Let me start by just saying that these tacos are incredible and I was a naughty blogger and took terrible blog pictures. So, don’t judge the deliciousness based on my kitchen lighting and phone photography. End of PSA. Continue on with the tacos!
So, what are Birria Tacos you might be asking. The name is a source of confusion because Birria is used to describe the stew cooked meat and the stew that is eaten if the meat is used for tacos. The cooking method of the meat is actually Barbacoa style which is a slow roasting of shreddable meat in a dug out pit. Birria can be eaten in a taco, as you’ll see in my pics and recipe, or enjoyed as a hearty and rich stew. Either way, you’re going to love the delicious pepper sauce. Birria is a traditional Mexican dish that most often served as a special occasion meal because of the rich meat used and the time it takes to slow roast. Here is a great article that goes in depth on the history of the Birria taco and its origin from Jalisco.
This recipe is not authentic nor do I claim authenticity. But, as a vegan living in Wisconsin, I wanted to enjoy Birria Tacos and with no vegan options around I had to do some research and create a recipe on my own. I tried to stick to most of the traditional flavors and textures as best I could. I used jackfruit to get that stringy and tender bite. I did add black beans, but that’s just because I wanted some protein in the meal and jackfruit on its own has little nutrient purpose. Also, I wanted to go that step further, and I’m so glad I did, and make a separate stew to dip my tortillas in before frying them. It adds a whole level of flavor that I’ve never had with other tacos. The tortilla actually tasted like something!!! Mind=blown.
These tacos are incredible and I can’t see myself eating any other kind of taco ever again. Even if I don’t go through the whole process of making the stew and jackfruit filling I am definitely going to start dipping my tortillas in sauce before pan frying them. There is so much flavor in the jackfruit filling and on the stew dipped tortillas just elevate them that much more. Real good. Real easy. A word of caution before you check out the recipe. It looks like it takes a long, long time but really the bulk of the time is just roasting the jackfruit. Do you really need to roast it that long? I mean. You cooooould cook it for a short time, but that makes it less tender and less flavorful. The long roasting time, in my opinion, is what really makes this great. You could cook this in separate sessions too. Make the sauce and cook the jackfruit one day, toss it in the fridge, then make the stew and the tacos another day.
I spent a lot of time making the slow roasted jackfruit, sauce, and stew and didn’t want to overwhelm the tacos with too many other things. Skip the lettuce and tomatoes and all that jazz. I did add a sprinkle of vegan cheese to help the taco stick together and add just a little extra flavor. I used the new vegan cheese by Tofurkey called Moocho. I’ve tried pretty much all the vegan cheeses out there and I’ve written about plenty on my blog. Some simply don’t melt or they have a funny color or they are so oily. Moocho melts evenly, unlike some that stay looking just like shreds, and has a cheesy smell/flavor that complements your dish. I recommend it. I found it here in Kenosha at the local Woodmans, and I’m not sure why, but they have two separate places in the store where they sell different brands of vegan cheese. One week Moocho was in the cheese aisle and last week it was in the produce section by the tofu. Color me vexed.
For the stew I used my Everyday Seitan and rough sliced pieces off and tossed them into the pot. It’s not necessary for flavor or texture, but I liked having added protein at the meal. You could add some of the jackfruit to the pot and skip the seitan or add in some black beans if you’re looking to keep it gluten free.
Jackfruit Birria Tacos
- Blender or immersion blender
- 2 dried ancho chiles (stems cut off)
- 1 medium yellow onion (rough chopped)
- 6 cloves garlic (rough chopped)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- 3 cups water
- 4 ounces diced green chilies
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 14 ounces diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (Optional but delicious in this)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 20 ounce Young green jackfruit in Brine/Water (Make sure it's not the syrup kind)
- 1 small yellow or white onion (diced)
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 15 ounces black beans (drained)
- 2 portobello mushrooms (diced)
- 1 large yellow onion (diced)
- 1 stalk celery (diced)
- 4 cloves garlic (diced)
- 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce (adds umami and salty flavors)
- 2-3 cups vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup birria sauce (Once it's finished)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 8 ounces slices or chunks of seitan (optional but adds protein)
- 12 corn tortillas
- 1 batch Birria filling
- 1 cup vegan mozzarella
- The stew
- Birria sauce for topping or dipping
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly spray an 8×8" glass baking dish with oil. Set aside.
Make the Birria Sauce
- In a small pot combine the dried ancho chilies, onion, garlic, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Use a pot lid or spoon to drain the liquid into a measuring cup. You want to reserve 2 cups of the liquid and the rest of the liquid can be discarded.
- Remove bay leaf and cinnamon stick.
- In a blender, or back into the pot if using an immersion blender, combine the cooking liquid, cooked ingredients, and the rest of the Birria Sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth and then set aside. You can make this ahead of time or the day of. This sauce is also just really good for anything.
Make the Filling
- Drain the jackfruit. In the sink, lay a clean kitchen towel down, then pour the drained jackfruit pieces on the towel. Pull the corners up then start twisting the towel and squeezing it to expel excess liquid in the jackfruit. This also helps to break it down so that it is shredded. The more you twist and squeeze the better it will be. See blog post for the video on this step.
- Transfer jackfruit to the glass baking dish. Pour on 1 cup of the prepared Birria Sauce. Stir, then top with 1/2 cup more. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 90 minutes.
- Remove baked jackfruit from oven, stir, add in 1/2 cup more of the Birria Sauce. Stir in the drained black beans, chopped onion, and cilantro from the Filling section of the recipe. Return to oven and bake Uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and now you're all ready to start assembling (Once your stew is ready)!
Make the Stew
- Make the stew while your filling is roasting. The stew takes only about 10 minutes to put together and you can let it simmer on low for as long as you'd like.
- In a small pot over medium-high heat add the mushroom, onion, and celery. Cook for 10 minutes. Add in the garlic, Worcestershire, soy sauce, veggie stock, Birria sauce, and olive oil. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until you're ready to enjoy. Add more water/stock if you want more broth. Add cilantro a few minutes prior to enjoying so that it is still fresh tasting.
- You don't need seitan chunks but it does add protein and texture variety. You could use a store bought seitan or use my "Everyday Seitan" recipe. You could also add beans to the stew or tofu! Get creative.
Make the Tacos
- Now you're ready for the most exciting part! Making the tacos! If you want to see a video check out the blog post and scroll up from this recipe. I have a short video on this process.
- Preheat oven to 200°F and place a baking sheet with parchment paper in the oven. Have your stew pot on the stove or next to the stove. Heat a cast iron pan or a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Have your tortillas, jackfruit filling, and cheese all ready and by the stove too. This part goes quick so you want to be prepared.
- Using tongs, dip a tortilla into the stew and flip to coat both sides. Let it drip a little then transfer the tortilla to the hot pan. Add about 2 tablespoons of cheese to the center in a line, then scoop about 1/4 cup jackfruit filling into the center. Use the tongs or a spatula to fold the taco in half. Let it cook for 1 minute, then flip, then transfer to the oven. Repeat until you're out of tortillas, or out of filling, or you're just hungry and want to eat.
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