Chicken Birria + Tacos (birria de pollo)

Chicken birria (or birria de pollo) is a delicious Mexican dish loaded with bold flavors and aromas. A comforting broth made with chicken cooked in an adobo sauce and served in a bowl or in tacos to enjoy any day of the week.

Chicken birria (birria de pollo).

What is chicken birria?

Know in Spanish as birria de pollo, this Mexican dish is an easy and budget-friendly version of the traditional birria that is made with goat (birria de chivo o cabrito), lamb or mutton (birria de borrego o cordero), or even beef (birria de res).

You’ll find chicken birria being sold in many food markets and fonditas (small traditional restaurants) in Mexico, as well as being prepared in many households.

Chicken birria tacos.

The birria sauce

This chicken birria recipe features an aromatic and flavorsome sauce made with dried guajillo chilies and spices, this sauce, once cooked with the meat, results in the amazing consommé where tacos are dipped before eating. Those below are the ingredients to make this easy birria sauce, or you can also check out our Adobo sauce recipe and use that instead.

Chicken birria sauce ingredients labeled and displayed in a grey concrete surface.

The Step By Step Recipe + VIDEO

Make the birria sauce

Clean the guajillo chilies removing the stems, cut them in half and discard the seeds, then cut them into pieces.

Guajillo chilies cleaned and cut into pieces.

In a frying pan heat the lard or oil over medium low heat, add first the peppercorns, garlic, cumin seeds, and cinnamon stick. Stir for half minute and then add the chilies. Cook for 3 minutes while stirring constantly.

Sautéing chilies and spices in a pan.

Stir in the onions and tomatoes, then cook until onions soften and tomatoes release their juices (about 4 minutes).

Chilies, spices, tomatoes and onions cooking in a pan.

Pour in the vinegar and 1 cup of hot water, then add the oregano, salt and chiles de árbol. Mix well well. Turn off the heat, cover and allow to soak all ingredients until everything has almost cooled down (about 10 minutes).

The ingredients soaking to make birria sauce.

Transfer everything to a blender and blend until you’ll have a silky smooth sauce.

The sauce blended in a blender.

Place chicken in a baking dish, the add the birria sauce through a medium sieve over the chicken. Use a spoon to help the sauce go through.

Related: How to handle raw chicken.

Straining the birria sauce over the chicken.

Turn the chicken very well so it will coat perfectly with the sauce. Cover with cling film and store in the fridge for at least 8 hours and up to 24.

Chicken coated in birria sauce inside a baking dish.

Cook

  • Place chicken and all the remaining marinade in your Instant Pot (for other methods of cooking please refer to the recipe notes below).
  • Pour 2 cups of water and add the bay leaves.
  • Cook at high for 25 minutes then natural release pressure (about 30 minutes).
Showing a piece of chicken after being cooked in an instant pot.

Serve as a main dish

  • Remove the chicken from the pot, you can either shred it or use it with the bones-in and you can also remove the skin or leave it. I prefer using the whole pieces, unless I am making tacos too.
  • Divide the meat into serving bowls and ladle the birria broth.
  • Top with chopped cilantro and onion, a squeeze of lime, chili oil and warm corn tortillas.
Chicken birria, aka birria de pollo, served in a bowl and garnished with chopped cilantro and red onion.

Make the tacos with consommé

Remove the chicken from the pot and shred it after slightly cooled down. Set aside. Heat a cast iron skillet or a non-sticking pan until smoky. Take one tortilla and quickly dip it into the grease of your chicken birria.

Dipping a tortilla into the chicken birria oil.

Place 2-3 tortillas (previously dipped in the oil) on the skillet and heat for about 30s flipping two times to heat them up. Put some cheese and chicken in the middle of each tortilla.

Topped tortilla with cheese and shredded chicken.

Fold the tortillas into half-moons and keep cooking until the cheese has melted nicely and tortillas are slightly crispy.

Cooking a quesabirria chicken on comal.

Place your chicken birria tacos on a platter, carefully open them a little and add some onions and cilantro in the middle before serving with lime wedges, and a small bowl of the birria consommé to dip the tacos in.

Chicken birria and tacos served in a wooden table.

Useful Recipe Notes

  • Using a slow cooker: Place the marinated chicken in your slow pot, add water to cover about 1-inch (2.5cm) and cook for 6 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
  • Cook in the oven: For cooking in the oven, place chicken and cover with 1-inch of water, cover with foil and cook at 375°F (190°C) for about 1 and half hour or until the chicken meat is falling from the bone.
  • Substitute the chilies: If you can’t find guajillo chilies where you live, use other types of mild-spicy dried red chilies such as Anaheim, Hatch, or California. Also, paprika is a good substitute, you can add about 5 tablespoons of smoked paprika for this chicken birria recipe.
  • Make it thicker: Want a thicker birria sauce instead of brothy? Add 2 more tomatoes and reduce the amount of water to barely cover the meat.
  • Make ahead: Chicken birria is a perfect prep meal. Once cooled down, place the meat in a container and the broth in another, then store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Freeze: You can also place the meat in a zip bag and the broth in a freeze-proof container and freeze for up to 4 months.

Watch How To Make It

Pssst…! If you loved this chicken birria and tacos recipe, try also our Quesabirria tacos, made with shredded beef.

Chicken birria tacos recipe cover.

Chicken Birria + Tacos

This delicious chicken birria is loaded with flavors and aromas, the tender chicken make the most delicious birria tacos with cheese that are served with the scrumptious consommé.
PREP 20 minutes
COOK 25 minutes
TOTAL 45 minutes
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 6
Author: Maricruz

Ingredients 

  • 3 lbs chicken drums and tights
  • 10 guajillo peppers (cleaned and cut into pieces)
  • 2 chile de árbol (optional)
  • 1 large tomato (cut into chunks)
  • ½ small red onion (cut into chunks)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 1-inch stick cinnamon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp pork lard (or vegetable oil)
  • salt (to taste)

For tacos

  • 20 corn tortillas
  • 3 cups melty cheese, such as Oaxaca, Asadero, Monterey Jack, Colby, Mozzarella. (shredded)

For serving

  • 1 cup onions (chopped)
  • ½ cup cilantro (chopped)
  • lime wedges
  • Mexican chili oil

Instructions

Make the birria sauce

  • Heat lard in a pan over medium low heat, add first the peppercorns, garlic, cumin seeds, and cinnamon stick. Stir for half minute.
  • Add guajillo chilies, cook for 3 minutes while stirring constantly.
  • Stir in tomatoes and onions. Cook for 4 minutes or until onions soften and tomatoes release their juices.
  • Add vinegar and 1 cup of hot water, then add the oregano, salt and chiles de árbol.
  • Mix well, turn off the heat, cover, and allow to soak for 10 minutes.
  • Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until you’ll have a silky smooth sauce.

Marinate

  • Place chicken in a baking dish, add the birria sauce through a medium sieve over the chicken.
  • Turn the chicken well to coat all sides.
  • Cover with cling film and store in the fridge for at least 8 hours and up to 24.

Cook

  • Place chicken and all the remaining marinade in your Instant Pot (read notes) and pour 3 cups of water.
  • Add bay leaves and salt.
  • Cook at high for 25 minutes then natural release pressure for 30 minutes.

Serve as a main dish

  • Remove the chicken from the pot and divide it into serving bowls.
  • Ladle the birria consommé and top with chopped cilantro and onion.
  • Serve with chili oil, lime wedges and warm corn tortillas.

Make the tacos with consommé

  • Remove the chicken from the pot and shred it with two forks. Set aside.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet or a non-sticking pan until smoky.
  • Take one tortilla and quickly dip it into the grease of your chicken birria.
  • Place 2-3 tortillas (previously dipped in the oil) on the skillet and heat for about 30s flipping two times to heat them up. Put some cheese and chicken in the middle of each tortilla.
  • Fold the tortillas into half-moons and keep cooking until the cheese has melted nicely and tortillas are slightly crispy.
  • Place tacos on a platter, carefully open them a little and add some onions and cilantro in the middle.
  • Serve with lime wedges, chili oil and a small bowl of the birria consommé to dip the tacos in.

NOTES

  • Using a slow cooker: Place the marinated chicken in your slow pot, add water to cover about 1-inch (2.5cm) and cook for 6 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
  • Cook in the oven: For cooking in the oven, place chicken and cover with 1-inch of water, cover with foil and cook at 375°F (190°C) for about 1 and half hour or until the chicken meat is falling from the bone.
  • Substitute the chilies: If you can’t find guajillo chilies where, use other types of mild-spicy dried red chilies such as Anaheim, Hatch, or California. Also, paprika is a good substitute, you can add about 5 tablespoons of smoked paprika for this chicken birria recipe.
  • Make it thicker: Want a thicker birria sauce instead of brothy? Add 2 more tomatoes and reduce the amount of water to barely cover the meat.
  • Make ahead: Chicken birria is a perfect prep meal. Once cooled down, place the meat in a container and the broth in another, then store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Freeze: You can also place the meat in a zip bag and the broth in a freeze-proof container and freeze for up to 4 months.
Nutrition
Calories: 292kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 85mg | Potassium: 429mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 2016IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 2mg
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Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Hubby orders Mexican food like crazy so I wanted to try it and find a dish I won’t mess up. This sounds very doable and insanely yummy but unfortunately all I have are the common chili peppers. Will they do?

    1. Hi Alicia, just make sure those are mild spicy. Other option is to use Anaheim or Hatch chili powder which is more easier to find online.