Make one of our favorite dishes, Birria Quesadillas, the latest flavor packed Mexican food trend you don't want to miss. We love pairing this spiced shredded beef with Oaxaca cheese and corn tortillas to make a Birria quesatacos.
You will love making this quesadillas de birria all year long but particularly for Cinco de Mayo celebrations. It's a unique dish that everyone will love. You'll have to prepare in advance to make sure you cook the meat just right.
Below is a list of ingredients and why they add to this recipe. Be sure to look at our substitutions and variations to help adjust to your needs. Learn more about these tasty peppers like chile Puya.
- Chuck roast- We love how tender this meat becomes and pairs great with the spices and flavors. This fatty meat gives it a rich flavor.
- Bone-in beef short ribs-This adds a rich added flavor on top of the already tender chick roast.
- White onion- A sweet milder onion than yellow or red onion.
- Roma tomatoes- Great for making stews, sauce, and pastes which gives a base to this dish.
- Guajillo chilis, Pasilla chilis- A unique flavor that will make this quesadilla meat taste just like you've had at your favorite Mexican Restaurant.
- Minced garlic- While you can use garlic powder, minced garlic gives it a deeper flavor.
- Cumin- A classic taco spice that pairs nicely with garlic and meat.
- Black peppercorns-For added spice, you can use freshly ground pepper as well.
- Oregano, and Thyme- This herbs are historically found in Mexican dishes.
- Apple cider vinegar- An acidic base, perfect for making a brine for the meat.
- Beef bouillon- A great way to enhance the flavor of the beef.
- Bay leaves- A subtle taste to add to the flavor palate of the dish.
- Corn tortillas- While flour tortillas will work, corn tortillas will give you the taste you are looking for.
- Oaxaca cheese- A cheese with a texture like of mozzarella and a similar taste to Monterey Jack.
- Cilantro- A great garnish for the top of the quesadilla. You can omit this ingredient if you don't like it.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make Birria Quesadillas
Follow these step by step instructions for the best results. Use the pictures to help with texture and look.
- Deseed the chili peppers, you may want to wear gloves when you do this.
2. Add cut roma tomatoes and white onions to the a large stock pot and cook in oil.
3. Next add in the apple cider vinegar, chilis,spices and water until the vegetables are covered. Boil for 15 minutes.
4. Blend the sauce and vegetables in a high speed blender. Add the chuck roast to the pot and pour the sauce over the top until it is covered. Simmer, covered, for 2 hours.
5. Once the meat is cooked assemble the quesadillas with the Oaxaca cheese, cilantro, and meat on a corn tortilla.
6. Cook in a skillet until golden brown on each side and cheese is melted.
Hint: If you want to simmer the meat longer than 2 hours, make sure you add a ½ cup of liquid for every hour you add on.
Substitutions and Variations
Though we don't recommend substituting some of the key spices to this dish, feel free to make some necessary changes according to dietary preferences.
- Chicken - chicken birria can be made instead of chuck roast by using 4 pounds bone-in skinless chicken thighs.
- Ancho Peppers - you can use ancho peppers instead of pasilla peppers. They give a similar heat.
- Arbol Peppers - For an even spicier heat and flavor profile, use Arbol Peppers instead of Pasilla peppers.
- Guajillo Peppers - Do not subistute these peppers. They give the classic taste of birria.
- Mozzarella Cheese-Though different in flavor, the texture of mozzarella cheese is similar to Oaxaca cheese and can be substituted at a 1:1 ratio. Monterey Jack cheese may also be used.
You can easily make this in an instant pot instead of on the stovetop. It allows you to make the meat in half the time.
Place all of the ingredients for the Birria Meat into a large instant pot. (De-seed and de-stem the chilis!) Pressure cook on high for 45 minutes. Naturally release the pressure, about 30 minutes. You don't want to quick release the steam or it won't be cooked properly.
Remove the meat and shred. After removing the bay leaves blend the juices and vegetables in a high speed blender until smooth. Strain the juices from the pulp to use for dipping.
How to Serve
Learn From Us
We fell in love with this recipe the first time we made it, but boy did it take a long time to make. Because this recipe takes time and effort to put together every time we make it, we double or even triple the recipe. Then, we freeze the extra meat to use for quesadillas, tacos, pizza, and in a month or two.
Storing Quesadillas de Birria
Store cooked and assembled Birria quesadillas in an air tight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can store the Birria Meat and liquid in the refrigerator for 3 days. When ready to eat, reheat in the microwave or stove top and assemble quesadillas.
The meat can easily be frozen. Freeze the meat and sauce separately and thaw in the refrigerator overnight when ready to use. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Be sure to plan ahead when making this meal. Though not complicated, it takes time for the meat to cook in order to get that tender juicy texture and taste. You don't want to rush any step.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
These are our favorite dishes to serve with Birria Quesadillas:
For the Birria Meat
- 2 pounds chuck roast
- 1 pound bone-in beef short ribs about 2
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ white onion chopped in fourths
- 2 roma tomatoes
- 3 dried guajillo chilis
- 2 dried pasilla chilis
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic or 4 whole cloves, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns or freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoons beef bouillon
- 2 bay leaves
- 16 corn tortillas
- Oaxaca cheese
- 1 bunch cilantro
- ½ chopped onion
For the Birria Meat:
- Trim tops off of chilis and slice open and remove seeds, this is most easily done with kitchen shears. May use your hands to peel apart, if desired. If you like things spicy, feel free to leave in all or part of the seeds. Use gloves if desired.3 dried guajillo chilis, 2 dried pasilla chilis
- Place oil in a large heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add onions and tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and all spices except for bay leaf. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add apple cider vinegar, chilis and 3-4 cups of water, until vegetables are covered. The chilis float, so don't worry about covering them. Boil for 15 minutes.½ white onion, 2 roma tomatoes, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, ½ teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Place the pot of liquid and vegetables in a blender and blend on high until as smooth as possible, 1-2 minutes. Run through a sieve or fine mesh strainer back into the pot. Add another 3-4 cups of water, just making sure the meat is covered. I like to add the water to the blender and swirl it around to rinse off the edges before pouring it in. See photos above for a great visual on these steps.
- Add the meat, beef bouillon and 2 bay leaves into the pot. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and cover and simmer for 2 or more hours. Check the meat for tenderness before use. For every hour cooking beyond 2, add an extra half cup of liquid.2 pounds chuck roast, 1 pound bone-in beef short ribs, 1 ½ teaspoons beef bouillon, 2 bay leaves
To Assemble the Quesadillas
- Remove and shred the beef. Place the sauce in a bowl to use for dipping while making the quesadillas.
- Heat a fry pan over medium heat, and add a little oil to keep the quesadillas from sticking.2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- Dip a tortilla in the sauce, and place on the fry pan, place a little cheese on half of the tortilla. Place beef, cilantro and a few onions on top of the cheese, then top with a little more cheese and close the tortilla.16 corn tortillas, Oaxaca cheese, 1 bunch cilantro, ½ chopped onion
- Cook until each side is a little crisp and the cheese has melted, around 1-2 minutes per side. Brush on a little more sauce on the outside of the tortilla. Serve and enjoy!
- The bone-in short ribs are for extra flavor. It is also fine to just use about 2.5- 3 pounds (total) beef chuck roast.
- dried chilis can be found on Amazon or at your local Latin Market for MUCH less money.
- feel free to use ancho peppers instead of pasilla for a similar heat, or arbol for a hotter flavor profile.
- Do not subsitute the guajillo peppers! They are necessary for the classic birria flavor.
- for chicken: use 4 pounds bone-in skinless chicken thighs. Cook chicken until tender, around 30 minutes. Remove bones and shred, then make as directed above.
- Make ahead: Make the meat up to 4 days in advance of use. Store in the refrigerator with the meat in the liquid.
- To Freeze: Freeze the meat and liquid separately in air tight containers for up to 3 months.
- To make in the instant pot: place all Birria Meat ingredients into a large instant pot. Pressure Cook on high for 45 minutes, then allow it to have a natural release (about 30 minutes). Remove meat and shred. Remove bay leaves and blend other ingredients together in a high speed blender. Run through a sieve and use the leftover juice as consome for dipping. Assemble as directed above.
- This recipe can be made to make Birria Tacos. Follow the instructions the same as for the quesadillas but instead of putting on the cheese twice, only add it once. This will give you the taco filling you love.
The dish is typically served with a side of consomme, which is a broth made from the meat's cooking juices.The consomme is perfect for dipping the quesadilla and adding an extra layer of flavor to the already delicious dish.
The best flavor and texture for this recipe is Oaxaca cheese. Use Mozzarella cheese in a pinch.
To get a tender meat, it takes 2 plus hours to cook.
Birria is pronounce Bee Ree Ah.
Birria Tacos are a delicious Mexican taco originating from Jalisco, MX. Meat is cooked and simmered for hours in a flavorful broth, creating tender and delicious meat. The tacos are made by dipping the tortillas in the consome, then pan frying with meat, cheese, onions and cilantro. Tacos may also be dipped in consome when served.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove