What Is Birria?
Birria was, until recently, one of Mexican cuisine’s best-kept secrets. Now, the word is out, as birria has become a social media sensation. But it’s not just hype. Birria deserves its recent popularity because it is genuinely both unique and delicious – two things I always look for when trying out new food. Although the word birria has become a popular search term for a variety of different types of dishes, today, we are going to cover the most traditional type of birria that you would find in an authentic Mexican birrieria.
Although birria’s origins can be traced back to the Mexican state of Jalisco, it can now be found in varying regions throughout Mexico. Birria is typically made by drenching meat in a bold and flavorful sauce. This meat and sauce combination is then sealed tightly with a corn dough, lowered into a hole in the ground which has hot stones providing a high heat source, and cooked for several hours until it is incredibly tender and is falling off the bone. Before you reach for your nearest shovel, please note that this recipe does not require to do any digging. We will be using more modern appliances, such as an instant pot/pressure cooker or a dutch oven, for our version of this delicious dish.
Birria can be prepared with a variety of different cuts of meat. Depending on what part of Mexico you are in, you may find birria prepared with goat, lamb, beef, pork, and even chicken or fish! We will be providing you with recipes for a variety of proteins, including veggie and vegan options!
Birria is often a popular food at celebratory events in Mexico, such as weddings, baptisms, or holiday family gatherings.
How Long Does It Take To Cook Birria?
It really depends on your preferred method of cooking.
Instant Pot (Recommended Method): If you just can’t wait and want the birria to be ready as soon as possible from the time you start preparing to the time that it’s on the table, you can make it in an Instant Pot and it will cook in about an hour, including pre-heat time. Using an Instant Pot will not only allow you to cook the birria in about an hour, including preheating and release, but you also won’t have to worry about marinating it.
Slow Cooker: If you want to cook it low and slow in a slow cooker, it will typically take 6 to 8 hours.
Stovetop or Oven: If you want to cook it on the stovetop or bake it in the oven, it will take about 3 hours or so.
We will provide you with all four ways of cooking birria, so we’ve got you covered no matter what cooking method you feel like using.
Is it Keto Friendly?
Yes! You can serve the birria with consommé without tortillas or rice, and simply enjoy it as a hearty, filling stew. You can also eat it with keto-friendly tortillas, or with cauliflower rice.
How Do You Serve Birria?
Once the meat is cooked, you can serve it in a variety of ways. Take a look around our site to see the many different ways to use birria in different types of dishes. Perhaps the most common way to serve birria is to fill warm corn tortillas with the birria stew, which essentially makes them birria tacos. The tortillas are often drenched in the birria stew (aka consommé), heated in a pan, then filled with the meat, topped with cilantro, onion and lime juice, and dipped in the consommé.
Birria can also be served as a standalone stew (which is great if you are watching your carbs), placed in a deep bowl after cooking and topped with cilantro, onions, lime juice, and maybe some radish or a jalapeno.
If you don’t mind some carbs, but want something other than a taco, you can put together a rice bowl, adding cooked long grain rice to a bowl and then topping it with the birria, cilantro, onions, and lime juice.
Birria can be a great dinner party main course, as it can be cooked in one pot, it has a gorgeous color when served as a stew, and is different than your typical dinner party fare (unless you typically serve birria at your dinner parties already, in which case I want an invitation).
Any way you eat it, you will enjoy the delicious flavors of this bold and brightly flavored dish!
Beef, Lamb, or Goat Birria With Consommé (4 Cooking Methods)
- Instant Pot (recommended), large pot (if cooking on stovetop), slow cooker (if using slow cook method), or large baking dish (if using oven)
- Blender or food processor
- Frying pan
- Pot for boiling 4 cups of water
- Dutch oven (optional)
Meat And Dry Rub
- 3 LB Beef, Lamb, Or Goat Meat (Cut Into 2-3 Inch Pieces) For beef, use roast or short ribs. For goat or lamb, use leg, shoulder, or neck.
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Salt Kosher salt is preferred.
- 1 Tbsp Ground Pepper
- 1 Tsp Ground Cumin
- 1 Tbsp Dried Oregano Mexican oregano is preferred.
- 3 Whole Dried Ancho Chili Peppers
- 5 Whole Dried Guajillo Chili Peppers
- 1 Whole Chipotle Chili Pepper (Optional) Remove to make mild, add to make more spicy.
- 1 Tsp Oil For Roasting Chili Peppers
- 4 Cups Hot Water
- 1 Medium Yellow Onion, Sliced.
- 4 Medium Ripe Tomatoes, Sliced.
- 1 Tbsp Oil For Onion, Tomatoes, and Spices
- 1 Tsp Dried Marjoram
- 1 Tsp Dried Oregano Mexican oregano is preferred.
- 1 Tsp Dried Thyme
- 1/2 Tsp Cumin
- 1/2 Tsp Minced Ginger or Ginger Paste (optional)
- 1 Tbsp Salt Kosher salt is preferred.
- 10 Whole Dried Peppercorns
- 2 Whole Cloves
- 2 Each Bay Leaves
- 1/2 Stick Cinnamon Mexican cinnamon (canela) is preferred.
- 10 Cloves Peeled Garlic
- 1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- Place meat into Instant Pot (or large bowl if not using instant pot).
- Add salt, ground pepper, cumin, and oregano to the meat.
- Rub the dry ingredients into the meat really well and set aside.
Sauce/Consommé Prep – Chili Peppers
- Heat 4 cups of water in a pot and bring to a boil.
- While water is heating up, using kitchen scissors, remove heads from all chili peppers.
- Using kitchen scissors, cut large slit into each chili pepper and remove all seeds.
- Heat frying pan on medium heat and add oil.
- Once the oil is hot, add chili peppers and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2-3 minutes. Take care to make sure you don't burn the chilies.
- Put toasted chilies into the boiling water from step 1, and let boil for 10-12 minutes, until chilies are slightly softened, then set aside.
Sauce/Consommé Prep – Tomatoes, Onions, Spices
- Heat the same frying pan you used for chilies to medium heat.
- Add oil to pan.
- When oil is hot, add onions and tomatoes until they are slightly browned.
- Add the garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, cloves, salt, thyme, marjoram, and oregano, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Sauce/Consommé Prep – Putting It All Together
- Add chili peppers, and the water they were boiled in, to a blender or food processor.
- Add tomato/onion/spices mixture to blender or food processor.
- Add ginger, cumin, and apple cider vinegar to blender or food processor.
- Blend together all ingredients until it forms a smooth puree.
- Strain sauce to remove any remaining bits of whole spices and vegetables.
Marinate (Optional If Using Instant Pot)
- Combine meat and sauce in a pot, baking dish, or bowl, depending on your cooking method. and mix thoroughly.
- Cover with aluminum foil, and refrigerate.
- Marinate for at least 4 hours, but preferably 8 hours or more.
Cooking – Instant Pot (Preferred Method)
- Put meat into Instant Pot. If you chose to marinate ahead of time, you would add both meat and sauce in this step.
- Put sauce into Instant Pot.
- Cook on high pressure for 45 minutes.
- Allow 5 minutes for natural release.
- Do a manual release and remove lid.
- Shred meat off the bones and discard bones.
Cooking – Bake In Oven
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Put covered baking dish with meat and sauce into oven.
- Cook for 3 hours.
- Shred meat off the bones. and discard bones.
Cooking – Stovetop
- Cook covered pot containing meat and sauce on medium heat for 3 hours.
- Shred meat off the bones, and discard bones.
Cooking – Slow Cooker
- Put meat and sauce into slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
- When meat is falling easily off the bone, shred meat off the bones, and discard bones.
How To Serve – Tacos (Recommended)
- Mix consommé thoroughly.
- Dip tortilla (you can use corn or flour) into consommé.
- Cook tortilla on pan until heated on both sides.
- (Optional Step) Put a generous portion of Oaxaca Mexican melting cheese all around the tortilla and cook until it melts.
- Fill tortilla with meat.
- Add cilantro, diced onion, and a squeeze of lime into tortilla.
- Add cheese (Mexican chihuahua cheese recommended) into tortilla.
- Add sour cream (optional).
- Put a small amount of consommé into a bowl.
- Enjoy your tacos by dipping into consommé and enjoying this lovely dish!
How To Serve – Stew
- Place meat and a heaping of the consommé to a deep bowl.
- Add diced onion, cilantro, sliced radishes (optional) and lime juice to bowl.
- Enjoy as a hearty, filling soup. Eating it this way is keto and carb friendly!
How To Serve – Rice Bowl
- Place 1/2 cup of cooked long grain rice into a deep bowl. Note: You can use cauliflower rice instead to make it keto and carb friendly.
- Place meat and a heaping of the consommé to the bowl.
- Add diced onion, cilantro, sliced radishes (optional) and lime juice to bowl.
- Mix it together and enjoy!
- For goat or lamb meat, you can use almost any part available. The neck and shoulder are most common.
- Goat neck pieces, if available, provide one of the most tender end results.
- For beef, we recommend you use either chuck roast or short ribs, although you can try other bone-in pieces of beef also. The beef version of this recipe is called “birria de res”.
- You can freeze the birria for up to 3 months in the freezer.
- We recommend freezing the meat and soup separately. We suggest storing it in increments of 1 lb of meat and about 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cups of water (depending on how much water you end up with). This will allow you to make smaller portions or use it in one of our many mashups without using all the meat at once.
- Once you defrost the meat the first time, you cannot freeze it again.
- Let us know in the comments if you tried something different and how it turned out. We love feedback!