Traditional Mexican Birria


Explore the rich and savory flavors of traditional Mexican cuisine with our Authentic Mexican Birria recipe. Originating from the state of Jalisco, birria is a beloved dish known for its tender and flavorful meat, rich broth, and aromatic spices. In this article, we’ll delve into the history of birria, share a step-by-step recipe, and highlight why this iconic dish has captured the hearts and palates of food enthusiasts worldwide.

The Legacy of Mexican Birria: Birria holds a special place in Mexican culinary heritage, with roots dating back centuries to indigenous communities in the Jalisco region. Originally made with goat meat, birria has evolved over time to include other meats such as beef, lamb, or even pork. What sets birria apart is its complex blend of spices, including dried chilies, garlic, cloves, and bay leaves, which infuse the meat with layers of flavor and depth.


  • 3 lbs beef chuck roast, cut into chunks
  • 4 dried guajillo chilies
  • 2 dried ancho chilies
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • Corn tortillas, diced onions, chopped cilantro, lime wedges, for serving


  1. Prepare the Chilies: Remove the stems and seeds from the dried guajillo and ancho chilies. Toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, then soak them in hot water for 15-20 minutes until softened.
  2. Make the Spice Paste: In a blender, combine the soaked chilies, chopped onion, minced garlic, bay leaves, dried oregano, ground cumin, ground cloves, ground cinnamon, salt, pepper, and a splash of the chili soaking liquid. Blend until smooth, adding more liquid if needed to create a thick paste.
  3. Cook the Meat: Season the beef chunks with salt and pepper. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef chunks and brown them on all sides. Remove the beef from the pot and set aside.
  4. Simmer the Birria: In the same pot, add the spice paste and cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Return the beef to the pot and add beef broth until the meat is covered. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 2-3 hours until the meat is tender and falls apart easily.
  5. Serve: Serve the birria hot with warm corn tortillas, diced onions, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges for squeezing over the meat. Enjoy!

Serving and Storage Tips for Traditional Mexican Birria:

Serving Tips:

  1. Traditional Presentation: Serve the birria in deep bowls or cazuelas to capture the essence of its rustic charm. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and a squeeze of lime juice for added brightness.
  2. Accompaniments: Offer a variety of traditional toppings and accompaniments such as diced onions, chopped cilantro, lime wedges, and radishes. Warm corn tortillas are essential for scooping up the tender meat and soaking up the flavorful broth.
  3. Side Dishes: Pair the birria with classic Mexican side dishes like rice and beans, refried beans, or Mexican-style corn on the cob (elote) for a complete and satisfying meal.

Storage Tips:

  1. Refrigeration: Allow any leftover birria to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container. Refrigerate the birria for up to 3-4 days, ensuring it is tightly sealed to retain its freshness and flavor.
  2. Freezing: Birria freezes well and can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. Divide the birria into individual portions and place them in freezer-safe containers or resealable bags. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Reheating Instructions:

  1. Stovetop: Reheat the birria gently on the stovetop over low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add a splash of water or broth if needed to maintain the desired consistency.
  2. Microwave: Alternatively, reheat individual portions of birria in the microwave on medium power, stirring halfway through the heating process to ensure even warming.

By following these serving and storage tips, you can enjoy the flavors of traditional Mexican birria whenever the craving strikes and ensure that every bite is as delicious as the first.

Variations of Traditional Mexican Birria:

  1. Birria de Res (Beef Birria):
    • Instead of using beef chuck roast, try using beef shank, beef brisket, or beef short ribs for a different texture and flavor profile. Each cut of beef will bring its own unique richness to the dish.
  2. Birria de Borrego (Lamb Birria):
    • For a traditional twist, use lamb meat instead of beef. Lamb shoulder or leg of lamb can be used for a more robust and gamey flavor. Adjust the cooking time accordingly as lamb may cook faster than beef.
  3. Birria de Pollo (Chicken Birria):
    • Make a lighter version of birria by using chicken instead of beef. Chicken thighs or drumsticks work well and impart a tender texture to the dish. Consider using chicken broth instead of beef broth for a cohesive flavor profile.
  4. Vegetarian Birria:
    • Create a vegetarian version of birria by using mushrooms, such as portobello or oyster mushrooms, as the main ingredient. The mushrooms will absorb the flavors of the spices and broth, resulting in a hearty and satisfying dish.
  5. Birria Tacos (Birria Tacos):
    • Transform birria into a popular street food by serving it as filling for tacos. Dip corn tortillas in the flavorful broth, then fill them with shredded beef or lamb, diced onions, chopped cilantro, and a sprinkle of fresh lime juice. Crisp the filled tacos on a hot skillet for extra flavor and texture.

These variations offer creative ways to enjoy the rich and aromatic flavors of traditional Mexican birria while adding variety to your culinary repertoire. Experiment with different meats and ingredients to discover your favorite version of this beloved dish.


  1. What is birria?
    • Birria is a traditional Mexican dish known for its tender and flavorful meat, rich broth, and aromatic spices. It originated in the state of Jalisco and is often made with goat meat, although other meats such as beef, lamb, or pork can also be used.
  2. What does birria taste like?
    • Birria has a rich and savory flavor with a balance of spices such as dried chilies, garlic, cloves, and bay leaves. The meat is tender and succulent, and the broth is aromatic and deeply flavorful.
  3. Is birria spicy?
    • The level of spiciness in birria can vary depending on the type and amount of chilies used. While it can have a mild to moderate level of heat, the spiciness can be adjusted according to personal preference by controlling the amount of chilies added.
  4. What meats can be used to make birria?
    • Traditional birria is made with goat meat, but beef, lamb, or pork can also be used. Each meat brings its own unique flavor and texture to the dish, allowing for versatility and customization.
  5. How long does it take to cook birria?
    • The cooking time for birria can vary depending on the type and cut of meat used. Generally, birria is simmered for 2-3 hours or until the meat is tender and falls apart easily.
  6. What is the best way to serve birria?
    • Birria is typically served hot in deep bowls or cazuelas with warm corn tortillas on the side. Traditional toppings and accompaniments include diced onions, chopped cilantro, lime wedges, and radishes.
  7. Can birria be made ahead of time?
    • Yes, birria can be made ahead of time and reheated before serving. In fact, the flavors often develop and intensify when allowed to sit for a few hours or overnight.
  8. Can birria be frozen?
    • Yes, birria freezes well and can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. Divide the birria into portions and freeze them in airtight containers or resealable bags for convenience.
  9. Can I make birria vegetarian?
    • Yes, you can make a vegetarian version of birria using mushrooms or other plant-based protein alternatives. The spices and flavors can be adjusted to mimic the traditional dish while catering to vegetarian diets.
  10. What is the origin of birria?
    • Birria originated in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, and has been enjoyed for centuries as a celebratory dish for special occasions such as weddings, fiestas, and holidays. It is deeply rooted in Mexican culinary heritage and culture.


Traditional Mexican Birria is a culinary masterpiece that celebrates the vibrant flavors and rich heritage of Mexican cuisine. Whether enjoyed as a hearty stew or wrapped in warm tortillas for tacos, birria is a dish that brings people together and leaves a lasting impression. With our simple recipe, you can recreate the authentic taste of birria in your own kitchen and savor the bold and comforting flavors of this beloved Mexican dish. ¡Buen provecho!

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