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Birria de Res for Birria Tacos is easily made using your pressure cooker or Instant Pot! Perfect for the warmer months, this instant pot birria recipe makes for the most flavorful, tender beef for birria tacos in no time without heating up your kitchen! Use the shredded beef to make juicy, drippy, pan-fried birria quesatacos dipped in that savory birria broth.
I know I'm not the only one who absolutely loves a good taco night in the summer. They just go together so well...but no one wants to have a dutch oven slow cooking this savory mexican stew on the stove top or in the oven heating up the whole daggone house, right? Especially while waiting for hours and hours, summer days are often full of days out doing things, right?
This instant pot version of my super popular birria tacos was much needed. It's super easy, super fast, and the flavor is absolutely insane. So instant pot birria tacos are here to stay alllll summer long.
What is Birria
I went over the full history in my traditional method birria tacos recipe post, but here's a quick breakdown on birria:
Birria is a Mexican meat stew that is traditionally made with goat meat or lamb, originating from the Mexican state of Jalisco. The modern beef version (called Birria de res) has become extremely popular in the past year, especially for making tacos. It's got plenty of savory umami, slightly sweet, tangy, salty flavors; the birria sauce is seasoned with warm spices like cinnamon and ground cloves and coriander, flavored with white onion and garlic, it's just so rich and complex, y'all.
This Mexican beef stew is basically what comfort food dreams are made of: savory beef slow cooked in pureed spices, herbs, and chiles with adobo sauce and beef broth until it's so tender that it easily shreds apart. This recipe makes a large batch of birria, so it's perfect for parties and meal planning for tacos, burritos, quesadillas (and have you seen birria ramen and grilled cheese sandwiches? People are going crazy over birria, y'all).
What Meat to Use for Birria
Traditionally birria is made with goat, lamb, or mutton. But making beef birria, which is easily accessible and more affordable in the States, is what we're doing here.
You can use cuts like beef cheek, beef shank, and ox tail, but my preference is using chuck roast and english cut short rib.
Beef chuck is an affordable cut that shines brightest when braised, like in pot roast. It has a lot of connective tissues and fat that renders down so that the meat is fall apart tender.
Then comes that short rib. The reason I love short rib is because it's also pretty affordable, especially compared to oxtail, with exposed cut bone. English cut short ribs (as opposed to flanken cut, which you'll see often at Korean BBQs) has that thick portion of meat on it. It's well marbled with fat and it just melt in your mouth rich and tender. The bone gives the sauce and broth tons of body and great texture.
What is Birria sauce made of?
The main source of the flavor Birria is known for comes from the consomme, because birria as a classic dish is served as a soup with juicy tender meat.
The birria consomme ingredients:
- Chilies. The classic blend of two dried chiles, guajillo peppers and ancho chile, are in this recipe along with a can of chipotle chile in adobo sauce. Ancho chile peppers are dried, almost-ripened poblano peppers that have a sweet flavor while guajillo chiles are mildly spicy and sweet, and they're two of the most popular chilies used in any Mexican dish. Some people use arbol peppers (chile de arbol) for a serious punch of heat, but I like using chipotles in adobo instead. Chipotles are smoke-dried ripened jalapeños that add a little more spice and heat with some smokey goodness.
- Pureed or Crushed Tomatoes. I use Italian San Marzano tomatoes because they have less acidity than most American tomatoes. But if you can't find any canned San Marzano tomatoes, use some good Roma tomatoes.
- Smoked Paprika. I love the smokiness here. It just adds more complexity!
- Onions and Garlic. We are garlic lovers in this house and for this amount of birria we use an entire head of garlic cloves. The onions and garlic are like savory-food-foundations, you can't live without them!
- Spices. It's not birria without these spices. A stick of cinnamon, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, and bay leaves. Optionally, you can toast the spices in a dry skillet for more flavor, but make sure you take out the cinnamon stick before you blend the chili mixture in a blender or immersion blender. They do NOT blend up or puree, leaving little bits of splinters in your sauce.
- Mexican Oregano and Bay Leaves. Trust me, it's not the same without them.
- Apple Cider Vinegar. This gives us that tangy note that birria is known for.
How to Make Birria in the Instant Pot
As always, there are detailed instructions here in post and in the recipe card below!
Deseed and stem the chilies. Cut the stems off the dried chilies with kitchen scissors and shake the seeds out of the pods.
In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the spices and deseeded peppers until they're nice and fragrant.
Throw all the toasted chilies and spices into a large pot of boiling chicken broth along with the onion and garlic and oregano, and let simmer and soak for about 15 to 20 minutes. You want to soak the chilies until they're nice and soft.
Save 1 cup of the chili-infused chicken broth then drain the rest of the liquid. Blend up the chilies, onions and garlic, spices (remove that cinnamon!), and reserved broth in a high powered blender or immersion blender. If you don't have a high powered blender, use a regular one but strain the chili sauce well through a mesh sieve to remove any seeds or skins.
Sear the beef on all sides in your electric pressure cooker over high heat. You really want that beautiful brown crust because it actually changes the flavor of the beef itself through the Maillard Reaction.
Once the beef is seared, add the blended chile sauce and your beef broth into the Instant Pot and seal it. Set it to high pressure and the 'manual' setting for 1 hour.
When the hour is done, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes then turn the venting knob to completely release the pressure. Use two forks to shred the beef.
The best part of this beef birria recipe is that it makes a lot of meat and there are plenty of ways to make birria a part of your meal plan. Have it as a cozy soup, make a birria melt (do you call it a grilled cheese if it has meat in the sandwich?), turn it into birria ramen, serve it over mashed potatoes (not traditional but omg, so good!). It's endless!
Making Birria QuesaTacos
Quick Tip: if you make the birria ahead of time the fat rises to the top of the pot when it cools down (it's even easier the next day), making it easy to scoop off and reheat to dip tortillas into without making them soggy from the broth itself. The fat will give your corn tortilla what it needs to fry and get crispy while making your tacos.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
- Dip the side of the tortilla into the warm fat to coat it, then place it into the hot cast iron skillet.
- Place some of the shredded birria and oaxaca cheese onto on half of the tortilla, and cook the tortilla until it's nice and crispy. Then gently fold the tortilla over the beef and cheese.
- Serve with some of the broth in a small dipping bowl, with lime wedges, fresh cilantro, and onion.
Freezing, Reheating, and Storing Birria
I like to freeze half of the portion in serving sizes in freezer-safe zip top bags so that we have birria on hand at any time. Like I said, this makes a lot of birria! Store the meat with its consomme for up to 3 months.
In the fridge, keep the stew meat in the consomme in an air tight food storage container for up to 5 days.
To reheat from the freezer, make sure if the birria is frozen to thaw it in the fridge overnight...or if you use vacuum seal bags, you can go from freezer to a gently simmering pot of water to reheat it in a matter of about 10 minutes!
To reheat from the fridge, microwave it in a microwave-safe container until hot or reheat it in a saucepan over medium-low heat until warmed through and ready to serve.
More Instant Pot Recipes:
- Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas
- Instant Pot Short Rib Ragu with Gnocchi
- Instant Pot Beef Bourguignon
- Instant Pot Beef Stew
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- 2 tablespoon neutral, high smoke point oil (grapeseed, vegetable, canola, etc)
- 4 lbs boneless chuck roast, cut in half
- 2 lbs short ribs, English cut
- 6 cups water or chicken broth
- 1 large white onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 head garlic, peeled
- 4 dried guajillo chile peppers, deseeded and stems removed
- 4 dried ancho chile peppers
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
- 1 stick ceylon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano, fresh or dried
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo
- 1 (28 oz) can pureed tomatoes
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 5 cups beef broth
- Bring the meat to room temperature for about 30 minutes and then sprinkle liberally on all sides with kosher salt.
- Turn the Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker onto Saute and once it says 'HOT', add your high heat oil. When the oil is shimmering hot, add the chuck roast, making sure not to crowd the pot, and sear on all sides until browned. Repeat with the short rib until every piece of meat is well browned. Set meat aside on a plate or in a large bowl for later.
- Destem and deseed the dried chilies by gently rolling the pods to loosen up the seeds inside. Cut the stems off and shake the seeds out of the pods.
- In a medium fry pan or skillet, dry toast the whole spices and chiles: the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, and cinnamon stick over medium heat. Place all the spices in an even layer across the pan, then give the pan a nice, gentle shake to ensure the spices get evenly toasted. They're done once they smell super fragrant, about a minute or two.
- In the Instant Pot on Saute on the highest power and when it says 'HOT' add the toasted spices and dried chiles, the large white onion quarters, garlic cloves, and oregano then pour enough cold water in to cover everything. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes. This can also be done on the stove top in a large pot over medium heat.
- Pour through a mesh strainer and discard the most of the liquid (save 1 cup of it!) and discard the cinnamon stick, then transfer all the solids, the smoked paprika, the chopotle peppers with the adobo, the pureed tomatoes, and the reserved cup of liquids to a high powered blender. Blend until nice and smooth.
- Add the meat, the blended sauce, the bay leaves, apple cider vinegar, and the beef broth back into the Instant Pot. Lock the lid on for pressure cooking, set the Instant Pot to 'MANUAL' for 60 minutes and let the birria pressure cook.
- When time is up, let the Instant Pot naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes, then carefully turn the venting knob for a quick release of the rest of the pressure.
Making the Birria
Making Birria QuesaTacos
- Remove the meat from the consomme, shredding all of it with forks and removing the bones and bay leaves.
- Use a large spoon to skim some of the fat off the top of the consomme and into a shallow dish. This fat is what you'll dip the tortillas into to fry them with.
- Pour some of the consomme into a small serving bowl and add the chopped cilantro.
- Heat a nonstick pan to medium heat. Use tongs (or clean fingers) to dip both sides of a tortilla into the fat in your shallow dish. Place it flat into the hot nonstick pan and add a little birria meat and Oaxaca cheese to one side, fold the tortilla, and let cook for about 30 seconds to a minute, then flip and cook for another 30 seconds so the other folded side gets crispy as well.
- Move the cooked birria quesataco to a serving plate and repeat until you have enough tacos for serving immediately with consomme, diced onions, limes, and cilantro.
- Reserve the rest of the birria meat and the consomme in airtight containers in the fridge for up to five days, with the fat. This can also be done as a make ahead meal. Simply do Step 4 and Step 5, melting some of the cooled fat in the nonstick pan and cooking the tortillas and meat as written.
Check out the post for instructions to store, freeze, and reheat the birria.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 668Total Fat: 44gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 202mgSodium: 668mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 60g
All nutrition facts are estimations. Please see a physician for any health-related inquiries.
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.