Delicious and easy pork tacos that are ready in less than 30 minutes! Crispy browned edges, tons of citrus flavor, and the perfect amount of spice.
Most of us think of carnitas or tacos al pastor when we think of pork tacos. While those are delicious options, they are also time-consuming. That’s why I wanted to share these quick and easy pork tacos.
In less than 30 minutes, you have tender pork tacos that are bursting with flavor. These pork tacos are great served street-style with cilantro, onion, and spicy salsa verde. Or get creative and add pineapple salsa, homemade guacamole, or corn salsa.
3 Reasons to Love These Pork Tacos
- Quick and easy: While many Mexican pork dishes need to cook for hours, these are ready in under 30 minutes.
- Just 8 ingredients: Made with just 9 ingredients including pantry staples that are easy to find and affordable.
- Versatile: This taco pork meat can be used for tacos, quesadillas, burritos, Mexican salads, and more.
If you love tacos as much as we do, you’ll definitely want to add these to your Taco Tuesday rotation.
Ingredients and Easy Swaps
- Pork tenderloin: Pork tenderloin is a great option for a lean and quick-cooking protein. Since the pork is being cut small and quickly cooked in a skillet, you could also use boneless pork chops or pork loin.
- Orange juice and lime juice: Citrus juice is typically used to add flavor to dishes like carnitas, tacos al pastor, and cochinta pibil. In this quick marinade, they are used to tenderize the lean pork tenderloin and infuse it with flavor.
- Taco seasoning: To add lots of flavor with a single ingredient, we love taco seasoning. Homemade taco seasoning is the best option since you control the ingredients, spice level, and flavor. Storebought also works or swap in blackening seasoning, fajita seasoning, or a combination of chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and onion powder.
- Corn tortillas: Most pork tacos are served in corn tortillas in Mexico. However, you could swap in small flour tortillas, grain-free tortillas, or lettuce wraps.
- Toppings: Classic toppings include chopped cilantro, onion, and salsa. Consider also adding guacamole or sliced avocado, shredded cabbage, or pickled onions. Pork tacos aren’t usually served with cheese but you could add it if you like.
How to Make Pork Tacos
These tacos couldn’t be easier to make! Here’s everything you need to do and some tips to make sure they come out delicious.
- Prep the pork tenderloin: Start by removing the silverskin from the pork tenderloin if needed. Then cut the pork into small, bite-sized pieces. The easiest way to do this is to cut the pork into long strips and then cut those strips into smaller chunks or strips. Just remember, the meat is for tacos so you want to cut it small enough that it is easy to eat.
- Marinate the meat: The pork is going to marinate really quickly in a combination of lime juice, orange juice, honey, olive oil, and taco seasoning. The citrus juices help the meat to stay nice and tender. The honey helps the pork to brown and get crispy on the edges. The taco seasoning adds all the flavor. Since citrus can break down the pork and we are using small pieces, only marinate the pork for 15-30 minutes.
- Let the pork get brown and crispy: Once the oil is nice and hot, add the pork pieces to the skillet. Let any excess marinade drip off before adding the pork to the pan. Place it in a single layer, working in batches if needed. Let the pork cook and brown before stirring it. Those crispy pork pieces are the best part.
- Make your tacos: Always warm the tortillas before adding the pork filling. If you have a gas stove, you can do this right on the gas burners for 10-15 seconds per side. Then pile in the pork, add cilantro, and any other toppings. Squeeze on some extra lime juice and serve immediately.
- Don’t overcook the pork: Pork tenderloin can get tough quickly so be careful not to overcook the pork. It only needs a few minutes and cooks quickly.
Recipe Tips and Ideas
Looking to level up this recipe! Here are some fun and delicious ways to customize this recipe.
- Add pineapple: Pork and pineapple is a classic pairing for a reason and is really popular with Tacos Al Pastor in Mexican cuisine. After cooking the pork, remove it from the pan and tent it with foil. Add some finely chopped pineapple to the pan and cook it for 3-4 minutes until it gets slightly browned. Serve the pineapple right on top of the pork. This also works with fresh pineapple if you don’t want to take the extra time to sear the pineapple.
- Corn salsa: Another favorite way to serve these pork tacos is with quick corn salsa. Combine fresh or canned corn with cilantro, red onion, diced jalapeno, and lots of lime juice.
- Add beans: If you want to bulk up the tacos, consider adding black beans or pinto beans to the pork taco meat.
- Add cheese: Although pork tacos aren’t typically served with cheese, there is a dish called a “gringa” that is a combination basically a quesadilla made with tacos al pastor, pineapple, and melted cheese in a flour tortilla. This pork makes a really tasty “gringa.”
- Make it spicier: This dish is mildly spicy unless you use a really spicy taco seasoning. Add some chopped chipotle peppers or fresh jalapenos to kick up the spice.
- Add slaw: These pork tacos would be delicious with a creamy coleslaw like the one served with these fish tacos.
Pork Taco Toppings
Like any good taco, there are so many options when it comes to toppings. Here are some of our favorites!
- Diced onion
- Pickled red onions
- Avocado or guacamole
- Pico de gallo
- Red or green salsa
- Ranchero sauce
- Shredded cabbage or lettuce
- Diced tomatoes
- Pineapple salsa or mango salsa
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt
- Jalapeno ranch
- Queso cotija, queso fresco, or shredded cheese
How to make pork tacos with ground pork?
This recipe also works with ground pork (or chicken or turkey) with a few adjustments.
Start by adding 1 teaspoon of cornstarch to the taco seasoning to help thicken up the sauce.
Brown the pork in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the taco seasoning with cornstarch to the skillet along with the honey (or brown sugar). lime juice, and orange juice. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat and let rest for 1-2 minutes to thicken.
Can these pork tacos be made in the slow cooker?
If you want to make pork tacos in the slow cooker or instant pot using pork tenderloin, pork shoulder, or pork butt then I recommend making a pork carnitas recipe.
This recipe does work in the slow cooker when cooked on low for 4 hours, but it is better suited to a hot skillet to get the crispy edges.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
This pork taco meat makes for really great leftovers and can be used in so many different ways.
To store: Let the pork cool completely and store it in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
To reheat: For the best results, reheat the leftovers in a hot skillet so the pork gets crispy again. If it was frozen, fully defrost it before reheating. It can also be reheated on a baking sheet at 450 degrees.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions about making these tacos.
The most common side dishes for pork tacos are rice and beans. Usually, refried beans or black beans are served on the side with Mexican rice, steamed white rice, or cilantro lime rice.
Absolutely! Just swap in boneless skinless chicken breast or chicken thighs for the pork in this recipe.
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- 1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into small pieces
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp orange juice (or more lime juice)
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 8 corn tortillas
- 1/4 cup cilantro
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Heat a cast iron skillet (or heavy skillet) over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Add the pork in a single layer and let it sear and brown for 2-3 minutes. Stir and repeat until the pork is cooked through, about 5-8 minutes total. Pork tenderloin cooks really quickly and gets dry if cooked too long.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
Homemade taco spice mix: 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp chili powder, ½ tsp cumin,½ tsp kosher salt, ¼ tsp oregano, ¼ tsp black pepper
Optional for serving: avocado, pickled red onions, salsa (pico de gallo, corn salsa, or green salsa), diced pineapple, shredded cabbage, or your favorite taco toppings
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