Shredded Pork Tacos

Shredded Pork Tacos

Shredded pork tacos are an easy, affordable way to switch up taco night and have plenty of leftovers for lunch or another dinner.

Shredded pork served on a soft tortilla shell and topped with diced tomatoes, green onions and queso fresco.

 

These pork tacos are made with pork butt, which is an affordable cut of meat. It’s tough and it’s fatty, but that all gets resolved with low and slow cooking. It’s a flavorful cut of pork, and is perfect for braising.

 

In this recipe, the pork is gently simmered in a generously seasoned tomato sauce until it is fall-apart-tender. Don’t worry too much about the long cooking time; it’s mostly hands off and totally worth it!

A close up of a shredded pork taco topped with diced tomatoes, green onions and queso fresco.

 

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What is the difference between shredded pork and carnitas

Both preparations involve braising the pork and cooking low and slow, sometimes for hours. However, traditionally carnitas are made by braising pork shoulder in oil or lard.

 

In this shredded pork recipe we cook the pork butt low and slow in a flavorful Southwestern-inspired tomato sauce until it’s fall-apart-tender.

 

What is the best cut of meat for shredded pork?

The best type of cut to use for shredded pork is the shoulder. It has a high fat content and is very flavorful. The pork shoulder has two parts: shoulder and pork butt (also called Boston butt). The pork shoulder is cut from the thinner (lower) end of the shoulder, and pork butt is from the thicker (top) end.

 

  • We used a 4½ pound (before trimming) pork butt to make these shredded pork tacos.

 

Do you remove fat before cooking the pork?

Trim any large pieces of fat from the outside, but don’t remove all of it. Keep interior pieces of fat as they are. The fat will essentially melt away with the long cooking time adding tremendous flavor. While shredding/pulling the pork you can remove and discard any large fatty pieces if desired.

A large knife cutting fat off a pork shoulder.

 

Ingredients for shredded pork tacos

3 tablespoons Canola Oil

4½ – 5 pound Pork Shoulder – Pork Butt (also called Boston Butt), trimmed of thick fat pieces, bone removed, and meat cut into large chunks (roughly 3-5 inches)

1 large Onion, sliced thin – we used a large yellow onion

1½ tablespoon Chili Powder

2 teaspoons Garlic Powder

2 teaspoons Salt, divided – 1 teaspoon for the pork and 1 teaspoon for the seasoning mix

1 teaspoon Onion Powder

1 teaspoon Cumin

½ teaspoon Black Pepper

¼ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper, optional

16 ounces Tomato Sauce

8 ounces Water

 

Prep work

There’s a long cooking time for these delicious shredded pork tacos, but the prep work is a snap. Other than trimming the pork, and slicing the onion, the rest involves measuring and opening a can.

 

We’ll start with preparing the pork since it is the most labor intensive.

  • Place the pork on a large cutting board.
  • Trim off any thick pieces of fat. Don’t remove all of the fat however, we need it for flavor.
  • Work your way around the pork butt and remove large chucks of meat from around the bone.
  • Cut any large pieces into 3-5 inch chunks.
  • Keep the bone to use in soups or stews if desired.
  • Season the pork with 1 teaspoon of salt

Prepare the rest of the ingredients

  • Cut the onion into thin slices.
  • Make a seasoning mix: Add the chili powder, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, onion powder, cumin, black pepper and crushed red pepper (if using) to a small bowl. Stir to combine.
  • Finally, open the can(s) of tomato sauce and measure out the oil and water.

The prepped ingredients displayed on a wood cutting board.

 

Alright, that’s it for the prep work, let’s make some shredded pork!

 

Brown the pork

We want to brown the pork before adding in the liquid. Browning meat adds flavor. It’s an extra step, and does takes a few minutes but it’s worth the extra work.

 

To make the shredded pork we want to use a large, heavy pot. Use something that will hold and distribute heat evenly, like an enameled cast iron pot. We used a 6 quart pot.

 

Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the pork and arrange it in a single layer so that it is not mounded or overlapping.

 

Cook the pork for 5 minutes. Turn each piece and cook another 5 minutes to brown on both sides.

A close up image of large pork chucks browning in a pot.

 

Take the pot off the heat. Move it over to an empty burner. Use tongs to remove the pork pieces and place them on a sheet pan or large plate. Keep warm by loosely covering the pan with a piece of aluminum foil and/or place it in the oven or microwave. The meat will stay warm away from drafts.

 

Make the sauce

Place the same pot over medium-low heat. The oil remaining in the pot should still be hot. If it’s not, just give it a couple of minutes. Add the onions to the pot. Cook them for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

 

Add the prepared seasoning mix (chili powder, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, onion powder, cumin, black pepper and crushed red pepper) and cook 1 minute while stirring constantly.

 

Braise the pork

Add the tomato sauce and water to the pot and stir well. Return the pork to the pot, stir to coat with the sauce and arrange them so they are not overlapping.

 

Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the sauce to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and cover the pot. Cook the pork for 60 minutes, checking it and stirring occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pot.

 

Keep the sauce at a simmer. If it’s boiling too vigorously, lower the heat a bit. If it’s not simmering, raise it a touch. Do this throughout the cooking time.

 

After an hour, the pork should start to become tender but probably won’t be quite ready. Continue cooking for another 15-30 minutes or until the pork gives. The pork should break apart easily without offering resistance when pressed with a wooden spoon or fork.

 

Once the pork is tender, lower the heat to low. Use tongs to remove it from the pot and place on a large cutting board. Cover the pot and leave the sauce on low heat.

 

Let the pork rest and cool down a little bit before shredding.

 

How do you shred pork?

Make sure the pork is hot or warm but not too hot to avoid steam burns. Let it cool just a little bit. Place the meat on a large cutting board. Use 2 forks, hold the meat down with one and pull the meat apart with the other. Continue this process until all of the pork is shredded.

 

Finish the shredded pork

Add the shredded pork to the sauce and stir to combine. Keep stirring until the pork is completely coated in the sauce. Leave the pot over low heat and cover. Stir it occasionally and cook for about 15 minutes until warmed through.

 

Serve your shredded pork on soft tortillas or hard taco shells, add your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Shredded pork and taco fixings displayed on a wood cutting board.

 

What toppings go with pork tacos?

For me, the taco toppings are just as important as the taco filling. Sometimes, I want to keep it simple so that I can savor the main ingredient – the pork in this recipe. But sometimes I want an extravaganza of toppings. Like when you finish loading up your taco – then wonder how you’re going to eat it!

 

But that’s the great thing about home-cooking you get to set things up just the way you like them! So here are some taco toppings to consider:

  • Salsa – always a favorite and there’s no shortage of prepackaged varieties. But, if you want to make your own, this fresh salsa recipe is simple and fantastic.
  • Cheese – A must with tacos right? With these pork tacos I went with queso fresco instead of my usual standbys, like Monterey jack, cheddar jack or just plain cheddar. Queso fresco has a mild, salty taste that complements the pork tacos beautifully.
  • Green onions or chives – They not only add a mild, oniony flavor but a pop of color too.
  • Limes – A squeeze of citrus and pork work very well together. Add a couple of wedges on the side, that way everyone gets to add as much as they want.
  • Cilantro – Chopped or torn, a few cilantro leaves add a special flavor and visual interest.
  • Lettuce – Will add crisp texture and freshness to your tacos, especially if you’re using soft tortillas.
  • Guacamole and Avocado slices – These never hurt, especially when paired with Mexican or Southwestern cuisine, right?
  • Sour cream or Crema – Add freshness and a cool touch to tacos.
  • Hot sauce – If you like spicy, hot sauce is a must!

 

You may also like these Southwestern inspired recipes:

Shredded Chicken Tacos

Southwestern Pasta

Shredded Beef Tacos

Beef Taquitos

Turkey Taco Soup

 

A close up of a shredded pork taco topped with diced tomatoes, green onions and queso fresco.
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Shredded Pork Tacos

Shredded pork tacos are an easy, affordable way to switch up taco night and have plenty of leftovers for lunch or another dinner.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 50 mins
Total Time2 hrs 5 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican & Southwestern
Keyword: pork, pork recipes, tacos
Servings: 10
Calories: 359kcal
Author: Elizabeth

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 4½ - 5 pound Pork Shoulder – Pork Butt also called Boston Butt, trimmed of thick fat pieces, bone removed, and meat cut into large pieces (roughly 3-5 inch chunks)
  • 1 large Onion sliced thin
  • tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Salt divided – 1 teaspoon for the pork and 1 teaspoon for the seasoning mix
  • 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • ½ teaspoon Black Pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper optional
  • 16 ounces Tomato Sauce
  • 8 ounces Water
  • Soft or Hard Tacos Shells for serving
  • Favorite Toppings for serving

Instructions

  • Season the pork pieces with 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the pork and arrange it in a single layer so that it is not mounded or overlapping.
  • Cook the pork for 5 minutes. Turn each piece and cook another 5 minutes to brown on both sides.
  • Take the pot off the heat. Move it over to an empty burner. Use tongs to remove the pork pieces and place them on a pan or large plate. Keep warm by loosely covering the pan with a piece of aluminum foil and/or place it in the oven or microwave.
  • Place the same pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions to the pot. Cook them for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the chili powder, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, onion powder, cumin, black pepper and crushed red pepper and cook 1 minute while stirring constantly.
  • Add the tomato sauce and water, stir well. Return the pork to the pot, stir to coat with the sauce and arrange them so they are not overlapping.
  • Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the sauce to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and cover the pot. Cook the pork for 60 minutes, checking it and stirring occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  • Keep the sauce at a simmer. If it’s boiling too vigorously, lower the heat a bit. If it’s not simmering, raise it a touch. Do this throughout the cooking time.
  • After an hour, the pork should start to become tender but probably won’t be quite ready. Continue cooking for another 15-30 minutes or until the pork gives. The pork should break apart easily without offering resistance when pressed with a wooden spoon or fork.
  • Once the pork is tender, lower the heat to low. Use tongs to remove the pieces from the pot and place them on a large cutting board. Cover the pot and leave the sauce on low heat.
  • Let the pork rest and cool down a little bit before shredding.
  • Use 2 forks, hold the meat down with one and pull the meat apart with the other. Continue this process until all of the pork is shredded.
  • Add the shredded pork to the sauce and stir to combine. Leave the pot over low heat and cover. Stir it occasionally and cook for about 15 minutes until warmed through.
  • Serve your shredded pork on soft tortillas or hard taco shells, add your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Notes

To make the shredded pork we want to use a large heavy pot. Use something that will hold and distribute heat evenly, like an enameled cast iron pot. We used a 6 quart pot.

Nutrition

Calories: 359kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 136mg | Sodium: 873mg | Potassium: 969mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 567IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 4mg
The nutritional information above is computer generated and is only an estimate. There is no guarantee that it is accurate.This data is provided as a courtesy for informational purposes only.

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