I truly enjoy walking down the aisles of Trader Joe’s, looking at all the different ethnic foods they offer and creating mental notes of all the new foods that I can’t want to try. I find their selections from around the world to be a great way to dip our feet into the foods of other cultures that we may not easily have access to. Most of them are little to no prep and are perfect for those nights that I don’t have enough time to cook and more often than not they’re better than take-out!
What is Birria?
Birria is a traditional dish that comes from Mexico, specifically, Jalisco, and is made with meat, chili peppers, and spices, then cooked slowly over low heat. Traditionally birria is made with goat, but in the United States, it is made with beef due to popularity and availability. Over the past five years birria has exploded in the United States. It was by far one of the biggest food trends in 2022 with no sign of slowing down as evidenced by over 498K instagram posts with hashtag birria and another 276K under #birriatacos. Trader Joe’s went with beef when they decided to create a birria recipe to jump on the trend, and they kinda nailed it. My favorite birria is from a local street taco restaurant and the Trader Joe’s version can absolutely compete!
Trader Joe’s Beef Birria Price
Trader Joe’s beef birria can be found in the freezer section and is $7.99 for a 16-ounce package. Full disclosure, there is a good amount of broth in the tray so it’s hard to know exactly how much beef you’re getting and whether this varies per package. Either way, pricewise seemed fair to me.
Reports from happy and unhappy customers are all over the map when it comes to the beef/broth ratio. Some have complained that they’ve found 2 chunks of beef while others have enough for 6 tacos.
The package is sold by weight so it’s possible that either more broth than beef is making its way into the package or those chunks of beef actually weight the same as a package that contains beef that’s more shredded appearing to be more plentiful. We’ll do some digging on this and let you know.
Just remember, the birria is rich in flavor and a little bit goes a long way so odds are you’ll be able to stretch the amount into more than you think.
Regardless, if you’re not happy I would highly recommend contacting your local store and letting Trader Joes know using their feedback form. This helps them make improvements and benefits us all!
Higher Edukitchen Tip: An easy way to make sure there are no surprises when you arrive home and open your beef birria is to slide open the cardboard sleeve and check the beef content while your still at the store. Doing so has resulted in several plentiful portions of beef birria tacos. You’ll thank us later.
Extras to Buy With Your Birria
After I checked the ingredients, the first thing I noticed on the package was that the birria was shown prepared with some onion and cilantro. Since this is how birria it’s traditionally prepared, I made sure to grab an onion and some cilantro to add to the dish. Another thing you’ll want to pick up are tortillas since the package does not include them. I’d recommend corn over flour as they fry up nicely and soak up all the delicious juices from the birria broth. If you’re gluten free you can also use the Trader Joe’s Almond Flour Tortillas if you can find them at your location.
Trader Joes Beef Birria Ingredients
If you follow our reviews you know that ingredients matter to us. We generally enjoy Trader Joe’s products for their taste but also what they’re made of. While not a one-size fits all approach, they tend to offer foods that contain less synthetic ingredients and fewer preservatives if possible.
The birria is a great example of one of these foods. The list of ingredients for the beef birria is short and contains under 10. They contain beef, water, onions, crushed tomatoes, chili peppers, salt, distilled white vinegar, spices, and garlic, which seems very authentic to me. This comes through in the taste as if it wasn’t prepared in some large commercial kitchen but rather at your local Mexican joint.
Trader Joes Beef Birria Nutrition
Nutritionally the birria ranks fairly well clocking in at 570 calories for the entire container. Even better, it contains 64 grams of protein making this a great dish to add extra protein into your diet. One thing to be aware of with the Trader Joe’s Birria is its sodium content. By the container the beef birria has 2180 mg sodium which equals 95% of your recommended sodium intake for an entire day.
With these calories, protein and sodium amounts per pound of braised beef you may be wondering how many servings this breaks down to. There are two servings per container so you can slice each of these figures by half if you plan to eat 8 oz in a sitting or share with a friend. Keep in mind you’ll be adding tortilla as well so maybe cut up some veggies or add some black beans and rice to round out the dish.
Is Trader Joes Beef Birria Gluten Free?
How to Prep Your Birria?
Preparation was very easy. The birria comes packaged in a microwave safe tray that is wrapped in a cardboard sleeve. There are two recommended ways to heat the birria. Using a microwave or on the stovetop. If you’re short on time or just want the easiest prep possible, opt for the microwave. You can go from freezer to plate in under 6 minutes.
It’s important to note that these instructions are based on the birria being heated from frozen so do NOT defrost if you’re using the microwave method.
Remove the cardboard sleeve and puncture the film covering the tray. This lets the steam escape and helps the food to cook evenly. Heat the birria on high for 2 ½ minutes. Carefully remove the film from the tray and gently stir the birria. When microwaving food this helps to ensure that it’s cooked throughout. Heat on high for another 2 ½ minutes or until the birria reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
The stovetop method requires a bit of planning and if you didn’t read the package the day before you wanted to make it (or our review) you would be out of luck. To use the stovetop method, you need to thaw the birria overnight in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to use it, remove the cardboard sleeve and the entire film. Pour the thawed birria from the tray into a medium sized pot or saucepan (a 3 quart would work best). Bring the birria to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and serve.
Of course, I didn’t read the package in advance and was left with no choice but to microwave it. I had wanted to heat it on the stovetop because it seems more authentic and I thought the spices and meat would cook better resulting in a better texture and richer flavor. The truth is microwaving was easy, fast, and the birria had a great texture. That said, I will definitely be trying it on the stovetop next time I pick it up, just because.
While the birria was heating in the microwave, the smell of the spices permeated throughout my kitchen as if the meat had been braising all day. After giving the birria a final stir I gave a quick taste test to make sure the meat was heated through. The meat was very tender and juicy and you could taste the garlic, onion, chili, and tomato. The broth was rich in flavor but I expected it to be more vibrant red in color, similar to what you’d see in a restaurant. This however, did not detract in any way from my satisfaction with the birria.
So, How Do You Eat Trader Joes Birria?
Because I was genuinely interested in which way I would like more (and for you all) I decided to follow the recommendations on the package and fry one birria taco and use some of the beef birria in a stew.
For the taco, you take a tortilla and soak it in the birria broth (remember, corn over flour because it will fry up easier). Once it is soaked, put it into a preheated skillet, then quickly add some birria meat, chopped onion, and cilantro, then squeeze some lime juice over it all. Fold your tortilla over to make it a taco shape, then fry both sides until crispy and enjoy. Serve with the yummy broth to use as a dip.
For the stew, you simply pour the heated beef birria along with the broth into a bowl. Top it off with cilantro and chopped onion, and you have your meal. The stew is really delicious served over Trader Joe’s Spanish Style Rice along with a side of black beans.
Both ways were great, but frying the taco and cooking the meat a little extra this way gave the birria a completely different taste. The birria tasted more smoked, and it brought out the adobo flavor. If I had to choose between the stew and the taco, I would choose the taco!
Trader Joe’s Beef Birria is certainly an entrée worth trying. For less than the cost of 3 taco supremes from Taco Bell you get a meal that crushes it on so many levels. The flavor is good, preparing it takes little effort and time, and you have options for how to eat the birria. While it may not be on the weekly shopping list, it will without a doubt make its way back into our kitchen.