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Instant Pot Birria

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Beef Birria cooked in the Instant Pot in less than half the time for a juicy tender meat. Use the delicious meat to make the popular QuesaBirria Tacos which combines a Birria taco and a Quesadilla.

Overhead view of 3 tacos on a round plate with a side of cilantro and onion.

After some research, I learned that birria originated in the state of Jalisco, just south of Guadalajara. My husband is from Guadalajara, and didn’t know this, so I taught him something!

Birria is commonly served for parties and weddings in Mexico. It’s traditionally made with goat meat and cooked low and slow until the meat is tender.

We’re going to modernize this recipe and use beef and cook it in the instant pot for a fraction of the time. I promise, it’ll be just as good.

How to Make the Sauce

What sets Birria apart from Barbacoa is the sauce. In this recipe I’m using, tomatoes, garlic cloves, guajillo chiles, ancho chiles, Mexican oregano, whole clove, cumin seeds, a cinnamon stick, and bay leaves.

Sliced roma tomatoes, spices in a bowl, and garlic cloves.

This sauce is not spicy, if you want some heat, add a few chile de arbol peppers or just serve with a side of salsa.

The dried chiles need to be rehydrated before we can blend them for the sauce. Remove the stems and shake out most of the seeds. Then boil them in a small pot with water for 5 minutes.

5 Dried peppers on a cutting board.

Add everything to a high speed blender, along with the rehydrated chili’s, salt, and water. Blend until smooth, and taste for seasoning. Add more salt if needed. After the sauce is blended, strain it to ensure all the seeds and pulp get removed.

Ingredients in blender for birria sauce.

What Kind of Meat to Use

This recipe is a modern take on traditional birria, and I’m using a combination of Chuck Roast, because it has beautiful marbling, and some beef bones.

Raw beef and bones on a cutting board.

If you can’t get beef bones, then use chuck roast with some short ribs, or use beef shank (chamorro de res). Season meat generously with salt and pepper on all sides. Sear it on high heat to develop more flavor in the meat and broth.

The amount of beef will depend on how many servings you need. My chuck roast was on the smaller side, just under 3 pounds, but it was enough for about 12 good size tacos.

How to Cook Birria in the Instant Pot

Add the browned meat including any bones to the instant pot.

Seared beef pieces inside instant pot.

Then we’re going to strain the blended sauce directly over the pot. It helps if you use a spatula or spoon to press down on the sauce. Keep working it until you are left with just the pulp and seeds.

Red sauce in a strainer with a spatula.

The add 1 cup of water to the pot. Move the meat around to try and get it in an even layer. If all the meat isn’t covered, add more water. I ended up using 2 cups total. You don’t want too much liquid since that will dilute the broth or consomé.

Make sure the pressure valve is on ‘sealing’ and set the instant pot to manual, high pressure. The cook time will depend on the amount of meat you’re using.

Here’s a guide: 3 pounds= 50 minutes, then add 5 min extra per 1 pound of meat. 4lbs= 55 minutes and 5lbs= 60 minutes.

Once the timer goes off, quick release the pressure carefully over an open area. I do this over my hood and use a wooden spoon to carefully move the pressure valve over to venting.

Shredded beef in a glass dish with tongs.

The meat should be very tender, if it isn’t then cook it for another 5-10 minutes. Keep the meat warm, (keep warm) setting in the instant pot if you don’t plan on eating it right away.

Stovetop and Slow Cooker Methods

While my preferred method of cooking any type of tough meat is a pressure cooker, you can get similar results on the stove top or in a slow cooker.

To make Birria in the Slow Cooker, follow the same steps for the sauce and sear the beef on the stove in a skillet. Then place the beef, sauce, and just enough water to cover the meat in a slow cooker. Set the timer to low for 8 hours.

For the stove top, use a heavy pot like a dutch oven and sear the beef in batches, then place it back into the pot with sauce, and just enough water to cover the meat. Place the lid on the pot and bring to a boil.

Remove lid, stir, place lid back on and reduce heat to low. You want a gentle simmer, not a rapid boil. This method can take 3-4 hours for the meat to be tender. Check on the meat and stir every 30 minutes or so.

QuesaBirria Tacos

QuesaBirria Tacos have become very popular, you can find them on food trucks and taco stands all over. You’re going to need corn tortillas and a good melting cheese to make the quesabirria taco.

Once the birria meat is done, remove it from the broth and place in a separate container to shred. Use a knife to chop the beef or 2 forks to shred. Leave the cooking liquid or consomé in the pot close by.

3 quesabirria tacos without toppings on a plate.

Shred your cheese, I prefer Oaxaca cheese or Monterey Jack. Heat a non-stick skillet or comal over medium high heat.

Get a corn tortilla, dip it all the way into the birria broth and place it on the hot skillet. Add cheese, birria meat, and extra broth. Fold it over in half to make the quesadilla taco.

Quesabirria tacos on a plate with onion and cilantro garnish.

Allow each side to brown and the cheese to melt. This takes a couple minutes. Serve with chopped white onion, cilantro, limes, and extra consomé on the side for dipping.

Storing and Serving

Store leftover cooked birria with its broth in the refrigerator up to 4 days or freeze portions in a zip top bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Make sure there is some broth in the meat. Freeze extra broth in a separate bag. Don’t toss it!

Serve birria with rice and beans or ensalada de nopales for an authentic Mexican meal. For extra spice add some chile de árbol salsa.

You can even serve it with ramen for Birria ramen. This shredded beef is so versatile!

Three birria tacos on a white plate.

Instant Pot Birria

Renee
Beef Birria cooked in the instant pot for a tender and juicy meat. Then use the birria for a cheesy and crispy QuesaBirria Taco.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 12 Tacos

Equipment

  • Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot

Ingredients
  

Beef Birria

QuesaBirria Tacos

  • 12 Corn Tortillas
  • 8 ounces Oaxaca Cheese Shredded
  • Chopped White Onion and Cilantro for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Remove the chuck roast and season it with salt and pepper generously on each side, then cut into large chunks.
  • Remove stems from guajillo and ancho chiles and shake out most of the seeds.
  • Place the dried chiles in a small pot with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave the lid on the pot while you prep the other ingredients.
  • In a blender add roma tomatoes, garlic cloves, oregano, cumin seeds, whole cloves, cinnamon stick, salt, and 1 bay leaf (save the other one). Use a slotted spoon to remove the softened chiles and add them to the blender along with 1 cup of new water.
    Don't use the water from the dried chiles. Blend until a smooth sauce forms. Taste to see if additional salt is needed. Leave sauce in blender until next step.
  • Turn instant pot to saute (high). Add oil and begin searing each piece of meat. Do this in batches to prevent overcrowding the pot. Once all the meat is browned, turn off the instant pot and add all the pieces back to the pot. If you are using any beef bones add them now.
  • Place a strainer directly over the instant pot and pour in the blended sauce. Use a flexible spatula or spoon and press the sauce through the strainer. Keep working it until you are left with just the seeds and pulp (discard those).
  • The add 1 cup of water to the pot. Move the meat around to try and get it in an even layer. If all the meat isn't covered, add more water. I ended up using 2 cups total. You don't want too much liquid since that will dilute the broth or consomé.
  • Add the second bay leaf on top and close the instant pot lid. Move the valve to sealing and set the timer to high pressure for 50 minutes. If using 4lbs of meat then 55 min, 5 lbs= 60 min.
  • Once the timer goes off, carefully release the pressure in an open area of under the kitchen hood. Or if you don't plan on eating it right away then just keep the instant pot to Keep Warm and the pressure will release naturally.
  • Remove the lid and the beef should be very tender. Place the beef and bones in a dish to shred or chop.
    Don't toss the broth! This is the consomé and we'll use it to make the tacos or use for a dipping broth.

QuesaBirria Tacos

  • Heat a comal or non stick skillet over medium high heat and allow it to get hot.
  • Dip a corn tortilla in the birria broth, then place it on the skillet. Add a layer of shredded cheese and birria.
  • Fold in half with a spatula, and allow each side to crisp. This takes a couple minutes.
    Keep tacos warm in an oven until ready to serve. Add chopped onion and cilantro either inside the taco or on top. Serve with extra consomé as a 'dip'.

Video

Notes

Store leftover cooked birria with its broth in the refrigerator up to 4 days or freeze portions in a zip top bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Store meat with some broth and extra broth in a separate bag.
Serve birria with rice and beans or ensalada de nopales for an authentic Mexican meal. For extra spice add some chile de árbol salsa. 
Slow Cooker Instructions:
Follow the same steps for the sauce and sear the beef on the stove in a skillet. Then place the beef, sauce, and just enough water to cover the meat in a slow cooker. Set the timer to low for 8 hours.
Stove Top Instructions:
Use a heavy pot like a dutch oven and sear the beef in batches, then place it back into the pot with sauce, and just enough water to cover the meat. Place the lid on the pot and bring to a boil.
Remove lid, stir, place lid back on and reduce heat to low. You want a gentle simmer, not rapid boil. This method can take 3-4 hours for the meat to be tender.

Nutrition

Serving: 1QuesaBirria TacoCalories: 357kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 28gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 85mgSodium: 473mgPotassium: 536mgFiber: 3gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 1194IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 63mgIron: 3mg

Nutritional information is provided as an estimate only and depends on ingredients and amounts used. Thai Caliente makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.

Keyword Birria, Birria Tacos, Instant Pot Birria, QuesaBirria Tacos
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10 Comments

  1. I made this and it was great. I added 2 chiles de arboles, a little bit of marjoram, and I used ground cinnamon since I didn’t have any sticks.

  2. Hello! Can I use beef stew meat instead of chuck roast? And if I used stew meat, do you have an estimate for how that would impact the cooking time?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Isabelle, I haven’t used stew meat before so I can’t offer any specific recommendations. Since stew meat is a leaner cut of meat, it should take less cooking time. Try shaving off 10 minutes from the numbers I listed. For example, 4 pounds do 45 min instead of 55 min. Please let me know how it turns out!

      1. Hi Renee,

        I tried it with stew meat and it still tasted great! I couldn’t taste the difference between using the stew meat and chuck roast (but perhaps if I had them both in front of me I would). Pro of the stew meat is I didn’t have to cut it (so saved washing a cutting board), but it did take a bit more time to sear all the pieces and season them. I also used 2 chiles de arboles and marjoram and extra cinnamon powder (since I didn’t have any cloves).

        I made the sauce the day before which made the process a bit smoother for me.

        Great recipe!

        1. Thank you for letting me know! I’m so glad the stew meat worked out well. I will have to try that next time. Glad you enjoyed it!!

  3. Hi Renee,
    You said don’t use the water from dry chiles, why not? Is it because it will make the sauce too hot?
    I’m going to try this recipe this weekend. It looks delicious!
    Thanks for your blogging!! Thai and Mexican –my most favorite foods.