Birria-style Braised Beef

30 minutes prep 2 hours + 30 minutes active cooking 3 hours total
Makes 6 - 8 servings

While it takes awhile, making birria is fairly simple.

Dried chiles are rehydrated and blended with cooked onion, spices, and tomatoes to make the sauce used to slowly cook chunks of beef.

We carry dried chiles when we can get them, but availability has been spotty. You can usually find dried chiles at stores catering to Mexican-American shoppers.

What You'll Need


For the shopping list

  • 6 ancho chiles
  • 2 de arbol chiles
  • 2 pounds of beef (chuck or similar beef for stew), cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds
  • 4 cups of water, divided

From our shop

Out of stock

1 can  Crushed Tomatoes
$7.00– Yolo Valley - California
Substitute whole canned tomatoes, but puree with the chiles and onion.
Out of stock

 Madre Terra
$25.00– Sicily - Italy
1/2 cup of  Sparkling Wine Vinegar
$15.00– Napa - California
1 teaspoon of  Purple Stripe Garlic
$10.00– Cao Bằng - Vietnam
Out of stock

2 teaspoons of  Oregano
$9.00– Pantelleria - Sicily
Our Mediterranean oregano is a little different from Mexican oregano, but either will work.
1/2 teaspoon of  Buffalo Ginger
$10.00– Cao Bằng - Vietnam


From the kitchen

  • 1 Dutch Oven
  • 1 Chef's Knife
  • 1 Cutting Board
  • 1 Blender
  • Measuring Cups
  • Measuring Spoons

"Birria makes a delicious, chile-spiked beef stew, especially when topped with onion, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime, but it really shines as a taco filling.

Take the meat out of the cooking liquid and chop it, then dip corn tortillas into the broth before frying them in a little olive oil. Add grated cheese as the tortilla cooks to make the quesadilla-taco mashup called quesabirria. Serve either with a bowl of the broth, called consome in Spanish, for dipping."

~ Jim Dixon, founder Wellspent and Real Good Food

What you'll have to do

Step 1

Seed and destem chiles by cutting a slit down one side and pulling out the seed core and stem. Put them in a sauce pan with 2 cups of the water, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool.

Step 2

Cook the onion in a splash of olive oil until soft and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic, herbs, spices, and sesame seeds, cook for another minute, then remove from the heat and cool. Most birria recipes don’t brown the meat before braising, but it does add a little flavor, so go for it if you want to.

Step 3

Working in batches, transfer the chiles with their cooking water and the cooked onions to a blender. Blend until smooth, then combine the batches with the vinegar and crushed tomatoes. Pour it over the beef and marinate in the refrigerator overnight or for at least a few hours.

Step 4

Browned or not, put the beef and marinade in a Dutch oven or baking dish, cover, and bake at 300F for about 3 hours or until the meat shreds easily.

More recipes

Coconut Curry Stew

Coconut Curry Stew

Take "the stew" to the next level with roasted vegetables.

Check this recipe

Musaka'a, Roasted Eggplant with Spiced Chickpeas & Tomatoes

Musaka'a, Roasted Eggplant with Spiced Chickpeas & Tomatoes

Adapted from Yasmin Khan's book Zaitoun - Arabic for olive, both a fundamental ingredient and a symbol of peace.

Check this recipe