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Birria Quesa Tacos featuring Famous New Mexico Chile

This post is generously sponsored by The Hatch Chile Store. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

What exactly are Birria Tacos?

Red Birria Quesatacos sit on a wooden table sprinkled with fresh green cilantro leaves.

You’ll never forget the first time you take a bite out of a Birria Taco (“Birria Quesataco” or “Birria Quesa tacos” as you may have seen it on taco trucks around the country). Once you know how to make these, you will make them all the time. TRUST ME. THEY ARE HEKKIN’ DELICIOUS. And after much research, and with my background in Hispanic foods, I think I’ve created the most delicious recipe of all for you to try!

But what is a Birria Taco (or Birria Quesataco)???

Birria is a central Mexican beef (or lamb) stew, slow-cooked in a red chile pepper puree. Birria tacos are corn tortillas dipped in the stew liqid, then stuffed with meat from the stew, along with onions and sometimes cheese (queso) and fried crispy. Tacos are served with a side of stew sauce to be used as a dip.

Looking down onto a wooden table with several red Birria Quesatacos, lime wedge, diced onion and white cheese.

The combination of crunchy yet savory taco shells, filled with juicy and tender Birria beef filling smothered in melty cheese will drive your taste buds wild. You will crave more. This recipe is the secret to having a successful taco truck stand. You’re welcome, future taco truck owners :0)

What chiles for Birria?

The combination of several types of dried red chile pepper varieties is what elevates the taste of Birria above all other Mexican stewed meats- imparting a complex yet savory depth of flavor. But what specific chiles are used for Birria? I researched several articles and recipes to find you the answer!

Authentic Birria stew is made with a mixture of dried guajillo chiles, moritas chiles (smoked and dried jalapenos), pasilla chiles and ancho chiles. Other types of dried chiles can be substituted, such as chipotle, New Mexico Hatch, or ancho. Dried chiles are soaked to rehydrate them, then blended with tomatoes, spices, and herbs to create the thick red chile sauce for braising Birria beef or lamb.

A close-up of dried red chile pods.

Birria Tacos Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need if you want to make your very own Birria Quesatacos:

  • A mixture of dried red chile peppers with a mild heat, such as Guajillo, Pasilla, Morita, Ancho, or New Mexico
  • a mixture of bone-in and boneless beef cuts, such as chuck roast, short ribs, beef shank or brisket
  • garlic
  • cloves
  • cinnamon stick
  • oregano
  • cumin
  • coriander
  • fresh tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • onion
  • bay leaves
  • corn tortillas
  • Oaxaca or Mozarella cheese

Being that I’m from New Mexico, I cook with all types of chiles- all the time. After all, some of the world’s most delicious tasting chile peppers are grown in Hatch, New Mexico. I thought to myself, “What would Birria stew taste like if I used Hatch chile?” So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

How to make Birria Quesatacos

Birria starts out with great beef. I found the best cuts of beef are beef chuck roast and beef short ribs. The cuts are a good mix of meat AND the bones in the short ribs really turn out an incredibly tasty stew. To add even more depth of flavor, I rubbed all cuts of meat with a generous amount of roasted green chile powder, oregano, salt, and pepper. I browned them well to get a nice golden crust.

Looking down into a pot containing Beef Chuck Roast, rubbed with Hatch green chile powder.
Looking down into a pot containing three portions of browned beef short ribs.

I wanted to make my Birria sauce with Hatch dried red chile pods. This part of the recipe is exactly how I make Carne Adovada (Carne Adovada is pork braised in red chile sauce). Once the sauce was well blended, I poured a little in the bottom of the pot, added the browned beef, then smothered the beef in the remainder of the sauce. Place some onion chunks and bay leaves in the pot, cover, and cook it low and slow in the oven for 3 to 4 hours.

Dried Red Hatch Chile pepper pods are toasted in an oven on a rimmed baking sheet.
Looking down into a blender with red chile pepper pieces, herbs, spices, a cinnamon stick and garlic cloves to be blended into Birria red chile sauce.
Looking down into a pot filled with beef chunks smothered in red chile sauce. Large chunks of onion and small bay leaves are scattered around on top.

When the Birria is deliciously cooked to fall-off-the-bone perfection, remove the beef and discard the bones, bay leaves and onion. Shred the meat. Grab yourself a good bag of corn tortillas, some Oaxaca cheese, and diced onion. Now you’re ready to start frying up Birria Quesatacos!

Lookin down on a fully-cooked pot of Birria beef stew where the beef has caramelized to a deep brown color and sits in a deep red sauce.
A large spider skimmer is used to extract all the beef and bones from a pot of Birria beef.
A person holds two packages of special red chile corn tortillas next to a bowl of shredded Birria beef.

Dip corn tortillas into the Birria chile sauce to coat both sides, then place into a non-stick skillet set over medium heat. While the tortillas are frying, fill one side with shredded Birria beef, diced onion, and shredded cheese. (I was lucky enough to order these special red-chile-infused corn tortillas from The Hatch Chile Store. I knew they would be perfect for my Birria Tacos.)

After about a minute or two, fold the other half of the tortilla over the meat and cheese. Cook until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is very dark and browned in spots. Remove and repeat to build more tacos. Serve with lime wedges and a side of Birria sauce from the pot for a taco dipping sauce. Garnish with fresh cilantro if desired and enjoy your fantastic tacos!

Looking down onto a wooden table with several red Birria Quesatacos, lime wedge, diced onion and white cheese.

Did you know I have a full-color cookbook with lots more easy and delicious New Mexican recipes? You can learn more about it here!

You know what else is fantastic? Simply giving this recipe a star rating and a comment below! Your comments and ratings are greatly appreciated by me AND the Google algorithm. Thank you!

Did you know I have a full-color cookbook with lots more easy and delicious New Mexican recipes? You can learn more about it here!

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Birria Quesa Tacos featuring Famous New Mexico Chile

  • Author: Emily
  • Total Time: 5 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 810 2-taco servings 1x


One bite and you’ll know why everyone is trying Birria QuesaTacos! Deliciously tender beef that is slow cooked in a medley of pureed mild chile peppers, herbs and other spices is stuffed into a corn tortilla with a mozzarella-like mexican cheese (Oaxaca cheese), and diced onion. THEN, the tortilla is fried in the fat and chile sauce that has rendered from cooking the beef, giving these tacos a deep red color and spectacular flavor. Served with EVEN MORE chile sauce for dipping. 



Birria Beef

  • 8 dried Hatch Red Chile pods
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds of beef brisket or beef chuck roast
  • 1 pound beef short ribs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of Hatch green chile powder
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1/2 a cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
  • 4 bay leaves

Birria Quesa Tacos (quesatacos)

  • 20 Red Hatch Chile infused Corn Tortillas (or plain Corn Tortillas)
  • 16 ounces shredded Mozzarella cheese (or Oaxaca cheese if you can find it)
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • fresh chopped cilantro and lime wedges for garnish topping


For the Birria Beef

  1. Set your oven to 350 degrees F. Place Hatch red chiles onto a baking sheet spread out into a single layer. Toast in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until puffy. Remove and cool for 5 minutes. Tear off and discard the stems, shaking out the seeds and discarding them as well. Place the chile pods into a bowl and add just enough water to cover and soak the chiles. If necessary, place an additional bowl over the top to keep the chile pods submerged. Set aside. Leave the oven on.
  2. Set a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the vegetable oil. Blot all beef cuts with paper towels, then season all sides generously with salt, pepper and green chile powder. Working in batches, sear the beef on all sides, then remove to a plate. Turn off the heat to the Dutch oven.
  3. Place the soaked chile pods, 1 cup of water from the chiles, cloves of garlic, whole cloves, cinnamon, oregano, cumin, and tomato sauce into a blender. Blend until pureed, adding more chile soaking water as necessary, to make a sauce.
  4. Pour roughly 1/2 cup chile sauce into the bottom of the Dutch oven (or enough to coat the bottom). Place all cuts of beef into the pot, and pour out the remaining chile sauce all over the beef. Place onion quarters and bay leaves around meat cuts. Add just enough water to cover the beef. Cover with a well fitting lid and place beef into the preheated oven and cook for about 4 and 1/2 hours or until beef is very tender and falling off the bone.
  5. Scoop out the Birria beef, leaving the sauce in the pot, and place into a large bowl. Discard the onion, bay leaves and any large fat pieces from the beef, and shred the meat. Cover Birria beef and set aside. What sauce is left in the pot will become the dipping sauce for the tacos. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in any additional water (or beef broth) to thin to a desired consistency. Keep warm by setting Dutch oven over low heat with the cover on.

To Make Birria Quesatacos

  1. Set a cast iron skillet or other non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Dip both sides of a corn tortilla into the top of the Birria sauce, (where all the really red fat is sitting) and place into the skillet. Sprinkle one-half of the tortilla with cheese, chopped onion, and Birria meat. Fry for about 2 minutes, or until the tortilla begins to darken. Fold the tortilla in half over the meat and fry both sides for an additional 30 seconds to crisp. Remove and repeat to make more tacos. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve with a side of Birria sauce and lime wedges.


Birria Quesatacos for the Croc Pot: Simply replace the Dutch oven in step 4 with a slow cooker/Croc Pot set to low heat. Cook beef for 8-10 hours, then follow the recipe as outlined, keeping the Birria sauce in the slow cooker on warm setting.

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 hours
  • Category: entree
  • Method: slow cooker
  • Cuisine: New Mexican


  • Serving Size: 2 tacos

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