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.
Jump to Recipe
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.