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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.

Crispy Braised Chipotle Beef Tacos |

Looking for other taco night recipes? Here are some of my favorites:

Homemade Cheesy Gordita Crunch Tacos

Healthier Homemade Crunchwrap Supreme

Mushroom Al Pastor Tacos with Garlic Lime Special Sauce

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 Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 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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  • 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.
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Crispy Braised Chipotle Beef Tacos |

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  1. If I want to try this with ground beef, would you know what time I should put on the instant pot? Your recipes are always the best and too good not to share with everyone!

  2. 4 stars
    I love this recipe but I think I’m doing something incorrectly. I can never get the meat to shred easily once it’s done cooking. 🙁 any tips?

    1. Hey Allison,
      Awesome!! I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for giving it a try! What kind of beef are you using? Are you cutting the beef into chunks? Which cooking method are you using? I would say you need to have your beef in smaller chunks so it can become tender. Let me know how I can help! 🌸xx

  3. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! I used the whole can of chipotle peppers, which made it way too spicy. I cut the sauce with a can of generic tomato sauce. Since my beef didn’t have much fat, there wasn’t much to dip the tortillas. If this is your case, use a nonstick pan. The avocado crema with honey is yummy!! We also made your spicy cucumber margaritas several times since we found your website.

    Also loved the chicken catsu bowls and peanut chicken egg roll bowls!

    Hmmmm….what to make next from your website!

    1. Hey Donna,
      Happy Friday!! Thanks so much for trying this recipe out, I love to hear that it was enjoyed!! xx

  4. When you dip the tortilla’s and place in the skillet it says “sauce side down”….do you not dip the whole tortilla in the sauce? Thank you for clarifying.

    1. Hi Brandon,
      You are going to lay the tortilla flat in the sauce so only one of the sides is coated. I hope this makes sense! xTieghan

  5. 5 stars
    These have great flavor. Definitely a little kick with an entire can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. My sauce didn’t have much fat on top, but I still dipped the tortillas in there for the flavor and just put a little avocado oil in my cast iron skillet to get the crisp.

    1. Hi Noell,
      Wonderful!! I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for making it! Have the best weekend!☀️ xx

  6. 4 stars
    I made these tacos tonight for dinner in the slow cooker and thought they turned out really good! The meat had such great flavor after cooking for 6 hours. The tacos definitely had some spice but I didn’t think they were too spicy. I left out the jalapeno and made the avocado crema that was linked to go with them. My husband said his only complaint was that he wanted them to be crispier so next time I might just use flour tortillas.

  7. 3 stars
    Is the sauce supposed to be so spicy? I like spicy food and can barely tolerate the spice in this recipe 🙁

    1. Hi Heather,
      So sorry to hear this! Yes, there is a kick to the sauce, next time you can reduce the heat by using 1/2 can of chipotle peppers in adobo and reduce the ancho Chile powder. I hope this helps! xTieghan

    1. Hey Amanda,
      Sure, that will work well for you. Let me know if you give the recipe a try, I hope it turns out amazing for you! xTieghan

  8. 5 stars
    Made this last night for 8 people and it was a hit! I doubled the meat and used regular oregano bc I couldn’t find the Mexican kind. I should have put more spice in it bc it wasn’t as spicy as I wanted. I used flour tortillas instead and I REALLY like fruit with beef/pork tacos so I made pineapple pico. My sister said “yay, taco night. I love your tacos!” and all the tacos I make are from you. You’re the best! Thank you! I can’t wait to get the new book.

    1. Hi Michele,
      Wonderful!! I am so so glad to hear that this recipe was enjoyed. Thanks a bunch for making it! xT

  9. 5 stars
    So delicious!! Will definitely be added to my regular rotation. I was a little nervous that they would be too spicy for me but they were absolutely perfect.

    1. Hi Candace,
      Wonderful! I really appreciate you giving this recipe a try, I love to hear that it was enjoyed!! xTieghan