This Chicken Birria Tacos is just the recipe you need to totally make over your next taco night! The tacos are made with chicken thighs braised in a bold, aromatic, flavor-packed sauce. Fill tortillas dipped in the birria sauce with melty, gooey Oaxaca cheese, saucy shredded chicken and a bit of onions and cilantro for the most amazing queso birria tacos you'll ever make!
Now, remember to save a bit of consomme for dipping the cheesy, saucy tacos into as you devour these tacos! The key to the birria sauce is the combination of dried guajillo, ancho and arbol chile peppers. Do not skip out on these dried peppers, it truly gives you a flavor that is unlike any other.
What is the difference between birria and regular tacos?
A taco is a filled tortilla. But a birria taco is a very specific taco.
So what's a birria taco? Birria tacos are filled with a shredded and stewed meat and served with the consomme sauce on the side. The meat is stewed in a sauce made with chiles, tomatoes, onions and spices. Birria tacos are filled with shredded stewed meat, filled simply with melty cheese (usually oaxaca), diced onions and cilantro. The tacos are meant to be dipped in the consommé as eaten, which makes for the ultimate spicy, savory, messy and mouthwatering experience!
Birria originated from Jalisco, Mexico. In Jalisco, birria tacos were originally made with goat because there was an overpopulation of the animal. They developed a method of cooking and seasoning the meat to help tenderize it, making it more palatable. Eventually the recipe traveled to Tijuana, where is also started the transformation into what we now know the popular birria tacos to be.
As the popularity of birria tacos rose, so did the number of variations like beef and pork birria tacos. And of course birria de pollo or chicken birria tacos!
Ingredients in Birria Sauce
- Dried Chiles - A mixture of dried chiles: guajillo, chile de arbol, and ancho. The chiles are actually not very spicy. Instead they provide the earthy, smokey and slight heat for the birria sauce. They also help to give the sauce that beautiful deep red color.
- Vegetables - For enhanced flavor in the birria consomme. Onions, Tomatoes, Garlic
- Spices - Oregano, Bay Leaves, Cumin, Paprika, Cinnamon
- Chicken Broth - helps to add more flavor to the sauce than just plain water
- Apple Cider Vinegar - this is not a typical ingredient in all birria taco recipes but I like to add a touch of acid into all meat recipes to cut the fat and salt better. Plus, the slight sweetness from the apple cider pairs well with the sweetness from the tomatoes and onions
How to easily make Chicken Birria Tacos
- Prep the dry chiles. Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles. Re-hydrate the chiles by simmering in water, tomatoes and onions.
- Blend the sauce. Blend the mixture of chiles, tomatoes, onions with the rest of the spices, to make the base of the sauce.
- Brown the meat. Brown chicken thighs on all sides (with onion) in a dutch oven pot.
- Add the sauce. Pour the blended sauce over the browned chicken thighs, let simmer for at least 30 minutes.
- Shred the chicken. Once the chicken is cooked, allow to cool. Remove the skin and bones. Shred the chicken, return the shredded chicken to the birria sauce and set aside until ready to assemble tacos.
- Assemble birria tacos. Heat cast iron skillet. Dip tortilla into birria sauce, cook on skillet for about 30 seconds. Flip the tortilla and fill with shredded birria chicken, shredded cheese, diced onion, and cilantro. Fold tortilla closed, cook until the cheese is melted.
- Serve with consomme. Enjoy the birria tacos by dipping into the consomme. Just be careful, it is a messy meal!
Chicken Birria Tacos
For Chicken Birria
- 2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs about 4 thighs, skin on
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 onion quartered
- 2 tomatoes quartered
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 dired ancho chiles
- 3 dried guajillo chiles
- 2 dried chiles de arbol or more if you like spicy
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 10-14 corn tortillas
- 6 ounces oaxaca cheese shredded, Monterrey Jack can also be used as a substitute
- ½ onion diced
- ¼ cup cilantro chopped
- lime wedges
Make the Chicken Birria Filling
- Remove the seeds and stems from the dried chiles. Place chiles in a pot with the onion, tomatoes, and one bay leaf and 2 cups of water, bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- While the chiles are simmering in the sauce, heat a large dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add oil. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper and place in the pot. Cook until chicken begins to brown, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove from heat until sauce is ready.
- Remove from the chiles and veggies from heat and allow to cool for a couple minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Carefully add the chiles, veggies and liquid to a blender. Add the chicken broth, garlic, oregano, paprika, cinnamon, cumin, and salt to the blender. Whirl until well blended.
- Heat the pot with the chicken to medium heat. Pour blended sauce over the chicken. Add in apple cider vinegar and remaining bayleaf. When the sauce begins to bubble, turn heat down to low and simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Turn off heat. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Allow the chicken to cool.
- Once chicken is cooled, remove from pot. Remove the bones and skin, and shred the meat. Return shredded chicken to pot with birria sauce and stir to coat. Taste for salt and pepper, adjust as needed.
Make the Chicken Birria Tacos
- Bring a cast iron or non stick skillet to medium heat and add about a teaspoon of cooking oil. Dip a tortilla in the birria sauce then place in the skillet. Cook for 30 seconds then flip. Add shredded cheese to the tortilla, as the cheese is melted add the shredded chicken, diced onion, and cilantro to one side of tortilla.
- Fold in half and cook 30 seconds on each side, until cheese is melted and tortilla begins to crisp up. Remove from skillet and repeat for each taco.
- Serve tacos warm with a side of birria sauce for dipping and lime wedges.