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Stuffed birria tacos topped with cotija cheese and fresh cilantro
5 from 6 votes

Birria Tacos

Birria tacos are made with fall-apart tender savory, spicy, and sweet Mexican beef stew stuffed into a shell that’s been dipped in beef juice and fried until crispy!
Author Diana
Servings 20 tacos
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Marinating Time 2 hours
Total Time 4 hours


For the Marinade:

  • 7 cups water
  • 3 dried Guajillo peppers
  • 2 Chipotles in adobo
  • 8 whole cloves of garlic peeled
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1x28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • pounds Beef stew meat

For Stew:

  • ¾ cup white or yellow onion diced
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 32 ounces chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves

For Tacos:

  • 20 4-inch Corn tortillas
  • Cotija
  • Cilantro chopped
  • Lime quartered


In the Instant Pot:

  • In a large pot, boil 5 cups of water. Soak the guajillo peppers for 20 minutes. Cut the stems off of the peppers, then over a bowl or sink squeeze and massage the seeds out of the peppers.
  • In a food processor or blender, add the guajillo peppers, chipotles, garlic, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, oregano, cumin, cloves, coriander, and crushed tomatoes. Blend on high for about 1 minute, or until the peppers are finely chopped.
  • Place the beef into a shallow dish (7x11 baking dish works perfectly), and pour the marinade on top. Stir the beef to make sure it all gets coated, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (more time is better).
  • In a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, add the canola oil and chopped onion. Sauté the onions for about 3 minutes or until they start to sweat. Add the beef and marinade, the chicken broth, and the bay leaves. Give the mixture a quick stir, then close the pressure cooker. Cook for 45 minutes, then let the pressure cooker release naturally (for better flavor). With a slotted spoon, transfer the beef onto a cutting board, and chop roughly or shred.

In the Slow Cooker:

  • If you’re making the Birria in a slow cooker, make the marinade in the same way as above. Then sear the beef with onion before adding it to the slow cooker. Searing the beef first adds extra flavor to the stew.
  • Pour over the marinade (plus the chicken stock and bay leaves) and cook the stew on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours. The meat will fall apart when it’s done.

Over the Stovetop:

  • When making the stew on the stovetop, make the marinade in the same way as above. Sear the beef in a large pot with the onion on the stovetop and then pour the marinade over top, add chicken stock and bay leaves, and give everything a good stir.
  • Cover the pot and cook on low for 4-6 hours until the meat is very tender.

To Assemble the Tacos:

  • Heat a medium, non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray. Dip a corn tortilla into the stew in the pressure cooker, then put the tortilla in the skillet. Add the chopped beef, and crumbled Cotija and chopped cilantro (if desired) then fold the tortilla in half. Flip the taco over and heat for 1-2 minutes, or until the taco starts to crisp. Repeat until the desired number of tacos is cooked.
  • Fill a small bowl or ramekin with the stew juices for dipping. Garnish with cilantro, limes, and Cotija. Serve warm.


  • For crispier tacos, cook the tacos in the skillet per the directions, then place the tacos in an air fryer in one layer. Air fry at 400°F/200°C for 2 minutes.
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • Use the leftover beef for breakfast burritos or on top of chilaquiles.
    I use small “Street Taco” corn tortillas.


Serving: 1taco | Calories: 242kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 192mg | Potassium: 397mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 307IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 2mg