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Vegan Birria Tacos


  • Author: Liz Madsen
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 12 tacos 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Savory, lightly spicy, and super flavorful, these Vegan Birria Tacos are loaded with jackfruit birria and vegan Mexican cheese.


Ingredients

Units Scale

For Jackfruit Birria

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, optional (see note 1)
  • 1 medium white onion, halved and sliced
  • 1/2 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 6-7 dried guajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed (instructions below) (see note 2 for substitutions)
  • 5-6 bay leaves
  • 8 cups vegan chicken broth (or vegetable broth, see note 3)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano (or Italian oregano will work)
  • 1-3 teaspoons chili powder, to taste
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 - 20 ounce cans Young Jackfruit in brine, drained (see instructions for preparation) (see note 4 for info + substitutions)

For vegan birria tacos

  • 12 taco-sized tortillas, around 5-8 inches (corn or flour, your choice)
  • Reserved 2 1/2 cups broth (see instructions)
  • 3/4 cup avocado oil (or another high heat oil), for frying (see note 5 for oil-free method)
  • 8 ounces shredded vegan cheese (Mexican blend or other) (see note 6 for best cheeses)
  • Cilantro, finely diced white onion, and limes for serving

Instructions

How to Make Jackfruit Birria

  • Prep in advance if desired: You can prepare the filling in advance by about 2-3 days. Preparing the birria filling takes about 45 minutes. Making the tacos takes 15-20, for reference.
  • Seed the peppers: Now, if you like things pretty spicy AND you have a high powered blender (because seed bits in your consomme aren’t super pleasant), you don’t need to seed it. Just remove the stems. I however seeded my peppers and it was very easy. First, place a dried pepper on your cutting board and with a sharp knife, cut just below the stem and discard that. Then make a cut lengthwise from end to end. You can cut the first layer, or all the way through--it doesn’t matter. Then open the pepper flaps and shake out all the seeds over a plate or something to easily keep the seeds from flying everywhere. Most will fall out quite easily. For any still hanging on, you can easily remove them with your fingers or the dull side of your knife. Repeat this process with all the peppers and discard all seeds and stems.
  • Start birria consomme/broth: Add the olive oil (if using), sliced onions, peeled garlic cloves, sliced carrot, and bay leaves to a large non-stick pot (preferably non-stick because so we can cook the jackfruit in it later). Cover with the vegan chicken broth (or vegetable broth). Give it a stir with a wooden spoon or your preferred cooking utensil. Now add the spices (except salt, you’ll want to add that at the end) and stir again. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.
  • Boil broth: After the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat down a notch to medium high, and boil covered for 20 minutes. I say covered because otherwise, a lot of the liquid will evaporate and leave you with less broth.
  • Prep jackfruit: Drain all three cans well so there’s no liquid left. Using your fingers, remove the smooth, hard seeds from each chunk. These seeds are edible, but they’re not the best texture so most people prefer to remove them. Place all seeded bits in a bowl while you process everything. Give one piece a little taste if you’re worried about the brine. If it tastes briny, rinse the jackfruit thoroughly in a fine mesh strainer. I buy my jackfruit from Trader Joe’s and it doesn’t seem to need rinsing in my opinion. Now take a clean kitchen towel and wrap up all the jackfruit in it. Twist it over the sink (or over a bowl, just in case any bits fall out) until you’ve wrung out all the excess liquid you can. Give it a bit of a rub inside the towel with your hands which will shred the large chunks. You can also shred it by hand by just pulling apart the large chunks with your fingers. The jackfruit is ready! If it’s clumped up inside the towel, simply pull the clumps apart with your fingers before adding to the pot later on.
  • Remove bay leaves and reserve broth: When the 20 minutes is up, use kitchen tweezers or tongs to remove all the bay leaves and discard them. Use a measuring cup to remove about 2 ½ cups of broth only (no veggies). Reserve this as we’ll use some of it to dip our tortillas in, and some of it to serve as a dipping sauce for the vegan birria tacos.
  • Blend: Pour the contents of the soup now into a blender and blend until smooth. Be careful as the blender may get hot and steam may escape when removing the lid. You can alternatively use an immersion blender, but I find that my countertop blender gets this a bit smoother. You’re also welcome to NOT blend the veggies for a thinner liquid, but I would blend the pepper skins and keep those in there.
  • Cook jackfruit: Heat the empty birria broth pot (do not rinse it out--great flavor in there!) over medium high heat. Add in the drained, seeded, and shredded jackfruit. Spread it out across the pan and cook it for a few minutes with no oil or anything. Stir occasionally--when you see it start to brown, it’s ready for the next step. If you’d like it to be a bit more textured, add a few tablespoons of avocado oil (or another high heat oil) and stir for another 4-5 minutes while it gets more on the chewy/crispy side.
  • Add some of the blended sauce: Add most of the blended veggies/broth sauce, stirring well as you do it. You may need all of it, you may not, it kind of depends on how much sauce you have. Don’t add too much or your vegan birria will be very soupy. If you do add too much, you can either simmer it uncovered until some of the liquid reduces (it can splatter while it does this, so be careful) OR you can strain it through a fine mesh strainer. The latter worked very well for us in one of our tests of this recipe. After the jackfruit is mixed well with the sauce, the next step is to make our vegetarian birria tacos -- or vegan, if you’re adding dairy-free cheese like we did.
  • Stopping here? At this step, you can refrigerate the jackfruit birria mixture and the reserved broth SEPARATELY--until you’re ready to make tacos. I wouldn’t wait more than 2 days, though, as the “meat” may get a little soggy in the fridge.

How to Make Vegan Birria Tacos

  • Did you prep in advance? If you refrigerated your birria and consomme, take them both out of the refrigerator before you begin.
  • Make tortilla dipping sauce: If frying tacos, mix about ½ cup of the consomme/broth with ¾ cup of avocado oil (or another high heat oil). Place the mixture in a wide bowl. This is what we’ll dip our tortillas in.
  • Set up your taco station: Heat a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium to medium high heat--it depends on how hot your stove gets and how browned you want your tacos. I preferred the medium heat, personally, but my stove is wonky and I had to somewhat adjust the heat throughout to keep it from smoking (when the oil gets too hot). Add a splash of oil to the pan to prepare. The rest of your taco station should consist of a bowl of shredded vegan cheese, a bowl holding the jackfruit birria, a plate of tortillas (if using corn tortillas, make sure to warm them first), the bowl with your oil/broth mixture, and finally a large plate for finished tacos (I used a few plates, since the tacos can sometimes start to stick together while they dry/cool).
  • Make tacos: When the oil is hot, start making the tacos. Dip a tortilla completely into the oil/broth mixture and let the excess drip off. Place in the pan or griddle. Place as many as your pan or griddle can accommodate but leave a couple inches between each one so you have room to work. I fit about 3 in my 12-inch nonstick skillet. I didn’t do it this way in the photos or video (which I’m kicking myself for now), but if you place the birria and vegan cheese on one half of the tortilla, it’s easier to fold over the other half to make the tacos.Using tongs, add a bit of the jackfruit mixture, sprinkle on a good amount of shredded vegan cheese, and move onto the next taco in the pan. When all are prepped, use tongs or a nonstick spatula or a combination of both, fold the taco and place on one side. Cook each side for a couple minutes until it’s done to your liking. Place on the plate and repeat until you’ve used all your tortillas and/or supplies.
  • Serve: Serve and eat tacos immediately with remaining broth/consomme (warm it up first), finely diced white onions, roughly chopped cilantro, and lime wedges. For a fun way to serve, top the consomme with very finely chopped onions and cilantro. Enjoy!
  • Store: Refrigerate leftover tacos for 3-4 days in an airtight container. I’ve found they taste best when reheated in a skillet or an air fryer!

Notes

  • Note 1: This is a fully optional ingredient. Because traditionally fat-laden animal meat is used in birria, it’s nice to add a little richness to the broth with some olive oil (or another oil like avocado oil). It’s completely optional. If you do not want to use it, add an extra ½ cup of broth.
  • Note 2: These are DRIED peppers, found in the international or spice section of most supermarkets, health food stores, etc. A good substitute is dried ancho chiles if you can find them easier. They are slightly more spicy, but generally a fairly mild pepper. I give information below on deseeding these peppers--it’s surprisingly easy! Substitutions: chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (canned) OR spices like ground ancho chili powder, regular chili powder, and even a little pinch of chipotle or cayenne pepper. I would use all three if possible to get some depth of flavor. The guajillos provide so much depth, so if you can find them, definitely use them.
  • Note 3: Since a savory and meaty broth is normally used, I wrote this recipe to use vegan chicken broth, but vegetable broth will also work. If you want to go for the vegan chicken broth, I like to get Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base and mix it with hot water. It’s the best tasting, most cost effective, and the jar lasts up to 2 years in the fridge! You can also use store-bought vegan chicken broth, or an artificially flavored bouillon powder like Orrington Farms Vegan Chicken Bouillon or in cube form. Substitution: vegetable broth.
  • Note 4: This UNRIPE jackfruit is perfectly edible, and perfect for savory dishes since it isn’t sweet like the more mature jackfruit you’d find fresh. Canned jackfruit is available at Trader Joe’s (this is where I primarily get mine), many health food stores, and online. You can also sometimes find it in Asian markets--I can usually also find it at H-Mart, a Korean supermarket with many locations. Sometimes you may see vacuum-sealed jackfruit online that looks brown. It’s just oxidation, but keep in mind it may make your “meat” appear darker. It’s perfectly safe to eat. To get the briny taste off you’ll really need to rinse the jackfruit well and I recommend discarding the smooth seeds. They’re edible, but not the best texture. I give detailed instructions for how to prep the jackfruit in the recipe instructions below. Substitutions for jackfruit: soy curls, seitan (though you’ll want “shredded” seitan for this), or crumbled “super firm” tofu. Or you can use a store bought vegan shredded chicken product! You’ll want 3-4 packed cups of “meat” for this recipe.
  • Note 5: You don’t need to use oil in the broth, it’s just there to help the broth taste richer. And to cook the tacos, you can bake or dry fry (cook in a skillet with no oil) the filled tacos. You may want to avoid dipping the tortilla in the consomme for this though, as without oil the tortilla might not crisp up and could fall apart or taste soggy. You can still (carefully) dip the loaded tortillas into the broth/consomme, though. And for cheese, my 5 minute vegan mozzarella stretchy sauce or vegan cheddar stretchy sauce will both work and you can season them however you like to fit whatever recipe. In this instance, you’d just mix it up, cook it briefly on the stove and when you’re ready to use, use a spoon or a cookie scoop to add a little of the stretchy sauce into each taco on top of the jackfruit birria.
  • Note 6: Shredded vegan cheese is the easiest to use in this recipe since it doesn’t take up much room in the taco and gets into all the little nooks and crannies. It also melts really quickly, which helps the vegan birria taco fuse together. I LOVE Violife vegan Mexican cheese--it melts great, tastes great, and I can find it at my local supermarket right in the dairy section, surprisingly. Substitutions: If you can’t find a Mexican blend of vegan shredded cheese, you can make your own, just get vegan cheddar, vegan mozzarella, and vegan monterey jack and blend them with your fingers in a bowl. If you can only find cheddar or mozzarella you can definitely just use those. If you can only find block vegan cheese, you can shred it using a box grater. See note 5 for homemade vegan cheeses that will work if you don’t have access to vegan cheese at your store.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Category: Entree, snack, appetizer
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: Vegan tacos, vegan birria, vegan birra tacos, jackfruit birra