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Taco de Cabeza: Authentic Recipe

Taco de cabeza is a popular variety of taco in Mexican cuisine. It consists of tacos filled with steamed and shredded meat from the head of an animal, usually a cow, but sometimes a pig or goat. The meat used in tacos de cabeza can include any of the meaty parts of the cow, including eyes, brains, tongue, cheeks, lips, and more. The whole head is typically placed on a steamer or grill, and customers may ask for particular parts of the body meats they prefer. The meat is fall-apart tender and garnished with traditional Mexican toppings such as salsa, coriander, and onions.

About this recipe

Welcome to this delicious journey into the world of Mexican cuisine! Today, we’re diving deep into a classic yet often overlooked dish: Taco de Cabeza. This recipe is perfect for those who love authentic Mexican flavors and are looking to explore beyond the usual tacos.

Taco de Cabeza recipe background

Taco de Cabeza, or “head taco,” is a traditional Mexican dish that utilizes the meat from the head of a cow. This dish is a staple in Mexican street food culture and is especially popular in the northern regions of Mexico. It’s a sustainable way of using the entire animal, and it’s a testament to the rich culinary heritage of Mexico.

Why make this recipe?

  1. Authenticity: This is as real as it gets when it comes to Mexican street food.
  2. Sustainability: Utilizing the head meat ensures that no part of the animal goes to waste.
  3. Flavor Depth: The head meat offers a unique, rich flavor that you won’t find in regular cuts.
  4. Skill Level: It’s surprisingly easy to make, requiring basic cooking skills.

What does Taco de Cabeza taste like?

The meat in Taco de Cabeza is incredibly tender and flavorful, often described as “melt-in-your-mouth.” The spices and herbs used in the cooking process infuse the meat with a complex flavor profile that’s both rich and satisfying.

What is in Taco de Cabeza?

The primary ingredient is, of course, the cow’s head meat, which includes parts like the cheek and tongue. These are slow-cooked to perfection along with a blend of spices such as cumin, garlic, and Mexican oregano.

Equipment required for this recipe

  • Large pot or slow cooker
  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Tongs
  • Tortilla warmer or cloth


  • 1 cow’s head, cleaned and prepared
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
  • Salt to taste
  • Corn tortillas
  • Lime wedges
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped


  1. Preparation: Clean the cow’s head and prepare it by removing any excess fat.
  2. Spice Mix: In a bowl, mix garlic, cumin, oregano, and salt.
  3. Cooking: Place the head in a large pot or slow cooker, add the spice mix and onions. Cover with water.
  4. Slow Cook: Cook on low heat for about 8 hours or until the meat is tender.
  5. Shred: Remove the head, let it cool, and then shred the meat.
  6. Assemble: Place the shredded meat on corn tortillas, garnish with lime and cilantro.

How to serve Taco de Cabeza recipe

Serve immediately with lime wedges and fresh cilantro. You can also add salsa or guacamole for extra flavor.

What to serve Taco de Cabeza with

  • Salsa Verde: A tangy green salsa can elevate the flavors.
  • Mexican Rice: A side of traditional Mexican rice pairs well.
  • Refried Beans: Adds a creamy texture to your meal.

My recommendations and tips

  • Use organic spices for the best flavor.
  • If you’re short on time, you can use a pressure cooker but the flavor won’t be as developed.
  • Always serve with fresh tortillas for the best experience.

Taco de Cabeza storage ideas

The shredded meat can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze it for up to a month.

Potential ingredients substitutes

  • Meat: If you’re not comfortable using head meat, beef cheek or tongue can be used.
  • Spices: Feel free to adjust the spices according to your taste preference.