Mexican Short Rib Tacos

beer braised Mexican short rib tacos

Mexican short rib tacos are the BEST tacos ~ melt-in-your-mouth tender beef braised in a beer and guajillo chile sauce for Taco Tuesday, Cinco de Mayo, or just because!

beer braised short rib tacos on a plate with slaw and salsa

short rib tacos braised in beer and guajillo chiles

These tacos are top of the line in the in the world of Mexican tacos. Short ribs are well marbled small sections of beef ribs, found near the breastbone of the cow. You can buy them on the bone, or boneless and they are one of my personal favorite cuts of beef. When cooked properly they fall apart at the touch of your fork, and have a rich meaty flavor. They definitely take taco night up a notch!

shredding beer and chili braised short ribs for tacos

step by step instructions for Mexican short rib tacos


  • boneless short ribs ~ you can use bone in ribs if you like, just remove the bones before shredding the meat. Look for well marbled meat without excess fat.
  • dried guajillo chile peppers ~ these are sold in cellophane bags, usually somewhere in the produce section of your supermarket, just ask. These peppers are not particularly spicy, but they have a lovely warm chile flavor.
  • Mexican beer ~ any kind you like. And if you don’t happen to have Mexican beer on hand, use what you have, it’s fine.
  • vegetable oil for browning the meat and aromatics.
  • yellow onion and garlic
  • ground cumin and oregano
  • salt and pepper
boneless short ribs on a plate

1. brown the short ribs

Work in 2 batches to get nice color on all the ribs. Remove to a plate.

browning short ribs for tacos

2. toast the chiles

This literally takes 30 seconds but is an essential step when working with chiles. Try not to let them blacken because that can make them bitter. Cook’s Illustrated recommends toasting chiles in the oven at 350F for about 6 minutes, which avoids the worry.

toasting guajillo chiles for tacos

3. saute onions and garlic

The moisture from the onions will help steam up all that good browning from the bottom of your pan; there’s great flavor there.

saute onions in a Dutch oven

4. add beer to soften chiles

This is a key step that takes just a few minutes…the dry ‘leathery’ chiles will hydrate and soften in the beer so they’re ready for the next step!

braising broth for tacos

5. blend it!

Magic happens in the blender as the chiles, aromatics, spices, and beer turn into a rich and brilliantly colored sauce.

blending braising sauce for short rib tacos

6. braise the ribs in the sauce

Over 3-4 hours in a low oven the sauce reduces, intensifies, and darkens, and the ribs become fork tender.

braising short ribs with guajillo chile sauce in a pot

7. shred the short ribs

It’s so tender you’ll just need a couple of forks to nudge it apart into soft shreds. Then reunite it with the sauce.

shredding Mexican short ribs for tacos

8. assemble the tacos

Mix the meat with the sauce and pile onto warmed corn tortillas. It’s dealer’s choice for the toppings (I use minced red onion, cilantro, and crumbled cojita cheese.) I like to serve homemade slaw and salsa on the side.

Mexican short rib tacos with salsa, onions, and cheese

taco topping ideas

Mexican short rib tacos with corn tortillas

need to change things up?

Can I use bone in short ribs?

Yes, proceed with the recipe exactly the same, and when it comes time to shred the meat, just discard the bones, they’ll fall right away. Remember you will need to buy more bone-in short ribs for this recipe since the bones are heavy, up to 50% more.

What other cut of beef can I use?

You can use chuck roast or brisket. I would cut the meat in large chunks first. I use brisket in my barbacoa tacos.

What can I use besides beer?

You can use red wine (try a Malbec) or if you don’t want any alcohol you can use beef stock.

How can I make this spicier?

As written this recipe is not spicy, the guajillo peppers are fairly mild. You can add in a few spicier dried peppers like chipotle, ancho, or pasilla. You can also make the sauce spicier by adding canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, but be cautious, they’re very hot. Another alternative way to crank up the heat is to use some cayenne or chipotle powder to taste.

Can I make short ribs in my Instant Pot?

Short ribs cook beautifully in an Instant Pot, check out my Instant Pot Barbacoa Recipe. But in this recipe the sauce is too thick for the pressure cooker. Thick sauces don’t generate enough steam for the pressure cooker to work properly. If you absolutely want to try using your IP, you’ll need to thin your sauce out with water or stock and make sure it is up to simmering temperature before starting to pressure cook or you risk getting a ‘burn’ message.

Can I make this in a slow cooker?

Yes, proceed through step 6 in the recipe, and then load the sauce and browned ribs into your slow cooker. Cook on low 8 hours, or until the meat shreds easily.

beer braised Mexican short rib tacos
5 from 2 votes

Beer Braised Short Rib Tacos

Mexican short rib tacos are the BEST tacos ~ melt-in-your-mouth tender beef braised in a beer and guajillo chile sauce for Taco Tuesday, Cinco de Mayo, or just because! 
Course Dinner Recipes
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 4 hours
Yield 8 servings
Calories 283kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • Dutch oven, preferably enameled cast iron


  • 2 ounces dried guajillo peppers, stems trimmed and seeds removed.
  • 2 lbs boneless short ribs
  • salt
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut in rough chunks
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 12 ounce bottle of beer, Mexican if possible!
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 tsp each, salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp sugar


  • Preheat oven to 325F
  • Heat a comal or cast iron skillet over medium heat until hot, then toast the guajillo peppers in the pan, stirring contantly, until they darken. This will only take about 30-45 seconds. Try not to let them get black, which can make them bitter. Remove to a plate.
    toasting guajillo chiles for tacos
  • Salt your short ribs on all sides. Heat the vegetable oil in the Dutch oven until hot but not smoking, and, working in batches, brown the ribs until they are nice and caramelized on both sides. This will take at least 10 minutes for each batch. Remmove the ribs to a plate.
    browning short ribs for tacos
  • In the same pot (do not clean it out) brown the onions for about 7 minutes until they start to soften, stirring often. The moisture of the onions will help release some of the browning (and flavor!) from the bottom of the pot. Add the garlic for the last 2 minutes of cooking.
    saute onions in a Dutch oven
  • Add the peppers back to the pan, along with the beer and stir well. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat and gently simmer for a few minutes, until the peppers are softened.
    braising broth for tacos
  • Put the beer and peppers into a blender or food processor, along with the cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and water. I like to let it cool for a few minutes before blending until completely smooth. Note: use caution, hot liquids tend to 'explode' upwards in a blender, so make sure you have the top on. I like to cover the top with a dish towel just in case.
    blending braising sauce for short rib tacos
  • Pour the pureed sauce back into your pan. Add the ribs and any accumulated juices into the sauce and give it a stir to combine.
  • Cover the pot and bake in the oven for 3-4 hours, or until the meat is fork tender and shreds easily. You will need to give the pot a stir about once an hour. My ribs took 3 1/2 hours. If your sauce seems to be getting too thick you can add a bit more beer or water to thin it as it cooks. Note: I like to use a silicone spatula to scrape the sides of the pan down because the chili sauce has a tendency to burn towards the end of the cooking if it is splattered on the pan.
    braising short ribs with guajillo chile sauce in a pot
  • Remove the ribs and shred them with two forks. Taste the sauce to adjust any of the seasonings. I found mine needed a touch of sugar bring out the flavor of the chilis. Re-combine the meat and sauce.
    shredding short ribs with 2 forks.
  • Seve on warmed corn tortillas topped with your favoite toppings…I used minced red onion, cilantro, and crumbled cojita cheese. Homemade slaw and salsa are great sides.
    beer braised Mexican short rib tacos

Cook’s notes

*recipe slightly adapted from Sara Deseran’s Tacolicious.
  • The filling for these tacos can be made up to 3 days in advance.
  • Nutrition facts for braised short ribs only, does not include tortillas or toppings.


Calories: 283kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 67mg | Sodium: 376mg | Potassium: 597mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1888IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 3mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
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  • Reply
    April 26, 2022 at 11:53 am

    Recipe sounds good. But are the ribs baked at 325 for 4 hours or cooked on the stovetop? Why was the oven preheated?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      April 26, 2022 at 12:14 pm

      The ribs bake in the oven, I clarified that.

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