Ultimate Birria Quesatacos Recipe: How to Make Cheesy Beef Tacos

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Written By Hot Thai Restaurant

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Imagine sinking your teeth into a warm, cheesy quesataco dripping with rich, savory birria. This mouthwatering dish has taken culinary enthusiasts by storm, blending the heartiness of traditional Mexican stew with the irresistible pull of melted cheese. Originating from the Mexican state of Jalisco, birria was traditionally made with goat meat, but it’s commonly prepared with beef in tacos today.

The magic of birria quesatacos lies in their dual delight: the slow-cooked, spiced meat that’s both tender and flavorful, paired with crispy, golden-brown tortillas oozing with cheese. It’s a street food sensation that’s found its way into the hearts of food lovers worldwide. Whether you’re a seasoned taco aficionado or new to this delicious treat, preparing birria quesatacos at home will elevate your cooking game and satisfy your cravings for something uniquely delicious.


For the Birria

  • 3 lbs beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into large chunks
  • 4 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 3 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Water, for soaking chiles
  • 8-10 corn tortillas, ideally 6-inch
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella or Oaxaca cheese
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Limes, cut into wedges for serving
  • Cooking oil, for frying

Required Tools and Equipment

To craft the perfect birria quesatacos at home, you need the right tools and equipment. Here’s what you’ll be needing:

  • Large Pot or Dutch Oven: Ideal for slow-cooking the beef and developing deep flavors in the birria stew.
  • Blender: Necessary to blend the dried chiles and spices into a smooth, flavorful paste for the birria broth.
  • Mesh Strainer: This will help you strain the chile sauce, ensuring a silky texture free from solids.
  • Skillet or Griddle: Essential for frying the tortillas and melting the cheese to crispy perfection.
  • Cutting Board and Sharp Knife: Needed for chopping onions and cilantro and slicing lime wedges for garnishing.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: To accurately measure ingredients like spices, oil, and apple cider vinegar.
  • Tongs and Spatula: These will aid in handling and flipping the tortillas easily while frying.
  • Bowls: For mixing and prepping ingredients such as chopped onions and cheese.

Each piece of equipment plays a crucial role in achieving the tender, flavorful experience of birria quesatacos that you aspire to create. Ensure you have these tools ready before you begin to seamlessly flow through the cooking process.

Prep Work

Before diving into the cooking, getting your ingredients ready is crucial to ensure a smooth process. Here’s how to prepare your meat and chili peppers for your birria quesatacos.

Meat Preparation

Begin with the beef chuck roast. Trim off any excess fat and cut the meat into 2-inch cubes. This size allows the beef to cook evenly and absorb the spices better, making each bite tender and flavorful. Once cubed, place the beef in a large bowl and set aside. You’ll later combine these with aromatic spices and herbs to marinate, enhancing the rich flavors traditional to birria.

Chili Pepper Prep

For the chili peppers, you’ll need a combination of dried chiles like guajillo, ancho, and chipotle. Start by removing the stems and seeds from each chili pepper. It’s easier to use scissors to cut the top off and shake out most of the seeds. Once you’ve cleaned them, place the chilies into a large bowl.

Next, cover the chiles with boiling water to rehydrate them. Let them soak for about 20-30 minutes until they become soft and pliable. This step is essential as it makes the chiles easier to blend and ensures they impart a deep, complex flavor to your birria sauce. After soaking, drain the chiles but keep some of the soaking liquid, which you’ll use to blend the chiles into a smooth paste.

Cooking the Birria

Now that your beef is marinated and your chili paste is ready, let’s start cooking the birria which is the heart of your quesatacos. This process will transform your ingredients into a rich and flavorful stew.

Cooking the Meat

  1. Grab a large pot or Dutch oven and heat about 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Use just enough heat to get that oil shimmering without smoking.
  2. Add your marinated beef cubes to the pot. You’ll want to sear the cubes without crowding them. If necessary, do this in batches; this ensures each piece gets a beautifully browned crust, which locks in flavors.
  3. Cook each batch of beef for about 5 to 7 minutes, turning them occasionally until each side is nicely browned. Observing the rich color develop is key to judging when they’re ready.
  4. Once all the beef is browned and back in the pot, reduce the heat to low. This prepares the stage for slow cooking, which melds the flavors deep into the meat.
  1. To the pot containing the beef, stir in your chili paste, making sure to coat all the pieces evenly. This step intensifies the flavors by integrating the spicy, earthy tones of the paste with the beef.
  2. Pour in enough water to cover the beef by about an inch—this might be around 6 cups, depending on your pot size. Feel free to adjust the amount, ensuring all ingredients are well-submerged.
  3. Add in whole garlic cloves, bay leaves, and a bit of salt. These will infuse gentle background notes that complement the beef and chilies beautifully.
  4. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then cover and simmer. Let this simmer for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally. You’re looking for the beef to become tender enough to shred effortlessly with a fork.
  5. Throughout the cooking, skim off any excess fat that rises to the surface. This keeps the broth clear and rich without being overly greasy.

Executing these steps correctly is crucial as they develop the foundational flavors of your birria. As the stew cooks, the aroma should fill your kitchen, hinting at the delicious meal to come.

Assembling the Quesatacos

After your beef has been tenderly simmered to perfection and your broth is delightfully flavorful, it’s time to assemble the birria quesatacos that will bring joy to your taste buds.

Preparing the Tortillas

To start, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly brush both sides of your corn tortillas with the fat skimmed from your birria broth, giving them a slight sheen and added flavor. This step not only enhances the taste but also helps to prevent the tortillas from breaking when folding.

Place tortillas on the hot skillet, and cook them until they just start to get crispy on the edges, but flexible enough to fold. It usually takes about 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. Keep them warm by covering with a clean kitchen towel as you work through the batch.

Adding Cheese and Meat

On one side of each warm tortilla, sprinkle a generous layer of shredded cheese — Oaxaca or mozzarella works wonderfully for that perfect cheese pull. Allow the cheese to melt slightly before adding the main attraction.

Scoop a hearty amount of the tender, shredded beef onto the cheese. Make sure to drain it slightly if it’s too wet, as you want to keep your tortillas from becoming soggy. The heat from the tortillas will help further melt the cheese, binding beautifully with the juicy meat.

Fold the tortillas over, pressing gently to secure the filling inside. If desired, return the folded tacos to the skillet, pressing them lightly to create a crispy, golden exterior and ensuring the cheese is thoroughly melted, which should take about 2 minutes on each side.

As you finish each quesataco, keep them warm in the oven or under a cloth until ready to serve. This ensures each bite is as delicious as expected, combining the rich flavors of birria and the creamy, satisfying texture of melted cheese.

Serving Suggestions

Once your delightful birria quesatacos are crisply cooked and oozing with cheese, it’s time to think about how to serve them to maximize enjoyment.

Toppings and Sides

To elevate your quesatacos, you can add a variety of toppings that complement the rich flavors of the birria. Consider dolloping some fresh guacamole on top to add creaminess or sprinkle with finely chopped onions and fresh cilantro for a burst of freshness. A squeeze of lime adds a perfect touch of acidity that cuts through the richness of the meat.

On the side, serve your birria quesatacos with a bowl of consomé – the rich broth that the beef was stewed in. Dipping your quesatacos into this aromatic, spiced broth not only enhances the flavors but also ensures every bite is moist and delicious. For those who enjoy a bit of heat, a side of spicy salsa verde or roasted chili salsa can be a perfect addition. Consider rounding off the meal with a simple side salad dressed with a lime and honey vinaigrette to balance the savory notes of the quesatacos.


Now that you’ve got all the tips and tricks up your sleeve to whip up some delicious birria quesatacos it’s time to gather your ingredients and get cooking! This dish is not just about satisfying your cravings but also about bringing a piece of culinary art to your table. Whether you’re hosting a party or just spicing up your dinner routine these quesatacos are sure to impress. So why wait? Let your kitchen be the stage for this flavorful adventure. Enjoy every bite and don’t forget to share the joy with your loved ones!

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