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If you’ve never had quesabirria (also known as birria tacos) you’re in for a treat! Quesabirria are a traditional Mexican dish that are all the rage right now. After just one bite of these savory tacos you will see why!
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I first tried Quesabirria in Disneyland at the Cocina Cucamonga restaurant in Disney’s California Adventure. The flavors, the tender meat, the dipping sauce blew me away! The birria stew with tender meat in a flavorful beef broth, is chock full of flavor. Combine that with melty cheese, cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice and you have a tasty twist on regular tacos. They’re just as easy to throw together as regular tacos, and will quickly become one of your favorite taco recipes of all time.The best part: this recipe is ready in less than an hour!
Ingredients in Quesabirria Tacos
Here is a basic list of the ingredients you will need to make birria tacos. We’ll dive into each of these ingredients in more detail below.
- Beef birria – one recipe of this rich beef is the centerpiece for these tacos. You can use leftover birria meat for nachos, soups, etc.
- Corn tortillas – this recipe makes a dozen tacos, so start with at least 12.
- Oaxaca cheese – about 24 ounces, shredded. Substitute monterey jack, mozzarella, colby jack or a Mexican blend.
- White onions – these are optional, but a cup of diced white onions will give the tacos mild, slightly sweet flavor and more texture.
- Limes – you’ll need the juice of about 4-5 limes, or some bottled lime juice.
- Cilantro – one bunch fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish.
The Birria Meat
The secret to the perfect Birria meat is to make it fall apart tender. I used a big pot of this beef birria (birria de res) recipe to make these beef birria tacos. Birria is a type of Mexican stew or chili made with tender chunks of meat. Traditionally it is made with lamb or goat meat but here in the U.S. it is more commonly made with beef. I used a beef chuck roast and seasoned it with a tablespoon of salt before braising in a broth sauce infused with a blend or spices for hours until fall-apart tender. Short ribs or any kind of stew meat will work great for this recipe. You can also toss in garlic cloves, a bay leaf, whole cloves, even a cinnamon stick for extra flavor.
What Cheese to Use for Quesabirria Tacos
Use Oaxaca cheese, it is a great melting cheese. If you can’t find that in your grocery store, Mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese is a great substitute. Avoid using pre-shredded mozzarella though; it doesn’t melt as well as a block that you shred yourself.
Preparing the Tortillas
Soften the corn tortillas on a griddle or a frying pan just for a few moments until they’re warm and soft. This is an important step, otherwise the tortillas will fall apart when you try to fry them later. Soften first, then dip completely in the sauce.
These tacos are show-stoppers all on their own, but for extra flair, add chopped white onion, cilantro, and fresh lime wedges to the top. I like to squeeze the limes over everything but especially over the dipping sauce.
Quesabirria Dipping Sauce (Birria Consomme)
The sauce is created when you make the birria. It is part of the birria. When you remove the beef from the sauce, what remains is the birria sauce. The sauce is made from dried chiles (chile de arbol, guajillo peppers, ancho chiles, and any other chiles you like. You can use chipotle peppers or chiles in adobo sauce. Use flavors you love!) Spices and seasonings such as garlic, cumin, cinnamon, Mexican oregano, black pepper, onions, and tomatoes are also used. If you want a smooth texture, use a blender to get it just the way you want.
How to Make Quesabirria Tacos
Follow these simple steps and you’ll have a plate full of tantalizing tacos! Some of the steps take a little bit of time, but trust me, the finished product is worth every minute.
- First, make the Birria. Braise the birria in a large Dutch oven, then let the meat cook low and slow in the spice-infused liquid. You can also cook the meat in a slow cooker.
- Next, separate the birria from the sauce. Once the meat is tender, take the meat out of the sauce and set aside. The sauce is automatically done once the birria is cooked. Makes it so easy!
- Then, shred the birria – Use a fork to shred the beef. It should fall apart easily. This shredded beef will be your taco filling. Set the sauce aside.
- Prepare the tortillas by softening them on a griddle for a few minutes, then dipping them in the sauce.
- Add the meat and cheese to the tortillas, fold in half.
- Fry the tacos on the griddle, flipping over once the side is golden brown.
- Garnish with onions, cilantro and lime juice and serve with with the extra dipping sauce in a small bowl for your guests to enjoy.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Keep leftovers in airtight containers, reheating in the air fryer when you’re ready to enjoy a delicious leftover lunch. Store leftover tacos in the refrigerator. They’re terrific for lunch the next day! The best way to reheat the leftovers is using the air fryer. Air fry at 375 for 8 minutes. No air fryer? Reheat in a pan until over medium heat until cheese melts. Microwaving will make the shells soft and you will lose the crisp shell.
The delicious meat is stewed with chilis and veggies, then shredded and added to tortillas alongside onions, cheese and cilantro. The sauce is so unique, slightly spicy and sweet. You’ll love it!
Both titles/labels/names are used interchangeably. If you want to split hairs, quesabirria tacos are folded over and fried on a griddle or pan like a quesadilla. Technically, for a birria taco, the ingredients are served more as a taco. The meat and cheese are put in a softened shell and not fried in a pan. It is served simply like a taco. When you order birria tacos they usually prepare it as a “quesabirria taco”. When you say “birria taco” it is assumed you still want it cooked in that fashion.
The word itself is a compound word using queso (cheese) and birria (traditional Mexican stew).
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What To Serve with Quesabirra Tacos
- 1 non-stick skillet (or griddle)
- Prepare beef birria according to the recipe in the link above.
- Separate the beef from the consommé when the birria is finished cooking. Shred the beef and place in a separate bowl. Gently stir in about 1 cup of the consommé into the beef to keep it from drying out. Cover the shredded birria and set aside. Keep the remaining sauce in the Dutch oven.
- Soften the corn tortillas on a hot griddle or in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat (about 15-20 seconds on each side or until softened). Dip each tortilla in the remaining consommé, coating each side of the tortilla. Reserve remaining sauce for dipping. You will notice that there is a layer of shimmery oil over the top of the consommé/broth. Try to lay the tortillas on top of that layer so you get a little of that oil on each tortilla. This will help you achieve that crispy outer layer.
- Prepare a space near the griddle or stove top to prepare the birria tacos. Place about ⅓ cup of cheese, ¼ cup of beef, and a pinch or chopped onion (optional) on each dipped tortilla.Fold the tortilla over the beef and press flat with the back of a spatula. Place each birria taco on a griddle or in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat.
- Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side or until each side becomes slightly crispy and cheese is melted.
- Place tacos on a platter and garnish with limes, cilantro and green onion. Serve remaining birria sauce in small bowls, squeeze lime juice over the top of the sauce and garnish with cilantro. Serve the sauce alongside the quesabirria tacos for dipping.
- Store leftover tacos in the refrigerator. They’re terrific for lunch the next day!
- The best way to reheat the leftovers is using the air fryer. Air fry at 375 for 8 minutes.
- No air fryer? Reheat in a pan until over medium heat until cheese melts. Microwaving will make the shells soft and you will lose the crisp shell.
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