The Difference Between Birria And Barbacoa

Mexican cuisine is a powerhouse of flavor and variety, and when it comes to the most flavorful meats in Mexican cooking, it's hard to beat birria and barbacoa. Both mouth-watering dishes are cooked in similar ways, but are usually different kinds of meat, according to Eat Mex City.

Birria and barbacoa are traditionally cooked in a hole in the ground and covered up for four to eight hours, but can be cooked in the kitchen as well (via Eat Mex City). Whether you decide to go for the stovetop or the earth, once cooked, both will deliver as a rich and juicy filling for tacos, tortas, and more. The shredded meats can vary from pork, lamb, goat, and even seafood, meaning the options are truly endless.

Both dishes originated from Mexico and they look very similar, so it's no wonder some people confuse these two shredded or cubed meats. The flavors of chili peppers, onions, and an array of spices can be found in either (via Buzzrecipes). But even though they have some similarities, there are a few more things that set these dishes apart.

How birria and barbacoa differ

Barbacoa originates from Central Mexico and the name comes from the cooking process that is known as "barbacoa," which involves cooking in a deep hole in the ground, according to The Spruce Eats. The site adds that the meat is placed in a pot on a rack with water and herbs to allow for the meat to steam, while it's not submerged in the liquid.

It is most commonly cooked with lamb and goat and is eaten with soup called consome, which is used to dip and soak the meat in (via Eat Mex City). Barbacoa can be eaten differently, though, depending on where you are. You can eat the meat in tortas or tacos known as maciza (via Eat Mex City).

Birria, on the other hand, originates from Jalisco, Mexico and is a juicer version of barbacoa. It is submerged in a sauce rather than sitting above one on a rack, according to Eat Mex City. Once the birria is done cooking in the juices, a mix of herbs, tomatoes, and onions are blended and added to the pot.

The Washington Post says it is eaten mostly as a soup, but birria tacos have taken the world by storm in 2020. These tacos are filled with birria meat and cheese in a tortilla soaked in the juices. That same juice is then used to dip the taco in with onions and cilantro. According to Eater, the boom started in 2018 and since then they have been popping up all over the world.

Whichever dish you decide to try first, Eat Mex City recommends eating both with the flavorful liquid they are cooked in.