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Birria (Mexican Beef Stew)

  • Author: Ali
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 40 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings 1x


This delicious birria recipe (Mexican beef stew) is so flavorful and comforting, and it’s easy to make in the Instant Pot, or see notes below for how to make it in the Crock-Pot or on the stovetop.



Adobo Sauce Ingredients:

Beef Stew Ingredients:

  • 3 to 3 1/2 pound beef chuck roast, roughly cut into 3-inch chunks
  • fine sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil (or olive oil)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • warm corn tortillas, for serving
  • recommended toppings: chopped fresh cilantro, chopped white or red onion, diced or sliced avocado, lime wedges and/or sliced jalapeños


  1. Core and toast the chiles. Slice the stems off of the dried chiles, then remove and discard the seeds inside. Press the “Sauté” button on the Instant Pot. Add the chiles and cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side, flipping once, until the chiles are fragrant and lightly toasted. Transfer them to a blender (or food processor) and set aside.
  2. Sauté the veggies. Add the oil and onion to the hot Instant Pot. Sauté the onion for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the garlic and tomatoes and sauté for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Then turn off the Instant Pot, and transfer the entire mixture to the blender.
  3. Blend the marinade. Add 2 cups of the beef stock, the apple cider vinegar, cumin, oregano, ginger, cinnamon and cloves to the blender. Cover and carefully* blend for 1 minute, until the mixture is completely smooth. Set aside.
  4. Sear the meat (optional). (You can skip this step if you’d like to save time.) Briefly rinse out and dry off the Instant Pot insert. Season the beef with a few generous pinches of salt and black pepper. Press the “Sauté” button on the Instant Pot and add in 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add half of the beef and briefly sear it in the oil, turning the chunks occasionally so that they can sear on all sides. Transfer the first batch of beef to a clean plate, then sear the remaining beef likewise in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Turn off the Instant Pot.
  5. Pressure cook. Add all of the seared beef to the Instant Pot, along with the blended marinade, bay leaves and remaining 2 cups of beef stock, and give the mixture a quick toss. Cover and set the lid to “Sealing.” Pressure cook on “Manual” for 45 minutes, followed by a quick release.
  6. Shred the beef (optional). Carefully remove the lid once all of the pressure has released. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Then you can either choose to just leave the beef in larger chunks for serving. Or you can use two forks to shred the beef into bite-sized pieces, and then toss the shredded beef in the marinade so that it is evenly coated.
  7. Season. Taste and season the birria with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
  8. Serve. Serve the birria in bowls (the beef along with its broth) garnished with lots of your favorite toppings, with a side of warm tortillas, and enjoy!


Crock-Pot (slow cooker) method: Complete Steps 1, 2 and 4 as directed in a large sauté pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Complete Step 5 in a large slow cooker by cooking the mixture on “low” for 8 hours, covered, until the meat is completely tender and shreds easily.  Continue on with Steps 7 and 8 as directed.

Stovetop method: Complete Steps 1, 2 and 4 as directed in a large stockpot on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Complete Step 5 in the same stockpot by cooking the mixture on low for 4 to 6 hours, covered, until the meat is completely tender and shreds easily. (For safety reasons, be sure to stay nearby and keep an eye on the stockpot so that the meat doesn’t accidentally burn.)  Continue on with Steps 7 and 8 as directed.

Chiles de árbol: These small chiles are pretty spicy, so I recommend just starting with one or two if you would like a moderately-spicy stew.  (You can always add fresh jalapeños for garnish later to increase the heat.)  If you are spice-averse, I recommend omitting the chiles de árbol.  Or if you like a really spicy stew, you can add in three or more chiles.

Tomatoes: If you do not have fresh Roma tomatoes on hand, you can alternately add in 1 1/4 cups (a little less than a 15-ounce can) of crushed tomatoes.

Straining the sauce: Some traditional recipes call for straining out the solids in the adobo sauce, so that only a thin sauce remains. If you would like to do this, just press the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer when adding it to the Instant Pot in Step 5.