Tacos de Cabeza: Exploring Mexican Head Tacos

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Tacos de Cabeza are a celebrated dish in Mexican cuisine, particularly popular in regions where slow-cooked meats are cherished. Traditionally made from beef head meat, including cheek, tongue, and sometimes eye meat, these tacos are known for their rich, tender texture and bold flavors. Slow-cooked until succulent and often served with a variety of condiments and salsas, Tacos de Cabeza showcase Mexico’s culinary heritage and the art of utilizing every part of the animal in cooking.


For the Beef Cheek Filling:
  • 2 pounds beef cheek meat, cleaned and trimmed
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • Salt, to taste
For Serving:
  • Corn or flour tortillas, warmed
  • Chopped onions and cilantro, for garnish
  • Salsa verde, salsa roja, or pico de gallo
  • Lime wedges
  • Optional: sliced radishes, avocado slices, and hot sauce


  1. Prepare the Beef Cheek Filling:
    • In a large pot, place the beef cheek meat, quartered onion, garlic cloves, bay leaves, and whole black peppercorns.
    • Cover with water and season with salt.
    • Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, partially covered, for 3-4 hours or until the meat is very tender and easily shreds with a fork.
  2. Shred and Prepare Tacos de Cabeza:
    • Remove the beef cheek meat from the pot and transfer it to a cutting board. Let it cool slightly.
    • Shred the meat using two forks or chop it finely, depending on your preference.
    • Heat a skillet over medium heat and warm the tortillas on both sides until soft and pliable.
  3. Assemble Tacos de Cabeza:
    • Place a portion of the shredded beef cheek meat onto each warm tortilla.
    • Garnish with chopped onions and cilantro.
    • Serve with salsa verde, salsa roja, or pico de gallo on the side.
    • Add a squeeze of fresh lime juice over each taco and serve immediately.

Tips for Serving

  • Condiments: Customize your tacos with traditional toppings like chopped onions and cilantro. Offer a variety of salsas and lime wedges for guests to add according to their taste.
  • Variations: Experiment with different cuts of beef head meat or try adding additional toppings like sliced radishes or avocado for added texture and flavor.
  • Authenticity: For an authentic touch, use corn tortillas and serve with a side of refried beans or Mexican rice.

Cultural Significance

Tacos de Cabeza highlight Mexico’s culinary diversity and the tradition of utilizing every part of the animal in cooking. They are a staple of Mexican street food and showcase the country’s rich gastronomic heritage.


Tacos de Cabeza offer a savory exploration into Mexican slow-cooked meats, providing a delicious and satisfying taco experience. Whether enjoyed as a snack, appetizer, or main dish, these tacos are sure to impress with their tender meat and robust flavors. Embrace the tradition and enjoy homemade Tacos de Cabeza with this authentic recipe, celebrating the essence of Mexican cuisine.

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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