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Oct 18, 2021

Birria Quesatacos (Instant Pot)

If you love tacos, definitely make these Birria Quesatacos as soon as you can. They are made with the most succulent boneless beef short ribs. 

Fried birria tacos on a plate with consume.

Birria is a a stew that originated in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. It was traditionally made with goat meat and dried chilis stewed low and slow. 

These days, the use of beef and lamb in the stew are common. 

This recipe takes a lot of liberties with the stew, and also includes a recipe for one of my new favorite California Mexican American restaurant dishes, the quesataco. 

This dish takes corn tortillas, brushes them with the red sauce of the stew, fries them in the fat of the beef, sprinkles them with melted Oaxaca cheese, (or Mozzarella if you can't find the Oaxaca cheese), and then adds the birria beef for a super cripy and flavorful taco. 

Birria tacos on a plate with cole slaw.

How to make the birria meat: 

First, you cook the beef for these tacos with chopped onions, salt, and water for 50 minutes in an Instant Pot. 

Birria meat.

In the meantime, you prepare dried chilis by toasting them in a skillet and then mixing them with boiling water in a blender, along with toasted garlic, bay leaves, cumin, allspice, Mexican oregano, dried thyme, and salt. 

Once the meat is done cooking in the Instant Pot, remove it and separate out the fat (be sure to save it for frying the tacos), and then boil the remaining liquid in the Instant Pot until you have reduced it to about 1/2 cup. 

Finally, stir the pureed chilis, minus about 1/4 cup, plus the meat, into the cooked beef. 

Spicy birria meat.

Now that you have made the beef mixture, add a cup of beef broth to the reserved 1/4 cup of the chili and spice mixture and set aside for later. This mixture is to replicate the consomé dipping sauce for the tacos. Yes, it's kind of cheating, but it's delicious. 

There are two ways to assemble the tacos. If you are making a few tacos at a time, heat the reserved beef fat in a large skillet and add corn tortillas. Spread some of the consomé over the tortillas and sprinkle on some cheese and let it get melty. 

Add some of the meat, fold the tortillas, and fry on both sides until the tortillas are crispy. 

Below is the chili sauce and the consomé (and, yes, my measuring cup definitely needs replacing). 

Birria sauce and consome.

If you are making a lot of the tacos at once, you can oven fry them on a sheet pan. Just spread oil over the pan, toss tortillas in the oil and spread them with some of the consomé. Sprinkle with cheese and meat and bake in a 450 degree F oven for 10 minutes.

This is the same method I used for my crispy snack shack shrimp tacos. I have since used this method over and over again whenever I want to make lots of tacos at once. 

Crispy tacos on a baking sheet.

I first discovered Birria Quesatacos while on vacation in Paso Robles in an amazing restaurant, Fish Gaucho. When I ordered them, the server nodded with approval. 

Later I ordered them again at Chef Thomas Ortega's Tacos Y Amor in Cerritos, California, and, again, the server nodded in approval, as if she and I were part of a secret birria quesataco society. 

Of course, both times, the tacos were amazing, and dipping them in the consomé made the experience even better. 

Birria tacos, dipped.

Key ingredients and substitutions:

Boneless short ribs: While nothing is better than short ribs, chuck roast or brisket will work in a pinch. 

Chilis: You will need dried guajillos, dried anchos, and dried chipotles. While the guajillos and anchos are fairly easy to find, you can substitute dried Oaxaca chiles for the chipotles. 

Oaxaca cheese: If you can't find Oaxaca cheese, full fat mozzarella cheese is a great substitute. In fact, in Southern California, the local Mexican American cheese purveyor sells a mozzarella for this purpose. 

Mexican oregano: Feel free to substitute Italian oregano. 

Birria Quesatacos

Welcome to another Multicooker Monday. Be sure to check out everyone's recipes using air fryers, Instant Pots, and slow cookers:

Birria Quesatacos

Birria Quesatacos
Yield: 12 servings
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 30 MinCook time: 1 H & 15 MTotal time: 1 H & 45 M
If you love tacos, definitely make these Birria Quesatacos as soon as you can. They are made with the most succulent boneless beef short ribs.


For the Meat
  • 4 pounds boneless beef short ribs, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 large onion, cut into chunks
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 ounces dried guajillo chiles (about 10 medium), stemmed and seeded
  • 2 ounces dried ancho chiles (about 3 large), stemmed and seeded)
  • 2 dried chipotle or Oaxaca chiles, stemmed and seeded. 
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 large bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice, plus lime wedges to serve
For the Consomé
  • 1/4 cup of the chile mixture
  • 1 cup of beef broth
For the Tacos
  • Reserved beef drippings plus 2 tablespoons olive oil if necessary
  • 24 corn tortillas
  • 12 ounces Oaxaca or Mozzarella cheese


To Make the Beef
  1. In a six or eight quart Instant Pot, add the beef, onion, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup water. 
  2. Seal the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 50 minutes. 
  3. While the beef cooks, toast the chiles and the garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes, turning the chilis regularly. 
  4. Transfer the chilies and garlic to a bowl and let cool, Break them up into small pieces, shake out any extra seeds, and add everything to a blender. Add the boiling water, toasted garlic, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, allspice, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Blend until fully pureed, about a minute. Refrigerate. 
  5. When the meat is done cooking, let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes and then vent and press Cancel. 
  6. Transfer the meat to a large bowl. Skim off as much of the fat as possible out of the remaining liquid and save for later in a small bowl (do not discard). Using the Sauté function, cook the remaining liquid for 25 to 30 minutes, until reduced to 1/2 cup. 
  7. In the meantime, shred the beef with two forks. 
  8. Reserve 1/4 cup of the chili mixture and stir the rest into the Instant Pot, along with the shredded beef. Continue to cook for 5 minutes. 
  9. Press cancel. Stir in the lime juice and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the mixture to a bowl. 
To Make the Consomé
  1. Heat the 1/4 cup of reserved chili and garlic mixture with the 1 cup of beef broth. 
To Make the Tacos
  1. Heat the reserved beef fat in a large skillet over medium high heat. 
  2. Add corn tortillas and brush the tortillas with the consomé. 
  3. Sprinkle the tortillas with a handful of the cheese and some of the meat. Fry on one side, fold over, and flip to cook on all sides. 
  4. Remove the cooked tacos to a plate and continue to fry and assemble more tacos. 
  5. Serve on a plate with a small bowl of the consomé for dipping. 

Nutrition Facts



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tacos, birria, quesatacos
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Beef recipe adapted from Milk Street Magazine, Sept/Oct 2021 

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Would you like to comment?

  1. Oh my goodness....I am so excited for this new Taco Tuesday recipe. It sounds amazing!!!

  2. that is simply outstanding!!!!! that first photo, Karen.... just WOW!

  3. Love this combo, delicious and mouthwatering!

  4. Amazing! This sounds super delicious meal!


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