Slow Cooker Beef Birria

  • Yield: 4
  • Servings: 4
  • Prep Time: 10m
  • Cook Time: 8:00 h
  • Ready In: 8:10 h

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Nutritional Info

This information is per serving.

  • Calories

  • Carbohydrates

    0.9 g
  • Cholesterol

    63.8 mg
  • Fat

    3.9 g
  • Fiber

    0.1 g
  • Protein

    22.6 g
  • Saturated Fat

    1.4 g
  • Serving Size

  • Sodium

    217.1 mg
  • Sugar

    0.6 g
  • Trans Fat

    1.4 g
  • Unsaturated Fat

    0.2 g
  • Potassium

    409.1 mg
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Slow cooker beef Birria. In the heart of Mexican cuisine lies a traditional dish known as Beef Birria, a delicacy that echoes the rich cultural heritage and diverse flavors of its origin.

With a history as savory as its ingredients, this culinary masterpiece is a testament to the art of slow cooking, securing its spot as a favorite in homes and festivities.

This deep dive explores the roots of this beloved dish, illuminates its cultural significance, and sheds light on the essential ingredients that make it truly exceptional.

What follows is a guide not just into the preparation method of Beef Birria, particularly with a slow cooker, but also into sourcing the unique ingredients that infuse the dish with authenticity and pure Mexican charm.

Understanding the Basics of Slow Cooker Beef Birria

Understanding the Basics of Slow Cooker Beef Birria: A Peak into Its History

The Mexican culinary masterpiece, Beef Birria, is a traditional dish whose history dates back to the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century. Originating in the state of Jalisco, the dish was initially prepared with lamb or goat but has since evolved to commonly feature beef in various regions.

Beef Birria was traditionally served at weddings, baptisms, and other celebratory events as it was seen as a festive treat due to its rich flavors and the labor-intensive nature of its preparation.

Its historical and cultural significance makes it a cherished recipe in Mexican households and a popular choice in Mexican restaurants worldwide.

Cultural Significance of Beef Birria

The cultural significance of Beef Birria lies in its embodiment of Mexican culinary tradition. Packed with bold flavors and prepared with patience, this dish is a true representation of the Mexican ethos, valuing time-honored traditions and family gatherings.

Additionally, it encapsulates the communal nature of Mexican cuisine, as it is often shared amongst family and friends, particularly during celebrations and gatherings.

The ritual of cooking and sharing Beef Birria, with its enticing aroma and hearty portions, serves as a cultural touchstone unifying people over a shared culinary heritage.


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Typical Ingredients Used in the Preparation of Beef Birria

To create Beef Birria, several basic ingredients are typically used. The main component is beef, preferably a tough cut like chuck roast or short ribs, which softens and becomes tender during the slow cooking process.

Essential seasonings include dried peppers such as ancho and guajillo, which are crucial to the dish’s unique flavor profile, along with vinegar, garlic, oregano, thyme, and bay leaves.

Beef broth forms the liquid base of the stew, while ingredients like onion and tomatoes add depth and balance to the broth. Lastly, lime, cilantro, and traditional corn tortillas are common accompaniments when serving.

Importance of Slow Cooking in Enhancing Flavors

Slow cooking is central to the preparation of Beef Birria, as it allows for a prolonged simmering process, which tenderizes the meat and allows the flavors from the seasonings and ingredients to meld together.

This method of cooking not only ensures that the beef becomes fall-apart tender, but also allows the flavors from the dried peppers, aromatic herbs, and spices to permeate the meat and broth, culminating in a rich, deeply flavored stew.

The slow-cooking process can take several hours, but the patience required is rewarded with a robustly flavorful and comforting dish that is emblematic of traditional Mexican cuisine.

Sourcing for Ingredients

Choosing the Right Ingredients for Beef Birria

To cook delicious Beef Birria, it’s essential to have the right ingredients on hand, especially the chilies and the correct meat cuts. Authentic Beef Birria requires many specific ingredients, but most are easily obtainable in grocery stores, Mexican specialty stores, or online.

Sourcing Chilies

The blend of chilies used in Beef Birria is what gives it a distinctive and robust flavor. The most common ones include Guajillo chili, Ancho chili, and Arbol chili, all dry chilies widely used in Mexican cuisine.

Guajillo chili is sweet with mild to medium heat, Ancho chili offers a sweet fruity flavor with less heat while Arbol chili provides a bright, hot kick.

Mexican grocery stores or the international aisle in regular grocery stores are the best places to find these dried chilies. If local sources don’t carry these specific chilies, they are also available online on various platforms like Amazon.

Choosing the Right Meat Cut

The authentic recipe requires stewing cuts of beef, like beef cheek, shin, or shank which has a mix of meat, fat, and connective tissues. These cuts cook slowly and provide a wonderful, rich flavor. These cuts of beef are generally available in butchers and local grocery stores.

Substitutions for Hard-to-Find Ingredients

There may be instances where you cannot source some authentic ingredients. For instance, recently there’s been a surge in the popularity of hoja santa, an aromatic Mexican herb.

If this is difficult to find, you can use a combination of bay leaves and star anise as a substitute without sacrificing too much of the birria’s traditional flavor.

Another ingredient that might be hard to find is agave syrup which is sometimes used to sweeten the beef Birria. A good alternative for agave syrup can be honey or brown sugar.

Additional Tips

It’s crucial to note that Mexican recipes, like Beef Birria, can vary significantly from region to region. Therefore, specific ingredients might not be necessary unless you’re trying to match a particular regional flavor closely.

Remember to stay flexible in your sourcing of ingredients and be ready to embrace possible substitutions without compromising the overall flavor of your Beef Birria.

One final tip is to buy your ingredients in larger quantities if possible. This not only ensures you have enough for your recipe but could also save you money in the long run, particularly if you plan on making Beef Birria more than once.

Cooking and Presentation Techniques

Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients

To make Beef Birria in a slow cooker, you will need the following ingredients:

3 lbs beef chuck roast, 8 dried guajillo chiles, 5 dried ancho chiles, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 white onion, 4 Roma tomatoes, a handful of fresh cilantro, spices (like thyme, oregano, cumin, and clove), some apple cider vinegar, and salt. Additional accompaniments for serving include tortillas, limes, radishes, and additional fresh cilantro.

Step 2: Prepare the Chiles and Other Ingredients

For the best flavor, start by soaking your dried chiles in boiling water until they soften up. After they have softened, remove the stems and seeds. While you’re waiting for the chiles to soak, chop up your onion, garlic, tomatoes, and cilantro.

Step 3: Blend the Sauce

In a blender, combine the soaked chiles, chopped onion, chopped garlic, chopped tomatoes, chopped cilantro, vinegar, and your spices. Blitz on high until you get a smooth puree. This flavorful blend is what gives the beef its iconic Birria taste.

Step 4: Slow Cook the Beef

Once your sauce is prepared, it’s time to treat the beef. Season the beef roast with salt and place it in the slow cooker. Pour the blended sauce over it, ensuring the beef is fully coated. Cook on low for about 8 hours, or on high for 4 hours.

Step 5: Shred and Simmer

After the slow cooking, remove the beef from the slow cooker and allow it to cool a bit.

Presentation: Serving Beef Birria

Traditionally, Beef Birria is served alongside a bowl of its consommé, made from the juices left in the slow cooker. It is enjoyed by dipping tortillas into the rich consommé, loading up on the flavorful beef, and garnishing with cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and some thinly sliced radish.

The dazzling color and the comforting, homely aroma make a stellar impression whether you’re serving it for an everyday meal or a festive occasion.

Cooking Tip: Maximizing Beef Birria’s Flavor

To bring out the best flavors in your Beef Birria, toast the dried chiles in a skillet before soaking. This extra step helps unlock more flavor from the chiles, giving your Birria a deeper, more aromatic taste.

Also, use a variety of cuts of beef or even mix beef with goat, as is done traditionally in some versions of this dish, for an added depth of flavor.

Remember, slow and low is the key for this dish to break down the collagen in the beef and create a broth that’s full of body and richness. So, give it the time it deserves to slowly simmer and absorb all those wonderful flavors.

After this detailed journey, one can’t help but have a newfound appreciation for the art of preparing Beef Birria, its nutritional value, and the role of slow cooking in enhancing its complexity of flavors.

The knowledge gained about sourcing authentic ingredients and their appropriate alternatives doesn’t only empower you in the kitchen, but also connects you with the rich Mexican culture this dish represents.

From understanding the importance of each ingredient to mastering the steps of preparation and presentation, you are now well-equipped to bring the authentic taste of Mexican Beef Birria to your table, transforming each meal into a celebration of flavor and tradition!

Slow Cooker Beef Birria


  • 3 pounds (1.44 kg) beef chuck rost, cubed
  • 8 dried guajillo chiles, soaked
  • 5 dried ancho chiles, soaked
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 white onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • a handful of fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • cloves
  • 1 teaspoon white vine vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Step 1

In a blender, combine soaked chilies, onion, garlic, chopped tomatoes, chopped cilantro, vinegar, and spices. Blend until smooth.

Step 2

Season cubed beef with salt and black and place it in a slow cooker. Pour the blended sauce over the beef.

Step 3

Cover the pot and cook on a low heat setting for 8 hours, or until the beef is tender.

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