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Birria Tacos (Quesabirria Tacos)

Slofoodgroup Team July 10, 2021

Tacos with Stewed Beef and Cheese

Birria is a traditional Mexican meat stew, usually cooked for special occasions or holidays, served with tortillas and paired with cilantro, onions and lime. Originally from the Mexican State, Jalisco, the dish increased its popularity abroad only recently. Traditionally served as a soup to be as good as a hangover cure, the birrierias in Jalisco and other Nothern Mexican cities close to the US border started added cheese to the dish. So this is how Quesabirria was born, the distinctly red-colored, cheesy, braised beef tacos that became an internet trend last year and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. We tried it too and it was a hit! The meat is slowly cooked in a cinnamon and clove flavoured consommé until fork tender, then folded into juicy and cheesy corn tortillas, griddled for extra flavour.

 How to make Quesabirria Tacos

Serves: 20 tacos Ø 8”/20 cm

Prep Time: 15‘

Cooking Time: 3h’

Additional Time: 0’ 


For the Quesabirria:
  • 2 pounds/900 grams boneless chuck
  • 1 pound/450 grams oxtail or short ribs
  • Liberal pinch of sea salt and pepper
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil 
  • 5 ancho chiles, deseeded 
  • 5 guajillo chiles, deseeded
  • 3 chiles de Arbol, deseeded
  • 1 medium-sized onion, diced 
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, whole 
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns 
  • 3 cups beef broth 

For the tacos:

  • 20 Corn tortillas approx. Ø 8”/20 cm 
  • 1 cup/250 grams shredded mozzarella cheese 
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 lime cut into wedges
  • 1 red onion, finely diced


  1. Cut the meat into chunks and liberally season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  2. Add the vegetable oil to a Dutch oven or to a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat; when hot, add the meat in batches and sear on all sides until browned; set aside.
  3. To the same pot add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and cook the onions until translucent, for about 5-7 minutes; add the sliced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more; add the chilies, and tomatoes and give it a good stir; bring back the meat and cover everything in beef broth; add the bay leaves, black peppercorns, and cinnamon stick to a cheesecloth pouch and add it to the pot. 
  4. Bring the stew to a simmer, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low; cook for 1 hour. 
  5. Scoop the tomatoes and chilies together with 1 cup of the beef stock and blend until smooth.
  6. Return the mixture to the pot and cook for another 1 hour-1 hour and 30 minutes, or until the meat is fork-tender and falls apart easily.
  7. Remove the meat from the sauce and shred using two forks.
  8. Add a non-stick skillet over medium heat; dip the tortilla into the broth and pan-fry on medium-high heat for 30 seconds; flip over, add the shredded cheese and meat and fold over; cook for about 1 minute per side or until the cheese is melted.
  9. Transfer to a plate, sprinkle the chopped cilantro and onions, and serve alongside the leftover broth.