Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn

Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs on top on a plate with fork holding a bite. The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.
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Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs on top on a plate with fork holding a bite. The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.

What could be better than a big ole pot of pasta with meat and tomato sauce?  How about a big ole pot of Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef, Corn, and Green Chile-Chipotle-Tomato Sauce!  The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef and chunky tomatoes.  Then flavor bombs chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings are added to bring in the warmth and a slight kick of heat.  Corn kernels are added for a pop of sweet and texture, and grated Parmesan thickens up the sauce and adds creaminess.  Finally, Pappardelle is mixed in and buttery toasted breadcrumbs are sprinkled on top for crunch.

You can make the sauce ahead and mix in the pasta right before serving for dinner on a busy weekend!  Your family will love it. 

WHAT MAKES THIS SOUTHWESTERN?

Southwestern cuisine is an adaptation of Mexican cuisine that you will typically find in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada.  It is similar to Tex-Mex which is also an adaptation of Mexican food.  

Some of the common ingredients in Southwestern cuisine are chile peppers, corn, and beans.  So, what makes this Pasta with Ground Beef Southwestern is honestly a loose interpretation of the cuisine.  It’s the addition of the corn, the green chiles and the chipotle peppers in adobo.  It’s not true Mexican, though Mexican was an inspiration.  And it’s not Italian, though it was also a big inspiration.  It’s a mash-up recipe which is how Southwestern cuisine evolved to begin with.

Quick note!  This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase from them.  This commission is what helps me keep this blog afloat :).  I also share these links because I have used the products, genuinely love them, and want you to know exactly what I used. 

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

For this recipe, you will need a large pot for cooking the pasta and a large pot or deep pan for the sauce. I used my dutch oven which is perfect for browning the beef, building the sauce, and then mixing in the pasta.

Oh, and mincing garlic is made super easy with a Garlic Press.

PREP-AHEAD STEPS FOR SOUTHWESTERN PASTA WITH GROUND BEEF

We are all extremely busy and making dinner during the week can be overwhelming. Here are steps you can prepare ahead to save time on busy nights! (See the full recipe below) 

For this recipe, you can make the sauce entirely ahead!  However, assuming that you just want to get ahead before cooking, then you can prep all of the ingredients for the sauce.  Open the cans of tomatoes, chiles, and paste. Mince the garlic cloves and the chipotle peppers. Measure out all ingredients and add to a bowl for adding to the cooked beef. Store ingredients in the fridge if doing this ahead of time.

Next, you can husk the corn and remove any corn silk. Using a large knife, cut the kernels from the cob.

Knife cutting corn kernels off cob for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs.  The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings. 

Last, using the back of the knife, scrape down the cob to remove any remaining kernels and the corn ‘milk’. Save all corn removed in the fridge until ready to add to the sauce.

Knife cutting corn kernels off cob for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs.  The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.

COOK YOUR SOUTHWESTERN SAUCE

If you are cooking the sauce right before serving it, then you can start first by getting the pasta water going.  If you’re making the sauce ahead to reheat later, no need to worry about the pasta right now.

The sauce all cooks in one big pot, starting with the ground beef and then adding the rest of the ingredients.

Raw ground beef cooking in a pot for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs.  The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.

Diced tomatoes added to ground beef cooking in a pot for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs.  The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.

Once the tomatoes, tomato paste, green chiles, minced garlic, chipotle peppers in adobo, Beef broth, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper are in the pot, stir and bring to a light boil. Then reduce the heat down to lowest setting, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Tomatoes, chiles, and ground beef cooking in a pot for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs.  The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.

While the sauce is simmering, you can toast the breadcrumbs.

When there is just 2-3 minutes left in the sauce cooking time, remove the cover and add the corn. Stir to combine. Then cover again. At the end of the 20 minutes, stir in the parmesan cheese.  

Corn kernels added to pot of ground beef and tomato-chile sauce for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs.  The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.

Spoon mixing parmesan cheese into pot of ground beef and tomato-chile sauce for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs.  The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.

Boil the pasta until al dente. Using a Pasta spoon or tongs, transfer the cooked pasta directly from the cooking water to the meat sauce. Gently toss to combine.

Pappardelle pasta being mixed into pot of ground beef and tomato-chile sauce for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs.  The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.

RECIPE FAQS

How far in advance can I make this?

The sauce can be made up to 5 days ahead and stored sealed in the refrigerator.

Can I freeze this sauce?

Yes, though I recommend freezing it without the pasta and adding fresh-cooked pasta when you thaw and reheat it.  To freeze the sauce, first cool it down in the fridge.  Then transfer the sauce to a freezer bag or storage container and seal it airtight.  It will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months.  To reheat, you can thaw in the fridge 24 hours ahead.  Then reheat it in a bot on the stove, covered, on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring often.

Can I use frozen corn kernels?

Yes, of course!  Just add them frozen to the sauce just as instructed for the fresh.  The frozen will thaw and warm in the same time the fresh will take to cook.

Can I substitute Ground Chicken or Turkey?

Yes, ground chicken or turkey can very easily be substituted into this recipe.  Cook according to the same instructions as the ground beef.

ENJOY!  😍 Carrie

Have you tried this recipe? If so, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star rating in the recipe below! I love to hear your feedback and your rating helps others to find this recipe. Thanks so much!

Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn

Get ready for BIG flavor with this Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef, Corn, and Green Chile-Chipotle-Tomato Sauce!  The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef and chunky tomatoes.  Then flavor bombs chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings are added to bring in the warmth and a slight kick of heat.  Corn kernels are added for a pop of sweet and texture, and grated Parmesan thickens up the sauce and adds creaminess.  Finally, Pappardelle is mixed in and is the perfect vehicle for carrying all of this goodness. You can make the sauce ahead and mix in the pasta right before serving for dinner on a busy weekend!  Your family will love it. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican, Southwestern
Keyword corn, ground beef, meat sauce, pasta, southwestern pasta
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author Carrie Tyler

Ingredients

Meat Sauce

  • 1 pound Lean Ground Beef I used 90% lean
  • 1 teaspoon Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 ounces Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 4 ounces Green Chiles
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons minced)
  • 1 tablespoon Chipotle Peppers in Adobo, minced
  • 2 cups Beef Broth
  • 1 tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 tablespoon Dried Oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper

Final Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Corn Cob or 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 12 ounces Fettuccine Pasta, uncooked
  • 1/2 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon Butter, salted

Instructions

Prep-Ahead Steps

  1. MEASURE. Open the cans of tomatoes, chiles, and paste. Mince the garlic cloves and the chipotle peppers. Measure out all ingredients and add to a bowl for adding to the cooked beef. Store ingredients in the fridge if doing this ahead of time.

  2. PREP CORN. Husk the corn and remove any corn silk. Using a large knife, cut the kernels from the cob. Last, using the back of the knife, scrape down the cob to remove any remaining kernels and the corn 'milk'. Save all corn removed in the fridge until ready to add to the sauce.

    Knife cutting corn kernels off cob for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs. The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.

Cooking Steps

  1. PASTA WATER. Fill a wide/large pot with 6-8 cups of water for the pasta. Heat on high to bring to a boil for dropping the pasta after the meat sauce is ready.

  2. COOK BEEF. Preheat a dutch oven or large and deep pot/pan on high heat. Add the olive oil and the ground beef. Break the beef up with a spatula and then let it cook, stirring every few minutes to break it up and brown on all sides. Should take about 8 minutes for all pink to be gone.

    Raw ground beef cooking in a pot for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs. The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.
  3. COOK SAUCE. Once the beef is cooked, add all of the other Meat Sauce Ingredients – tomatoes, tomato paste, green chiles, minced garlic, chipotle peppers in adobo, Beef broth, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir and bring to a light boil. Then reduce the heat down to lowest setting, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes.

    Tomatoes, chiles, and ground beef cooking in a pot for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs. The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.
  4. CORN & PARMESAN. When there is just 2-3 minutes left in the sauce cooking time, remove the cover and add the corn. Stir to combine. Then cover again. At the end of the 20 minutes, stir in the parmesan cheese.

    Spoon mixing parmesan cheese into pot of ground beef and tomato-chile sauce for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs. The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.
  5. PASTA. Once the pasta water is boiling (but no sooner than 5 minutes remaining on the meat sauce cooking time!), add a splash of Olive Oil and a pinch of salt. Add the pasta and stir so that it all is immersed in the water and doesn't stick it itself. Boil the pasta until al dente. Using a Pasta spoon or tongs, transfer the cooked pasta directly from the cooking water to the meat sauce. Gently toss to combine.

    Pappardelle pasta being mixed into pot of ground beef and tomato-chile sauce for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs. The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.
  6. BREADCRUMBS. Preheat a small pan on medium-low heat. Add the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Toast the breadcrumbs, stirring constantly, just until they start to brown.

    Breadcrumbs toasting in a pan for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs. The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.
  7. SERVE. Serve the Southwestern Beef and Corn Pasta on a platter or individual plates. Garnish with the breadcrumbs and parmesan. Enjoy!

    Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs on top on a plate with fork holding a bite. The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.

Easy Birria Tacos Recipe in the Slow Cooker

Four tacos fanned out on a plate for this Birria Tacos Recipe. Each taco has shredded beef and oaxaca cheese oozing out. On the plate is a bowl of red sauce, lime wedges, and cilantro.
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Four tacos fanned out on a plate for this Birria Tacos Recipe. Each taco has shredded beef and oaxaca cheese oozing out. On the plate is a bowl of red sauce, lime wedges, and cilantro.

This is the taco to end all tacos!  It’s like a taco meets an enchilada meets a philly cheesesteak sandwich meets a french dip.  This is my version of a Birria Tacos Recipe and if you like full flavor, ooey-gooey, cheesy deliciousness, then you need to try it!   Slow cooked shredded beef and Oaxaca cheese are melted together in corn tortillas in a pan.  Then all of that goodness is dipped into the most unbelievable ancho chile sauce for one delicious bite after another.  My version uses a slow cooker to cook the beef roast to melt-in-your-mouth perfection and blends the sauce right in a blender.  It’s super easy to toss the ingredients together and let the slow cooker do all the work!  

WHAT ARE BIRRIA TACOS?

First, let me say that I have come to know and love this delicious dish through local restaurants in my hometown of Hoboken, NJ.  I don’t have a personal history in my family with Birria.  However, here is what I’ve learned through my research.  Let’s start with Birria, before we move on to the tacos.  Birria is a traditional stew from Mexico that is flavored with chiles and a variety of spices and seasonings, along with goat or beef.  The chiles used are typically guajillo or ancho.  Ingredients include, but are not limited to, garlic, onion, cilantro, cumin, and thyme.  I added cinnamon, smoked paprika, oregano, and tomato sauce. 

Birria tacos are when you take the flavorful beef that’s cooked in the Birria stew and place it in a tortilla with cheese.  The best cheese to get that authentic Mexican melty goodness is Oaxaca cheese.  However, mozzarella works great as a melty substitute.  In fact, Oaxaca is made using the same pulling and stretching process as mozzarella which makes the texture so similar. 

The tortillas are dipped in the Birria sauce before being lightly cooked in a pan, which is how they get the red color. 

3 tacos fanned out on a plate with the 4th taco being dipped into sauce for this Birria Tacos Recipe. Each taco has shredded beef and oaxaca cheese oozing out. On the plate is a bowl of red sauce, lime wedges, and cilantro.

HOW IS THIS BIRRIA TACOS RECIPE DIFFERENT THAN THE TRADITIONAL?

My goal with every recipe is to make dinner easy and delicious.  So, for Birria, rather than cooking the beef stew in the oven or on the stove for hours, I have it cooking in the slow cooker where you can set it and forget it.

Birria tacos are often dipped into the Birria Consomme, which is the clarified liquid from the stew.  For this version, I have everything blended up for a thicker, smooth and amazing dipping sauce.  It ends up being more like a mole texture, so it coats each bite that you dip into it.  Yum!  If you like Mole, check out my Chicken Mole Enchiladas!

3 tacos fanned out on a plate with the 4th taco being dipped into sauce for this Birria Tacos Recipe. Each taco has shredded beef and oaxaca cheese oozing out. On the plate is a bowl of red sauce, lime wedges, and cilantro.

Quick note!  This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase from them.  This commission is what helps me keep this blog afloat :).  I also share these links because I have used the products, genuinely love them, and want you to know exactly what I used. 

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

I made the beef and sauce in a slow cooker. However, you could also make it in the oven in a dutch oven or small roasting pan with a lid.

Once the beef is cooked, you need a blender for blending the ingredients into a smooth and creamy sauce.

Next, to cook the tacos, you need a skillet/frying pan. I used my absolute favorite 12″ Ceramic Pan, which is great because food really does slide right off with minimal oil and I don’t have to worry about food sticking and burning. 

Finally, this is optional, but I used a large sheet pan to please the cooked tacos on and keep warm in the oven.

PREP-AHEAD STEPS FOR YOUR BIRRIA TACOS RECIPE

We are all extremely busy and making dinner during the week can be overwhelming. Here are steps you can prepare ahead to save time on busy nights! (See the full recipe below) 

You cook the beef and shred in advance up to 5 days or freeze it up to 5 months.  However, if you’re just looking to get ahead on the prep before cooking the beef, then you can dice the onions, rough chop the garlic, remove/discard the stems from the dried chiles and shake out the seeds. Discard the seeds and cut the chiles into 2-3 pieces each (will get pureed once cooked, so this is just to fit into slow cooker).  

Diced raw onion on cutting board for Birria Tacos.  This Birria Tacos Recipe in the Slow Cooker has shredded beef and Oaxaca cheese melted together in corn tortillas in a pan. 

Hand shaking seeds out of dried ancho chile for Birria Tacos. This Birria Tacos Recipe in the Slow Cooker has shredded beef and Oaxaca cheese melted together in corn tortillas in a pan. 

SLOW COOK THE BEEF

For this Birria Tacos Recipe recipe, I used a 3 pound boneless Beef Chuck Roast.  This is a pretty economical cut of meat that comes from the shoulder and is great for slow or long cooking methods.  It’s extremely flavorful and perfect for tender shredded beef recipes like these Birria Tacos.  See the below FAQs for other options if you don’t have chuck.

Beef Chuck Roast rolled and tied with butchers twine and seasoned with salt and pepper on a plate for Birria Tacos. This Birria Tacos Recipe in the Slow Cooker has shredded beef and Oaxaca cheese melted together in corn tortillas in a pan. 

Sear all sides of the beef first in a pan.  This is an optional step.  Preheat a frying pan or skillet on high heat. Season your chuck roast with salt and pepper to coat all sides. Add the beef to oil in a hot pan and sear for 2 minutes on each side to brown evenly.

Beef Chuck Roast seasoned with salt and pepper being placed in a hot pan with tongs for Birria Tacos. This Birria Tacos Recipe in the Slow Cooker has shredded beef and Oaxaca cheese melted together in corn tortillas in a pan. 

Pour 1 cup of the beef stock in the pan to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer the beef to the slow cooker and pour in the liquid from the pan.

To the slow cooker with the beef, add the onions, garlic, cilantro leaves, crushed tomatoes, chiles, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Pour in the rest of the beef stock until it reaches the top of the beef. Set the slow cooker to 8 or 10 hours, depending on your schedule.

Beef Chuck Roast in slow cooker with raw onions and seasonings added on top along with 2 bay leaves for Birria Tacos. This Birria Tacos Recipe in the Slow Cooker has shredded beef and Oaxaca cheese melted together in corn tortillas in a pan. 

Fork submerging beef chuck roast in fresh cilantro and seasoning filled broth for Birria Tacos. This Birria Tacos Recipe in the Slow Cooker has shredded beef and Oaxaca cheese melted together in corn tortillas in a pan. 

When the cooking time is done, transfer the beef using tongs to a platter or cutting board. Shred the beef with forks and discard any string that may have been tied around the roast. Transfer the beef to a bowl and set aside.

Tongs taking cooked beef chuck roast from the slow cooker for Birria Tacos. This Birria Tacos Recipe in the Slow Cooker has shredded beef and Oaxaca cheese melted together in corn tortillas in a pan. 

Two forks shredding beef chuck roast on a plate for Birria Tacos. This Birria Tacos Recipe in the Slow Cooker has shredded beef and Oaxaca cheese melted together in corn tortillas in a pan. 

MAKE THE SAUCE

Make sure to first fish out the bay leaves and discard them.  Then using a slotted spoon, scoop out all of the onions and ancho peppers and transfer to a blender. 

Spoon transfering peppers and onions from sauce the slow cooker to a blender for Birria Tacos. This Birria Tacos Recipe in the Slow Cooker has shredded beef and Oaxaca cheese melted together in corn tortillas in a pan. 

Blend the onions and the peppers until smooth. If needed, add 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid to the blender to help smooth it out. Once smooth, pour it back into the liquid in the slow cooker and stir to combine.

Spoon transfering peppers and onions from sauce the slow cooker to a blender for Birria Tacos. This Birria Tacos Recipe in the Slow Cooker has shredded beef and Oaxaca cheese melted together in corn tortillas in a pan. 

Birria Taco Sauce blended smooth in the blender for Birria Tacos. This Birria Tacos Recipe in the Slow Cooker has shredded beef and Oaxaca cheese melted together in corn tortillas in a pan. 

Birria Taco Sauce being poured from the blender to the slow cooker for Birria Tacos. This Birria Tacos Recipe in the Slow Cooker has shredded beef and Oaxaca cheese melted together in corn tortillas in a pan. 

Finally, pour 1/2 cup of this sauce over the beef and gently stir to mix through.

Pouring sauce over shredded beef chuck roast in a bowl for Birria Tacos. This Birria Tacos Recipe in the Slow Cooker has shredded beef and Oaxaca cheese melted together in corn tortillas in a pan. 

COOK THE TACOS

Preheat a large frying pan or skillet on the stove medium-high heat. Spray the pan with olive oil and then take 1 corn tortilla and dip it lightly into the sauce, then place it in the oiled hot pan. Sprinkle cheese evenly over the entire tortilla, then top half of the tortilla with the shredded beef.

Corn tortilla with oaxaca cheese all over and shredded beef only on half in a hot pan for this Birria Tacos Recipe. Each taco has shredded beef and oaxaca cheese oozing out. On the plate is a bowl of red sauce, lime wedges, and cilantro.

Using a spatula, gently fold over the cheese-only side of the tortilla over the beef side. With the spatula, transfer the folded taco to a sheet pan and keep in the oven at 300 F degrees as you assemble and cook the rest of the tacos, each taco getting transferred to the oven as finished.

Corn tortilla folded in half with shredded beef and oaxaca cheese inside in a hot pan for this Birria Tacos Recipe. Each taco has shredded beef and oaxaca cheese oozing out. On the plate is a bowl of red sauce, lime wedges, and cilantro.

Serve each taco with a small bowl of the dipping sauce.

Four tacos fanned out on a plate for this Birria Tacos Recipe. Each taco has shredded beef and oaxaca cheese oozing out. On the plate is a bowl of red sauce, lime wedges, and cilantro.

RECIPE FAQS

Are Ancho Chiles Spicy?

No, not in this recipe.  Dried ancho chiles are more smokey and peppery than spicy.  By way of comparison, ancho chiles measure up to about half of the scoville units vs. jalapenos.

What can I substitute for Ancho Chiles?

For this recipe, you really want smokey and peppery, but not spicy.  If you cannot find Ancho chiles, then look for dried Guajillo peppers.  If you cannot find any of these dried peppers, you could use Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, but go light, as they tend to be spicy.  Then supplement with another 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of ground Smoked Paprika.

Is there a cheese other than Oaxaca cheese?

The best cheese to get that authentic Mexican melty goodness is Oaxaca cheese.  You can find Oaxaca in the specialty cheese section of your grocery store.  However, if you cannot find it mozzarella works great as a melty substitute.  In fact, Oaxaca is made using the same pulling and stretching process as mozzarella which makes the texture so similar.  Do not, however, substitute Cotija cheese as it is a hard cheese is great for sprinkling on top of tacos, but does not melt the way that Oaxaca or Mozzarella do.  You could also use Jack cheese in a pinch!

Are there other cuts of beef I can use?

If you cannot find Chuck Roast, sometimes labeled as blade roast, arm roast, or pot roast, you can use tri-tip, top round, bottom round, or rump roast. 

What can I serve with this Birria Tacos Recipe?

These are pretty rich and indulgent, so I recommend to go with a lighter side dish.  A simple side salad with tomatoes and corn and a Vinaigrette or Roasted Cumin Carrots with Avocado Crema or even a Cilantro Lime Quinoa would all be perfect.  If you want more to bulk up the meal, you can also add Refried Black Beans!  

ENJOY!  😍 Carrie

Four tacos fanned out on a plate for this Birria Tacos Recipe. Each taco has shredded beef and oaxaca cheese oozing out. On the plate is a bowl of red sauce, lime wedges, and cilantro.

Have you tried this recipe? If so, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star rating in the recipe below! I love to hear your feedback and your rating helps others to find this recipe. Thanks so much!

Easy Birria Tacos Recipe in the Slow Cooker

This Birria Tacos Recipe is definitely one that you need to try!  Slow cooked shredded beef and Oaxaca cheese are melted together in corn tortillas in a pan.  Then all of that goodness is dipped into the most unbelievable ancho chile sauce for one delicious bite after another.  My version uses a slow cooker to cook the beef roast to melt-in-your-mouth perfection and blends the sauce right in a blender.  It's super easy to toss the ingredients together and let the slow cooker do all the work!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword beef tacos, birria recipe, birria tacos, tacos
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours 45 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author Carrie Tyler

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds chuck roast
  • 2 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 2 Yellow onions
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 Dried Ancho chiles
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Smoked Paprika (or Ground Chipotle Pepper)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dried thyme (ground or whole)
  • 1 tablespoons Dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons Ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves
  • 8 ounces Tomato sauce
  • 4-5 cups Beef stock
  • 18 Corn Tortillas, 6 inch
  • 20 ounces Oaxaca cheese, shredded (mozzarella is a good substitute)

Instructions

Prep-Ahead Steps

  1. Dice the onions, rough chop the garlic, remove/discard the stems from the dried chiles and shake out the seeds. Discard the seeds and cut the chiles into 2-3 pieces each (will get pureed once cooked, so this is just to fit into slow cooker).

    Hand shaking seeds out of dried ancho chile for Birria Tacos. This Birria Tacos Recipe in the Slow Cooker has shredded beef and Oaxaca cheese melted together in corn tortillas in a pan. 

Cook Beef

  1. SEAR BEEF. Preheat a frying pan or skillet on high heat. Season your chuck roast with salt, and pepper to coat all sides. Drizzle the olive oil in the hot pan and add the beef and sear for 2 minutes on each side to brown evenly. On the final side, pour 1 cup of the beef stock in the pan to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer the beef to the slow cooker and pour in the liquid from the pan.

    Beef Chuck Roast seasoned with salt and pepper being placed in a hot pan with tongs for Birria Tacos. This Birria Tacos Recipe in the Slow Cooker has shredded beef and Oaxaca cheese melted together in corn tortillas in a pan. 
  2. SLOW COOKER. To the slow cooker with the beef, add the onions, garlic, cilantro leaves, crushed tomatoes, chiles, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Then add the beef. Pour in the rest of the beef stock until it reaches the top of the beef. Set the slow cooker to 8 or 10 hours, depending on your schedule.

    Fork submerging beef chuck roast in fresh cilantro and seasoning filled broth for Birria Tacos. This Birria Tacos Recipe in the Slow Cooker has shredded beef and Oaxaca cheese melted together in corn tortillas in a pan. 
  3. SHRED BEEF. When the cooking time is done, transfer the beef using tongs to a platter or cutting board. Shred the beef with forks and discard any string that may have been tied around the roast. Transfer the beef to a bowl and set aside.

    Two forks shredding beef chuck roast on a plate for Birria Tacos. This Birria Tacos Recipe in the Slow Cooker has shredded beef and Oaxaca cheese melted together in corn tortillas in a pan. 
  4. BLEND SAUCE. Fish out the bay leaves and discard. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out all of the onions and ancho peppers and transfer to a blender. (alternatively, you could strain the liquid into another bowl, add then add onions and peppers to the blender.) Blend the onions and the peppers until smooth. If needed, add 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid to the blender to help smooth it out. Once smooth, pour it back into the liquid in the slow cooker and stir to combine. Finally, pour 1/2 cup of this sauce over the beef and gently stir to mix through.

    Birria Taco Sauce blended smooth in the blender for Birria Tacos. This Birria Tacos Recipe in the Slow Cooker has shredded beef and Oaxaca cheese melted together in corn tortillas in a pan. 

Make the Birria Tacos

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 F degrees. Preheat a large frying pan or skillet on the stove medium-high heat. Spray the pan with olive oil and then take 1 corn tortilla and dip it lightly into the sauce, then place it in the oiled hot pan. Sprinkle cheese evenly over the entire tortilla, then top half of the tortilla with the shredded beef.

    Corn tortilla with oaxaca cheese all over and shredded beef only on half in a hot pan for this Birria Tacos Recipe. Each taco has shredded beef and oaxaca cheese oozing out. On the plate is a bowl of red sauce, lime wedges, and cilantro.
  2. Using a spatula, gently fold over the cheese-only side of the tortilla over the beef side. With the spatula, transfer the folded taco to a sheet pan and keep in the oven as you assemble and cook the rest of the tacos, each taco getting transferred to the oven as finished.

    Corn tortilla folded in half with shredded beef and oaxaca cheese inside in a hot pan for this Birria Tacos Recipe. Each taco has shredded beef and oaxaca cheese oozing out. On the plate is a bowl of red sauce, lime wedges, and cilantro.
  3. Serve each taco with a small bowl of the dipping sauce.

    3 tacos fanned out on a plate with the 4th taco being dipped into sauce for this Birria Tacos Recipe. Each taco has shredded beef and oaxaca cheese oozing out. On the plate is a bowl of red sauce, lime wedges, and cilantro.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

  1. Beef substitutes – 
  2. Garnishes – You can garnish the dipping sauce and the tacos with fresh cilantro, diced onions, radishes, or roasted corn.