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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. 5 stars
    Made these tonight for the family, they were delicious! Will definitely make them again. I really enjoyed them with the avocado crema.

    1. Hey Vicki,
      I am so so glad this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a lot for giving it a try! Happy Sunday! xTieghan

  2. 5 stars
    My family loved this! I made it for Cinco de Mayo. I didn’t put the full can of chipotle peppers in because i was afraid of it being too spicy. The sauce was delicious. It had a kick but we could handle it! I also made the avocado crema to go with it and that was a definite favorite. Thanks for the great recipe!

    1. Hey Sharon,
      Happy Friday! I am delighted that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for making it! xxTieghan

    1. Hey there,
      I would use the 7 ounces that you have and supplement with enchilada sauce. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know how it turns out! xTieghan

  3. 5 stars
    First time making birria and I plan on not eating anything else, ever. Thank you for such a perfect recipe!

    1. Hey Lesley,
      Happy Monday! I am so glad this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a bunch for making it! xTieghan

  4. holy delicious my boyfriend wants me to make these every night haha! i made the tortillas too and added some lime zest and a tuck of smoked paprika which is why now he wants them every night!

    1. Hey Christine,
      Awesome!! Love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a lot for making it! Have a great weekend:) xxTieghan

  5. 5 stars
    Hi Tieghan! Thanks for answering my question so promptly! (It won’t let me reply to that thread….)
    Anyway this recipe was GOOD. This was my first time making a HBH recipe. Directions are clear and simple, and pics very helpful (and beautiful!). I personally am not crazy about beef in my tacos, but these are delicious!

    After the first bite, my husband exclaimed “this tastes like something from a food truck!” Then he joked that we should buy a food truck so I could make these all the time. The first time we ate them, we forgot to add any sauce to the finished tacos. Adding or dipping in the sauce took them to another level. My husband said the sauce would make anything taste better. It’s very rich and flavorful, with just the right amount of heat. I personally might omit the cinnamon stick next time. There was something in the spice combination that was just a touch unusual to my palate. I’ve never had the traditional dish birria, which may be why. Either way, we will definitely be making these again. Dipping the tortilla in the sauce to fry the tacos is a game-changing technique. Thanks for the recipe Tieghan!

    1. Hey Jessica,
      Happy Friday!! I am so excited that this recipe was enjoyed, I appreciate you giving it a try!! xTieghan

  6. Made this tonight – delicious! I skipped the frying of the tortilla and just warmed them in a skillet but the meat recipe was spot on and a hit with the family.

    One recipe suggestions please … can you add the ounces for the chipotle peppers and tomatoes? When you say 1/2 can that is confusing since there are multiple can sizes. For the chipotles, my grocery store has only carried 7.5oz cans but luckily I followed your link to notice you used a huge can (I bought 4 small cans to get to the right quantity). Thanks, I’ll be making again soon

    1. Hey Kristy,
      Thanks a bunch for making this recipe, I am so glad it was enjoyed! Thanks for your feedback! xxTieghan

  7. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! Definitely restaurant quality! Loved the avocado crema with it as well! I also made your basil penna a la vodka and that was superb as well! Thanks for great recipes. Can’t wait to try more!

  8. 5 stars
    These were amazing! My boyfriend (who loves tacos like nobody else I know) said they were the best tacos he’s ever had. Perfectly spicy, cheesy, and crispy! This one’s going for sure going in the recipe rotation.

  9. I have two questions about this recipe—when you fry the tacos in the skillet is the oil from the sauce enough, or should I heat some oil in the skillet? Also does any of the sauce go back in the beef at the end? Or just use it for the tortillas? Is it good to add to the tacos on the inside?

    1. Hey Jessica,
      I do like to have a little bit of olive oil in my pan so the tortillas do not stick. You can definitely add some sauce to your meat if you would like! I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

    1. Hey Linda,
      You really want to use a cut of meat that needs to be cooked low and slow like the beef chuck. If you used ground beef you would really need to make some adjustments to the recipe. I hope you love them, please let me know if you give the recipe a try! xTieghan

  10. Can you confirm it really is a 28oz can of chipotle peppers? I know my family doesn’t want too spicy so can I substitute half with enchilada sauce? 14 oz of each?

    1. Hey Andrea,
      Yes, that would be perfect and reduce the heat for you! I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

  11. Absolutely delicious! I had a little trouble getting the tortilla to really crisp up but nonetheless a repeat recipe for sure!

  12. This was so good and so much more of a time saver meal than making traditional Birria tacos! I’ve made both before, and honestly I prefer these tacos than traditional Birria. I did everything exactly the same as your recipe and made this in the instant pot.

    1. Hey there,
      Happy Sunday! Thanks so much for making this recipe, I am thrilled that it was enjoyed! xTieghan

  13. If I subbed canned enchilada sauce for the chipotle peppers, how much should I use? I have people in my family who don’t like things too spicy. Thanks!

    1. Hey Erin,
      I would use a 28 ounce can of enchilada sauce. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan