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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 | halfbakedharvest.com

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 | halfbakedharvest.com

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 | halfbakedharvest.com

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 | halfbakedharvest.com

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 | halfbakedharvest.com

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 | halfbakedharvest.com

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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Ingredients

Tacos

Instructions

  • 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 | halfbakedharvest.com

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    These tacos are great! I used a 7 oz can of chipotles which had plenty of heat. If you want less heat, use a 4 oz can. I followed the recipe exactly except I didn’t add the ancho chile powder. My grandson was eating them and I didn’t want it too hot for him. I made them in my Instant Pot since I was pressed for time. I layed the tortilla flat on the sauce and then put it in a preheated pan with just a small amount of oil to fry them. The tacos looked just like the pictures in the recipe. This recipe is very easy and I had all of the ingredients on hand. I will definitely make these again! Thank you for a new great tasting taco!

    1. Hey Laurie,
      Awesome! Thanks a lot for making this recipe. I love to hear that it was enjoyed! Happy Thursday❄️ xxT

  2. 4 stars
    Hi Teighan… thank you for another wonderful recipe… I agree with a few of the previous comments… followed the recipe and found it a bit to much heat for us… when shredding the beef I added a 1/2 can of puréed tomatoes… did the trick! Perhaps a good suggestion for those who want a more mild flavour.. My husband and teenagers ate every bite served… we topped with avocado crema – delish!

    1. Hey Jen,
      Awesome!! I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a lot for making it. Sorry about the heat:) Have the best week! xTieghan

  3. 5 stars
    AMAZING. The flavors and tenderness this impart to the beef is simply unreal. A weekly or bi-monthly staple in our family now! So delicious

  4. These were delicious! We used flour tortillas because we didn’t have corn, and we added extra chili because we love lots of spice. We’ll definitely be making these again!

  5. 3 stars
    Holy moly – this is so spicy! We were not able to use the tortillas as explained in the recipe – I just couldn’t get them to stay together. But the sauce was so spicy that after I tried to pan fry the tortillas, I couldn’t breath from the spice in the air. I had to take the whole pot of sauce outside because even my kids started coughing. As for the meat – it is awesome!! After taking it out, shredding it (not adding any extra sauce) – it was delicious on tacos. Still too spicy for my kids which was a bummer. I’ll probably cook this again, but change the recipe quite a bit to eliminate the heat.

    1. Hey Nicole,
      If you are using bone in short ribs I would probably use 5 pounds. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

  6. 5 stars
    Sooo good!!!
    I used 3# of beef chuck, 1 small can of chipotle peppers with sauce and everything else as per the recipe. There was a bit of heat, but not tooo much. Adding some sour cream and avocado took some of the heat away.
    Definitely will add this to my many favorites of HBH!
    Thanks Tieghan!😀

    1. Hey Diane,
      Fantastic! Thanks so much for making this recipe, I am so glad it was enjoyed! Have a great weekend☀️ xTieghan

  7. 5 stars
    Great flavor! The sauce was amazing and so easy to make. I only use half the amount of chipotles. I have made birria tacos before using all the dry chilies and this recipe is just as flavorful and so much easier. Thanks.

    1. Hey Gloria,
      Wonderful! I am so glad to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for making it! xTieghan

    2. 1 star
      I have been so pleased with every recipe I’ve tried from your site! BUT – this is the worst! I wasted a beef roast, not to mention time & other ingredients.
      1. 1 can of chipotles is typically 7oz. Is that not the case here?
      2. The tacos never got crispy, they just fell apart – nowhere does it say to add oil to the pan other than dipping in the sauce.
      3. My roast was still not tender after 8 hrs.
      Just a blah mess, very disappointing.

      1. Hey Stevie,
        Sorry to hear this recipe wasn’t enjoyed. This recipe is not meant to be a beef roast recipe if that is what you were looking for. What kind of meat did you use? I would try a different brand of taco shells next time. xTieghan

  8. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner tonight and WOW! The only change I ended up making was using a 1lb chuck roast instead of 3 cause that’s all I had. This was absolutely amazing. Very spicy, which is mine and my boyfriends preference anyways. I do have a ton of sauce left over though, do you think this will freeze well for future use? Thank you again for such an amazing and delicious recipe!

    1. Hey Jen,
      I am delighted that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a lot for making it! Sure, you could definitely freeze the sauce. xxTieghan

  9. 4 stars
    I added a 7 ounce can of Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce, its way to spicy and I always add extra for spice. What did I do wrong?

    1. Hey Kelly,
      So sorry to hear this. Was there anything else you adjusted in the recipe? Let me know how I can help! xTieghan

  10. 5 stars
    This recipe was simple and absolutely delicious! My family devoured them. Thank you for having such easy to make and reliable recipes. Haven’y made a dud yet! Quick question about this recipe. There is a lot of leftover sauce. Can you reuse it in your next batch of meat that you cook? Thanks!

    1. Hey Nancy,
      Happy Friday! Thanks so much for making this recipe, I am delighted that it was enjoyed! Sure, that will work just fine!! xxTieghan

  11. These were absolutely amazing! One of the best tacos I ever had! The beef is so delicious! Really cant get enough. I have one question though, I had a lot of sauce leftover… do you recommend using it for another dish? I hate being wasteful so trying to repurpose it somehow 🙂 -Thanks Tieghan!

    1. Hey Kasia,
      Awesome! I am so glad you enjoyed this recipe, thanks so much for making it! Sure, you could save the sauce and use for another dish. Have a great weekend:) xTieghan

  12. I make these with chicken instead and i can never make enough. My family begs for it at least one night a week. Paired with charro beans and Spanish rice, spicy sweet coleslaw, it’s insanely good! Thank you Tieghan!!!!

    1. Hey Jennifer,
      Happy Saturday! Thanks a bunch for giving this recipe a try, I am so glad it was enjoyed! xTieghan

    1. Hey Janie,
      Either one will work for you! I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

  13. What would be a good side dish with this entree? We are so excited to make this tonight! As always, we are impressed with your creativity.

    1. Hey Hannah,
      I like to serve this with a Mexican rice or beans, salsa is great too! I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan