Traditional Mexican Birria Recipe

Introduction to Traditional Mexican Birria

Birria is a profound culinary treasure originating from Jalisco, Mexico. This traditional dish is much more than a mere meal; it represents a rich tapestry of culture and history woven into the daily lives of its people. Celebrated for its complex and hearty flavors, birria is both a festive and comforting presence in Mexican cuisine.

  • Key aspects:
    • Traditional roots: Birria traces back to indigenous cooking methods, infused with Spanish culinary traditions.
    • Cultural significance: It’s not just food; it’s a part of major celebrations such as weddings and holidays, marking moments of communal joy and tradition.

Historical Background

The origins of birria are as rich and varied as the spices that season it. Initially crafted by the indigenous peoples of Mexico, the dish evolved significantly through the centuries under Spanish influence. This culinary evolution turned birria into a symbol of regional identity, especially in Jalisco where it’s most famously prepared.

  • Evolution over time:
    • Pre-colonial origins: Originally made with wild game, it transitioned to domesticated animals post-Spanish arrival.
    • Culinary fusion: The blending of native spices with those introduced by the Spanish created the birria known today.

Traditional occasions for birria reflect its status in Mexican society. It is more than just food; it’s a centerpiece at many of Mexico’s most important celebrations. Whether it’s a small family gathering or a large community festival, birria is present, bringing people together with its distinctive and beloved flavors.

For more detailed historical insights and traditional recipes, visit The Spruce Eats – Classic Mexican Birria Recipe.

Discover the adaptations and variations of birria across different regions by exploring My Latina Table – Authentic Mexican Birria Recipe (3 Methods).

Preparation Methods

The preparation of birria offers a delicious exploration into traditional Mexican cooking techniques, adaptable to modern kitchens. Here we delve into the methods for cooking birria using a stovetop, Instant Pot, and slow cooker.

  • Stovetop Method:
    • Begin by seasoning the meat (typically goat, lamb, or beef) generously with salt and pepper.
    • Heat a heavy Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat with olive oil and sear the meat until browned on all sides.
    • Soak dried chiles (like guajillo, ancho, and árbol) along with tomatoes, onions, and spices in water, then boil and blend into a rich consomé.
    • Combine the seared meat and chile sauce, cover, and simmer for hours until tender.
  • Instant Pot Method:
    • Perform the initial searing using the ‘Saute’ function.
    • After adding the blended chile sauce, cover and set to pressure cook on high for about an hour, letting it naturally release pressure for tender, flavorful meat.
  • Slow Cooker Method:
    • Sear the meat as per stovetop instructions, then transfer to the slow cooker.
    • Add the blended chile sauce and set to cook on low for 7-8 hours, allowing the flavors to meld beautifully.

For a step-by-step guide to blending the perfect birria spices and chiles, visit Uncultured Palate – This Food in History #8 Birria Tacos.

Serving and Presentation

Birria shines not just in its preparation but also in its presentation and service, traditionally offered as a stew or in the form of quesabirria tacos.

  • As a Stew:
    • Serve the rich, flavorful birria in deep bowls, topped with chopped onions, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime for a refreshing contrast.
  • As Quesabirria Tacos:
    • Dip corn tortillas into the consomé, fry until crisp, and fill with shredded meat and melted cheese like Oaxaca or Chihuahua.
    • These tacos are typically served with a side of consomé for dipping, enhancing the rich flavors.
  • Accompaniments and Garnishes:
    • Enhance your birria experience with sides of Mexican rice, beans, or fresh salsas.
    • Garnishes such as radishes, additional cilantro, and diced onions offer texture and freshness to each bite.

Nutritional Information

Birria not only delights the palate but also offers various nutritional benefits. This hearty stew is rich in proteins, due to the generous use of meat, and includes a variety of vitamins and minerals provided by its rich array of spices and chiles.

  • Caloric Content:
    • A typical serving of birria contains approximately 640 calories, with a balanced mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
  • Health Benefits:
    • The spices used, such as Mexican oregano and cumin, are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and can aid in digestion.
    • Rich in iron and vitamins from the chiles, birria can be a hearty addition to a balanced diet.

Storage and Reheating Tips

Proper storage and reheating are crucial for maintaining the flavor and safety of birria. Here are some best practices:

  • Refrigeration and Freezing:
    • Store birria in an airtight container to keep it fresh. It can be refrigerated for up to 5 days and frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Reheating:
    • Thaw frozen birria in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat on the stovetop or in a microwave until hot, which typically takes about 5-10 minutes.
  • Tips for Freezing and Thawing:
    • Freeze birria in portion-sized containers for easy thawing and reheating.
    • Avoid refreezing once thawed to maintain the best quality and safety.

For comprehensive guidelines on food storage and safety tips, consider visiting resources such as The Spruce Eats, which provide detailed instructions on handling various types of dishes, including traditional stews like birria.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some common questions about the traditional Mexican dish, birria, addressing its spice level, versatility in meat selection, and specific ingredient usage.

  • Is birria supposed to be spicy?
    • The traditional spice level of birria can vary. Typically, it ranges from medium to hot, depending on the types and amounts of chiles used. For those who prefer a milder flavor, you can adjust the spice level by reducing or omitting the árbol chiles.
  • Can birria be made with chicken or pork?
    • Absolutely! While birria is traditionally made with goat or beef, it can also be deliciously prepared using chicken or pork. These meats blend well with the rich, aromatic consomé typical of birria, providing a versatile base for this beloved dish.
  • Differences between Mexican oregano and regular oregano in birria:
    • Mexican oregano and Mediterranean oregano differ significantly in flavor. Mexican oregano has a more robust, somewhat citrusy flavor that complements the spicy elements of birria beautifully. In contrast, Mediterranean oregano is milder and sweeter, which can subtly alter the dish’s traditional flavor profile.
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Traditional Mexican Birria Recipe

  • Author: Sophia
  • Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


Mexican Birria is a savory, rich stew traditionally made with goat meat, but often prepared with beef or lamb. It’s renowned for its robust, deeply spiced, slightly spicy broth and tender meat. Often served during festive occasions, it can be enjoyed as a stew or taco filling.



3 pounds beef stew meat (such as chuck roast), cut into chunks
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 cups beef broth
2 cups water
3 dried guajillo chilies, stemmed and seeded
2 dried ancho chilies, stemmed and seeded
1 dried pasilla chili, stemmed and seeded
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Corn tortillas, for serving
Chopped fresh cilantro, diced onions, lime wedges, and sliced radishes, for serving

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In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine the beef stew meat, chopped onion, minced garlic, bay leaves, ground cumin, dried oregano, smoked paprika, ground coriander, ground cloves, salt, black pepper, beef broth, and water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
While the meat is cooking, place the dried guajillo chilies, ancho chilies, and pasilla chili in a bowl and cover with hot water. Let soak for 15-20 minutes, or until softened. Drain the chilies, then transfer to a blender.
Add the cinnamon stick, whole cloves, and a cup of the cooking liquid from the pot to the blender. Blend until smooth, adding more cooking liquid as needed to achieve a smooth sauce.
Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully pour the chili sauce into the skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened and darkened in color.
Pour the chili sauce over the beef in the pot and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 2-3 hours, or until the meat is tender and the flavors have melded together.
Serve the Traditional Mexican Birria hot, with warm corn tortillas and your choice of toppings, such as chopped fresh cilantro, diced onions, lime wedges, and sliced radishes.
Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cooking Time: 2-3 hours | Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes – 3 hours 20 minutes | Servings: Serves 6-8


  • Adjust the amount of chiles to control the spice level.
  • Can be served with tortillas or over rice.
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stewing
  • Cuisine: Mexican


  • Calories: 310
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Sodium: 620mg
  • Fat: 16g
  • Carbohydrates: 8g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 35g

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