When it comes to birria tacos, we are in love. But we wanted a quick and easy birria recipe that didn’t involve making a consume from scratch or dry roasting peppers. So we cut down the steps and perfected an easy version in this Insta Pot Birria. 

Platter of chessy birra de res tacos with minced onion and cilantro topping.

In this recipe:

Have you tried tacos de birria yet? If not, stop what you’re doing and hit your local authentic taco shop and have your world changed. These hearty messy tacos are shredded meat served with a layer of cheese, fried, and with a rich consume on the side for dipping. But making the best birria tacos can be a long but rewarding process. 

Our authentic birria recipe starts with a beef neck and homemade pepper puree from dried chiles. Then, it’s braised in a Dutch oven and served as a Mexican beef stew. The result is impressive; the shredded beef created the best quesabirria tacos we could ask for. But we wanted to know whether we could speed the process up and still get fantastic flavor. 

Can you make birria in an instant pot? 

We wanted a truly easy birria recipe: toss everything into the pressure cooker and return to a finished dish. No rehydrating peppers, no making consomme. Just a quick recipe for excellent birria de res. And yes, after testing a few versions to maximize the pressure cooker for a deeper flavor, we came to a quick recipe for weeknight birria queso tacos.

But first, we needed to determine the best meat for birria. Our traditional recipes started with a beef neck, a tough cut that needs hours to break down to become tender. For this instant pot birria recipe, we went with a smaller, underutilized cut and one of our favorites. 

Beef cheek on a black background seasoned with salt.

What is beef cheek?

Beef cheek is an underused unique cut from the cheek of the cow, and under or around a pound for both. Because this is one of the most worked muscles on the animal, it’s tough unless cooked long enough to allow the connective tissue to break down. Then the bold, beefy flavor shines through for tender bites. 

This cut loves a slow smoke or braise, like in our braised beef cheek ragu. The meat can take the time needed to break down and gently become fork tender.

It also does well in the Insta Pot, where the meat cooks faster under high pressure but still has its strong beefy flavor. If you can’t get your hands on beef cheeks, check out our trusted places to buy meat online or use a chuck roast or boneless short ribs instead.

By tossing all of the ingredients into the instant pot, then shredding the meat after it cooks, we were able to get shredded birria and consome in one go. All we had to do after that was fry the birria tacos. 

Ingredients for birria in the pressure cooker.

Ingredients 

For the instant pot birria

  • Beef Cheeks – if you need help finding beef cheeks, see where we order meat online for great sources. Alternatively, a chuck roast, short ribs, or beef shank would also work. 
  • White Onion
  • Garlic cloves
  • Chipotle Chiles in Adobo Sauce – find these in the Latin area of your local grocery store in small cans
  • Bay Leaves
  • Oregano 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Ancho chili powder or Dark chili powder
  • Cumin 
  • Beef stock or broth – we love our homemade roasted beef bone broth.

For the birria taco recipe

  • Tortillas – flour or fresh corn tortillas (stale corn tortillas will fall apart, fresh is best)
  • Monterey Jack Cheese – or your favorite mild melting cheese like Oaxaca cheese 
  • Onion 
  • Jalapeno 
  • Fresh Cilantro 
  • Fresh Limes

How to Make Instant Pot Birria

Make the insta pot birria

  • Start by removing the beef cheeks from the package and patting them dry with paper towels. Then, season them with salt and set them aside. 
  • Add the diced onion and remaining ingredients for the birria into the instant pot and nestle the beef cheeks in. 
  • Secure the lid and set it to pressure cook for one hour and twenty minutes. 
  • When the instant pot has finished pressure cooking the birria, let the pressure vent naturally for 10 minutes before carefully releasing the remaining steam and removing the top. 
  • Transfer the beef cheeks to a bowl and shred them with two forks. Spoon a little of the cooking liquid into the shredded beef to moisten it. 
  • Remove the bay leaf from the birria sauce.
  • Using an immersion blender, puree the birria sauce and strain it into a large bowl. If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a food processor for this step.
  • Now, you can chill and store the birria and consomme for later or serve immediately.

Make the birria de res tacos

  • Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. 
  • Dip the tortillas into the consomme liquid and let them drip dry before adding them to the preheated skillet. 
  • Quickly sprinkle the shredded cheese onto the tortilla and spoon the shredded beef birria over top. 
  • Fold the tortilla over to make a taco and fry on both sides until the cheese has melted. 
  • Mince the onion, jalapeno, and cilantro and mix in a small bowl. 
  • Serve the Insta Pot birria tacos hot with a cup of the birria broth for dipping, the onion mixture and a spritz of fresh lime juice from lime wedges. 
Hand dipping birria de res taco into consommé.

Girl Carnivore Expert Tips: 

  • Ensure the instant pot sits on a counter with free space above it, not under any cabinetry. The hot steam can damage the underside of cabinets when it vents. 
  • If the meat is not fork-tender, reseal the pressure cooker and cook for another 15 minutes with a quick release. 
  • Remember, the time calculation on pressure cooker recipes needs to consider the time for your instant pot to come to pressure and seal. Only when the pressure has formed will the timer start counting down. 

What to serve with insta pot birria tacos 

Besides serving this with a hot cup of consomme for a dipping sauce and the minced onion jalapeno mix, the answer for what to serve with instant pot birria tacos is simply, more cheesy tacos. 

But if you really want to round this out with side dishes, try a light salad, charred peppers and onions, black beans, cauliflower rice, or traditional rice. 

Overhead shot of birria de res tacos lined up on a plate for serving.

Leftovers and Storage

Leftover birria can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat by frying it in a preheated cast iron skillet or in small bursts in the microwave. 

We do not recommend storing leftovers as quesabirria tacos because they will get soggy. Instead, use the leftovers to make fresh birria tacos or garnachas as needed. 

The shredded beef can be sealed in a bag and stored in the freezer for up to three months. Store the beef broth separately in an airtight container and freeze it for up to three months. 

Instant pot birria tacos on a platter with a cup of consommé for dipping and minced onions as sprinkled over top to show melty cheesy and fried tortillas.

Recipe FAQs

Why is the birria meat tough? 

Traditional birria uses a tough cut of beef with lots of connective tissues. It can take hours of braising for them to break down, at which point the beef becomes tender. A pressure cooker is a terrific tool for speeding up this process, cooking the meat under pressure often a fraction of the time. If you release the steam and find the beef cheeks are still too tough to shred easily with a fork, seal the pressure cooker again and set it for another 15 minutes to let it cook a little longer. 

Can you make birria in a slow cooker?

This recipe is perfect for the slow cooker. Follow it as instructed, placing everything in the crock pot and adding a bit more liquid if needed. Set the crock pot to low heat and allow all the spices and beef cheeks to slow cook until easily shredded with a fork, 8 to 9 hours. Shred the meat and follow the recipe as directed in the detailed recipe card for beef birria tacos.

Birria vs. Barbacoa 

Although barbacoa can sometimes refer to the type of meat itself, often goat meat or lamb, the cooking method of barbacoa and birria are different. Barbacoa is slow-roasted or smoked meat, traditionally in a pit but now grills or smokers, for tender, delicious meat. Birria, on the other hand, is stewed or braised, allowing the tough cuts to simmer in a liquid to become tender over time. 
Lamb barbacoa also makes amazing tacos but has a different flavor than birria.

More Easy Insta pot Recipes to make

When it comes to mouthwatering recipes, this Insta Pot birria tacos may be one of our new weeknight heroes. When you try it, rate the recipe and drop a comment below for the next reader!

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Insta Pot Birria

5 from 20 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 15 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 8
Make this delicious birria recipe in the pressure cooker then shred the meat and and serve it as cheesy birria tacos!

Ingredients  

For the instant pot birria

  • 2 lbs Beef cheeks
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
  • 2 tbsp Chipotle Chilies in Adobo
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • ½ tsp Ancho chili powder or Dark chili powder
  • 1 tbsp Cumin
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup Beef Broth

For the birria tacos

  • 8 Corn tortillas or Flour tortillas
  • ¾ cup Cheese like Monterey Jack or Oaxaca, shredded
  • ½ Onion diced
  • 1 Jalapeno stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 2 tbsp Cilantro minced
  • 2 Fresh Limes sliced into weges

Instructions 

Make the insta pot birria

  • Remove the beef cheeks from the package and patting them dry with paper towels.
  • Season them with salt and set them aside.
  • Add the diced onion, garlic, chipotle chiles in adobo, bay leaves, oregano, ancho powder, cumin, black pepper, and beef stock to the instant pot.
  • Nestle the beef cheeks into the instant pot.
  • Secure the lid and set it to pressure cook for one hour and twenty minutes.
  • Allow for a natural release for 10 minutes before manually releasing the remaining pressure.
  • Carefully transfer the beef cheeks to a bowl and shred them with two forks. Spoon a little of the cooking liquid into the shredded beef to moisten it.
  • Remove the bay leaf from the birria sauce.
  • Using an immersion blender, puree the birria sauce and strain it into a large bowl. If you don't have an immersion blender, use a food processor for this step.
  • Set the birria aside to cool and store for later or immediately use as taco filling.

Make the birria de res tacos

  • Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Dip the tortillas into the consomme liquid and let them drip dry before adding them to the preheated skillet.
  • Quickly sprinkle cheese onto the tortilla and spoon the shredded beef birria over top.
  • Fold the tortilla over to make a taco and fry on both sides.
  • Mince the onion, jalapeno, and cilantro and mix in a small bowl.

Serve

  • Serve the birria tacos hot with a cup of the birria broth for dipping, the onion mixture and a spritz of fresh lime juice from lime wedges.

Notes

  • Ensure the instant pot sits on a counter with free space above it, not under any cabinetry. The hot steam can damage the underside of cabinets when it vents. 
  • If the meat is not fork-tender, reseal the pressure cooker and cook for another 15 minutes with a quick release. 
  • Remember, the time calculation on pressure cooker recipes needs to consider the time for your instant pot to come to pressure and seal. Only when the pressure has formed will the timer start counting down. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 323kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 89mg | Sodium: 580mg | Potassium: 507mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 194IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 135mg | Iron: 4mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Author: Kita Roberts

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Well, Hey, Y’all.

Kita is a multi-talented individual, boasting numerous accomplishments such as being an award-winning recipe developer, world-traveled professional photographer, and journalist. As the lead creative force behind Girl Carnivore®, she is widely recognized as an authority on all things meat.

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