Beef birria tacos

The much-hyped taco trend of the past few years.
Birria tacos are an authentic Mexican taco that are ingeniously simple in concept. Made from beef that’s been braised in a fragrant broth and then fried in the fat rendered from the meat. We really cannot say enough to recommend them.








For the beef broth

  • 1kg chuck roast
  • 500g beef cheeks
  • 700g beef bones
  • 20ml vegetable oil

For the sauce

  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 2 very ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 3 brown onions, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2-3 guajillo chillies, trimmed and desseded
  • 2-3 ancho chillies, trimmed and deseeded
  • 1-3 birdseye chillies (depending on desired heat), deseeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
  • 2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 cinnamon stick

For the tacos

  • 1 white or red onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup coriander, chopped
  • 16 small corn tortillas
  • 320g Oaxacan cheese (or mozzarella), grated
  • Lime wedges


1. To prepare the meat

Remove the chuck roast, beef bones and beef cheeks from the fridge and bring to room temperature. Season liberally with salt. Heat a large heavy-based casserole dish, Dutch oven or saucepan over a medium-high heat. Work in two batches, starting with the chuck roast, and sear the meat well. Once seared, transfer the meat to a large bowl, add the bones and set aside.

2. For the sauce

Wipe out the pan and add the garlic, tomato, carrot, onion, bay leaves, chillies, chilli powder, oregano, ground cloves, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, black peppercorns and cinnamon stick. Cover with 750ml of beef broth and 500ml of the water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Carefully transfer to a powerful blender and blitz for 30 seconds. Add in the remaining beef stock and the vinegar, then blitz on high for 2 minutes until you have a smooth sauce. Strain if preferred.

3. To cook

Preheat the oven to 160˚C. Add the meat back into the pan, along with the beef bones. Pour over the sauce, along with up to 500ml water if needed, to cover the meat. Bring to a gentle simmer over a medium heat, then cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 3½ – 4 hours, until the meat is fall apart tender (check the liquid level several times throughout the cooking process, adding in more as required). Remove the bones and discard. Remove the meat from the sauce and shred. Cover the shredded meat and set aside. Season the sauce to taste and set aside on the stove (you will need it to rest so that the fat separates to the top before you cook the tacos).

4. To serve

Mix the onion and coriander in a small bowl, season with a little salt and set aside. Heat a griddle or a large non-stick pan over a medium heat, working with a couple of tortillas at a time, and then dip the tortillas into the fat that has accumulated on the top of the sauce. Fry them for 20 seconds, flip over and add a little shredded beef, topped with about 20g grated cheese. Fold over and fry on each side until the cheese has melted and the tortilla is golden and crispy. Serve immediately along with a bowl of the sauce for dipping and the onion coriander mix for additional garnish.


  • Birria tacos traditionally use beef short ribs. This version uses beef cheeks, chuck roast, and beef bones, but you can substitute these 3 ingredients with 1.5kg of beef short ribs instead.
  • Beef bones add flavour and can be roasted first for added depth of flavour (optional).
  • In Mexico they use arbol chillies instead of birdseye. Guajillo and ancho chillies bring an aromatic smokiness, milder heat and a chocolatey depth to the sauce.
  • Mexican oregano is similar to Mediterranean oregano, but with added notes of aniseed and citrus.
  • Oaxacan cheese is a mild semi-soft cheese, very similar to mozzarella.

As seen in autumn/winter 2023

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