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

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • limes
  • corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese
  • avocado cream, for serving

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.

Crispy Braised Chipotle Beef Tacos | halfbakedharvest.com

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Comments

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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!

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

  12. 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.

    1. Hey Elisabeth,
      I am delighted that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for making it! xTieghan

  13. 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

  14. 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

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

    1. Hey Jenna,
      Awesome! I am so glad this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a lot for making it! xTieghan

  16. 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

  17. 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

    1. Hey Lisa,
      Sure, that will work just fine. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

  18. I made this last night. I must have used a wrong pan because the tacos stuck to the pan. I used my LeCruset
    What type of pan did you use for this.

    1. Hey Marilyn,
      I used a Staub skillet. Was there oil in your pan? Let me know how I can help! xTieghan

  19. 5 stars
    Made this tonight. Made no changes and used the instant pot. This was a big hit with my family who said several times that I need to make it again!

    1. Hey Debbie,
      Thanks so much! I am so glad the recipe was enjoyed, thanks for making it! xTieghan

  20. 5 stars
    We made this tonight and it was great. We used chicken thighs, browned them and roasted just like the beef. We cooked it at 300 degrees for just under 2 hours. I think the time is very forgiving. They shredded easily. I rinsed off the sauce since I had one that could not eat it. That removed the heat but kept the flavor, which was delicious. I served the sauce on the side (and dipped the tortilla) for those who wanted heat. This was so easy, and hands off except the last few minutes making the tortilla. Thanks Tieghan!

    1. Hey Maddi,
      Thanks so much! I am so glad the recipe was enjoyed, thanks for making it! xTieghan

  21. 5 stars
    Delicious and so easy but a little too spicy! Will have to cut down on the amount of chipotles next time!

    1. Hey Elizabeth,
      Thanks so much! I am so glad the recipe was enjoyed, thanks for making it! xTieghan

    1. Hey Angela,
      The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of crushed tomatoes, I used a 28 ounce can and just saved the leftovers in the fridge. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

    1. Hey Sherri,
      Thanks so much! I used a 28 ounce can of peppers. I hope you enjoy this recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

    1. Thanks so much Lucy! I would probably reduce the cooking time as well. I hope you love the recipe!! xTieghan

  22. Love tacos, however, in my country ee do not have chipotle sauce, any ideas how I can substitute it? Love your recipes, tried a bunch!

    1. Hey Ruta,
      Do you have access to enchilada sauce? I think that would also work well here. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

  23. Hi! This looks awesome. I wanted to substitute chicken, would chicken breasts be best? Would I cook it for the same length in the oven or would it be different? Thanks!

    1. Hey Katie,
      You could really use chicken breasts or thighs here, I would probably reduce the time slightly. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  24. Would you recommend shredding the meat in the sauce, or removing it and shredding? Just not sure if shredding it in the sauce would suck up too much of the sauce.

    1. Hey Chris,
      I prefer to remove it, but either way would work. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

  25. will be making this soon can i use mushrooms vegan cheese as am a vegan i never had tacos before perfect for my after office meals willl dm you if i make this and let you know how it goes Thanks Ramya

  26. This looks delicious. I have made birria tacos in the past and always have a problem with the tortillas sticking to the pan when I try to pan fry them. Any suggestions to keep the from happening?

    1. Hey Jenn,
      I really like to have lots of oil in my skillet to prevent the sticking. I hope you love this recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan