Braised Beef For Tacos


Braised beef for tacos is a typical Mexican recipe, which I have prepared with a little twist. It is an easy to cook recipe; you can prepare in advance and add the beef chunks when ready to prepare beef tacos. Braised Beef for Tacos is a family favorite recipe I’ve been using for years. It’s fun to make and a very delicious treat to devour.

Braised Beef Tacos

  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 7 hr 15 min
  • Prep: 15 min
  • Cook: 7 hr
  • Yield: 4 servings


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2 tablespoons canola oil

2 pounds top round steak

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems and leaves separated

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

1 tablespoon chile powder

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can beef broth

2 scallions, sliced thin

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

8 corn tortillas

1 1/2 cups sour creamAdd to Shopping List


  1. In a large skillet over high heat, add the oil. Season the steak with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, put the steaks into the pan and cook until browned on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  2. In the sleeve of a slow cooker, add the onion and cilantro stems. Put the steak on top and sprinkle with garlic and chile powder. Add the tomatoes with their juice (set aside 1/2 cup of the tomatoes for the salsa), broth, and 2 cups water. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until the steak is tender and shreds easily. Remove the meat and shred using 2 forks. (Strain and reserve the cooking liquid for Round 2 Recipe Crispy Steak Sandwiches.)
  3. While the meat is cooking, combine the reserved 1/2 cup tomatoes with the scallions, lime juice, salt and pepper, to taste, and 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Wrap the tortillas in a damp towel and microwave on high for about 30 seconds, or until heated through. Put 1/4 cup of the meat onto each tortilla (reserve 1 1/2 cups beef for Round 2 Recipe Crispy Steak Sandwiches.). Top with some salsa, cilantro leaves, and 1 tablespoon sour cream. (Reserve remaining 1 cup sour cream for Online Round 2 Recipe Creamy Mexican Dip with Spiced Chips.) Roll up and serve.

Crispy Braised Chipotle Beef Tacos.

Switching up the average weeknight taco with these Crispy Braised Chipotle Beef Tacos. Beef slowly braised in a spicy chipotle sauce until tender. Then shredded and stuffed into tortillas with cheese before being pan-fried. These tacos have just a touch of crispiness on the outside but are spicy and cheesy inside. The key is to pan-fry the tacos in the chipotle sauce. Serve each cheesy taco with cilantro on top, avocado crema, and of course that spicy chipotle sauce. They come together simply and are so delicious!

Crispy Braised Chipotle Beef Tacos |

I know Taco Tuesday is “the thing”, but my thought is, tacos today in prep for tomorrow! Plus, I just thought they’d be a fun and delicious Monday recipe…and they are!

I’ve been wanting to make and share these tacos for the longest time now. But I wanted to wait till later in April in prep for Cinco de Mayo. We all know I love a good holiday, but Cinco de Mayo is always such a fun no-pressure day where you have an excuse to make margaritas and tacos on a weeknight.

No one can complain about that.

Crispy Braised Chipotle Beef Tacos |

the inspiration?

Originally, I really wanted to make birria, a Mexican stew traditionally made from goat meat, but sometimes made from beef. The dish is commonly served for special occasions like weddings and holidays. The meat is marinated and slow-cooked in an adobo sauce made of vinegar, dried chiles, herbs, and spices. Therefore, it’s incredibly tender and flavorful meat.

The stew is often served with corn tortillas or fried up into tacos. The cheesy birria tacos have been on my “to make” list for well over a year, so I was determined to finally make them happen.

Since I have a harder time finding some of the dried chilies, I ended up adapting the recipe a bit. I created my version of cheesy birria tacos. They’re similar but different, and SO DELICIOUS.

Crispy Braised Chipotle Beef Tacos |

here are the details – first braise the meat

Start with the beef. I used beef chuck, but you could also mix in some of short ribs, which would be even more delicious, but just a touch more expensive.

Sear the meat, then make the sauce. The sauce is the heart and soul of this recipe. I use a lot of chipotle peppers in adobo, some ancho chile powder, and other spices, plus garlic, onion, bay leaves, and apple cider vinegar. The vinegar is also essential, so don’t skip it. The sauce gets poured over the meat. I then add a cinnamon stick and slow cook the meat in the oven until it’s very tender. You can use the slow cooker or instant pot too!

Crispy Braised Chipotle Beef Tacos |

now, make the tacos!

Once the meat is cooked, it’s time for tacos! So shred the meat and gather all your toppings. I kept it classic with cilantro and jalapeño, plus my favorite avocado crema.

Next, take the sauce and pour it into a shallow bowl. The fat should settle to the top of the sauce, this is exactly what you want. You’ll dip the tortillas into the sauce, getting that fat on the tortilla at the same time. Then, pan-fry the tortillas with the meat and cheese. Cooking the tortillas with the sauce allows them to take on incredible flavor and become a little crispy around the edges with fried cheese melting out of the top of the taco.

It. Is. So. Good.

Crispy Braised Chipotle Beef Tacos |

Top each taco any way you’d like. I go heavy on the cilantro and lime. Then dip your tacos in the extra sauce. It’s really about that sauce…well, and the cheese. Beyond delicious.

If you wanted to take the toppings a step further, I would recommend a pineapple salsa or mango salsa. But you all know me, I love a good fruity salsa. Oh, and maybe add a nice margarita too. This spicy mango marg is my personal favorite.

Lastly, if you make these Crispy Braised Chipotle Beef Tacos, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Crispy Braised Chipotle Beef Tacos

Prep Time30 MINUTES

Cook Time3 HOURS

Total Time3 HOURS 30 MINUTES

Servings: 8

Calories Per Serving: 498 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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  • ▢3 1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 3-4 pieces
  • ▢avocado oil, for cooking
  • ▢kosher salt and black pepper
  • ▢1 can chipotle peppers in adobo
  • ▢1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • ▢6 cloves garlic, smashed or grated
  • ▢1 yellow onion, quartered
  • ▢1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
  • ▢1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • ▢1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ▢1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ▢1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ▢2 bay leaves
  • ▢1/2 cinnamon stick or use 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ▢1/4 cup apple cider vinegar


  • ▢1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ▢1 jalapeño, chopped
  • ▢1/4 cup chopped onion
  • ▢limes
  • ▢corn tortillas
  • ▢2 cups shredded mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese
  • ▢avocado cream, for serving


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 300° F.2. Season the beef all over with salt and pepper. Heat a drizzle of oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear the beef all over, 2-3 minutes per side. Turn the heat off.3. To make the sauce. In a blender, puree the chipotle peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onion, ancho chile powder, oregano, cumin, paprika, cloves, bay leaves, 2 teaspoons salt, and the apple cider vinegar. Add 1 cup water and blend until smooth. Pour the sauce over the beef. Add 2 cups of water and the cinnamon to the pot. Over medium heat, bring the sauce to a simmer, then cover and transfer the pot to the oven. Cook 3 hours, or until the meat easily shreds.4. To make the tacos. Stir together the cilantro, onion, jalapeño, a squeeze of lime juice, and a pinch of salt.5. Remove the cinnamon stick and meat from the sauce, shred the meat. Pour the sauce into a shallow bowl, allowing the fat to settle on top.6. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Dip the tortillas into the sauce (the fat should be on top) and place in the skillet, sauce side facing down. On one side of the tortilla, layer cheese, then beef. Fold the tortilla over the beef and cook until slightly fried, about 1-2 minutes per side. Serve the tacos with cilantro on top and additional red sauce, plus avocado crema, if desired.

Slow cooker + Instant Pot Directions

  • 1. Season the beef all over with salt and pepper. Heat a drizzle of oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear the beef all over, 2-3 minutes per side. Add the meat to the slow cooker or instant pot.2. To make the sauce. In a blender, puree the chipotle peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onion, ancho chile powder, oregano, cumin, paprika, cloves, bay leaves, 2 teaspoons salt, and the apple cider vinegar. Add 1 cup water and blend until smooth. Pour the sauce over the beef. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and the cinnamon.- For the slow cooker, cover and cook 6-7 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.- For the instant pot, lock the lid and cook on high pressure for 40 minutes.4. Finish as directed through set 4.

Barbacoa Beef Tacos with Two Sauces

While most meat is put on the grill raw, these intensely flavorful Mexican beef short ribs from chef Roberto Santibañez are first braised with chiles and spices until meltingly tender. The cooked meat is then crisped on the grill, shredded and served in corn tortillas with a sauce made from the braising liquid. 


Barbacoa Beef Tacos with Two Sauces

Recipe Summary


40 mins


4 hrs




Ingredient Checklist

  • 4 large ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 4 dried chipotle chiles, stemmed
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 15 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • 8 bay leaves
  • Six 1-lb., English-cut, bone-in beef short ribs
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • Warm corn tortillas, cilantro sprigs, finely chopped white onion and lime wedges, for serving
  • Salsa Verde Cruda, for serving


Braise the Meat

  • Step 1Preheat the oven to 325°. In a medium skillet, toast the ancho chiles over moderate heat, turning, until pliable and charred in spots, about 2 minutes; let cool slightly, then tear into pieces.
  • Step 2In a large roasting pan, toss the ancho and chipotle chiles with the celery, carrots, onion, garlic and bay leaves. In a large bowl, toss the short ribs with the oregano, cumin and 2 tablespoons of salt. Arrange the ribs over the vegetables in the roasting pan. Add 2 cups of water to the pan, cover tightly with foil and braise in the oven for about 3 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender.

Make the Chile Sauce

  • Step 1Transfer the ribs to a baking sheet. Strain the braising liquid through a colander set over a heatproof bowl; skim off any fat. Discard the bay leaves and return the vegetables and chiles to the braising liquid. Working in batches, puree the vegetables and liquid in a blender until smooth. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.


  • Step 1Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Working in batches if necessary, grill the ribs over high heat, turning occasionally, until charred and crisp, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to a platter and, using two forks, shred the meat; discard the bones. Serve the barbacoa in warm corn tortillas with the sauce, cilantro, chopped onion, lime wedges and Salsa Verde Cruda.

Make Ahead

The braised short ribs and sauce can be refrigerated separately for 3 days. Warm the ribs in a low oven before grilling.

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