Chicken Birria Tacos are quicker and easier than beef, but just as tasty. Indulge your tastebuds with the signature homemade adobo to dip your fried tacos for extra flavor.
- Are chicken birria tacos a thing?
- Making birria tacos crunchy
- Is birria a goat meat?
- What do you serve with birria?
If you’re wondering, yes, these are those delicious looking crispy tacos that you’ve been seeing all over the internet. You can’t even search tacos without seeing a plate of tacos served with a little bowl of consomme for dipping.
Maybe we could describe it as the French dip of Mexico! Work with me here.
Is There Such A Thing As Chicken Birria Tacos?
The word birria means “braised meat”. The most typical meat used is goat and many die-hard connoisseurs will insist that you can’t have birria if it’s not made with goat.
If you are visiting Mexico, you will find birria served in a bowl like a stew or in tacos like the ones here. If looking for chicken, you would ask for “birria de pollo”. It’s not quite as popular as beef, but is popular in many kitchens because chicken is less expensive and doesn’t require a long cook time.
Using chicken makes everything easier and quicker. Since it’s less expensive, you can also enjoy it more often.
How Do You Make Birria Tacos Crunchy?
After working with it several times, I’ve found that the temperature of the frying oil must be high enough that it fries the tortillas instead of soaking into them.
If you are getting soft tortillas, try turning up the heat to fry them more quickly. Be careful to protect yourself from the hot oil, but you will definitely need to use the higher temperatures so the grease doesn’t have a chance to soak into the tortilla.
Make sure that you’re using fat instead of trying to fry them in the chile sauce alone. Keep vegetable oil or lard handy so you can replenish the fat in the skillet, as necessary.
Do I Have to Use An Instant Pot?
While I love using the Instant Pot, I know that not everyone has one. It makes a tender, juicy chicken. But, you could just as easily make this chicken birria on the stove or in the crockpot or even in the oven, if you wanted.
Because the red chile sauce is made from scratch, there are several ingredients. Once you get the sauce out of the way, though, you’ll simply braise the chicken thighs and assemble your tacos.
Although the more traditional birria is made with goat or lamb, or more recently, beef, I’ve decided to change the rules a bit. I’m using less expensive chicken, which also has the benefit of taking less time to cook.
What Chiles To Use In Birria Red Sauce?
For this chicken birria, I didn’t want something super spicy. I used a large handful of dried red Anaheim chiles, also known as California chiles. They smell sweet and fruity-ish. I’ve also used three Ancho chiles for a smoky flavor and only three small Chiles de Arbol since they’re pretty spicy.
Have a browse at all
Anaheim chiles aren’t spicy at all. To me, I feel like they’re like green bell peppers. They’re usually the same peppers in cans of mild diced green chiles.
I tried to add a little more heat by using the El Pato sauce. Although this sauce is spicy alone, it didn’t really turn out to give much heat when mixed in with the birria sauce.
If you want to add more heat, but still want to stick to the red color, try using a can of chipotle salsa instead.
You can also use Guajillo chiles or more Chiles de Arbol. Check out my Scoville Heat Scale to learn more about each of the chiles and how spicy they can be.
If you want, just shake in some cayenne pepper. That will definitely give it some kick.
What Cheese In Quesabirria Tacos?
I guess I should explain the difference between birria tacos and quesabirria tacos first. It’s easy. Quesabirria means that the tacos are made with meat and cheese. Queso=cheese.
Although I’ve used Chihuahua cheese (Menonita), you can use any melty cheese you can find. Oaxaca would be great, but it’s not available around here.
Try Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack for a spicy alternative. Mozzarella cheese could be used as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Birria is braised or steamed meat, traditionally made from goat or lamb. More recently, it’s made with beef roast, but it can be made with any meat.
Birria is a a mixture of flavors, filled with sweet, savory, spicy seasonings. Each bite is a taste explosion.
Birria comes from the town of Cocula in the State of Jalisco, Mexico. You are probably already familiar with the capital of Jalisco… Guadalajara. My great grandmother is from Guadalajara!
How Long Does It Take To Make Birria?
There are quite a few steps to making birria. It’s especially time consuming if you need to cook the beef two or three hours until tender.
To shorten the time involved, I’m using chicken, but there are still a lot of steps.
Like my tamales recipes, I’ve learned to do things by splitting up the steps. My tip? Make the sauce first, even the night before.
If you make the sauce the night before, the fat will set on the top, making it easier to remove and use to fry the tortillas the next day.
Using An Instant Pot
I’ve used an Instant Pot to braise the chicken in the red chile sauce. The Instant Pot is a great way to steam meat and tamales, making it great for Mexican food.
I’ve included instructions on using a covered skillet as well. It’s easy to use either one here.
Have a look at this Ninja Professional Plus Kitchen System (aff link) at Amazon. It’s the one we use and includes the blender, a food processor bowl and two to-go cups.
Can This Recipe Be Used For Beef?
It’s very easy to make these tacos with beef instead of chicken. Instead of a 10-minute cook time, you’ll need 70 minutes with natural release for a 2.5-3 pound chuck roast.
What To Serve With Birria?
If you decide to eat the birria as a stew, you can serve it with any typical sides. Check out my list of things to serve with tamales. You can use any of these.
If you decide to serve the meat assembled as chicken birria tacos as I’ve done, I don’t mind telling you that you don’t need any sides. I could easily eat them without anything else.
Okay, if you really want to add some sides, a little side salad and sliced avocado would be delicious. My Spanish rice recipe would be excellent as well.
I was able to find more history on birria and how birria became the hottest new taco trend.
Now, you’ll be able to jump on this trend right in your own home!
Chicken Birria Tacos Instant Pot or Stove +VIDEOTap to leave a star rating
For more information, be sure to check the recipe details in the attached 24Bite® post.
- 6-quart Instant Pot Pressure Cooker (or covered skillet)
- or Large Deep Skillet (see notes)
- or Dutch Oven
- or Crockpot
Red Chile Sauce
- 9 Red Anaheim Chiles, can be other dried red chiles; i.e. California or Guajillo
- 3 Ancho Chiles
- 3 Chiles de Arbol
- 6 Garlic Cloves, half a head of garlic, peeled
- ½ large Onion, other half is used later
- Water, about 6 cups, plus more as needed
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2.5 pounds Chicken Thighs, with skin and bone, or any other chicken
- 7.75 ounces El Pato Jalapeno Salsa, green can or whichever El Pato desired
- 1 teaspoon Oregano
- ½ teaspoon Cumin Powder
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon, chicken flavor, or other chicken bouillon (check for gluten free, if desired)
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 12 Corn Tortillas
- 8 ounces Queso Quesadilla Cheese, about 2 cups shredded, any white melty cheese can be substituted like Oaxaca or Monterey Jack
- ½ large Onion, diced, for topping
- Cilantro, for garnish
- Limes, sliced or quartered
NOTE: Instructions for Instant Pot here. See end of recipe card for crockpot, skillet and Dutch oven.
Red Chile Sauce
- Carefully split all dried chiles, remove seeds and membranes. Using a firm brush, wash the chiles under cool water. Place washed chiles, garlic and ½ onion in Instant Pot.
- Check the Instant Pot lid to ensure the seal is in place and nothing is blocking the vent. Place lid on top, turn and set lever to Sealing. Press the Manual (or Pressure Cook) button on the Instant Pot and set to high for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes of pressure, natural release for 5 minutes then quick release the remaining by turning off the sealing valve. Entire process should take about 20-25 minutes. Once pressure is fully released, remove lid and strain out the liquid.
- With tongs, remove chiles, garlic and onion and place in blender with 1 cup fresh water. (Discard cooking water.) Blend until smooth.
- Place a metal mesh strainer over a large bowl or 1-quart measuring cup. Pour the sauce through the strainer to remove the solids. Swirl a metal whisk or spoon in the sauce, gently scraping the sides and bottom of the strainer so the liquid will go through. Discard the solids. Add enough water to make 1 quart (or 4 cups). Set aside.
- Note: You can either continue directly to the remainder of the recipe or store the sauce in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before preparing the remainder.
- Place 2 tablespoons olive oil in Instant Pot and press saute. Allow to heat for about one minute. Place chicken thighs, skin side down in Instant Pot. As you place them, move them around a little in order to distribute the olive oil. Sear chicken for about 4 or 5 minutes for a golden brown then remove to a plate and set aside. If your saute feature tends to run too hot, it's okay to hit cancel and let it cool down a little bit before continuing the saute button. Once seared, press the Cancel button on the Instant Pot to reset and remove chicken to a plate. Set aside.
- Place Red Chile Sauce, El Pato, Oregano, Cumin, Salt and Bouillon in Instant Pot. Stir lightly to incorporate. Place Chicken and Bay Leaves in Instant Pot.
- Check the Instant Pot lid to ensure the seal is in place and nothing is blocking the vent. Place lid on top, turn and set lever to Sealing. Press the Manual (or Pressure Cook) button on the Instant Pot and set to high for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes of pressure, natural release for 5 minutes then quick release the remaining by turning off the sealing valve. Entire process should take about 20-25 minutes. Once pressure is fully released, remove lid. It will be HOT.
- Remove chicken thighs to plate. Remove skin and bones then shred or cut into pieces to fit into tortillas. Remove all cooking sauce to a separate bowl or container to make things easier for assembly. You'll want it to be big enough to dip the tortillas.
- Skim some of the fat from the cooking liquid (chile sauce) into a skillet on medium high heat. Depending on your cut of chicken, you may not have much fat in the sauce. You may need to supplement by adding some other fat (i.e., oil or lard) to the skillet. Dip a tortilla into the cooking sauce then place in hot skillet. This will splatter so use caution. Don't be tempted to turn down the heat. This requires the heat in order to make crispy tacos. If you cook it too slowly, it will be more like enchiladas and soak up too much of the sauce.
- Once one side of the tortilla is fried for about 30 seconds to one minute, turn it over. After another 30 seconds or so, add two tablespoons (or more) chicken and two tablespoons shredded cheese. Using two spatulas, fold over the tortilla in the middle. Press lightly and continue cooking about 30 seconds. Turn over and continue cooking. For more red color, spoon over more red sauce on each side while frying. Remove to paper towel lined plate. Repeat the frying until all tacos are used. Add more fat as needed.
- Dice the remaining ½ onion and open the tacos slightly to add the onion and chopped cilantro. Place extra sauce for dipping into little bowls. Stir in about a teaspoon diced onion and a pinch of chopped cilantro into each bowl of sauce. Place pieces of lime on the side to squeeze over the tacos. Serve immediately.
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