Coca-Cola Shredded Beef Taco

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Preparation info

  • Makes


    generous tacos.
    • Difficulty


Appears in

Amor y Tacos

Amor y Tacos

By Deborah Schneider

Published 2010

  • About

I’m truly shameless when it comes to shaking down other cooks for recipes. It’s worth it just for the surprising little tricks I learn, of which this is a prime example. A number of years ago, I was pestering a nice Mexican lady for the recipe for her dark, savory shredded beef, when she nonchalantly mentioned that she added Coca-Cola to the cooking liquid. I’ve heard many times since about the use of this “secret ingredient” in various recipes, from cakes to salad dressing to BBQ sauces. Mexican Coca-Cola definitely tastes different from American Coke—richer, sweeter, and more complex, possibly due to the use of cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup—but American Coke works fine. The flavor and dark color certainly add something special to this delicious broth, which is not sweet at all, but full of the flavor of dried chiles and tomatoes. Try to buy the beef chuck roast in a single thick piece, which will stay moister than small, thin pieces.


  • 1 tablespoon lard or olive oil
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 3 medium ancho chiles, seeded and stemmed
  • 2 large guajillo chiles, seeded and stemmed
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • Kosher salt
  • cups water
  • 2 pounds chuck roast
  • cups Mexican-bottled Coca-Cola (cane-sugar sweetened)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Warm corn or flour tortillas
  • Diced white onion
  • Diced avocado, lightly salted
  • Cilantro sprigs


  1. In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, heat half the lard or olive oil. Sauté the onion and garlic for 1 minute. Tear the cleaned chiles into pieces, add them to the pan, and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the onions are soft. Add the cumin seed, diced tomatoes, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, and the water. Simmer slowly for 20 minutes, or until the chiles are softened. Puree the sauce in a blender until very smooth.
  2. Heat the remaining lard in the same pan. Cut the beef into several large chunks and brown it on all sides. Remove it from the pan.
  3. Pour the sauce into the pan and cook it, stirring constantly, for several minutes. Return the meat to the sauce. Pour the Coca-Cola into the blender jar, swirl to dissolve any sauce still clinging to the sides, and add it to the pot. Add the bay leaf. Cover the pan, reduce the heat, and simmer until the beef is tender, about 1½ hours.
  4. Cool the beef in its cooking liquid for 20 minutes, then transfer it to a cutting board and shred or cut it into ½-inch pieces. Simmer the sauce until it is slightly thickened, another 5 minutes or so, stirring often. Taste and add more salt if desired. Remove the bay leaf.
  5. Toss the meat with the sauce to moisten it and roll it up in warm tortillas with diced onions, avocado, and cilantro. Serve very hot, with more sauce on the side.