When birria ramen popped up on my radar, I knew it was going to be an instant favorite and it did not disappoint.
It’s no secret that Mike and I are noodle folk. We live that noodle life – traveling to try noodles, perfecting noodle recipes, and basically noodling everyday. If there are noodles involved, I’m there.
What is birria?
Let’s step back a bit and talk about birria, which is a Mexican stew. It’s kind of a celebratory dish, the kind that is traditional at weddings, holidays, and celebrations. It’s usually served as a stew with corn tortillas for dipping, but lately birria tacos have been exploding on the taco scene and they are EVERYWHERE. I am obsessed. I think I’ve watched ten thousand videos of birria taco trucks making birria tacos. It’s mesmerizing: they dip corn tortillas into the ruby red oil from the stew, top it off with birria meat and fry everything up until it’s crispy and serve it with a little cup of consomé. The best is when they make quesabirria: a extra gooey melted cheese version.
We don’t have a birria taco truck in our neighborhood, but it’s okay because we’ve been making birria tacos at home! Mike has an awesome recipe so if you don’t want to miss out on the birria taco train, please check it out. Anyway, the other kind of birria that has been on my drool list is birria ramen. I keep seeing LA taco trucks marrying the two and to me it seems like the perfect combination. So, birria ramen… let’s taco about that!
What is birria ramen?
Birria ramen is a mash up of birria and ramen. Birria is a savory, slightly spicy, sweet, sour, and super savory Mexican (traditionally lamb) beef stew. Chunks of beef are marinated in dried chiles, chipotles in adobo, vinegar, herbs, and spices and slow cooked into a tender, fall apart, juicy beef stew. Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup with a rich, deep flavorful broth full of umami, chewy noodles, and toppings.
For this birria ramen, the birria consomé (that’s the soup that you get when you make birria) stands in for the ramen broth, to which we’ll add noodles, chunks of meat, shredded cabbage, onions, cilantro, jalapeños, a birria ramen egg, and a squeeze of lime.
Ingredients for birria ramen
- Birria stew. This is the base of your ramen: both the soup and the meat component. Most ramen stocks are made from bone broth but in this case we’re going to use the super flavorful consomé that you get when you cook birria. Most cuts of beef will work in the stew but I recommend going for shank because it has as bone in it, which will add extra flavor to the broth. Read more about birria stew here.
- Ramen noodles. You can go all out and make your own ramen noodles or you can go the easy route and buy fresh ramen noodles. Making your own noodles is always better but often way too much work, even for us, so we usually go with fresh/frozen. More on that below.
- Toppings. It’s always fun when a bowl of ramen has complementing and contrasting flavors and textures. This birria ramen has shredded cabbage for crunch, pickled onions for a tart sharp bite, chopped cilantro for a fresh herbaceousness, sliced jalapeños for spice, a wedge of lime for brightness, and a birria ramen egg, because what even is ramen without a ramen egg. Oh, and a crispy birria taco, just because!
The best noodles to use for homemade ramen
Fresh ramen noodles would be my top choice for birria ramen. We recommend Sun Noodles (pictured below) – you can get them at most Asian supermarkets in the frozen section. You can also use dried instant ramen noodles. I like the thick and chewy texture of Nongshim Shin Ramyun (not the cup ones).
How to make birria ramen
- Make the birria. Marinate the beef (overnight if you have the time, but for 2 hours minimum) and then make the stew in the Instant Pot on high pressure. The Instant Pot does a great job of cooking your meat and locking in flavors in a super short time. Of course you can make this on the stove or a slow cooker as well. When the birria is done, remove the meat and shred it. You can strain the stock too, but if you don’t want to, at least make sure you take out the bay leaves, cloves, and cinnamon. When the meat and consomé are done, it’s time to cook your noodles.
- Cook the ramen noodles. Cook your ramen noodles in a giant pot of boiling water. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling, hard boil. You want a big pot so when you add your noodles, it doesn’t drop the temperature of the water. If your pot is too small, it’ll take time for your water to come back to a boil, which means your noodles will be cooking for longer than the intended time they suggest on the package. Soggy noodles are a travesty. You want chewy, toothsome noodles with a bit of bite. Drain well.
- Assemble the bowl. Ladle pipping hot consomé into deep bowls (ones that can hold at least 3 cups of liquid). Add the drained ramen and loosen a bit with chopsticks. Top with a generous amount of beef, a birria ramen egg, shredded cabbage, onions, jalapeños, cilantro, and a wedge of lime.
Tips and Tricks
- Marinate. If you have the time, marinate the beef overnight – it’ll make for a more flavorful ramen.
- Make ahead. You can make this completely ahead of time, prepping the stew and all of the toppings. When it’s time to eat, all you need to do is heat stuff up. It’s (almost) instant gratification! Plus, if you make the birria the day before, you can strain and chill the consomé. When you put the consomé in the fridge (store the beef separately), the fat will rise to the top and solidify so you can easily remove it and add it back in. You definitely want to add some of the oil back in, it’s flavor!
- Make sure you have bowls. Ramen is meant to be served in deep bowls – bowls deep enough to hold your soup and your noodles – a regular shallow soup bowl isn’t going to cut it. If you don’t have dedicated ramen bowls, use the largest, deepest bowls you have, ones that can hold at least 3 cups of liquid.
- Make tacos. Make a taco (or five) and serve them up with the birria ramen for dipping. The contrast between the crispy, crunchy taco with the ramen is amazing.
Birria Ramen Recipe
This mash up of birria tacos and ramen is just too good to be missed!
- 2 lbs beef shank, brisket, chuck roast, or mix see notes
- 3 dried guajillo peppers see notes
- 7 oz chipotle peppers in adobo 1 small can
- 1/4 cup vinegar rice vinegar preferred
- 14 oz crushed tomatoes 1 small can
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp dried oregano Mexican preferred
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 whole cloves
- 2 qt chicken stock or beef stock, sodium free/unsalted preferred
To make the ramen
- 4 portions ramen noodles
- 4 large eggs optional
- 1/2 red onion sliced
- cabbage shredded
- lime wedges
- jalapeños sliced
- fresh cilantro chopped
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and then remove from heat. Soak your dried guajillo peppers for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cube your beef and season all sides with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Add chipotles in adobo, vinegar, tomatoes, garlic, oregano, smoked paprika, and cumin to the blender. When the peppers are done soaking, hold them by the tip over the sink and use scissors to cut the stem off and allow the seeds to fall out, then add to blender. Blend the marinade into a smooth paste. Marinate the meats for a minimum of two hours or up to overnight.
Set your Instant Pot on saute high or use a skillet over medium heat. Add 1-2 tbsp oil, then saute the onions until golden and translucent (6-8 minutes).
Add the meats, marinade, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, and cloves to the pot. Cover with chicken broth, then set to high pressure for 45 minutes. If using a slow cooker or stovetop, set to low heat for 4-6 hours. When the instant pot is finished, allow a natural release, then remove the meat. Shred, set aside, and discard the bones (if any). Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Keep the consomé on warm and cook your noodles in rapidly boiling water, according to the package. Drain well.
Ladle 2 cups of piping hot broth into deep bowls. Add the noodles and top with birria meat, shredded cabbage, onions, chopped cilantro, jalapeños, and birria ramen egg if desired.
If desired, chill the stock overnight and remove the fat (it will solidify) so you can add the fat back in according to how much oil you want in the soup (at least 1 tbsp per bowl).
You’ll probably end up with extra meat. If you’d like to make some birria tacos as a side dish or garnish, see our birria taco recipe for instructions.
If you would like to make the optional birria ramen eggs: boil the eggs for 6 minutes and 40 seconds over medium high heat. Immediately immerse in ice cold water and let chill until you can peel them. Place the peeled eggs in the birria stock to marinate.
Since noodles vary wildly in nutrition based on if they are deep fried (as in instant noodles) or fresh, estimated nutrition does not include noodles.
Birria Ramen Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 7.1g44%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.