Mexican Birria

9 Min Read

Tender and meaty Mexican Birria, or birria de res, is a must-try no matter where you live. With incredible flavor from the chilis, this traditional Mexican meat stew simmers low and slow for hours to coax out every bit of savoriness. You don’t have to be a culinary wiz to make this recipe – try it, and impress everyone!

Who doesn’t love slow-cooked meat packed with rich flavor and shreds beautifully? We love slow-cooking meat for tenderizing and bringing out a depth of flavors that you just can’t get with fast cooking. Just like our Moroccan Braised Lamb Shanks and Bourbon Braised Short Ribs, this Mexican Birria is braised in a Dutch Oven for hours. The result is a beautifully tender piece of meat infused with savory flavors and topped with a spicy chili paste. If you’re looking to level up your beef recipes, this Mexican Birria is the way to go!

What Is Birria?

There’s some argument about the actual meaning of the name birria; some say it is a Spanish word that refers to immaterial things without value. That could be because it is traditionally made with tough and inexpensive goat meat, or in our case, a very tough and inexpensive joint of meat.

Hailing from the state of Jalisco, Mexican Birria is a labor of love. The beef cooks in a broth flavored with a variety of chili peppers and other savory ingredients.

When cooked, it’s mind-blowingly good! The best part is that it makes a fair bit, so you can enjoy the seasoned beef birria for leftovers or, better yet, make our favorite recipe, quesabirria tacos!

Traditionally made with tough cuts of goat meat or lamb meat, we’re making this version a bit more accessible. We recommend using beef neck. You’ll have to go to a butcher to get this cut and ask for a 4-5 pound piece.

Beef neck is one of the affordable cuts of meat with a large bone. The bone adds incredible flavor, and all the fat and connective tissue break down as it braises to create amazingly tender meat in a flavorful broth. This cut begs to be braised low and slow and packs tons of flavor.

If you’re having trouble finding beef neck, you can use any pot roast cut of beef like a beef chuck roast, rump, beef cheeks, or even a fatty piece of brisket, or any tough cut of meat ideal for braising for this authentic birria recipe. We order meat online from Porter Road.However, we love the depth the beef bones add to this consome de birria. Beef shank and beef oxtail will also work, and you can even use beef stew meat but reduce the cooking time. We put the pressure cooker to work for a quick and easy birria recipe, but for the most authentic flavor, this version is still king.

Birria Ingredients


  • New Mexico chiles – Also called hatch chiles, look for dried chiles. These are spicy but not overly so.
  • Guajillo chiles – Very popular in Mexican cuisine. Guajillo peppers are bold and mild to medium in spice level, and you can find them with dried types of chiles in your grocery store.
  • Arbol chilis – Also known as chiles de arbol, these small chilis are very spicy.
  • Water – Or an equal measure of beef broth.
  • Vinegar
  • Cumin – Dried cumin is what you’ll need.


  • Beef neck – Look for a 4-5 pound piece. Are you having trouble finding beef neck? See our list of trusted sources for buying meat online.
  • Oil – Neutral-flavored vegetable or peanut oil is fine.
  • Red wine – Anything you can drink will work in this recipe!
  • Onion – Fresh yellow or white onion.
  • Garlic – Bring on the fresh garlic!
  • Bay leaves – Dried.
  • Oregano – Dried. Use Mexican oregano if you have it or can find it.
  • Cumin – Yes, more cumin. Cumin adds SO much flavor!
  • Thyme – Dried thyme is fine.
  • Paprika – More flavor!
  • Ancho chili powder – You can find dried and ground ancho chili powder in most large stores, and you could also pop whole dried ancho chiles into the Dutch oven.
  • Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt


  • Onion – Finely diced white or sweet onion adds crunch and a fresh pop of flavor.
  • Cilantro – Fresh cilantro is a must with beef birria.
  • Jalapeno – Like it spicy? Pass the fresh jalapeno! Slice it or dice it finely.
  • Radish – Yup, radishes. They add a lovely crunch that adds some texture to this Mexican beef stew recipe.

Lime – A squeeze of fresh lime juice will brighten up all the flavors.

How to Make Traditional Birria

It’s not hard, but there are a few steps. Start the birria meat cooking early in the day so it has time to braise before dinner.


Toast the chilis and then remove the seeds and stems. Then, rehydrate the chilis in boiling water for about 30 minutes.

Strain the chilis, then pulse in a food processor along with vinegar and salt. Add a bit of oil or water as needed to make a smooth paste. Set this aside for later.


Season the beef on all sides with salt and heat a cast iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to the Dutch oven and brown the beef on all sides.

Remove the beef and deglaze the pan with the red wine. Save a few sips for yourself!

Add the onion, bay leaf, garlic, cumin, thyme, paprika, and a pinch of salt to the reduced wine, then stir in the chili paste.

Set the beef into the Dutch oven and add water to barely cover the beef. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 4-5 hours or until the beef shreds easily with a fork. Set the beef aside to cool.

Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the solids. Watch for chunks of beef that may have broken off the main piece. Add any wayward chunks to the beef to cool.

Return the liquid to the Dutch oven and simmer to reduce and thicken.

Meanwhile, shred the beef and discard the bones.


This birria is a traditional preparation for stew and should be served in a bowl with chili-infused braising liquid. Add a sizeable portion of shredded meat and top it with the sauce. Then, top your birria with chopped onions, cilantro, jalapeno, and a squeeze of lime juice.

To make it a Mexican cuisine feast, serve the birria stew with fresh warm corn tortillas on the side and pico or your favorite salsa and fresh chips.


Birria is all the rage right now. Use your leftover shredded beef and sauce for beef birria garnachas, extra cheesy quesabirria tacos, and even these birria quesadillas with the consome de birria as a dipping sauce, and nachos. There’s so much you can do with the tender and flavorful meat!

Leave a comment