Birria is a traditional Mexican stew with a mouthwatering depth of flavor that will keep you coming back for more. Toasted chilis, garlic, and bay leaf create a complex simmering sauce for the meat so that every bite is full of all those flavors. The instant pot is great for this—taste all the love, in half the time.
Birria by Request
I have to thank my LPK community for this request. Living in California, I am familiar with (and very into eating) traditional Mexican food, but I hadn’t heard of Birria until I started getting requests for it. Now I am hooked—and with the instant pot, it might just be love.
Extra magic happens when you toast the dried chilis to wake up their flavor. This step is worth it. And now that I’m getting to know the settings on my IP, I don’t have to get an extra pan dirty. And the IP doesn’t make the kitchen hot! I can get the most amazing bowl of stew I’ve ever had—and I don’t have to stand at the stove all day. Delicious.
As if this bowl weren’t flavorful enough, we are going to top it off with fresh garnishes. Salsa, sour cream, and a squeeze of lime add more flavor and contrast. These toppings taste like summer to me, and I love that I can have my comforting “winter” stew and brighten it up for warmer weather.
This is a new favorite. So thank you, friends, this Birria is for you! – Linds x
What is Birria?
Birria is a stew from Central Mexico, made by slow-cooking meat, along with chili peppers and spices.
What Meat to Use for Birria?
Traditionally goat meat was used to make birria. Nowadays you’ll most often see a combination of beef and lamb. I like using beef only, as it’s easiest to find.
What is Birria Sauce Made of?
A. Lot. Of. Spices. That’s what brings all the depth of flavor to our birria consomé. Here’s what you’ll need!
- Ancho chiles – these are dried poblano chili peppers.
- Guajillo chiles – these are about as spicy as a jalapeno.
- Chipotle pepper – this is what really brings the heat to our sauce. If you want more spice, feel free to add more. Or skip if you’d like to take it down a notch.
- Boiling water – to rehydrate the chiles and pepper.
- Onion + tomato
- Spices: peppercorns, cloves, thyme, marjoram, oregano, bay leaves, cumin, cinnamon, garlic powder, and salt.
- Sugar or erythritol – the spices and tomatoes can make the sauce bitter. Adding a touch of sugar or your favorite sugar substitute (mine is erythritol) rounds this out.
- Apple cider vinegar
Is birria spicy?
This is always tricky because everyone has a different tolerance for spice. For me? YES. For my Dad? Too spicy to eat. For my husband? Kinda. So if I had to summarize: I’d say it’s got quite a kick to it.
To make birria less spicy, skip the chipotle pepper. To make it spicier, add another half (or even a whole) chipotle pepper.
Why is my birria bitter?
The toasted spices and the tomatoes need to be cut with something sweet to prevent the birria from tasting bitter. So don’t skip the sugar or sugar substitute!
How to Make Instant Pot Birria
1. Pat dry and generously season meat.
2. Use scissors to cut the top off the dried chiles and pepper. Remove all seeds.
3. Add half the oil to IP and press saute. Once it reads “hot” toast the chiles and chipotle pepper. Toast until they start to soften.
4. Place in a blender, and pour boiling water over the top. Make sure they’re fully submerged.
5. Add the remaining oil to the IP, and saute the tomatoes and onions.
6. Add spices and toast until they’re fragrant.
7. Add to the blender, along with the remaining sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the sauce to your liking.
8. Strain sauce into a bowl using a fine-mesh strainer.
9. Add strained liquid to the pressure cooker. Nestle the meat into it. Pressure cook on high pressure for 45 minutes.
10. Remove and check that it’s fork tender. Shred beef using 2 forks.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place meat and sauce in a large dutch oven. Cover with the lid and cook for 2 hours – you’ll know it’s done once the meat shreds easily.
How to Serve
- Birria tacos – just add the shredded meat to the inside of a toasted or grilled corn tortilla. Top with diced onions and cilantro. Birria tacos instant pot is one of our fave easy dinners.
- As a Mexican beef stew in a bowl with plenty of cooking juice ladled over the top. Again, don’t forget the onion and cilantro.
How to make Quesabirria tacos:
Quesabirria tacos became super popular on social media, and for good reason. They’re incredible. To make them:
- Dip corn tortillas in the birria consomé.
- Heat up a large nonstick. Once it’s hot, add the tortillas.
- Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of Monterrey jack cheese on the tortilla. It’s a good thing if the cheese spills a little over the edges (it’ll get nice and crispy!).
- Once the cheese starts to melt, spread about 1/4 cup of meat evenly over the top of the cheese.
- Fold the tortillas in half and sear until the meat is heated, the cheese has melted, and the tortillas are seared and crispy on each side.
- Serve with diced onion, cilantro, and a side of warmed consomé.
More Mexican Food Faves
- Mexican Cauliflower Rice
- Zucchini Nachos
- Salsa Verde Stuffed Peppers without Rice
- Zucchini Enchiladas
- Mexican Chicken Salad
Instant Pot BirriaPrint Recipe Pin Recipe
Meat + Seasoning:
- 3-4 pounds Chuck roast cut into 3-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Pepper
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
- 1/4 Cup Vegetable or Avocado Oil divided (note 1)
- 4 Dried Ancho Chiles tops and seeds removed (note 2)
- 4 Dried Guajillo Chiles tops and seeds removed (note 2)
- 1 Chipotle Pepper tops and seeds removed (note 2)
- 3 Cups Boiling Water
- 1 Yellow Onion diced
- 4 Tomatoes on the vine diced
- 8 Peppercorns
- 2 cloves
- 1 Teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 Teaspoon Marjoram
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 2 -3 Teaspoons Salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon Sugar or erythritol
- 1/4 cup Apple cider vinegar
- cilantro chopped
- white onion diced
- lime wedges
- In a small bowl combine the salt (1 1/2 tablespoons), pepper (1 tablespoon), and cumin (1 teaspoon). Dab meat completely dry with paper towels, then sprinkle with seasoning on all sides and press to adhere.
- Turn the IP to saute, and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once the IP says "hot", add the ancho chilis (4), guajillo chilis (4), and chipotle pepper (1). Saute in the hot oil for about 3 minutes - they should just slightly start to soften. The IP gets HOT! So be sure to stir constantly.
- Place toasted chilies and pepper in your blender, and pour the boiling water over the top. Press the tops of these down to ensure they're fully submerged, and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add 2 remaining tablespoons of oil to the IP. Once the screen says "hot", add the onions (1), and saute until they begin to soften and turn golden. Add the tomatoes (4) and toss to combine. Add all the spices (peppercorns , cloves , thyme [1 teaspoon], Marjoram [1 teaspoon], oregano [1 teaspoon], bay leaves , cumin [1/2 teaspoon], ginger, cinnamon [1 teaspoon], and garlic powder [1 teaspoon]). Continue to stir as they become fragrant, about 2 minutes. Press "cancel" on the IP.
- Add sauteed onions, tomatoes, and spices to the blender with the chilis. Add the salt (start with 2 teaspoons), sugar (1/2 teaspoon), and apple cider vinegar (1/4 cup). Blend until completely smooth. Taste and adjust the sauce to your liking, I always add an additional teaspoon of salt here.
- Pour sauce into the IP, and nestle the meat in it. Secure the lid, and press pressure cook - make sure it's set to "high", and that the pressure release valve is set to "sealing". Cook for 45 minutes. Once the meat is done cooking, turn the pressure release valve to "venting". Once the pin drops, remove the lid. Check the meat, it should shred easily using 2 forks, if not, feel free to cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.
- Remove the meat. Once cool enough to handle, shred using 2 forks.
- Serve as a stew in a bowl, with the consomé ladled on top. Or in a tortilla, with a side of consomé. Top with cilantro, white onions and lime wedges. Enjoy!
Fans Also Made These Low Carb Recipes:
- Chilis - I struggle to find these at the store, so I bought them on Amazon (links to what I used in the ingredients above)
- Oil - any oil with a high smoke point and mild flavor will do here.
- Removing chili seeds - I like to do this with kitchen scissors.