If you’ve never made Smoked Beef Birria Tacos, you need to give these a try! They’re loaded with meat that has been smoked then braised on low heat for hours, until fall apart tender. 

These are hands down one of my favorite things to make at our house for Taco Tuesday. The great thing about them is that you are cooking larger cuts of meat, which means you’ll have great leftovers!

Ingredients you will need to make Smoked Beef Birria Tacos

I want to start off by stating that this Birria tacos recipe is not traditional, but the best part about cooking is that there are always different cooking techniques to try. 

Protein: Beef cheeks and beef short ribs 

Consume: Ancho chili peppers, guajillo peppers, garlic cloves, white or red onion, Roma tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, beef broth, cinnamon stick and bay leaves 

Tacos: Corn tortillas, Oaxaca Cheese, cilantro and onion 

How to make Smoked Beef Birria Tacos 

Preparing the meat

Start by trimming the excess fat and silver skin off of the beef cheeks and short ribs – I got both of these from BetterFed Beef. Both of these cuts provide different flavor and texture to this cook. 

Beef cheeks are a tough cut of meat that comes from the cheek muscle of a cow. When they are cooked slowly, the connective tissue breaks down and you’ll have a super tender, flavorful meat.

Beef short ribs are also a cut of beef that is best to cook low and slow. They are well marbled and have a ton of great flavor in them – especially when braising them with the bone.

Use yellow mustard as a binder to help the seasoning stick, then generously coat the cheeks and ribs with SPG (salt, pepper, garlic powder) on all sides.

Insert the MEATER Plus to monitor the internal temp throughout this cook. I looking for a target temperature of 200-205°F internal which means it will easily shred apart. 

Smoking the cuts of meat

Set the smoker to 250 degrees f and add in some chunk of wood. The best woods to use are oak or cherry wood which will give it some great smoke flavor.

Place the beef cheeks and ribs on the grill grate so they smoke indirectly for 2 hours.

If you do not have a smoker, you can also sear the beef in a dutch oven over medium-high heat on each side then braise them.

Braising the vegetables

Place the peppers, onion, tomatoes and garlic in a large pot or dutch oven with 3 cups of hot water. Bring it to a boil, then turn the heat off and let them sit for 15 minutes until softened. 

Remove them from the dutch oven and place them in a food processor. Add 1 cup of the braising liquid from the dutch oven then blend it.

Once they are blended together, set the blended ingredients aside and discard of the excess braising liquids. 

Braising the smoked meat

Remove the beef cheeks and ribs from the smoker once the bark is set and they have reached an internal temperature of 165°F.

Place them in the empty dutch oven, then pour in the blended peppers, onions, tomatoes and garlic. Add in the bay leaves, cinnamon and enough beef broth to fully cover all of the meat.

As a variation, you could also use a slow cooker crock pot, or an instant pot pressure cooker.

Put the cover on the dutch oven, then bring it to a low simmer and cook for and additional 2-3 hours until fall apart tender. 

Remove the meat from the dutch oven and let it cool down. Shred the tender beef and place it in a separate bowl, then pour in a cup of the consume from the dutch oven.

Be sure to discard of any large fat chunks that may be visible.

smoked beef birria braising in a dutch oven

Assemble the Smoked Beef Birria Tacos

Now it’s time to make the tacos. I used a large skillet for this (12-inch cast iron skillet), but you can also use a flat top if you own one.

Once the skillet is at a medium heat, dip the corn tortillas into the dutch oven. Get the tortilla coated in the top layer of beef fat from the dutch oven, then place it down in the hot skillet. 

Add Oaxaca Cheese, some shredded smoked meat, cilantro, diced onion and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Fold the fully loaded tortilla in half and let it cook for 1-2 minutes each side until the cheese melts. 

smoked beef birria tacos in a skillet

Serve them up on a plate with a bowl of consume to dip the tacos in and enjoy!

Smoked Beef Birra Taco FAQs

What can I do with the leftover meat?

You can store them refrigerated in an airtight container for 3-4 days or you can freeze them.

I also made a Smoked Birria Grilled Cheese and it was by far one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten. Another idea is to make some Birria Sliders for an easy leftover meal that everyone will love!

Can I use different cuts of meat?

Birria tacos are traditionally made with goat meat, but you’re likely not finding that at any local grocery stores.

The best way to accommodate is to use different type of meat such as: beef cheeks, beef short ribs, beef chuck roast or even pork shoulder.

Make sure you stick to beef cuts that are well marbled so that they will easily shred. 

Looking for other taco recipes?

Be sure to check out some of my other favorite taco recipes below!

Steak and Shrimp Chimichurri Tacos

Smoked Brisket Street Corn Tacos

Grilled Steak and Corn Tacos

Steak Street Corn Tacos

BBQ Pork Rib Elote Tacos

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Smoked beef birria tacos

Smoked Beef Birria Tacos

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 4 reviews

Smoked Birria tacos are a major upgrade to taco night. Smoked then braised beef cheeks and ribs are the star of the show bringing nothin but flavor in each and every bite!

  • Total Time: 5 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 24 tacos 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 pounds of beef cheeks
  • 2 pounds of beef short ribs
  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 3 ancho chiles
  • 3 guajlo chiles
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 4 cups of water
  • 4 cups of beef broth
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 bay leaves 

For the tacos

  • 1 cup shredded Oaxaca cheese
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 8 Yellow Corn Tortillas

Instructions

  1. Trim the excess fat and silver skin off of the meat, then season them with salt, pepper, garlic powder.
  2. Smoke them at 250°F for 2 hours
  3. Place the onion, garlic, tomatoes, and peppers in a dutch oven with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then shut the heat off and let them sit for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove vegetables and place in a blender with 1 cup of braising liquid and blend.
  5. Place the smoked meat in a dutch oven and pour in the blended vegetables and add in beef broth.
  6. Simmer on low heat for 2-3 hours until the meat is fall apart tender.
  7. Remove meat from the dutch oven, shred it and place it in a separate bowl with some consume 
  8. Dip the tortillas in the consume then place in the hot skillet. Add Oaxaca Cheese, smoked meat, cilantro and onion then close the tortilla and cook for 1-2 minutes each side.
  9. Serve with a bowl of consume from the dutch oven and enjoy!

Notes

chuck roast is a good alternative meat.

  • Author: Nick Nesgoda
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 hours
  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: smoking / braising
  • Cuisine: Mexican

6 Comments

  1. Excellent recipe! I had a question though. One part said chipotle peppers in adobo sauce but the ingredient list said guajlo peppers….?






    • Hi Britt, thanks for catching that! I forgot to add the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in the recipe card. I just added it in there. You will use all three types of peppers in this cook.

  2. Dawn 𝖢𝗈𝗈𝗄 Reply

    Your recipes are amazing! Have made the Birria tacos several times with Beef and Pork! They are out of this world! Thank you!






  3. Some of the best tacos I’ve ever had… Loved the smoke flavor that came through. I was very intimidated at first, but they were actually really easy to make. A regular for me moving forward!






  4. The whole family loved this one. I used chuck roast instead of beef cheeks and ribs and it turned out great. It was hard to find Oaxaca cheese, but they had it in the deli section of my grocery store!






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