Juicy Shredded Chicken Birria Tacos Recipe

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My birria chicken tacos are crispy, oozing with gooey Oaxaca cheese, and absolutely irresistible. Once you dunk them into the flavor-packed consomme seasoned with chiles and spices, you'll be just as obsessed as we are! 

Want more birria recipes? Try my instant pot birria, or classic stove-top beef birria tacos, use the leftover birria to make Birria Pizza with the kids or the viral birria ramen fusion, Birriamen!

a wood plate is holding many chicken birria tacos with limes on the table

Crispy Pan-Fried Tacos with Birria Chicken and Rich Birria Sauce!

You know a recipe is good when your whole family wants a third serving! 

My chicken birria recipe is cooked in the oven, though I have instructions on how to do it on the stove and in the slow cooker, too! They're smoky, savory, with just a touch of spicy, cheesy and crispy tacos filled with tender chicken, just so good! 

Once you dip your birria de pollo tacos into the homemade birria sauce you're going to be mad at yourself for not making a double batch.

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Why You'll Love this Chicken Birria Taco Recipe

  • Fantastic Freezer Meal - make the birria de pollo stew to freeze and have birria tacos any time you like!
  • Learn how to Make a Homemade Adobo Sauce - this chile sauce is the key to our entire recipe. We're making it from scratch with whole spices and plenty of deliciousness.
  • Incredibly Easy Chicken Tacos for Weeknights - in about an hour and fifteen minutes you have dinner ready to go, and most of the time is just letting the pot of stew braise away in the oven!
someone dunking a birria taco into a small bowl of birria consomme


  • A Large Dutch Oven or Pot where everything will be seared and simmered
  • Tongs - to fish out the chicken thighs and the cinnamon stick and bay leaves.
  • Fine Mesh Strainer - to strain the liquid before blending
  • High Powered Blender - this is a must to pulverize those whole spices in our birria sauce.
  • A Plancha or a large Cast Iron Skillet - a plancha is basically a cast iron griddle you can set down on top of a stove or on a grill. I use it when I'm making pancakes, it's great to cook multiple things at once (like tacos!).
  • Fish Spatula - this spatula is long and flexible, it scoops up under tortillas and flips them effortlessly.

Ingredients for Chicken Birria Tacos

Full ingredients, measurements, and printable instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

ingredients for chicken birria tacos labeled
  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs - chicken thighs will add lots of flavor and shred without getting dry! Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs also work perfectly here but will take longer to cook. the only give boneless chicken thighs have is that they don't have as much fat for our consomme and our tortilla frying. That's where the vegetable oil comes in.
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Garlic Cloves - we're keeping them whole but they need to be peeled.
  • White Onion
  • Spices - try to use as many whole spices as possible. We've got a whole cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, whole black peppercorns,
  • Chipotle Peppers in Adobo - this is in lieu of the much hotter chile de arbol that is usually in birria. Swap the chipotle for dried arbol peppers if you're wanting more spice.
  • Dried Chile Peppers - these dried chiles are a must here, they are the classic additions. Both are smoky but guajillo chiles are bright and fruity with a medium spice, while ancho chiles are more mild, earthy and sweet.
  • Chicken Broth - since we are using chicken, chicken broth is what we're using
  • Bay Leaves and Oregano - the flavor of bay leaf is subtle but powerful, it's bright and cuts through all that richness in our sauce.
  • Canned Tomatoes - canned whole tomatoes here, I feel like they add more to the sauce since it all get
  • Apple Cider Vinegar - this gives flavor and cuts through all that richness. ,
  • Corn Tortillas - these are my favorite choice but flour tortillas
  • Oaxaca Cheese - this is a wonderful melty cheese that comes apart like string cheese from Oaxaca, Mexico. A must for quesabirria tacos!
  • Lime Juice for serving
  • Fresh Cilantro - for serving, but optional for those with the soap gene.

How to Make Chicken Birria Tacos

How to Make Birria de Pollo

chicken thighs searing in a dutch oven

Step 1 | Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper and sear the chicken on both sides in the pot over medium-high heat until golden brown in the vegetable oil. If you're using bone-in, skin-on thighs, do the same thing. Remove the chicken once they're seared. We aren't trying to fully cook them here.

spices and herbs cooking in fat in a dutch oven pot

Step 2 | Get the spices sizzling in the fat for a couple of minutes, we want to open up those flavors for the sauce. 

the ingredients for birria sauce in a pot

Step 3 | Get the white onions, garlic cloves, chili peppers (ancho and guajillo peppers), tomatoes, and water into the pot and simmer for 15 minutes to soften the dried peppers.

Step 4 | After 15 minutes, strain the mixture through a mesh sieve. Save the solids and discard the water. All those tomatoes and aromatic peppers are going right into your blender, BUT TAKE OUT THE CINNAMON AND BAY LEAVES FIRST. They DON'T blend smooth.

birria de pollo simmering in pot

Step 5 | Put the sauce into the pot with the chicken, chicken stock, and the apple cider vinegar, then put the lid on and put into your 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, or until the chicken is fork tender and shreddable. for the bone in chicken it'll take up to an hour and a half. The chicken is cooked when it is shreddable.

shredded chicken thighs on a plate

Step 6 | Transfer the chicken thighs from the birria stew and shred the chicken using two forks. Use a spoon to pour some of the sauce over the chicken then toss the sauce and chicken together.

Let's Make Birria Tacos

hands putting shredded chicken and oaxaca cheese onto a tortilla in a skillet

Step 1 | Get a plancha or cast iron skillet very hot, I'm talking high heat here. If you're using boneless skinless chicken thighs, there will be no fat to use from the consomme. So we're going to use a high heat oil to help first.

Dip the tortillas into the cooking liquid and lay it carefully into the ripping hot pan and oil. Add the shredded chicken to half of the tortilla with the Oaxaca cheese to make tasty quesabirria tacos.

chicken birria taco folded and frying in pan

Step 2 | Carefully use a fish spatula to flip the otherside of the taco over and fold it. Press down a bit and let the crispy corn tortillas cook for another thirty seconds before pulling off the heat.

a birria chicken taco dipped in consomme and dripping into the bowl of birria sauce below

Step 3 | Serve the tacos with some cilantro and white onion, squeeze on some lime, and have a little bowl of consomé on the side as a dipping sauce.

Variations and Substitutions

  • You can make the chicken birria on the stove top. Just cook in the large pot over medium-low heat with the lid on, stirring occasionally until the chicken is shreddable.
  • Make it in the slow cooker! Cook the chicken thighs in the birria sauce on high for up to 4 hours or on low for 6 hours or until the chicken is tender and shreddable.
  • Birria is usually made with ancho chilis for more heat, but we used chipotles instead which are not as hot. Swap them for the dried ancho chilies in the recipe if you're a heat fan!
  • Cheese is optional for a birria taco, but honestly it's so good! You don't have to just use Oaxaca cheese, try Queso Fresco, Chihuahua cheese, or good ole mozzarella.
  • Chicken breasts can also be used but be careful not to overcook them. They will become dry and crumbly and not very appetizing.
  • Ground spices can be used, especially if you aren't sure your blender's strong enough to make a smooth sauce. You can also grind your own whole spices in a mortar and pestle(which will have better flavor than store bought ground spices).

Pro Tips

  • Use good quality tortillas, you don't want them to fall apart on you. We are putting them through a lot: dipping into consomme, frying with meat and cheese, they need to be able to stand up to them. Buy reputable ones from your favorite restaurant or make corn tortillas yourself!
  • Keep the first batch of chicken birria tacos warm by keeping them on a baking sheet in the oven as you finish the batch of tacos on the plancha. Turn the oven to warm, or as low as it'll go, and add to the baking sheet for every 4-5 tacos you make. We want to keep 'em crispy!
  • Use gloves while deseeding and stemming the chilies. Even if they are dried, they have plenty of spicy oil that will get onto your fingers. If not gloves, then at the very least be aware of your hands and don't touch your face or go to the bathroom before washing your hands!

What to Serve with Chicken Birria Tacos

  • Salsas and Cremas - I drizzled on some of my favorite cilantro lime taco sauce for these photos (and for dinner!) and let me tell you: obsession! I also love my orange taquera style salsa, which is that classic spicy salsa that you'll get with your tacos at the restaurant. Another delicious idea is this Avocado Crema -- my favorite snack and sauce lately!
  • Rice and Beans - Get into some easy cilantro lime rice to add to the tacos or eat on the side with black beans or refried beans.
  • Corn - Serve up some grilled corn or easy Chili Corn Salsa a la Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Storage, Freezing, and Reheating Instructions

  • Storage: Birria tacos are best eaten right after frying, but the sauce and chicken can be stored in airtight container separately in the fridge for up to 4 days. Remember to remove the bay leaves and cinnamon stick from the birria sauce before storing!
  • Freezing: Freeze the shredded chicken and consome separately in freezer safe containers or zip-top bags! Label them and date them, remove all the air from the bags, and freeze as flat as you can for quick thawing.
  • Thawing: Thaw the frozen chicken and sauce in the fridge overnight!
  • Reheat: Both the chicken and birria sauce reheat well in the microwave, but the best way is to warm the chicken up in the sauce in a saucepan over medium-low heat until warmed through. Then follow the recipe to make the tacos.


What does birria taste like?

Birria is succulent meat that is slowly simmered in a rich broth bursting with a medley of spices like guajillo and ancho peppers, cumin, cloves, garlic, and bay leaves. This dish packs a punch of mild to moderate heat, a hint of tanginess from vinegar and lime juice, and pure coziness in every mouthful. Sprinkle on some onions, cilantro, lime, and wrap it all up in tortillas for the ultimate taco!

What is birria sauce made of?

The birria sauce is a blend of guajillo and ancho peppers, garlic, bright acidity, and a bunch of spices that just make everything taste so darn good. Add in tomatoes and onions that bring that extra level of flavor, and a rich broth that sets the stage for what we now know as a worldwide phenomenon. 

More Incredible Mexican Recipes to Try:

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📖 Recipe

a birria chicken taco dipped in consomme and dripping into the bowl of birria sauce below

Birria Chicken Tacos

Eden Westbrook
Learn how to make juicy Shredded Chicken Birria Tacos with a flavorful homemade birria sauce to serve with. This taco recipe can't be beat!
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican-American
Servings 12 tacos
Calories 317 kcal


Chicken Birria

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil divided
  • 8 chicken thighs boneless and skinless
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns whole
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds whole
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds whole
  • 3 cloves whole
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano fresh or dried
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 dried ancho chile peppers deseeded and stems removed
  • 2 dried guajillo peppers deseeded and stems removed
  • 1 large white onion peeled and quartered
  • 1 whole head garlic peeled
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo
  • 1 (28) oz can whole tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 8 cups chicken broth divided

Birria Tacos

  • 12 corn tortillas
  • ½ white onion small diced
  • ½ cup cilantro chopped
  • Limes for serving
  • Oaxacan cheese shredded
  • Reserved stewing liquid consommé for serving


  • Preheat oven to 350℉ (180℃).
  • In a large Dutch oven over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Pat dry and season the chicken thighs generously with salt and pepper on both sides.
    ¼ cup vegetable oil, 8 chicken thighs
  • When the oil is shimmering hot, carefully place the chicken thighs in batches. Don't crowd the pan or they won't sear, and sear on all sides until browned and remove them from the pot onto a plate or into a bowl.
    8 chicken thighs
  • Repeat Step 2 with all the chicken thighs until every piece is seared and in the plate for later.
  • Toast the whole spices and oregano in the pot for two minutes, then add the chiles, quarter white onion, whole garlic cloves and tomatoes to the pot. Pour in enough water to cover everything (I usually use two cups), and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes to soften the dried chiles.
    1 tablespoon black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, 3 cloves, 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 dried ancho chile peppers, 2 dried guajillo peppers, 1 large white onion, 1 whole head garlic, 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, 1 (28) oz can whole tomatoes, 2 bay leaves
  • Pour the softened chilies, onion, garlic, and spices through a mesh strainer and discard the liquid. SET ASIDE THE CINNAMON STICK AND BAY LEAVES. Then transfer all the solids to a high powered blender with 1 cup of chicken broth. Blend until smooth and all the spices.
    8 cups chicken broth
  • Add the seared chicken thighs, the blended chili sauce, the bay leaves and cinnamon stick, the rest of the chicken broth and the apple cider vinegar to the dutch oven and stir well. Place into the preheated oven to cook for 30-45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and shreddable.
    1 cinnamon stick, 2 bay leaves, 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 8 cups chicken broth
  • Use tongs to remove the chicken thighs from the birria consomme, place them onto a cutting board or large plate and shred them. Pour a little of the consomme on top of the chicken and toss to coat the meat in the sauce.

Make the Chicken Birria Tacos

  • Heat the rest of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat on a cast iron skillet or plancha.
    ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • Dip a corn tortilla into the hot consomme using the tongs, then carefully place the tortilla onto the skillet away from you (it may sputter in the fat!).
    12 corn tortillas
  • Take the shredded chicken and oaxaca cheese and cover half of the tortilla with them. Use a fish spatula to fold the tortilla over the meat and cheese, then press down a bit to get the melty cheese to attach to the top half of the tortilla. Let that cook for 30 seconds before removing to a baking sheet.
    Oaxacan cheese
  • Serve your birria quesatacos with the cooking liquid in a small bowl, sprinkled with diced onions and cilantro. Squeeze on some lime juice, dip into the consomme, and enjoy hot!
    ½ white onion, ½ cup cilantro, Reserved stewing liquid consommé, Limes


Pro Tips

Because this recipe makes around 12 tacos, you'll want to keep them warm in the oven while you cook. Turn the oven to low, and place the tacos onto a baking sheet as you make them, then place the first 6 in the low oven as you work on the last half.

Stovetop and Slow Cooker Instructions

You can make the chicken birria on the stove top by cooking everything in the large pot over medium-low heat with the lid on, stirring occasionally for an hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the chicken is shreddable.
Make it in the slow cooker by cooking the chicken thighs in the birria sauce on high for up to 4 hours or on low for 6 hours or until the chicken is tender and shreddable.


Serving: 1tacoCalories: 317kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 16gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 757mgPotassium: 529mgFiber: 5gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 1903IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 78mgIron: 3mg
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