Slow Cooker Pulled pork tacos gently seasoned with tomato sauce with a hint of orange and lime. Pork is shredded and then tossed in a flavorful citrus spiked sauce. So good, all you need is a dollop of sour cream and a slice of avocado to make a great pork taco. This is a great way to feed a hungry taco party crowd.
With temperatures over a hundred degrees for days on end, and guests invited for a Summer back yard party, I just couldn’t bring myself to stand over a hot grill on the blistering back deck.
The only answer was to stay cooped up in the air conditioned kitchen with blinds pulled to keep out any sliver of sunshine, ceiling fans at warp speed and a pork shoulder roast for the slow cooker.
I wanted a taco recipe that would feed a crowd, would be easy to self serve and be somewhat of a “walking taco” experience.
I challenged myself to develop a recipe to use ingredients on hand rather than running to the store. Its customary for me to purchase pork roasts when they’re in sale and stash them in the freezer. Check!
I had a can of tomato sauce, some Boyajian Pure Orange Oil in the fridge, banana leaves in the freezer and some lingering Vidalia onions in the basement.
All I needed were corn tortillas, sour cream, avocados and limes. And a couple of side dishes. We were in business.
By the time the sun was lowering on the horizon, and the back patio cool enough to gather, this was a perfect taco recipe for my Summer taco party.
Tacos For A Crowd
This is a great recipe if you’re looking to feed a hungry taco crowd. A bone-in pork shoulder roast, usually weighing in at about 3 – 5 pounds, once cooked, bone and fat removed and shredded yields an ample amount of meat for lots of tacos.
Speaking of tacos for a crowd, how much meat do you need? Although the standard is 3 tacos per person, people tend to be a bit generous when filling their own tacos. So plan on 2 tacos per person.
When cooked and shredded a pork roast will lose about 40% of its weight. A 10 pound pork shoulder will yield about 6 pounds of meat.
Calculate 1/4 pound of meat per person (making 2 tacos). This will serve 24 people yielding 2 tacos per person.
Let’s take a look at why this recipe works
- A Pork Shoulder Roast = a must: Why? A bone-in “Boston Butt” pork should roast means flavor. Riddled with fat, slow-cooking the pork roast will yield very tender fall apart meat. The fat adds so much flavor and is easily removed during the pulling process. And cooking any meat with a bone involved will also bring flavor to the end result.
- Season That Roast: Use a good quality chili powder to season the roast. Chili Powder is a blend of Southwestern spices used to make chili soups. And not to be confused with a pure chile powder such as Ancho or Chimayo chile powders, which are ground from dried chile peppers.
- Sear that Roast: Taking the additional few minutes to sear the roast on all sides also brings added flavor to the meal. Searing creates Maillard Reaction, which caramelizes the exterior and also creates a barrier to keep most of the juices inside that meat during the roasting process.
- Sprinkle With Sliced Onions: No need to take the time to chop those onions. Just slice big circles of sweet onions and sprinkle on top of the pork roast. During the long roast time, those onions will become soft, fragrant and flavorful. They’ll blend well with the pulled pork and tomato citrus sauce.
- Cook The Pork Roast: Use either a Dutch oven or a crockpot to slow cook that seasoned and onion’d pork roast into savory bliss. About 3 – 4 hours, covered, in a 350 degree oven. Or on low for 8 hours on low in a slow cooker
- Pulled Pork: Once the pork roast is fall off the bone tender. Remove it from the roasting pan, or crockpot, and let it cool enough to handle. Discard the broth from the pan, reserving those cooked onions. Then dig in. Using forks, meat forks, or even clean hands start shredding that pork meat into edible chunks. As you shred, return the shredded pork to the roasting pan along with the reserved onions.
- Time to Add The Sauce; The Sauce: a lively blend of tomato sauce, lime and orange with heat from red pepper flakes. I also like to use Chimayo chile powder instead of red pepper flakes. A New Mexico Chile powder that brings a punch of just right spicy heat. Warming and lovely.
- Blend the Flavors: Add the sauce to the pulled pork and let it steep on low, stove top, stirring occasionally to blend the meat with the sauce. About 15 minutes will do.
- Feed That Hungry Taco Crowd: Remove the citrus seasoned pulled pork to a large serving bowl and provide tongs. Provide a platter of warmed white or yellow corn tortillas, a bowl of sour cream, a platter of sliced avocado and a bowl of chopped cilantro. Let your guests build their own tacos.
Cooking Pork In Banana Leaves
I like making these pulled pork tacos by wrapping the pork roast cozy in banana leaves. An idea I learned from Rick Bayless. Banana leaves are routinely used in tropical regions for wrapping marinated meat or fish. Similar to cooking with parchment paper.
You can find fresh or frozen banana leaves at Asian or Latin Markets. The banana leaves steam the food and infuse a subtle grassy aroma and flavor to the food.
One of my favorite ways to cook with banana leaves is my Pouch Potato recipe, a technique I learned watching a Whole Foods demonstration.
The banana leaves are just a bonus. Snugly wrapped around the roast before putting the lid on steams everything together wonderfully. If you don’t have banana leaves, just cook the pork shoulder roast without using them. Simple.
What to Serve with Pulled Pork Tacos
Whether feeding a crowd, or simply your family, here are some ideas for side dishes for pulled pork tacos.
- Mexican Toasted Green Rice, A quick and simple recipe of toasted long grain rice, green bell peppers, tomatoes, and onion. A sprinkling of sliced green olives and red chile powder livens up this Spanish style Green Rice Recipe.
- Cowboy Beans, Pinto Beans simply cooked in the crock pot with bacon. Cowboy Beans are creamy, healthy and a delicious side dish.
- Bolito Beans, Bolita Beans simmered in red wine, smoked paprika, sweet bell pepper and garnished with crisp rings of fresh jalapeno. A delicious side dish for a Mexican Dinner.
- Smashed Potatoes with Chimichurri, These roasted smashed potatoes are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Topped with chimichurri sauce, they make an easy and lively side dish for any meal.
- Mexican Micheladas: The refreshing Michelada is a Mexican beverage made with Mexican beer, lime juice, Tabasco, Worcestershire and Soy Sauces.
Recipe for Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tacos
The savory pork is a delicious treat infused with the lime juice and a few drops of orange oil.
And spicy with red pepper flakes and chili seasoning, we loved it. And earthy red in color next to the bright green avocado and white cream, its super easy to make and easy to serve a crowd.
More Pork Taco Recipes
Slow Cooker Orange Spiced Pulled Pork Tacos
- 4-6 pound pork shoulder roast
- 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons chili seasoning
- 1 large onion sliced into rings
- 1/4 Cup water
- 1 14 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/8 teaspoon Infused orange oil or zest of one orange
- 1/8 cup lime juice about 2 limes juiced
- leaves Banana optional
- 18 corn tortillas warmed
- 3 avocados peeled and sliced
- 1 cup sour cream
- If using banana leaves place them in a slow cooker or 7 qt. Dutch oven which has been lightly sprayed with Pam.
- In a skillet heat oil until hot and brown pork roast on each side. Place pork roast on banana leaves and sprinkle the top with chili seasoning.
- Top with onion slices. Wrap leaves around pork. Pour water over the leaves. Cook pork roast in 350 degree oven for 3 hours, or 8 hours on low in the slow cooker
- When cooked, remove roast and let cool enough to shred meat with forks.
- In the meantime, heat the tomato sauce, orange oil or zest, lime juice and red pepper flakes in a skillet. Add the cooked pork and coat well. Heat on low for about 15 minutes to let flavors blend.
- Heat corn tortillas. Spoon some of the meat mixture on the tortillas. Simply place a dollop of sour cream on each taco and a slice of avocado. A squeeze of fresh lime is always welcome. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
Orange Spiced Pulled Pork Tacos …It’s What’s for Dinner.
From the kitchen of Lea Ann Brown, Cooking On The Ranch
Why Trust These Recipes? Lea Ann Brown has lived, worked and played in Colorado for 45 years. She has immersed herself in the Colorado Culinary space, is a Culinary School Graduate and publishes her Colorado food Blog, Cooking On The Ranch.