Birria Sauce: A Flavorful Guide for Authentic Mexican Cuisine

Sabrina Dawson

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Birria sauce, also known as birria consomé, is a traditional Mexican sauce that has taken the culinary world by storm. Its rich, spicy, and smoky flavors make it an incredibly versatile sauce that can elevate a variety of dishes. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the history, ingredients, preparation methods, and numerous ways to use this delicious sauce. By the end, you’ll be equipped with everything you need to make and enjoy birria sauce at home.

Pressure Cooker Birria Tacos

Birria sauce is a cornerstone of Mexican cuisine, known for its deep, complex flavors. Traditionally used as a base for beef birria, this sauce has found its way into numerous dishes, from tacos to soups and even pizzas. Making birria sauce from scratch might seem daunting, but with the right ingredients and a bit of patience, you can create a sauce that brings a taste of Mexico into your kitchen.

History and Origins

Birria originated in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, and was traditionally made with goat meat. Over time, it evolved to include other meats like beef, lamb, and chicken. The sauce itself is a consomé, a type of broth enriched with a blend of spices and chiles, giving it a distinctively rich and flavorful profile.


Gluten Free Birria Tacos with Beef Consommé

Dried Chiles

The backbone of birria sauce’s flavor comes from dried chiles. The most commonly used varieties are:

  • 4 dried Guajillo Peppers: These are mildly spicy with a sweet and tangy flavor.
  • 4 dried Ancho Chiles: Dried poblano peppers that offer a smoky and slightly sweet taste.
  • 2 dried Chiles de Arbol: These add significant heat and a bit of sharpness to the sauce.

Onion and Garlic

Onion and garlic form the aromatic base of the sauce. They provide a depth of flavor that complements the spiciness of the chiles.

Roma Tomatoes

Roma tomatoes add a bright, acidic element to the sauce, balancing the rich and smoky flavors.

Herbs and Spices

A combination of herbs and spices is essential to achieve the traditional birria flavor. These include:

  • 2 tsp Mexican Oregano: Different from Mediterranean oregano, it has a more robust flavor.
  • 1 tsp Cumin: Adds a warm, earthy note.
  • 1 tsp Coriander: Lends a citrusy and slightly sweet flavor.
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper: For a touch of heat.
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon: Provides warmth and sweetness.
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cloves: Adds a hint of sweetness and complexity.
  • 2 Bay Leaves: Adds subtle flavor during simmering.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar adds a tangy note that balances the richness of the sauce. It also helps tenderize the meat if used as a marinade.

How to Make Birria Sauce

Vegan Birria Tacos

Toasting the Dried Chiles

Toasting the chiles is an essential step to bring out their full flavor. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Cut the dried chiles open with a knife or kitchen shears and remove the seeds and stems.
  2. Heat a cast-iron or heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the chiles in a single layer and toast for 3-4 minutes until fragrant and puffing up. Watch closely to avoid burning them.

Cooking the Vegetables and Spices

After toasting the chiles, it’s time to cook the vegetables and spices:

  1. In the same skillet, add chopped onions, garlic cloves, and Roma tomatoes.
  2. Cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables start to soften.
  3. Add the spices (kosher salt, oregano, cumin, coriander, black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves) and cook for an additional minute.

Soaking the Chiles

Next, you need to rehydrate the toasted chiles:

  1. Add the toasted chiles to the skillet with the cooked vegetables.
  2. Pour in the chicken or beef broth and add the apple cider vinegar.
  3. Bring to a simmer, then cover and let it sit off the heat for 30 minutes to soften the chiles.

Blending the Sauce

Once the chiles are softened, it’s time to blend everything together:

  1. Transfer the mixture to a blender or use an immersion blender.
  2. Blend until smooth. For a finer consistency, strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer.
  3. Adjust the thickness by adding more broth if needed.

Ways to Use Birria Sauce

Birria Tacos With Consommé Dipping Sauce - More Momma! | Recipe | Tacos beef, Recipes, Taco recipes

Beef Birria

One of the most popular uses for birria sauce is beef birria. Here’s a basic method:

  1. Marinate beef chunks in birria sauce for a few hours or overnight.
  2. Cook the marinated beef on the stove, slow cooker, or Instant Pot until tender.
  3. Serve with the consomé (sauce) and enjoy with tortillas, cilantro, and lime.

Chicken Birria

For a lighter alternative, try chicken birria:

  1. Marinate chicken pieces in birria sauce.
  2. Cook in a slow cooker or on the stove until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
  3. Shred the chicken and serve with the sauce.

Quesabirria Tacos

Quesabirria tacos are a fusion of birria and quesadillas:

  1. Dip tortillas in the birria consomé and fry them in a skillet.
  2. Add cheese and cooked birria meat to the tortillas, fold, and cook until crispy.
  3. Serve with a side of consomé for dipping.

Birria Ramen

Combine Mexican and Japanese cuisines with birria ramen:

  1. Prepare ramen noodles according to the package instructions.
  2. Add birria sauce to the broth and top with birria meat.
  3. Garnish with fresh herbs, lime, and a soft-boiled egg.

Birria Pizza

For a unique twist, try birria pizza:

  1. Use birria sauce as the base instead of tomato sauce.
  2. Top with shredded birria meat and cheese.
  3. Bake until the crust is crispy and the cheese is melted.

Other Uses

Birria sauce is incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of ways:

  • Rice: Mix with cooked rice for a flavorful side dish.
  • Scrambled Eggs: Stir into scrambled eggs for a spicy breakfast.
  • Tamales: Use as a filling or mix into the masa.
  • Enchiladas: Replace traditional enchilada sauce with birria sauce.
  • Burritos: Drizzle inside burritos or chimichangas.

Storage and Reheating

Beef Birria Queso Tacos

Storage: Cool the birria sauce to room temperature and store in an airtight container. It will last up to 5-6 days in the fridge.

Freezing: For longer storage, freeze the sauce in freezer-safe bags or containers for up to 3 months. Label and date the containers before freezing.

Thawing: Thaw in the fridge overnight.

Reheating: Reheat in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5-7 minutes.

Variations and Customizations

Customize your birria sauce to suit your taste preferences:

  • Spicy: Increase the number of arbol chiles or add piquin chiles.
  • Smoky: Add morita or meco chipotle peppers or canned chipotle peppers in adobo.
  • Consistency: Adjust the consistency by adding more broth for a thinner sauce or reducing it for a thicker dip.

Tips for Making Perfect Birria Sauce

  1. Remove Seeds: Removing the seeds from the chiles helps prevent a bitter taste.
  2. Strain the Sauce: For the smoothest consistency, strain the sauce after blending.
  3. Watch the Chiles: Avoid burning the chiles as it can impart a bitter flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is birria sauce spicy? Birria sauce typically has a medium heat level from the ancho, arbol, and guajillo chiles. Adjust the heat by modifying the types and quantities of chiles used.

Can I use fresh chiles instead of dried chiles? Dried chiles are essential for authentic birria sauce flavor and cannot be substituted with fresh chiles.


Birria sauce is a flavorful and versatile component of Mexican cuisine that can enhance a wide variety of dishes. With this guide, you now have the knowledge and techniques to make delicious birria sauce at home. Whether you’re making traditional beef birria, experimenting with birria ramen, or finding new ways to incorporate the sauce into your meals, the possibilities are endless. Enjoy the rich, smoky, and spicy flavors of birria sauce and bring a taste of Mexico to your table.