I decided to try and make him like it.
I used this recipe as a start I do tweak the seasonings a bit and add other chilies as well.
I make Birria queso tacos with this and HE LOVES IT.
I’m making it again tonight. This recipe lasts me two meals for my family of 5 so it is well worth it. Tomorrow birria ramen mmmmm.
This birria recipe was what I used for the first time I made birria. I followed it pretty closely, only adding a few more peppers–because I always do. It was simply amazing. I have made this several times since and always use this recipe as my ‘base” and then just tweak it a little to make it my own–and I literally have not found any other birria that tastes better.
I eat birria every chance I get at restaurants trying to find the best local birria–turns out it is at home. So thanks Yvette & Muy Bueno Cookbook!
Can I use this recipe for a instant pot? If so how long should the cook time be?
Yes, you sure can. I’d recommend Pressure Cook at High Pressure for 40 minutes, then Natural Release for 15 minutes. Enjoy!
On step 2 of the red chili sauce you mention we should not discard the water we boiled the chilis in. What is that water used for?
It’s added to the blender as instructed in number 3 in making the red chili sauce.
Hi, it isn’t clear in the Instructions for either the meat or Red Chile Sauce or the blog, the red sauce is added once the meat is cooked? If it’s added once the meat is cooked do you cook the meat for a little longer so the flavors mix?
The red chile sauce is added after the meat is cooked and added with the broth and shredded meat. The flavors will combine — feel free to cook longer if you’d like. Please see photos and read entire post for step-by-step instructions.
Thank you, Yvette! This was so good! I will definitely be making again!
Hi, I’m making this dish now! Are you supposed to dice the onion and mince the garlic? Also am I supposed to add the blended red Chile sauce to crock pot with the water that the beef cooked in?? Thank you
Not necessary to chop onion or garlic, but feel free to if you wish. And yes, you will need to Strain red chile sauce through a fine sieve into the slow cooker and stir. This broth is the “consommé”. Discard skins and seeds.
This was exceptional! I made this for dinner last night using goat. I also converted the recipe to cook in the oven (3 hours @ 325). So tender & so much flavor!! Thank you for sharing this recipe!
Very tasty recipe, however it doesn’t clarify what you do with the leftover beef stock. So what I did was strain that stock, (you could probably take out the herbs and blend it with the garlic and onion) skim the fat off and combine it with the red sauce to create the consommé. Not sure if that’s correct but I didn’t want that deliciousness to go to waste.
How many tacos does this make?