Two worlds collide into a fistful of beefy proportions with these Smoked Beef Birria Burgers. Grab a stack of napkins and get ready for the best burger of your life.
This recipe was originally created in collaboration with Derek Wolf at Over The Fire Cooking.
There’s no question, this is an epic burger. Two recipes come together, braised beef birria and juicy smoked burgers. Place them on a toasted bun with a simple garnish, and dunk them into the rich consomé. The sauce is loaded with flavors from the braised beef birria, slowly cooked over the fire. I’m pretty sure this is the fastest I’ve downed a burger, it’s so hard to avoid.
With two completely unique recipes coming together, it’s important to address each one. Thankfully there’s a very comprehensive guide to making the juiciest Smoked Burgers ever, which is my ultimate reference for all of the details.
If you’re a fan of braised meat chili, check out my Gochujang Chili Con Carne as well!
What is Birria?
This dish has been on the scenes for a few years, seen all over social media and in restaurants. Pronounced bee-ree-ah (with rolling R’s), this dish originates from Jalisco, Mexico. The history goes back hundreds of years, originally using lamb or goat meat. Intense flavors of chiles and spices are slowly added to the meat, braised low and slow for hours until the meat falls apart. The meat was no longer gamey at this point, and picked up all of the juicy flavors.
Today, birria in the United States is typically created using various cuts of beef. Goat and lamb are not as common, or affordable, and beef also avoids the naturally gamey flavors. The beef birria is cooked in the same way, seared and braised, then shredded up for tacos. Birria tacos are then dunked in the consomé and topped with a portion of chopped cilantro and onions for a bright flavor to cut through the fat. These beef birria tacos are the ultimate guilty pleasure!
Like much of barbecue and grilling, this food was generally consumed by the working class years before becoming popular. The word Birria comes from the term “birrioso”, meaning “worth nothing” or “awful”. I’d say whomever named these tacos had it all wrong.
Why This Recipe Works
Slowly braised, spoon-tender beef. Braised low and slow over the fire for hours, bathing in a myriad of chiles, spices, and broth.
Smoked burgers. These crimson red burgers should not be ignored. They are just as much the star, even if they are a vehicle to transport beef birria to your mouth.
Crispy bread. Take the time to grill the bread, the texture of crust and beef consomé melting in your mouth is one of the best experiences with every bite.
Rich consomé. While you could drink the bowl on its own, this is reserved for dunking. Liquid red gold.
Dunking. Who doesn’t want to dunk a sandwich? It’s so satisfying, and then you go in for the second, the third dunk… oh my gosh…
Step 1: Make the Chile Sauce
Toast and hydrate the chiles. You can do this in a skillet or briefly over the fire. They only need about 30 seconds to toast slightly and puff up. Place them in a bowl and pour very hot water over them. Leave them be for about 10 minutes as they soften.
Blend the sauce. This will end up transforming into the birria consomé. Add the spices, rehydrated chiles, and beef broth into a high-speed blender. Puree until completely smooth if possible. I do recommend straining the liquid using a fine mesh strainer, which will help the consomé to maintain a nice viscosity.
Step 2: Season and Sear the Beef
As seen in the photo above, you may need to sear the chuck roast in batches.
I recommend using a Dutch oven for the overall process, as it will sear and braise very well over the fire.
Heat up oil in a Dutch Oven over the fire. Sear each side of the beef briefly for a few minutes until the outside has a nice crust. Remove the pieces and sear the rest as needed.
Step 3: Sauce and Braise
Add the sauce to the beef and braise. Pour in the red liquid carefully, making sure all of the seared beef has been added to the pot as well. With medium heat on the coals, braise the beef in the sauce for a few hours with the lid on.
This can take between 2-4 hours, depending on the meat and the heat. Typically I’ve found that around 3 hours is the magic time.
Step 4: Shred the Meat
Remove the beef from the consomé and shred. This is where I like to remove some of the beef consomé and set it aside for dipping.
There might be excess fat on top, which you can easily skim off with a spoon. Add the beef back into the pot and get ready to smoke some burgers.
Helpful Tips for Beef Birria
The beef birria can be made in advance, even the day before. Many times if I’m planning to serve guests, I’ll go ahead and prep this beforehand to reduce my stress on the day of serving. The flavors will continue to develop in the fridge, very much like chili.
Chuck roast is ideal for this recipe, having a healthy balance of fat and lean meat. You’re welcome to use a combination of different cuts or swap some out like short ribs. The burger is also pretty rich, so this was intended to be a simple choice.
Step 5: Prepping the Burgers
Please consider reading the guide for Juicy Smoked Burgers for all of the tips and tricks. I’ll cover the highlights below to make sure you’ll be as successful as possible.
Form your ground chuck into equal-sized patties, careful not to over-press the meat. Use your thumb to lightly press down in the center of each burger patty to create a divot. This will prevent the smoked burgers from swelling in the center during the cooking process.
Chill the beef first. Place each individual patty onto a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Allow them to refrigerate for at least an hour up to overnight. Letting them set up will help them keep their shape while also giving them a red smoke ring on the outside that will impress your family and friends.
Step 6: Smoke and Sear
Preheat your grill or smoker to 250-275°F. Make sure your grates are clean.
Season your burgers just prior to putting them on your grill or smoker. Place them on the indirect side of the grill and decide if you want to smoke them to the target temperature, or sear them to finish. See below.
Wood Chips Add More Flavor
Don’t forget your wood chips! If you’re smoking burgers on a pellet grill, you don’t have this problem. Using a charcoal grill might give you flexibility, but the wood chips are where the flavor comes in. Check out this video if you’re new to using wood chips on a charcoal grill.
Should I sear my Smoked Burgers?
Searing the smoked burgers is a preference, not a requirement. These particular ones were seared due to the sheer size (they were a half pound each). I’ve found smoking burgers until the perfect temp has a proven track record, and is also very easy to pull off using a pellet grill.
Toast the buns. Don’t forget! Slather a little butter or mayo onto your choice of buns and throw them over the grates. The crispy edges are key, especially because the smoked beef birria burgers are pretty moist. No one wants a soggy bite of soft bread.
Add cheese to the burgers, if desired. You’re already going the extra mile, so why not? Personally, I left it off, but many folks demand melted cheese on their burgers, and I understand.
Assemble and Dip
Classic toppings for beef birria tacos include a handful of chopped cilantro and white onions, which taste absolutely perfect on these burgers. It is messy? Yeah. Don’t worry, you’re about to get even messier when you dip. The shredded beef will fall apart with the smaller onions, and the texture of diced onions really works well.
Try topping these with Smoked Pickled Jalapenos for an added kick!
Want more Burgers?Print
- 5 dried guajillo chiles
- 2 dried ancho chiles
- 2 dried chipotle chiles
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups beef broth
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4– pound chuck roast
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 pounds ground beef 85/15 preferred
- Kosher salt and pepper o taste
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 cup diced white onion
- 6 burger buns
Preheat the grill to a medium-high heat, around 375°F. Set the coals on one side of the grill, creating a 2-zone grilling space.
Toast the chiles briefly over the coals, for about 30 seconds. Place them in a non-reactive bowl and pour boiling water over them to allow them to hydrate for about 10 minutes.
Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles. Add them to the blender with the water, broth, garlic, oregano, thyme, cinnamon, and salt. Blend until smooth.
Slice up the chuck roast into smaller chunks, about 2”. Season each piece with the salt and pepper.
Place the Dutch oven over the coals and add the oil. Once hot, sear each piece of beef for a few minutes on each side. You may have to do this in batches. When all of the beef has been seared, add the beef into the pot and pour in the chile broth. Once the broth starts to boil, close the lid of the grill and adjust the vents to slightly lower the heat. Allow the beef to braise for about 2-3 hours, periodically checking to make sure the temperature is keeping it at a nice simmer.
After a few hours the beef should be tender and ready to shred. Remove the Dutch oven from the heat and shred the beef. Strain the consomme and set aside while you prepare the burgers.
Using 2 pounds of ground beef should give you 6 medium burgers, or 4 very large ones. Prepare the patties to your preference and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Make sure the coals are still warm, and add some wood chips to the top of them. Set the burgers on the cool side of the grill, away from the coals. Allow the meat to smoke for about 20-30 minutes until they’ve picked up some red color.
Sear the burgers over the coals to finish them off, cooking them to your preference. Don’t forget to toast the buns, which I highly recommend as you’ll be dipping them in the consomme.
Assemble the burgers by placing the meat on the toasted bun, then the shredded birria, chopped onions and cilantro, and the bun. Smash it down and dip it into the consomme.
- Prep Time: 30
- Cook Time: 4 hours
- Category: Beef & Lamb
- Method: Smoking
- Cuisine: Burgers
Keywords: birria, beef birria, smoked burgers, birria burger, smoked beef