Christmas Tacos

christmas tacos

The Spruce / Pete Scherer 

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 8 hrs
Total: 8 hrs 20 mins

There are countless traditional and nontraditional Christmas foods, so why not tacos? Especially these tacos, which feature comforting braised beef and a topping of holiday-ready pomegranate pico.

Short rib cooked in the slow cooker is the base and a nice hands-off way to cook during the busy holidays. This rich cut is a delight in the middle of winter. It’s beefy intensity is nicely balanced by the topping, a seasonal spin on classic pico de gallo that swaps tomato out for tart, wintry pomegranate. A light dusting of cotija cheese or a splash of crema is reminiscent of snowfall while fresh cilantro adds a hit of green. These tacos remind us that we're deeply blessed, enjoying feasts and wonderful gifts even in the middle of winter.

This recipe scales up easily for large gatherings, just be sure to enlist your relatives in seeding the pomegranates. Or better yet, take it easy and just buy the prepared seeds. After all, it's the holidays. Be sure to leave a few extra tacos by the hearth for Santa Claus.


  • For the Short Ribs:
  • 2 bone-in short ribs (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 ancho chiles (stem and seeds removed)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • For the Pomegranate Pico:
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (small dice)
  • 2 tablespoons shallot (small dice)
  • 1 large lime (juiced)
  • 1/4 cup pepitas (lightly toasted)
  • For Serving:
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Garnish: Fresh cilantro, lime wedges, cotija cheese, or Mexican crema

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Season the short ribs with kosher salt and add them to the pan. Brown for 5 or so minutes per side, undisturbed, to develop a nice crust. Some fat will render from the meat and aid in browning.

  3. When the meat is well-browned remove from the pan and turn off the heat. Deglaze the pan with the pomegranate juice, scraping the bottom of the pan.

  4. Place the meat and juice in a slow cooker set to low. Add the ancho chilies, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf. Put the lid on the slow cooker and braise the short ribs for 6-8 hours until the meat is tender and the bones release from the meat.

  5. Turn off the heat, remove the bones, bay leaf, and cinnamon, and allow the meat to cool in the braising liquid.

  6. Prepare the pomegranate pico. Mix the pomegranate seeds, jalapeño, lime juice, and pepitas in a small mixing bowl.

  7. Roughly chop the meat with the ancho chilis, mixing them together. Taste and season with salt accordingly. If needed, heat the mixture in the braising juices to serving temperature.

  8. Warm your tortillas to make them soft and pliable. Plate the tacos or serve family-style, allowing guests to plate their own.

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