Try this delicious Quesabirria recipe! Crispy, beef-and-cheese-stuffed Birria tacos served with consommé for dipping! Topped with pickled onions and fresh cilantro! Braise them in the oven or make them in a pressure cooker!
To this day, the concept of fried, cheesy tacos that you dip in sauce still blows my mind. This recipe will activate every one of your tastebuds, especially when paired with this recipe for delicious aguas frescas !
What is Consommé?
Consommé is a vital part of this recipe and largely responsible for the virality of quesabirria! It’s a concentrated broth that’s released from the meat as it cooks.
The consommé is reserved to dip the tortillas in prior to frying. When we’re done frying and assembling the tacos we’ll serve the rest of consommé on the side as a dipping sauce!
Origins of Birria
Before we get all crazed and excited like we tend to do on the internet, let’s understand the origins of Birria. It’s not a new concept, it’s actually a Mexican stew that’s traditionally made with goat meat. Read more about its origins here.
Birria tacos have only recently become popular in the US, but are said to have origins in Tijuana. They’re folded corn tortillas that are filled with shredded beef, melted cheese and then fried.
Quesabirria can be described as a cross between a quesadilla and a taco.
Variations and Substitutions
- Quesabirria and quesatacos are just alternate names for birria tacos that have cheese in them, the concept is the same.
- Traditional birria (stew) uses goat meat but beef is most commonly used for birria tacos.
- Other meat substitutes like pork or chicken can be used.
- I recommend using corn tortillas for birria tacos but some adapted recipes say it’s ok to use flour tortillas.
This is quite the list of ingredients, but necessary since the flavors in Birria are complex. Refer the recipe card for exact measurements and quantities.
- To season the beef you’ll need: 3 pounds bottom round or chuck roast, crushed garlic, kosher salt, chipotle powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, bay leaves and fresh lime
- For the consommé: dried guajillo and pasilla peppers, plum or roma tomatoes, yellow onion, beef broth, ground cumin, cloves, dried oregano, granulated sugar, apple cider vinegar, fresh lime. Optional – 1 pepper from a can of chiles soaked in adobo add a kick and some body to the consommé.
- For the quesatacos: corn tortillas, red onions (pickling instructions are in the recipe card), shredded monterey jack cheese, crumbled cotija cheese, cilantro and fresh lime
Tools and Equipment
- You’ll need either a dutch oven or pressure cooker. Using a pressure cooker is faster, but I prefer using a dutch oven because it yields a fuller-bodied consommé.
- A blender or food processor is needed to puree the base for the consommé.
- Fine mesh strainer – removes all the bits from the pureed mixture.
How to make birria tacos with consommé
Step 1: Season the meat
Rub or brush your meat with salt, pepper, chipotle powder, smoked paprika, and crushed garlic. You can add a small amount of oil to help spread the seasonings.
Add the bay leaves and cover the bowl in plastic wrap. Let the meat marinate overnight or at least 2 hours minimum.
Step 2: Sear and slice
Heat 1-2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer the roast to the skillet and sear the roast on all sides. You can use the sauté function on your pressure cooker for this step if you’ll be using one.
This is key to a good sear is leaving the roast in tact so that the beef doesn’t release much liquid. The meat will release itself from the pan when it’s ready to be flipped.
Once the beef is slightly charred on all sides, remove it from the skillet (or pan) and slice it into 4 large pieces. I do this so that I can cover the roast easily without having to add too much liquid to the pot.
Step 3: Deglaze the skillet
Deglaze the skillet or pan with a splash of beef broth over medium flame. Use a whisk or wooden spoon to loosen the bits left behind from the roast. Once the liquid simmers and most of the bits are released, proceed to the next step.
Step 4: Start the braise
Place the roast in the dutch oven or pressure cooker and pour the deglaze liquid over it. Add the quartered onions, tomatoes, cinnamon stick and chili peppers.
Pour the deglaze-liquid into the pot, and add enough broth to cover the meat, onions and peppers (about 2-3 cups). Bring the pot to a boil, lower the heat and let simmer for 1 hour (or 15-20 minutes in a pressure cooker).
Once this step is done, the meat and vegetables should look like the image on the right.
Step 5: Puree the onions, peppers and tomatoes
Uncover the roast and turn the flame off. Transfer the roast to a plate and discard the bay leaves. Transfer the onions, peppers, tomatoes and cinnamon stick to a blender or food processor.
Add the cumin, cloves, sugar, vinegar, oregano, lime juice and a little cooking liquid to the blender and pulse for about a minute.
Step 6: Finish braising
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the meat back in the pot and strain the puree over the meat using a mesh strainer. Discard any bits that are left behind in the strainer.
Top the meat off with just enough broth to cover it. Taste the liquid and add more salt if needed.
Braise the meat in the oven at 325°F for 1.5 hours, then reduce the oven temperature to 275°F and braise for another 1.5-2 hours.
If you’re using a pressure cooker, you can cook it on the same pressure-cook setting for about 45 minutes to an hour.
Step 7: Shred the meat
Once the meat is done, remove it from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. The meat should be tender enough where all you need to do is apply a little pressure with a fork to break it apart.
Leave the consommé in the dutch oven or pressure cooker, so you can dip the tortillas in when it’s time to assemble the Birria tacos.
Store the meat in a covered container (separate from the consommé) until you’re ready to assemble the tacos. You can toss the meat in a little of the consommé to keep it juicy and moist.
Step 8: Prep the toppings before assembling the tacos
To make the pickled onions, slice the red onions and place them in a mason jar or small bowl. Pour 1 cup of boiling water, ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar and sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of sugar over the onions and cover them. Let them seep for about 10 minutes and drain them.
Cut the fresh limes into wedges and chop your cilantro. Shred the monterey jack cheese and set it aside.
Step 9: Fry and assemble the tacos
This step requires the most patience and practice. If you don’t dip quickly the tortillas can absorb too much liquid and fall apart. Have a few extra tortillas on hand in case you mess up.
Heat a greased non-stick skillet over medium heat. Dip one tortilla at a time into the consommé and then place it in the skillet or frying pan.
You’ll notice the edges of the tortillas start to lift once they become firm. If you’re able to get your spatula under the tortilla and lift with very little resistance then it’s ready to be flipped. Flip and repeat this same process for the other side.
Add your desired amount of beef and shredded cheese to the center of the tortilla. Don’t over-stuff! Once the tortilla has crisped slightly, fold it over to create a taco and let it get crispy on both sides. The tacos might get a little dark in color, but that’s ok!
Step 10: Garnish and serve!
You can serve the birria tacos as you fry them, or you can arrange them on a large baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven until you’re ready to serve them all.
Assemble them on a platter prior to serving and top with pickled onions, chopped cilantro, a sprinkle of cotija cheese, a few lime wedges and a side of consommé.
- Removing the seeds from the dried peppers is recommended so the heat doesn’t overpower the dish.
- Get a good sear on the meat by leaving the roast in tact and letting it sear over a high flame. The meat will loosen from the skillet once it’s ready to be flipped. sear on all sides
- The corn tortillas are super-delicate once they’re dipped in consommé. Have extra tortillas on hand in case you mess up!
Other recipes you’ll love
Beef Birria Tacos with Consommé (Quesabirria Recipe)
To Season the Beef
- 3 pounds chuck-roast or or bottom-round beef roast whole
- 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- juice from 1 lime
For the Consommé
- 3 dried guajillo peppers stems and seeds removed
- 3 dried pasilla peppers stems and seeds removed
- 1 can chiles in adobo only use 1 chile - optional
- 2 roma tomatoes
- 1 yellow onion quartered
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cups beef broth
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 8 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon oregano dried
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- juice of 1 lime
For the Quesatacos
- 16 corn tortillas
- 1 red onion
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar for pickling the onions
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar for pickling the onions
- 2 cups monterey jack cheese
- ½ cup cotija cheese crumbled (optional)
- fresh cilantro and lime wedges for garnishing
- Rub the beef roast with salt, pepper, chipotle powder, smoked paprika, and crushed garlic and a touch of oil. Cover the roast with plastic wrap. Let the meat marinate in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours or overnight.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of cooking oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer the roast to the skillet and sear on all sides. If you're using a pressure cooker, use the sauté function for this step. Once the roast is charred on all sides, slice it into 4 pieces.
- Deglaze the skillet with splash of beef broth over a medium flame and use a whisk or wooden spoon to loosen the bits left behind from the roast. Once the liquid simmers and most of the bits are released, cut the flame and proceed to the next step.
- Place the roast in a dutch oven or pressure-cooker pot and pour the deglaze liquid over it. Add the quartered onions, tomatoes, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and chili peppers. Bring the pot to a boil, then cover and turn the flame down low. Let simmer for 1 hour (15-20 minutes if you're using a pressure cooker).
- Uncover the roast and turn the flame off. Transfer the roast to a plate and discard the bay leaves. Transfer the onions, chiles, tomato and cinnamon stick to a blender. Add the cumin, cloves, oregano, sugar, vinegar, lime juice and some of the cooking liquid to a blender and pulse for about 1 minute.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the roast back in the pot and strain the puree over the meat. Discard any bits left behind in the strainer. Top the beef off with just enough broth to cover it. Taste the liquid and add more salt if needed. Braising instructions: cover the pot and braise the beef in the oven for 1.5 hours. Reduce the the oven temperature to 275°F and continue braising for another 1.5-2 hours. Pressure cooker instructions: pressure cook for 45 minutes total.
- Transfer the roast to a cutting board and shred it. The beef should be tender enough where all you need is a fork to break it apart. Place the shredded meat in a covered container and leave the consommé in the pot so you can dip the tortillas in later.
- Prepare the pickled onions by slicing the red onions and placing them in a small bowl. Pour 1 cup of boiling water and ¼ cup of vinegar over them. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar, stir and let sit for 10 minutes then drain. Chop the cilantro and cut the limes into wedges and set aside. Shred the monterey jack cheese.
- Heat a greased non-stick skillet over medium heat. Dip one tortilla at a time into the consommé, fry each tortilla until it crisps up slightly, flip and fry the other side. Add your desired amount of beef and monterey jack cheese to the center of each tortilla. Fold the tortilla over to create a taco, and fry until crispy on both sides. Transfer the tacos to a baking sheet and keep them in a warm oven while you fry the rest.
- Serve the birria tacos on a platter and top them with pickled onions, fresh cilantro and crumbled cotija cheese. Garnish with lime wedges and serve with consommé for dipping.
- To get a good sear on the roast, leave it in tact so it doesn't release much liquid while searing. The roast will release itself from the pan when ready to be flipped.
- Have extra tortillas on hand for frying in case you mess up.
- Pork, goat meat or chicken can be substituted for beef.
Food Safety Tips
Here are some everyday food safety tips:
- Don’t leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Never leave food unattended while it’s cooking!
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove