A row of lamb birria tacos arranged on a metal plate sprinkled with cilantro, onions and jalapeños

Lamb Birria • Two Purple Figs


Give your Birria tacos a twist with this crazy delicious Lamb Birria! Bursting with flavor and texture—this Lamb Birria tacos recipe is a must-try for taco lovers! This is a crowd pleasing recipe that you’ll be making on repeat—Full guide and VIDEO below.

A hand holding a lamb birria over a plate of birria tacos

Today’s delicious recipe is in partnership with my friends at the American Lamb Board—your one stop source for everything American Lamb has to offer.

It’s no secret I am a serious lamb advocate. I love the smell of lamb cooking as it’s nostalgic to me and reminds me of my Turkish grandma and her kitchen. When I tried American lamb for the first time years ago, I found that I love lamb for more than just the memories.

 

American Lamb is tasty, buttery and delicious! Raised with love by thousands of ranchers across the nation and always fresh. There’s nothing like it in the world of lamb 🙂

If you’re new to lamb, let me tell you that lamb is super versatile—hence our lamb birria recipe today. But you can browse through many other lamb recipes on my website and see the many ways I use lamb.

a plate of lamb birria tacos with the birria dipping sauce over a wooden board and some lime wedges

What are Birria Tacos ?

Birria literally means ‘’Exquisite savory dish, full of culture and tradition.”  It’s basically a meaty stew that is slow-cooked to perfection in a spicy, sweet, tangy and smoky sauce. 

Once ready, that melt in your mouth delicious neat from the birria stew is stuffed into a tortilla and pan seared. You end up with a crunchy, tasty and out of this world tacos that are served with the extra birria stew sauce for dipping.

Lately there’s been a viral trend of birria tacos all over the internet, so I tried my first birria tacos a few years ago. They got stuck on my mind as they’re utterly uniquely delicious!

I had them a few other times before I attempted to make them at home, and eventually, knowing me, I of course had to try a lamb birria.

Let me tell you—Lamb Birria Tacos will pleasantly surprise you!!

Lamb Birria Ingredients

ingredients for lamb birria including chipotle, guajillo peppers, vinegar, garlic, onions, whole spices, ground spices, tomatoes, stock and lamb

  • Guajillo chilies — These are one of the main components and flavors of a Birria taco. It’s a dried type of Mexican chilies that have a sweet, fruity, tangy and smoky flavor.  Guajillo chillies are mild to medium spicy, so they won’t overwhelm the birria tacos recipe with spice.

a hand holding a guajillo pepper

  • Chipotle in Adobo
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Vinegar
  • Garlic and Onions
  • Dried spice
  • Whole Spice
  • Stock
  • Lamb — Use American Lamb
  • Tortillas
  • Cheese

How to Make Lamb Birria

There are two main components to lamb birria. There’s the Lamb Birria Stew which consists of cooking the marinated lamb in the sauce along with other spices and stock. And then there’s the tacos itself–the assembling and pan searing of the tacos.

So let’s start!

Lamb Birria Stew

Guajillo peppers being soaked in hot boiling water

  • Start by soaking the Guajillo chillies in hot boiling water and allow it soften slightly for 15 minutes.
  • The remaining sauce ingredients all go into a blender .

Birria sauce in a blender and mixed until smooth

  • You’ll then add in the softened Guajillo chillies.
  • Blend the sauce until silky smooth.

lamb shanks in a large dish marinating in the birria sauce

  • Marinate your lamb shanks in this tasty blender sauce. You can choose anywhere from 10 minutes to overnight marination.
  • If you have an instant pot, use that and if not then use a heavy duty pot on the stove.

onions sautéed in a large pot

  • Start sautéing the onions until they’re translucent – about 5 minutes.
  • Add in the lamb to the onions along with your whole spice and stock.

lamb birria stew cooking on medium heat until the meat is softened

  • Let the stew cook until the lamb shanks are tender and fall off the bone. This takes about 50 minutes on high pressure in the instant pot.
  • If you’re cooking on the stove, cook the shanks for 1 hour and 45 minutes.

the erady cooked lamb on a cutting board being shredded by two forks

  • Once the lamb is ready, you’ll carefully remove it from the stew and reserve all the cooking sauce in a large bowl.

lamb meat tossed with some birria sauce in a large bowl

  • The lamb shanks are shredded and you can discard the bones or use it for stock.
  • You’ll then place all the lamb meat in a large bowl and paddle some of the stew sauce over it to flavor the lamb even more.
  • At that point you’re ready for the tacos!

Lamb Birria Tacos

  • Take the tortilla you’re using (corn or flour) and give it a quick dip in the large stew sauce bowl. That’s how you get the stunning orange tone on birria tacos. And that’s also another level of flavor! 

the tortillas are being dipped into the birria stew sauce before searing

  • Place the dipped tortilla in a heavy duty pan coated with oil. Now add some shredded cheese on to half of it.
  • Over the cheese, pile up a good chunk of lamb shanks meat.
  • Now fold over the other half of the tortilla to cover the lamb meat and create the tacos shape.

lamb meat and cheese go over the tortilla in the pan and then folded into a taco shape

  • Let the tacos sear for 2 minutes and then flip them carefully—they should stick together and create the classic taco shape.
  • Birria tacos should be golden and crunchy on both sides.

lamb birria tacos close up showing how crunchy the shells are

Birria Tacos Dipping Sauce

This dipping sauce is so very unique to Birria tacos and it’s not a sauce you’ll be making from scratch. It’s rather the remaining stew sauce that you reserved on the side from cooking the lamb. Simply mix two cups of that sauce with some chopped cilantro and diced white onions. You won’t believe how flavorful this sauce is!

lamb birria dipping sauce with added onions and cilantro

Lamb Birria TIPS + Q&A

  • Use American lamb always for the best tasting and freshest lamb you can find!
  • You an use any cut of lamb —shoulder works well, boneless leg of lamb and chops. However you may need to adjust cooking times.
  • Guajillo chillies are a classic taste in birria tacos, so don’t skip them! 
  • If using an instant pot — You’ll be cooking the lamb on high for 45 minutes.
  • Stove top cooking will be doubled.
  • If you prefer roasting the lamb shanks with the sauce, just add the onions to the sauce and roast at 400 degrees for nearly 2 hours (covered with foil).
  • You can also slow cook the lamb birria.
  • When ready, make sure you reserve the stew sauce as you’ll be using it to make the birria tacos.
  • The orange coloured birria tacos are achieved by dipping tortillas in the sauce before searing and filling.
  • Swap the cheese for your favorite. 

A row of lamb birria tacos arranged on a metal plate sprinkled with cilantro, onions and jalapeños

What do Birria tacos taste like?

Birria tacos have a unique taste which is why people can’t get enough of them. They’re not too spicy (which is great because you can then add more if you’d like). They’re rather smoky, tangy, savoury and so very juicy! The tortilla is smothered in the sauce and then fried on the griddle until nice and crispy.

How are birria tacos crunchy?

Crunchy and crispy tacos are made by pan searing the tortillas on both sides until golden. The tortillas are soaked in the sauce before searing so they crips up even more when seared.

What is birria dipping sauce made of?

The dipping sauce is made from dried chilies, chipotle, onion, tomatoes, and spices and it’s basically the stew sauce you’ve made! It’s simply delicious!

Can you freeze lamb Birria tacos?

YES! I always make plenty and freeze the cooked lamb meat separately and the sauce separately. Then I simply defrost and assemble fresh lamb birria tacos on demand!

A hand dipping a lamb birria into the birria sauce

Lamb Recipes

Easy Stir Fry Recipe with Lamb and Veggies

Lamb Shoulder Chop Recipe

Boneless Leg of Lamb

Air Fryer Lamb Chops with Poblano Sauce

Grill Foil Packets with Lamb and Potatoes

Lamb Gyro Recipe

Grilled Lamb Skewers BBQ Party

Ultimate Lamb Kabab Platter

Roast Lamb And Chickpeas

Lamb Shanks with Skyr

A row of lamb birria tacos arranged on a metal plate sprinkled with cilantro, onions and jalapeños

Lamb Birria

Give your Birria tacos a twist with this crazy delicious Lamb Birria! Bursting with flavor and texture—this Lamb Birria tacos recipe is a must-try for taco lovers! This is a crowd pleasing recipe that you’ll be making on repeat—Full guide and VIDEO below.

Ingredients

Lamb Birria Meat

  • 4
    lb
    American lamb shanks

Birria Sauce & Marinade

  • 4
    Guajillo chiles soaked in 1 cup hot boiling water
  • 1
    can chipotle in adobo
  • 1/2
    cup
    crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4
    cup
    vinegar white
  • 6
    garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2
    teaspoon
    oregano
  • 1
    teaspoon
    paprika
  • 1 1/2
    teaspoon
    chilli powder
  • 1/2
    teaspoon
    cumin
  • 1
    teaspoon
    salt and pepper more or less to taste
  • 1/2
    teaspoon
    chilli flakes optional for extra heat

Lamb Birria Stew

  • 2
    onions diced
  • 1
    Tablespoon
    oil
  • 3
    bay leaves
  • 1
    cinnamon stick
  • 5
    cloves
    whole
  • 2
    cups
    stock chicken
    beef or veggies

Lamb Birria Tacos

  • 24
    mini tortillas flour or corn
    plain or flavored
  • 2
    cups
    cheese Monterey
    cheddar or your favorite
  • 1/4
    cup
    cilantro chopped
  • 1
    white onion diced finely
  • 2
    jalapenos sliced
    optional for extra heat

Instructions

  1. Start by soaking your Guajillo chiles in the hot water in a bowl and cover the bowl with a plastic wrap so it softens up. Once the pepper are softened, they’re ready to use. Usually this takes around 15 minutes.

  2. In a blender add all the marinade ingredients along with the soaked chillies

  3. Coat the meat with the blender sauce in a large bowl and marinate or proceed with the recipe. You can marinate the lamb for upto 12 hours.

  4. To make the birria stew: sautee the onions with the oil until soft and tanslucent

  5. You can use an instant pot or large stovetop pan for this recipe.

  6. Once the onions are ready, add in the lamb and sauce mixture all at once.

  7. Add to that the whole spices and stock. Now bring the stew to a boil and then cook on medium heat

  8. For instant pot –select pressure high and cook for 40 minutes–depdning on the size of your shanks, you may need 50 minutes.

  9. For stove top — cover the pot and cook for 1 hour and 24 minutes-2 hours depending on the sizeo of your shanks.

  10. USDA recommends lamb reach an internal temp of 145F

  11. If you want to bake the birria in the oven (no stove top option) — place all ingredients with onions in an oven safe dish and cover the dish with foil. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour and half.

  12. The stew is ready when the meat comes out tender. Remove the meat from the sauce and reserve the sauce in a bowl.

  13. Take the lamb shanks and use a fork to shred them into fine shreds on a wooden board.

  14. Add the meat to bowl along with 3 ladles of the reserved sauce to flavor up the lamb for stuffing the tacos.

  15. Make the tacos: Dip each tortilla into the reserved sauce to flavor it up. Make sure to quickly dip and remove the tortilla and always work with one tortilla at a time.

  16. In a heavy duty skillet, place the tortilla in to the pan and add cheese over half of the tortilla. Then Add the lamb meat over the cheese and fold over the tortilla to make the tacos shape.

  17. flip the tacos and allow it to sear on both sides a total of 5 minutes until crisp.

  18. Garnish the tacos with cilantros and jalapeños

  19. For the dipping sauce : take 2 cups of the reserved birria stew sauce and add in chopped onions, jalapeno (optional) and remaining cilantro.

  20. Dip the lamb birria tacos in the dipping sauce and ENJOY!

Recipe Notes

Lamb Birria TIPS + Q&A
Use American lamb always for the best tasting and freshest lamb you can find!
You an use any cut of lamb —shoulder works well, boneless leg of lamb and chops. However you may need to adjust cooking times.
Guajillo chillies are a classic taste in birria tacos, so don’t skip them!
If using an instant pot — You’ll be cooking the lamb on high for 45 minutes.
Stove top cooking will be doubled.
If you prefer roasting the lamb shanks with the sauce, just add the onions to the sauce and roast at 400 degrees for nearly 2 hours (covered with foil).
You can also slow cook the lamb birria.
When ready, make sure you reserve the stew sauce as you’ll be using it to make the birria tacos.
The orange coloured birria tacos are achieved by dipping tortillas in the sauce before searing and filling.
Swap the cheese for your favorite.

What do Birria tacos taste like?
Birria tacos have a unique taste which is why people can’t get enough of them. They’re not too spicy (which is great because you can then add more if you’d like). They’re rather smoky, tangy, savoury and so very juicy! The tortilla is smothered in the sauce and then fried on the griddle until nice and crispy.
How are birria tacos crunchy?
Crunchy and crispy tacos are made by pan searing the tortillas on both sides until golden. The tortillas are soaked in the sauce before searing so they crips up even more when seared.
What is birria dipping sauce made of?
The dipping sauce is made from dried chilies, chipotle, onion, tomatoes, and spices and it’s basically the stew sauce you’ve made! It’s simply delicious!
Can you freeze lamb Birria tacos?
YES! I always make plenty and freeze the cooked lamb meat separately and the sauce separately. Then I simply defrost and assemble fresh lamb birria tacos on demand!

Nutrition Facts

Lamb Birria

Amount Per Serving

Calories 735
Calories from Fat 243

% Daily Value*

Fat 27g42%

Saturated Fat 13g81%

Polyunsaturated Fat 4g

Monounsaturated Fat 8g

Cholesterol 125mg42%

Sodium 1833mg80%

Potassium 747mg21%

Carbohydrates 73g24%

Fiber 7g29%

Sugar 10g11%

Protein 49g98%

Vitamin A 889IU18%

Vitamin C 9mg11%

Calcium 515mg52%

Iron 8mg44%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.



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