Beef Birria

'The most traditional version of this stew is made from goat," Mely says. "These days, beef is more common since it's more accessible." That's what you'll find here so you can easily try it out for yourself at home.

Beef Birria
Photo: Carson Downing
Hands On Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
8 hrs 45 mins


  • 4 pound beef roast (4 lb. boneless chuck or 3 lb. boneless chuck plus 1 to 2 lb. oxtail or beef shank)

  • Salt and ground black pepper

  • 3 dried ancho peppers

  • 6 dried guajillo peppers

  • 2 large tomatoes

  • ½ of a medium white onion, sliced

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 4 whole cloves

  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds

  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns

  • ½ cup white vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano or marjoram, crushed

  • 1 1-inch stick Mexican cinnamon or cinnamon

  • 1 1/4-inch piece fresh ginger (optional)

  • ½ teaspoon dried marjoram

  • Chopped white onion

  • Chopped fresh oregano or cilantro

  • Warm corn tortillas, lime wedges, and salsa


  1. Place beef in a large greased baking dish; season with kosher salt and ground black pepper.

  2. Preheat a large skillet or comal over medium-high. Slice open the anchos and guajillos; seed and devein. Slightly toast 30 to 40 seconds on each side, being careful not to burn them (burned chiles make the dish taste bitter). Place chiles in a bowl; add enough hot water to cover. Soak 20 minutes; drain.

  3. Meanwhile, place tomatoes, onion slices, and garlic in the skillet over medium to roast, turning occasionally for an even roast, about 8 minutes (see tip, p. 88). (Remove garlic promptly as it browns. If it burns, it will be bitter.)

  4. Briefly toast the whole cloves, cumin seeds, and peppercorns in the skillet, about 30 seconds.

  5. In a blender combine toasted chiles; roasted tomatoes, onion, and garlic; toasted spices; vinegar; oregano; cinnamon; ginger (if using); marjoram; and 1 tsp. kosher salt. Cover and blend until smooth, adding a few tablespoons of water as needed to mix thoroughly.

  6. Pour sauce over the beef. Cover with foil; refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

  7. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake beef, covered, 4 hours or until fork-tender. Shred and serve in bowls with broth; garnish with chopped onion and oregano. Serve with tortillas, lime wedges, and salsa. Serves 8.


You can make this in the slow cooker: Prepare as directed through Step 6, then cook on low 6 to 8 hours.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

386 Calories
13g Fat
25g Carbs
44g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 386
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 143mg 48%
Sodium 316mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 25g 9%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 44g
Vitamin C 15.9mg 80%
Calcium 146mg 11%
Iron 7.6mg 42%
Potassium 1188mg 25%
Fatty acids, total trans 1g
Folate, total 32.7mcg
Vitamin B-12 5.7mcg
Vitamin B-6 1.3mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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