A slow cooker variation of a traditional Mexican recipe, this beef birria is simmered long and slow with warm spices for a hearty recipe perfect for stew, tacos, and more!
What Is Beef Birria?
Beef birria originated in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. The term comes from a Spanish word that was once used to describe something with little to no value. As the story goes, birria was what resulted from the effort made by Spanish conquistadors to control the rapidly expanding goat population they brought to Mexico. Goat meat was considered to be unusually tough and particularly gamey in flavor. So, it was cooked long and slow in order to make it more appetizing.
As the dish expanded across Mexico and the United States, it grew in popularity, and many variations were made. Today, birria can be found being made with lamb, beef, and pork in addition to goat. Yet, just as the original version, birria meat continues to be served as a stew or stuffed in tacos with the meat’s braising liquid.
For our beef birria, we took all the warm flavors of the traditional dish and made it just a little easier to make with the help of the slow cooker!
What Does It Taste Like?
We describe beef birria as being warm, hearty, and slightly spicy. However, beef birria tacos incorporate additional layers of flavor with a crunchy shell and fresh veggies for topping, making it a super well-rounded meal in terms of taste.
Is Birria the Same as Barbacoa?
Although very similar, birria and barbacoa are not the same things. For instance, barbacoa originated in Central Mexico and is typically cooked in a hole in the ground for hours on end. Meanwhile, birria has a much saucier texture and is made by covering the meat in sauce and cooking it for a significantly shorter period of time.
What Is Beef Birria Made Of?
Typically, beef birria is a simple recipe consisting of braised meat and spices. Don’t worry, though! This version used common ingredients you probably already have on hand.
- Chuck Roast Steak – For the most tender meat and best taste, we recommend using a cut of meat with the bone intact. However, you could swap out the beef for goat, lamb, pork, or even chicken if you prefer!
- Herbs & Spices – For a warm, hearty taste we included chili powder, cumin, dried oregano, smoked paprika, salt, and red chili pepper.
- Veggies – Onion, jalapeño, and green pepper create a balance of sweet and spicy flavors.
- Mild Enchilada Sauce – Not found in authentic recipes, we love to incorporate enchilada sauce to create a bit of a shortcut for the broth and add just a hint of extra spice.
- Broth – Broth is used to form the base of the broth and keep the meat tender and juicy. We prefer beef broth, but anything you have on hand will work.
How to Make this Slow Cooker Beef Birria Recipe
Traditional beef birria takes a lot of time to prepare and requires a lot of babysitting while it is cooking. However, we sped up the process and made it super simple with this slow cooker version. By no means is it authentic, but it’s so delicious and so easy!
- Add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker.
- Cover, and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.
- Shred the beef.
Birria Stew Option
The most authentic way to serve your birria is as consommè (stew). To do this, simply cook the beef. Then, to serve, add a few pieces of meat to a bowl, and top it with the leftover liquid. Add your favorite toppings like diced onions and a squeeze of lime juice, and dig in!
How to Make the Best Beef Birria Tacos
For a slightly more authentic recipe, try dipping your corn tortilla shells in the liquid from the birria meat. Then, warm them over a skillet stuffed with the meat and any topping you’d like. Fold the tortilla over, pressing it down with a spatula. Cook each side for about 2-3 minutes or until the shell is crispy.
Beef birria tastes even better the next day! Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days. Or, keep them in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To Reheat: Warm tacos in the oven. Or, if served as a stew, heat leftovers over the stovetop or in the microwave.
More Slow Cooker Recipes
- Our favorite set-it-and-forget-it meal, Slow Cooker Beef Pot Roast will have your whole house smelling incredible!
- Comforting and flavorful, your whole family is going to love this Slow Cooker Chili.
- An easy take on a Southern staple, Slow Cooker Po’ Boy Sandwiches are an indulgent, hands-off recipe.
- Tender, creamy, and loaded with garlicky flavor, Slow Cooker Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta is a simple weeknight that tasted like you spent all day in the kitchen.
Slow Cooker Beef Birria
- 2 pounds Chuck roast steak (boneless and fat trimmed)
- 2 Tablespoons chilli powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons sea salt (more or less to taste)
- 1 diced onion
- 1 sliced jalapeño (optional)
- 1 sliced red chilli pepper (optional)
- 1 medium diced green pepper
- 14 ounces mild enchilada sauce
- 12 ounces beef broth or choice of broth
- diced white onion (cilantro and limes for serving)
- In the slow cooker add beef, and all the seasonings.
- Add diced peppers, onions, jalapeño, red chilli pepper, enchilada sauce, and broth.
- Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
- Once beef is tender, shred with two forks.
- Serve on tortillas with diced white onion, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice! Feel free to serve with cauliflower rice for a low-carb option!
If you do not have a slow cooker, don’t worry, this can be done in a large pot. It will take 2-3 hours so be mindful of that if you are planning on leaving home.
We love using a ceramic slow cooker, such as this one here.
If you love this recipe, try these easy Chicken Tacos.