Birria-Inspired Braised Lamb Tacos

Get ready to get messy, because these saucy tacos are meant to be dipped again and again.

Photo: Roberto Caruso

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If you’ve noticed your social media feed filling up with birria tacos, you’ve probably wondered what makes these orange-tinged tacos such fan favorites. Stuffed with tender meat, with plenty of seasoning sprinkled in and served with a dipping sauce, birria tacos aren’t just cool to look at. They’re also uniquely delicious. And you can make them right at home with our Birria-Inspired Braised Lamb Tacos recipe – and they’re going to become a fast favorite.

What, exactly, is birria? Birria tacos are made from meat braised in a chile-flecked broth that’s later served as a dipping sauce. A combination of dried chiles and spices is key to its layered flavor. While the original birria recipe, which originated from Jalisco in Mexico, is made with goat, our version features lamb. But both recipes are cooked low and slow as a stew first, and then can be easily turned into handheld tacos.

What makes these birria-inspired tacos so special is the sauce (or broth) of the stew. As the lamb shoulder braises, the stew develops a deep, rich flavor that’s well-spiced. You’ll add an extra layer of goodness by dipping your corn tortillas into that liquid, searing them on the stovetop, and then filling to your liking. And as you dig in, you’ll want to keep a cup of the stew’s sauce nearby – it’s perfect for dipping!

Serve these tacos with a homemade slaw, salsa, or any combination of your favorite toppings. For more taco recipes, try these creative options:

Birria-Inspired Braised Lamb Tacos

Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
180 min
205 min


  • 1 large or 2 small dried ancho chiles
  • 3 dried guajillo chiles
  • 2 dried chiles de árbol
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 15-oz can diced fire- roasted tomatoes
  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil, divided
  • 3 lb boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed of large pieces of fat, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1½ tsp salt, divided
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • corn tortillas, for serving


  1. In a medium bowl, combine dried chiles. Cover with boiling water; let stand until chiles have softened, 10 to 15 minutes. Reserve soaking liquid; transfer chiles to a cutting board. Remove stems and seeds and place chiles in a blender. Add vinegar, tomatoes, garlic, oregano, paprikas, cumin, cinnamon, cloves and 1 cup of the reserved soaking liquid. Blend until smooth.
  2. Preheat oven to 300°F. Warm half the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Pat the lamb dry and season all over with 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Working in batches, sear the lamb in a single layer, turning with tongs, until browned on the outside, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with remaining lamb.
  3. Add the onion to the pot, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the lamb and any juices back to the Dutch oven. Add broth; stir and scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Stir in the blended chiles. Tuck bay leaves and thyme sprigs into the mixture. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot and transfer it to the oven. Braise until the meat is cooked through and falling apart, about 3 hours. Discard bay and thyme. Transfer lamb to a large bowl; shred with two forks and stir in 1 cup of braising liquid.
  4. Dip tortillas into braising liquid and place on a hot griddle. When browned, about 1 minute, flip and top each with braised lamb. Fold tacos over and griddle one minute per side. Divide among plates; serve tacos with small bowls of reserved braising liquid for dipping.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size ⅙ of recipe
  • Calories 296
  • Carbohydrate Content 10 g
  • Cholesterol Content 91 mg
  • Fat Content 14 g
  • Fiber Content 2 g
  • Protein Content 30 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 5 g
  • Sodium Content 582 mg
  • Sugar Content 2 g

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