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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.

Course Main Course, tacos
Cuisine Mexican, TexMex
Keyword how to make birria tacos, lamb birria, lamb birria tacos, tacos, tacos de birria, tacos recipes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 6
Calories 735 kcal
Author Mahy


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


  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.
    Guajillo peppers being soaked in hot boiling water
  2. In a blender add all the marinade ingredients along with the soaked chillies

  3. Blend until smooth.

    Birria sauce in a blender and mixed until smooth
  4. 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.

    lamb shanks in a large dish marinating in the birria sauce
  5. To make the birria stew: sautee the onions with the oil until soft and tanslucent

    onions sautéed in a large pot
  6. You can use an instant pot or large stovetop pan for this recipe.

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

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

    lamb birria stew cooking on medium heat until the meat is softened
  9. For instant pot --select pressure high and cook for 40 minutes--depdning on the size of your shanks, you may need 50 minutes.

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

  11. USDA recommends lamb reach an internal temp of 145F
  12. 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.

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

    the erady cooked lamb on a cutting board being shredded by two forks
  14. Take the lamb shanks and use a fork to shred them into fine shreds on a wooden board.

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

    lamb meat tossed with some birria sauce in a large bowl
  16. 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.

    the tortillas are being dipped into the birria stew sauce before searing
  17. 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.

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

    lamb meat and cheese go over the tortilla in the pan and then folded into a taco shape
  19. Garnish the tacos with cilantros and jalapeños

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

    lamb birria dipping sauce with added onions and cilantro
  21. Dip the lamb birria tacos in the dipping sauce and ENJOY!

    A hand dipping a lamb birria into the birria sauce

Recipe Video

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.