Birria: A Taste of Mexico’s Culinary Tradition for Your Slow Cooker

August 10, 2023

Birria, a savory meat stew from Mexico, has steadily gained popularity across the globe. With its deep roots in Mexican culture, this dish is a delightful mix of tradition, flavor, and history. Let’s dive into the past of this beloved dish and discover a simplified slow-cooker version to make your next Taco Tuesday truly exceptional.

A Brief History of Birria

Originating from the state of Jalisco, birria is traditionally made with goat meat, though beef and lamb have become popular alternatives in various regions and among different chefs. Historically, birria was eaten during festive occasions like weddings, baptisms, and major holidays, especially in the areas surrounding Guadalajara, Jalisco’s capital.

The name “birria” might derive from the Spanish word “birrioso” (or berrinchudo), which means irritable or angry, possibly alluding to the spicy and vibrant nature of the stew. The dish is traditionally slow-cooked in large clay pots buried underground, sealing in all the juicy, rich flavors.

While initially regional, birria’s appeal spread throughout Mexico, with each region introducing its unique twists. Now, the magic of birria has made its way north to the United States and beyond, particularly in taco form.

Slow Cooker Birria Recipe

Embrace the convenience of modern cookery while honoring tradition with this slow-cooker birria recipe.


  • 2-3 lbs beef chuck roast or lamb shoulder, cut into chunks
  • 4 dried guajillo chilies, seeds removed
  • 2 dried ancho chilies, seeds removed
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cups beef or chicken broth
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Chili Puree: Begin by softening the dried chilies. Place them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let them sit for 15-20 minutes until they’re soft. Once hydrated, place chilies in a blender with garlic, onion, cumin, oregano, cloves, apple cider vinegar, salt, and a bit of the soaking liquid. Blend until you achieve a smooth paste.
  • Season the Meat: Rub the chili paste generously over the meat pieces, ensuring they’re well coated.
  • Slow-Cooker Time: Place the seasoned meat in your slow cooker. Pour in the beef or chicken broth, ensuring the meat is submerged. Add bay leaves and the cinnamon stick.
  • Cook: Set your slow cooker on low and let the magic happen for 6-8 hours. The meat should be tender and easily shredded by the end.
  • Serve: Once cooked, shred the meat and discard the bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Serve your birria with warm tortillas, diced onions, chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. Or, if you’re up for the latest trend, dip your tacos in the savory broth and enjoy a ‘quesataco’ experience!

A taste of Jalisco right in the comfort of your home. Whether it’s a special occasion or Taco Tuesday, this slow-cooker birria is delicious.

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