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Tacos De Cabeza Recipe (Mexican Beef Cheek Tacos)

Tacos De Cabeza Recipe (Mexican Beef Cheek Tacos)

Tacos de Cabeza are a popular variety of tacos consisting of the cheek meat from the cooked head of an animal topped with salsa, coriander and onions.

In Mexican cooking, “cabeza” refers to an entire roasted head of an animal so these tacos are filled with steamed and shredded meat of cow’s head (beef cheek).

The head of sheep, goat or pig may also be used depending upon individual preferences. Prepared with meat that is fall apart tender and garnished with traditional Mexican toppings.

If you’re a fan of making tacos with interesting meats, make sure to also check out our tripas tacos recipe made from cow’s intestines!

Origin & Cultural Significance of Tacos De Cabeza

The Tacos De Cabeza predate the arrival of the Spanish coming over to Mexico in the early 16th century.

According to anthropological evidence, the native people who used to live in the lake region of the Valley of Mexico more commonly ate tacos filled with small fish.

The role of the ‘’taqueria’’ commonly called a taco shop, also play an important role in the colorful history of the taco. For many years taquerias mostly catered to working class Mexicans and in particular many female migrants brought tacos to Mexico City to sell in their taqueria.

They would sell tacos for income to meet their daily needs, with their popularity ultimately leading to Mexico City becoming the taco capital.

Tacos De Cabeza

Mexican Tacos De Cabeza Recipe

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

Although the tacos de cabeza can be made using the head of pig, cow or even goat, this traditional recipe uses the meat from the roasted head of a cow.


  • Cow’s head - 1
  • Black peppercorns - 12
  • Garlic - 3-4 cloves
  • Bay leaf - 1
  • Dried chillies - 4
  • Mexican oregano - ½ tsp
  • Ground cumin - 1 tsp
  • Smoked paprika - 1 tsp
  • Salsa
  • Onion (chopped) - 1 small
  • Warm corn tortillas - 4
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Boil a big pot of water and add blistered chillies to it
  2. Season the cow’s head with salt and pepper and set aside for a few minutes.
  3. Next blend the chillies and garlic and add to a separate large pot. Cook over medium heat in vegetable oil and add the spices and a few tablespoons of water to make a smooth thick paste. 
  4. Add the cow’s head to the pot of boiling water and cook over low heat for around 2-3 hours or until the meat is fall-apart tender.
  5. When the meat is completely cooked, take out from the pot and pull the meat off the head. Remove unwanted parts like eyeballs and palate and chop the rest of the meat for the tacos.
  6. Heat the sauce in the pot and thicken it to use it as a dressing on top of the tacos. 
  7. Serve immediately with warm tortillas, salsa, chopped onions and cilantro.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 108Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 161mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 5gSugar: 4gProtein: 4g

So just get started with the recipe and enjoy the delicious flavour of tender meat with lots of sauces and dressings to get the ultimate Mexican experience.

Photo credit: Ron Dollete

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