After weeks of making vegetarian dishes I started to crave this rich, succulent Birria de Res for some reason 🙂
And while Birria is traditionally made with goat in Mexico, I get way more mileage from a batch of Beef Birria so I used beef brisket for this batch.
This 3 lb. recipe makes a big batch and will give you all sorts of options with your leftovers! Feel free to use it as a starting point for on-the-fly tacos, burritos, tostadas, etc.
How To Make Beef Birria (Birria de Res)
Regardless of the protein you choose, the underlying sauce stays the same and is built using dried chiles, roasted tomatoes, and some depth from the aromatics.
It's a wonderfully rich sauce and I think it's a great example of Mexican cuisine at its finest. Ready to dig in?!
Beef brisket or chuck roast are both great options for this recipe, and since they respond well to low-and-slow cooking we'll go ahead and whip out the slow cooker. But don't sweat it if you don't have a slow cooker as simmering on the stove will give you an equally good result.
As usual, I start by putting the tomatoes in the oven (400F) for a quick roast. We'll be waiting on the chiles to reconstitute so I usually just leave the tomatoes in until I need them.
And since the oven is on we'll use that to wake up the dried chiles.
For this batch I used:
4 Ancho dried chiles What are Anchos?
3 New Mexican dried chiles
2 chipotles in adobo (from a can, so added later on)
I love this combo of Ancho and New Mexican chiles and I use it quite often, but there is leeway on the dried chiles so feel free to improvise.
And since both of these chiles are mild in heat I went ahead and added 2 chipotles. Using 2 chipotles gives the sauce some real zip, but you can always use less or omit them for a milder batch. More info on working with chipotles.
To wake up the dried chiles you can always use a dry skillet over medium heat, but lately I just put them in the oven for 1-2 minutes or until they are warm and fragrant.
Rehydrating the chiles makes them easier to grind up so we'll cover them with hot tap water for 20-30 minutes.
If the chiles float to the surface you can always use a plate or small bowl to keep them submerged.
We'll also saute a roughly chopped onion and 6 peeled garlic cloves in some oil over medium heat.
It's all going in the blender eventually, so I just roughly chop the onion and leave the garlic cloves whole.
We're also going to give the meat a quick sear before adding it to the slow cooker. This is 3 lbs. of beef brisket cut into chunks:
After a good salting you can add it to an oiled, pre-heated skillet on medium-high heat and give it a few minutes per side.
This quick sear will add in some extra flavor, but you can consider it optional if you're in a rush. More info on the Maillard reaction.
And when possible, I usually deglaze the pan to pick up any priceless bits of fond. And since this recipe calls for 2 cups of stock I used some Better Vegetable Stock to deglaze the pan that seared the meat.
I didn't reduce the stock down, I just brought it up to a simmer and scraped up the solid bits of flavor that were leftover in the pan. It had a rich, savory, beefy flavor and I had to stop myself from slurping it down 🙂
And now everything goes in the blender along with a few other ingredients:
the roasted tomatoes
the cooked onion-garlic mixture
the deglazed stock
the drained, reconstituted chiles
2 chipotles in adobo
1-2 tablespoons adobo sauce from the can
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano What is Mexican Oregano?
1 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of ground clove
2 teaspoons salt
freshly cracked black pepper
Give it a whirl and take a taste.
Hello Birria sauce! It has a massively satisfying flavor that will only get better as it simmers away with the beef. Awesome 🙂
A couple notes on this sauce:
Half of the world will prefer to use the chiles' soaking liquid to liquefy the sauce, as opposed to using stock. The other half, including me, thinks the soaking liquid tastes bitter. To test this, just take a taste of the chiles' soaking liquid and you'll know if it's an option for your kitchen. More info on tasting the dried chiles' soaking liquid.
Two teaspoons of salt is a lot for just the sauce so it will taste a little salty. But once the beef gets shredded you're going to need it so I usually add it in now. Alternatively, you can add 1 teaspoon of salt now and more to taste once the beef is cooked.
And it only takes a small amount of cinnamon and clove to give the sauce some depth, so don't go overboard with those or they'll dominate too much.
Okay, time to plop the seared beef pieces in the slow cooker and cover them with the Birria sauce.
Cook on low for 4-6 hours. That gives the beef plenty of time to tenderize.
As mentioned, you are welcome to simmer this on the stove (covered) for a few hours and you can get an equally good result.
Once cooked you can optionally skim off any fat that has risen to the surface.
I usually shred the cooked beef with two forks and set aside any fatty chunks that have done their job for flavor but don't necessarily want to be eaten (see left side in above photo).
Note: the flavor of the sauce won't penetrate into the beef chunks as much as you might think despite co-existing for 5 hours. Rather, the flavor of the beef imparts itself into the sauce, so adding the sauce back into the shredded beef is the key to the recipe!
I usually add the shredded beef to a bowl and douse it with enough sauce to completely coat it.
You'll get a wonderfully savory batch of shredded beef that you can use in all sorts of dishes.
You'll have enough sauce to turn this into a delicious Birria Soup (recipe coming soon) but I chose the simplest route possible because I was getting hangry, i.e. tacos!
The meat is so flavorful that you can just plop it on some cheesy, crispy corn tortillas and dinner is served 🙂
I usually crisp up the tortillas for a couple minutes in a dry skillet and if the meat has cooled I will add it on top for a quick reheat. Once the underside of the tortillas has light brown spots forming they are ready to roll.
That means there was time to whip up a quick Salsa de Aguacate as the tortillas were crisping up in the skillet:
This is a creamy Avocado sauce that will taste mild and maybe even a little bland out of the blender, but something awesome happens when you pair it with bold, spicy meats.
You can see that recipe here but the ingredient list look like this:
1/4 cup water
juice of 1 lime
4-5 sprigs cilantro
1/2 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon salt
I also added some raw onion, freshly chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lime to these tacos.
And they were carnivorously delicious 🙂
Feel free to get creative with your Birria de Res. It has such a rich, satisfying flavor and you can build all sorts of quick meals from it:
Tacos (see Dark Birria for tips on crispy, cheesy Tacos)
And here are a few more ideas for toppings that will work well on your freshly made Birria:
Curtido - Pickled Cabbage Slaw
Pico de Gallo
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Birria de Res -- Beef Birria
- 3 lbs. beef brisket or chuck roast
- 4-5 Roma tomatoes
- 1 onion
- 6 garlic cloves
- 3-4 Ancho dried chiles
- 2-3 New Mexican dried chiles
- 2 chipotles in adobo (optional)
- 1-2 tablespoons adobo sauce (from the can, optional)
- 2 cups stock
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of ground clove
- 2 teaspoons salt (plus more to taste)
- freshly cracked black pepper
- olive oil
For the tacos (optional):
- corn tortillas
- Salsa de Aguacate
- finely chopped raw onion
- squeeze of lime
- Start by rinsing and de-stemming the tomatoes. Roast them in a 400F oven for 20-25 minutes or until you need them.
- Wipe off any dusty crevasses on the dried chiles. De-stem and de-seed the chiles, but don't worry about getting rid of every last seed. Roast them in the oven for 1-2 minutes or until warm and fragrant. Add the chile pieces to a bowl and cover them with the hottest tap water you've got. Let them reconstitute for 20 minutes or so.
- Roughly chop 1 onion and peel 6 garlic cloves. Add a glug of oil to a skillet on medium heat and saute the onions and whole garlic cloves. Once the onion has softened and lightly browned you can add this mixture to the blender.
- Add a thin layer of oil to a skillet and preheat to medium-high. Chop up the brisket into chunks and give it a good salting. Sear each side of the beef in the skillet for a few minutes or until it is browning. Add the seared meat pieces to the slow cooker. You can optionally deglaze the pan with the 2 cups of stock that's used to liquefy the sauce.
- Before draining the reconstituted chiles take a taste of the soaking liquid. If it tastes bitter to you then use stock for the sauce. If you like the flavor you are welcome to use the soaking liquid in place of the stock.
- Add the drained chiles, roasted tomatoes, and the onion-garlic mixture to a blender along with: 2 cups of stock (or what you used to deglaze the meat pan), 2 chipotles in adobo (optional), 1-2 tablespoons adobo sauce from the can (optional), 1 teaspoon cumin, 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, pinch of ground clove, 2 teaspoons salt, and some freshly cracked black pepper. Combine well. Note: if you're using stock that's high in sodium you can consider starting with a single teaspoon of salt and going from there.
- Take a taste of the sauce. An easy to way to add more heat is to add an additional half or whole chipotle. Keep in mind that the sauce has to compete with the big flavor of the beef so I tend to make it salty and fiery at this point.
- Cover the seared meat pieces with the sauce. Slow cook on low for 4-6 hours.
- Once cooked you can optionally skim off any fat that has risen to the surface. Shred the beef using two forks and discard any fatty chunks that you don't want to eat.
- Add the shredded beef (or as much as you are using for tonight's meal) to a separate bowl and add enough sauce to give it a thorough coating. Adding the sauce to the shredded beef is the key so don't skip this step!
- One serving option is to simply add the shredded beef back to the sauce and serve it soup style -- you may need to thin out the sauce with some stock if you choose this option.
- But I chose tacos for this batch. Add corn tortillas to a dry skillet over medium heat along with slices of cheese. Once the cheese is melted and the underside of the tortillas are forming light brown spots they are ready to go. You can optionally add the meat to the tortillas in the skillet for a quick reheat.
- I topped these tacos with Salsa de Aguacate, finely chopped raw onion, freshly chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.
- Store leftover Birria in the fridge where it will keep for a few days.
You can use similar ingredients to make an awesome batch of Chili con Carne.
And here are 9 other recipes you can make with Ancho chiles.
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Patrick, I made your Birria de Res for my family some time ago, and ended up with alot of extra sauce. I looked at it and just couldn't pour it down the disposal. I hadn't seen your comment regarding making soup from it, but that was what was on my mind at the time. I put it in a couple containers and stuck it in the freezer for a couple months.
Besides your Sopa Terasca, one of my favorite soups in the world is Albondigas. I decided to improvise, and used the Birria sauce for the base of a batch of Albondigas. I also used your recipe for the meat balls from your Albondigas recipe. Being a Type II diabetic, I can't eat rice at all. There is something about the sugars in rice that my body can't deal with. So, I just substituted panko bread crumbs for the rice. I added a box of beef stock, diced a small gold potato, some chopped onion and carrot slices to the left over sauce and brought it all to a simmer. I prepared the meat balls, and added them to the pot.
We all went crazy for this improvised Albondigas, with my daughter making me promise to make Birria again so we could enjoy both the Birria and the Birria Meatball Soup again.
Thank you again . . . and again . . . . for sharing your passion for this cuisine with us.
Ahh great thanks so much for your note Ric, so good to hear your adjustments and Albondigas improvisations! Yeah that Birria sauce is unreal and it brings me back to that recipe on a regular basis, I'm glad it's a hit with your fam! Cheers.
5 star for sure! My husband and I were just in New Mexico and I loved the food there so decided to try it myself. With the help from your website, I made this and I nailed it....or should I say you nailed it. Delicious! Thank you.
Thanks much Tamara, so glad this one is a hit for you. I crave this Birria on a regular basis, including now 🙂 Cheers.
Could I just roast the onions and garlic with the tomatoes? Can I use the Chili's in powder form?
Hi Shannon! Yeah you can roast the onion and garlic with the tomatoes if you want. And while chile powder would work fine too you'll get a nice bump in flavor when using whole chiles 🙂 Cheers.
OMG! This is the best thing ever!
I love how you break your recipes down and give alternatives.
Thank you Patrick!
Hey thanks Michele, so glad you tried out this recipe as it is one of my favs on the site! Cheers.
Such a rich full sauce! You cant get that from a jar or can. I will use less salt next time, just my personal preference. Love this recipe. I plan to make empanadas with the leftovers.
Thanks Jackie! Hey thanks for the inspiration -- haven't tried this Birria in Empanadas yet but sounds awesome 🙂
Rob Marcello De La Vega Pecchenino
I found MEXICO PLEASE & PATRICK YEARS AGO, I am so dumb as I go looking for Mexican Recipes and I forget Mexico Please, and I feel guilty, Patrick puts up with my stupid ways. But anytime I have a question, I send him an e-mail and he always gets back to me. I also Bought his MEXICO PLEASE COOK BOOK ! So between that & his Free on-line recipes site I have finally decided to delete all the other Crap I have copied off the net and just stick with Mexico Please, as these Recipes remind me of my Abuelita from Sonora. Every time I have a question I ask Patrick, while I probably did not have to IF I would calm down and REMEMBER I have is Book & Web SITE, that I should check FIRST before bothering him. Sorry, This excitement and impatient problem is from P.T.S.D. I got while in Service, I was NEVER like this before, and I am aware of it, so I am trying to control it. But Patrick is always nice to me and very helpful. His Recipes he has gleaned from Mexico is RIGHT ON TARGET & RICH IN FLAVOR, he gives you the complete recipe, while other leave out certain components to a recipe. The only change I have made is I choose Coconut or Olive Oil in Mexican cooking, Canola oil from the RAPE seed. It is used for Machinery lubricant and Insecticide is what I discovered from the Canadian Food Information Hotline when I called about another product. It really is NOT that good for Human consumption. At any rate MEXICO PLEASE is the BEST site on the Net for REAL AUTHENTIC MEXICAN FOOD! Thank you Patrick for putting in the work to make this possible and your continued work to keep it up ! Regards, Rob Marcello De La Vega Pecchenino, Nevada/Philippines.
Hey thanks for your feedback Rob, I'm so glad you are finding some keepers on my site! Cheers.
Excellent authentic receipt ... but cooking the sauce after it comes out of the blender isn’t a bad idea either.
Kathleen Morrison Pagan
I Googled Birria de Res and found this amazing recipe and your amazing site! Usually I bypass all of the step-by-step instructions and pics to get to the ingredients/instructions. Your conversational style had me reading along and is exactly how my mind works when I'm cooking! Can't wait to check out more recipes!
Thanks Kathleen, so glad you found this Birria recipe as it is one of my favorites over the past year. I hope you find some other keepers too. Cheers.
I made this with a mix of lamb and beef and it was SO delicious!! We could not stop eating it. Only thing is I have so much sauce leftover. I have more uncooked beef and lamb so am thinking I could maybe use the sauce to make another batch...?
Thanks Brianna! Yeah I haven't tried re-using the sauce for another slow cooker batch, but it would probably work. If liquid level seems low in the slow cooker when starting it then I would probably just add in a bit more stock. Cheers.
Rob De La vega Pecchenino
YOU can NEVER have to much Birria Sauce or CHEESE! Both of these were made in Heaven. This is so delicious I could eat it every day. And there is so much you can do with it, Patrick gives you options ! Also try it with Ramen, WOW it is amazing!
I made this Birria de Res for my family today. A sure winner! Everyone loved It!
Thanks Marcia, so glad this one is a keeper for the fam! Cheers.