Here is an easy recipe for Crispy Tacos Made With Leftover Beef Brisket, topped with pico de gallo and finely grated cheddar cheese. Taco night is a perfect way to use up some of that leftover brisket. By the way, every day is Taco Tuesday in Austin, Texas.
Brisket is big in Austin, TX. Every barbecue joint worth its salt has brisket on the menu and for good reason, it's delicious. Whenever I cook a brisket I seem to have a lot leftover so I am always looking for creative ways to use it. Shredded beef tacos is a great way to use some of that delicious brisket.
Of course, you don't have to use leftover brisket. All you need is some shredded brisket to make some of the best tacos around. Ask your butcher to sell you a 2 to 4 pound brisket (from the flat) and prepare it in a Dutch oven. Look at my beef brisket recipe for brisket stuffed chile rellenos for instructions on how to prepare a small brisket in a Dutch oven.
This recipe is pretty simple and assumes that you have leftover brisket. Any leftover brisket will work. It can be leftover smoked brisket or simply leftover brisket braised in a Dutch oven. The key for this recipe is to reheat the brisket in way that keeps it moist and that should be done over low heat in a pot with a lid. See the note below on having enough liquid in the pot.
Other than leftover brisket, this recipe needs some corn tortillas and your favorite taco toppings. Fresh pico de gallo, sliced black olives, finely shredded cheddar cheese, a little Mexican Crema or sour cream and a squeeze of lime are favorites in my house.
- Leftover brisket
- Pico de Gallo
- Shredded cheese
- Black olives
- Green onion tops
- Mexican Crema or a dollop of sour cream
- Squeeze of lime
See recipe card for quantities.
Since we are working with leftover meat, the most time-consuming part of this easy recipe is making the pico de gallo. For leftover brisket tacos, I prefer the taste of fresh pico de gallo. Fire roasted salsa roja works well too. The ingredients are pretty much the same, but the salsa roja has roasted vegetables while pico de gallo is all fresh.
Mix the tomatoes, onions, serrano pepper, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil and salt in a small bowl and stir to combine.
Chop the brisket. Reheat in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add a little water as needed to keep it moist. Try to have about ½" of liquid in the bottom of the pan at all times.
Use taco tongs to hold the corn tortilla in hot oil to form a hard shell taco.
Deep fry the taco shell in taco tongs for about 30-35 seconds.
Serve with your favorite side dishes like refried beans and Mexican rice. Refried beans out of a can tend to be underwhelming. Fortunately, is't not hard to make them better. Take a look at my recipe for kicked up refried beans for some inspiration. Also take a look at a my recipe for smoked charro beans. Those are fantastic!
Hint: Taco tongs are great for deep-frying hard taco shells. Make sure the oil is 350°F and fry the tortilla for about 30 seconds. As soon as the boiling action subsides, it's time to take it out.
There are so many ways to change up brisket tacos. Try:
- Toppings - Favorite toppings include pico de gallo, cheese, a dollop of sour cream and a dash of hot sauce. Shredded iceberg lettuce, salsa roja and sliced pickled jalapeno peppers are also a family favorite in my house.
- Mexican Street Tacos - Rather than make hard shell tacos, try making Mexican street tacos with fresh, warm corn tortillas. Gently cook them on a non-stick griddle for a minute or two then top them with brisket and a mixture of white onion and fresh cilantro. Fresh corn tortillas made from scratch are much better than store-bought tortillas and they are not hard to make. An inexpensive tortilla press makes the job easy.
- Soft Tacos with Flour Tortillas - If you can find a market that makes fresh flour tortillas in the store daily, definitely try those.
- Spice it Up - Add some extra flavor to the brisket tacos with some ground cumin, garlic powder, maybe some adobo sauce and a little chili powder. Try making homemade chili powder from scratch sometime. It's easy and so much better than pre-packaged chili powder.
Deep frying in hot oil can be a bit dangerous. Always use a deep-sided pot for frying. A short-sided pot runs the risk of having oil blow out over the top of the pot and onto the burner. If you are cooking on gas, that is a recipe for a fire. I have ruined more than a few gas burners on my range top that way.
Also, invest in a set of taco tongs. They help hold a tortilla in the right shape while it fries. They are worth owning and can easily be found online.
Be careful when reheating the brisket to avoid drying it out. Keep about ½ cup of liquid (water works just fine) in the pot while reheating and stir often for juicy brisket. Add more water as needed. The brisket should be moist when serving.
Looking for other recipes for leftover brisket? Try these:
These are my favorite dishes to serve with this recipe.
Leftover Brisket Tacos Recipe
- 1 Pair of taco tongs available on the internet
Pico de Gallo
- 3 Roma tomatoes chopped
- ½ white onion chopped fine
- 1 serrano pepper stemmed, seeded and diced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 bunch cilantro leaves only
- 1 lime juiced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
- 1 pound leftover beef brisket chopped
- 8 corn tortillas
- 4 cups canola oil for frying
- 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
- ¼ cup black olives sliced
- 2 tablespoons Mexican crema for topping
- 1 green onion top only, chopped
- Mix all of the pico de gallo ingredients in a small bowl. Adjust salt as needed.
- Heat the leftover brisket in a covered pot over medium-low heat. Add enough water to keep about ½" of liquid in the bottom of the pot. Stir frequently and add more water a little at a time when necessary. Brisket will be fully reheated in about 10 minutes.
- Heat 2 to 3 inches of vegetable oil in a deep 4 quart pot to 350°F.
- Place a tortilla in the taco tongs and carefully fry to golden brown, about 35 seconds. Remove tortilla from the hot oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
- Place ¼ cup of leftover brisket into each taco shell. If the brisket is wet, just squeeze out a little of the liquid so the shell stays crispy. Top with pico de gallo, olives, cheese and green onion tops.