Tacos de Cabeza: Authentic Mexican Beef Head Tacos

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Tacos de Cabeza are a beloved staple of Mexican street food, celebrated for their rich and tender meat filling derived from the head of beef cattle. This dish exemplifies traditional Mexican culinary techniques, where every part of the animal is utilized to create flavorful and satisfying meals. The head meat, often slow-cooked until tender, is then seasoned and served in warm corn tortillas, topped with fresh garnishes and zesty salsa, creating a delicious and hearty taco experience.


For the Tacos de Cabeza:
  • 1 beef head, cleaned and skinned (cheeks, tongue, and other meaty parts)
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • Salt, to taste
  • Corn tortillas, warmed, for serving
  • Chopped cilantro, diced onions, and lime wedges, for garnish
For the Salsa Verde:
  • 5 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Prepare the Beef Head:
    • In a large stockpot, combine the beef head, quartered onion, garlic cloves, bay leaves, and whole black peppercorns.
    • Add enough water to cover the head meat by a few inches.
    • Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 6-8 hours or until the meat is tender and easily falls apart.
  2. Make the Salsa Verde:
    • While the beef head is cooking, prepare the salsa verde.
    • In a medium saucepan, combine the tomatillos, jalapeño pepper, chopped onion, and garlic cloves.
    • Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat.
    • Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the tomatillos are tender and slightly softened.
    • Drain the cooked vegetables and transfer them to a blender or food processor.
    • Add the fresh cilantro leaves and blend until smooth.
    • Season with salt to taste. Set aside.
  3. Shred the Beef Head:
    • Once the beef head is tender, remove it from the cooking liquid and let it cool slightly.
    • Using your hands or forks, shred the meat from the cheeks, tongue, and other meaty parts of the head.
    • Season the shredded meat with salt to taste and set aside.
  4. Assemble the Tacos:
    • Heat the corn tortillas on a comal (griddle) or in a dry skillet until warm and pliable.
    • Place a generous amount of shredded beef head meat onto each tortilla.
    • Top with salsa verde, chopped cilantro, and diced onions.
    • Serve immediately with lime wedges on the side.

Tips for Serving

  • Variations: Tacos de Cabeza can be personalized with additional toppings such as sliced radishes, avocado slices, or a drizzle of Mexican crema.
  • Side Dishes: Serve these tacos with refried beans, Mexican rice, or a fresh salad to complement the savory flavors of the meat.
  • Authenticity: For a truly authentic experience, use fresh corn tortillas and garnish generously with cilantro and onions.


Tacos de Cabeza exemplify the rich culinary heritage of Mexico, where traditional cooking methods transform humble ingredients into culinary delights. With tender, slow-cooked beef head meat nestled in warm corn tortillas and topped with vibrant salsa verde, these tacos offer a delicious taste of authentic Mexican street food. Whether enjoyed as a quick snack or part of a festive meal, Tacos de Cabeza are sure to satisfy with their robust flavors and hearty textures. Embrace the flavors of Mexico with this classic dish and savor the richness of its cultural heritage with every bite.

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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