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Chicken Birria Tacos

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This fall-apart-tender chicken birria recipe is simmered for hours in a flavorful sauce brimming with smoky Mexican chilies and spices.

Overhead view of chicken birria tacos served on a platter next to a bowl of sauce for dipping.

Why You’ll Love This Chicken Birria Recipe

  • Easy spin on a classic. These chicken tacos put an easy spin on a classic Mexican birria recipe.
  • Full of flavor. The chicken in this recipe gets slow-cooked in broth until it’s tender and juicy, then shredded and combined with a spicy, flavorful sauce. Afterward, we stuff the shredded chicken into corn tortillas that are fried until golden and crispy. So good!
  • Versatile. Why stop at tacos? Chicken birria stores and freezes like a dream, meaning that you can use your leftovers for even more easy meal ideas.

What You’ll Need

Below is a brief summary of the ingredients you’ll need to make chicken birria tacos. Remember to scroll to the recipe card for the full recipe details.

For the chicken birria:

  • Olive Oil – I prefer to cook with extra virgin olive oil. However, your preferred mild-flavored cooking oil (like vegetable oil or avocado oil) will also work.
  • Tomatoes – Choose ripe, juicy tomatoes for the best sweetness and flavor. Any variety will do.
  • Onion and Garlic – Our essential aromatics. You’ll need one white or yellow onion and a handful of whole garlic cloves (I use 10 cloves, but you can adapt the number to suit). 
  • Spices – All spice, black peppercorns, cinnamon, cumin, oregano and bay leaves.
  • Chili peppers – We’ll use a combination of ancho chilies and guajillo chilies. Feel free to adapt the amount of chili to taste.
  • Vinegar – I add a splash of white vinegar for acidity. 
  • Chicken Breast – You’ll need about 3 ½ pounds of bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. You could also use chicken thighs if you prefer.

For the tacos: 

  • Corn tortillas – Don’t use flour tortillas, as you’ll wind up with birria burritos instead.
  • Oil – For pan-frying.
  • Shredded Cheese – Mexican cheeses like Chihuahua, Oaxaca, and Manchego are best.

How to Make Chicken Birria Tacos

Ready to make some delicious, authentic Mexican-style chicken tacos? Here’s a quick overview of how to make them. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions.

Prepare the Chicken Birria

  • Cook the veggies. Cook some of the veggies and spices with the vinegar until tender.
  • Make the sauce. Add the veggies to a blender and sprinkle in the cumin and oregano. Pulse the mixture until smooth, then season to taste.
  • Cook the chicken. You can use the same pot you used to cook your veggies. Add just enough water to cover the chicken and toss in the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the meat is tender.
  • Add the sauce. When the chicken is cooked through, add the blended sauce to the pot. Give it a good stir to combine, then boil and simmer the chicken again for an additional hour. This process creates a flavorful broth, also called a consomé in Mexican cooking. Finally, take the pot off the heat. Don’t forget to pluck out the bay leaves.
Shredded chicken tossed in sauce.
  • Shred the chicken. Let the chicken cool then shred it with two forks.
  • Save the cooking liquid (consomé). We are going to use it!
  • Mix the chicken. Next, combine the shredded chicken with a bit of your consomé and toss to coat.
  • Coat the tortillas. Heat the corn tortillas on a warm (not hot) griddle to soften them up. Then, dip each tortilla into your pot of consomé. Transfer the dipped tortillas to a plate.

Make the Tacos

With your shredded chicken prepared and your corn tortillas ready to go, it’s time to fry up these birria tacos. This is very easy to do. Begin by heating a bit of vegetable oil in a pan for frying, then proceed with assembling your tacos.

  • Fill the tortillas. Add a few spoonfuls of shredded chicken to one-half of each corn tortilla. Sprinkle on some shredded cheese, then fold the tortilla over like a quesadilla.
  • Fry. Place the taco into the pan with hot oil and fry for 2-4 minutes per side, until golden.
  • Serve. Once all your chicken birria tacos are fried and crispy, it’s time to dig in. Serve the tacos with additional consomé for dipping, or pour the sauce right over top.

Tips for the Best Chicken Birria Tacos

  • Give the meat enough time to cook. Low and slow cooking is the secret to tender, fall-apart chicken.
  • Dip and fry the tortillas. Frying the corn tortillas after dipping them in the consomé adds tons of flavor and the best crispy texture. Don’t skip it!
  • What kinds of tortillas are best? Not all corn tortillas are created equally and many of the varieties you find at the grocery store will fall apart quite easily. My favorite brand of store-bought corn tortillas is La Tortilla Factory Yellow Corn & Wheat Tortillas.
A row of chicken birria tacos served on a platter.

Serving Suggestions

Chicken birria is delicious as is, with a squeeze of lime to brighten the flavor. Or, you can get creative. Serve your cheesy chicken tacos with one or more of these easy topping ideas: 

  • Salsa Macha – This is a favorite Mexican condiment for adding flavor and an extra spicy kick. Also called “black magic oil”, it’s very simple to make, and a little goes a long way.
  • Pico De Gallo – An easy homemade salsa recipe that’s perfect for restaurant-style tacos.
  • Homemade Guacamole – My go-to, 5-minute guacamole recipe. Creamy avocado has a lovely cooling effect next to the chilies in this chicken birria.

We’ll turn our chicken birria tacos into a meal by pairing them with a side of Frijoles de la Olla or Instant Pot Mexican Rice. If you’re entertaining, wash everything down with a fresh and easy Blood Orange Margarita. 

A hand holds a chicken birria taco dipped into a bowl of sauce.

Ways to Use Leftover Chicken Birria Meat

  • Quesadillas or Mulitas: Make a simple quesadilla with some cheese, tortillas and leftover meat. Or go-to-town by adapting by using chicken birria instead of beef in my mulitas recipe.
  • Flautas & taquitos: Add chicken birria to my black bean taquitos, or adapt this birria flautas recipe.
  • Enchiladas: Use extras to make enchiladas suizas or birria enchiladas.
  • Burritos: Stuff extra meat into flour tortillas along with leftover rice, refried beans and your favorite kind of cheese.
  • Pizza: Yes, you can add birria meat to pizza! I have a birria pizza recipe that you can use, just swap the beef birria for chicken birria.

How to Store Extra Chicken Birria

I don’t recommend storing the assembled tacos for later, as the tortillas can become soggy after a while. However, you can store the chicken birria for later, then make more tacos.

  • Fridge. Let the birria meat cool, then transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Freezer. Store the shredded chicken inside an airtight container or freezer bag and freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw your chicken birria in the fridge before reheating and serving.

Enjoy!

Chicken Birria Tacos

5 from 1 rating
Mexican-style chicken birria tacos made with fall-apart-tender chicken cooked in a flavorful consomé brimming with chilies and spices.
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time2 hours 40 minutes
Total Time3 hours 40 minutes
Yield: 16 servings

Ingredients

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 9 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 large white onion, roughly chopped
  • 10 medium garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • ½ large cinnamon stick
  • 5 ancho chiles, seeds and stem removed
  • 8 guajillo chiles, seeds and stem removed
  • 1 ½ tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Kosher salt to taste

For the chicken:

  • 3.5 pounds chicken breasts, skin-on
  • Water, for boiling
  • 2 bay leaves

For the tacos:

  • 3-4 pounds of corn tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound shredded Chihuahua cheese

Instructions

  • Cook the veggies. Add the oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, allspice, black peppercorns, cinnamon, chile ancho, chile guajillo, and white vinegar. Let them cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then place the lid on the pot and cook for another 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will help cook and soften all the veggies in the pot evenly and not just those at the bottom of the pot.
  • Blend & strain the sauce. Add all of the cooked veggies and spices into the blender. Add the ground cumin and dried oregano. Process until you get a smooth mixture. Season with salt to taste and blend again. Strain the sauce and set it aside.
  • Cook the chicken. Rinse the large pot in which you cooked the veggies. You can also use a separate pot. Place the chicken inside. Cover it with water and add the bay leaves. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Next, reduce the heat to medium-low and let the chicken simmer for 1-1.5 hours or until cooked through. Occasionally remove the scum and foam that forms on top of the broth.
  • Pour in the sauce. Add the sauce to the chicken broth and stir well. Season with salt to taste. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Let it simmer for another hour or until reduced and slightly thickened. Remove it from the heat and set it aside. Remove the bay leaves.
  • Shred the chicken. Remove the chicken from the pot and let it cool down slightly. Discard the chicken skin. Use two forks to carefully shred the chicken. Set it aside.
  • Save the cooking liquid (consomé). We are going to use the extra liquid from cooking the chicken to coat the chicken, tortillas, and also for dipping later on.
  • Mix the chicken. Add the chicken to a large bowl and pour in 2-3 cups of consomé (the broth with sauce.) Mix to combine. Set it aside.
  • Coat the tortillas. Heat the tortillas in a warm griddle or comal over low heat until bendy and pliable. Dip them in the pot of consomé (until completely coated) and then set them on a plate.
  • Make the tacos. Add the vegetable oil to a large pan. Fill half of each tortilla with 3-4 tablespoons of the prepared shredded chicken. Sprinkle with cheese so that the tacos have a nice amount of melty cheese in them after they are cooked. Fold the tacos in half, like quesadillas. Fry them over medium heat for 2-4 minutes on each side or until golden and crispy.
  • Serve. Place the tacos on serving plates. Place a small bowl of consomé on the side for dipping or pour the consomé right over them. Enjoy.
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Nutrition

Calories: 377kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 170mg | Potassium: 964mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 3980IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 101mg | Iron: 3mg
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as a courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.
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