sweet and smoky pork tacos-11 square Tacos are one of our family’s favorite meals. All sorts of tacos. If someone’s low-carbing, they can leave off the tortilla, if someone doesn’t like tomatoes, it’s not a big deal to leave them out, if someone only eats peanut butter sandwiches and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, there are fewer tears involved than usual (I say that in jest…my kids are getting better…usually. Two steps forward, one step back, right?)

These tacos from Cooking Light were kind of funny because they had a grown-up element with the cinnamon, cumin, and chipotle chili powder, which, when combined with the brown sugar and orange juice, gave them a really nice, sweet heat. But, the orange juice and brown sugar also kind of made them like taco-y sloppy joes (Sloppy Josés?), which was very appealing to my children. They also had a sweet, tangy, crunchy slaw made from jicama and carrots, but my kids opted out of that in favor of sour cream, guacamole, and cheese, so, you know, there are options.

I’ve made this recipe a few times and it’s never come together as quickly as it says it does. And the ingredients list is a little daunting. But. A lot of the prep work can be done ahead of time–if you measure out spices and chop veggies here and there when you have a few minutes, it won’t feel nearly as overwhelming when dinnertime rolls around.

Chop a small onion and a tablespoon of garlic.

onions and garlic

Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat. When hot, add chopped onions and cook until translucent and fragrant. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly and being careful not to scorch the garlic. Add some tomato paste, brown sugar, cumin, cinnamon, and chipotle chili powder.

tomato paste and brown sugar

Increase the heat to medium-high. Slice a pork tenderloin into 2″ pieces

sliced pork tenderloin

and add it to the skillet. Stir quickly to coat in seasonings and cook, stirring frequently, until cooked about 75% of the way through.

Add chicken broth and 1 cup of orange juice,

broth and orange juice

stir to combine ingredients, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered until the pork shreds easily with two forks and the sauce is reduced and is thick and syrupy (if the sauce is reduced but the pork still isn’t quite tender enough, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot and simmer until desired tenderness is reached.)

While the pork is cooking, whisk together the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons orange juice, lime juice, honey, salt, and pepper.

slaw dressing

Set aside. Grate the carrots and jicama or shave them with a cheese slicer. Place them in a bowl with the cilantro

jicama and carrot slaw

and toss to combine.

carrot and jicama slaw

Drizzle with the orange juice/honey mixture and toss to combine.

When ready to serve, season the pork with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the pork into warm corn tortillas

Sweet and Smoky Chipotle pork tacos

and add the jicama/carrot slaw (my kids went for sliced onions, sour cream, and cheese, but I was cool with it–as long as they’re eating some form of the dinner I made, I’m good.) Makes 8 tacos.

Sweet and Smokey Chipotle Pork Tacos




  1. 1
    Erika says:

    My children sound just like yours! This looks so yummy. It’s on the menu for when we next feed missionaries.

  2. 2

    That pork looks amazing! Definitely going to give it a try. YUM!

  3. 3
    Ellie says:

    Sounds tasty. About how long does it take for the pork to cook 75% of the way and then to finish cooking to the end?

    • 3.1

      I would say it takes about 7-10 minutes for it to cook 75% of the way, then I’d. Probably summer it for 30 minutes. I want to find a way to do it in the crockpot , but I’m worried about the pork getting mushy and the sauce not reducing enough.

  4. 4
    taryn says:

    What did you use instead of cilantro? Looks like mint. I wonder if that was better.

    • 4.1

      My cilantro was slimy, so I used mint. It was better with the cilantro, haha!

      • Jennifer L says:

        Ha! So glad you asked because I was about to ask! I kept staring at the pic, saying, that really looks like mint! 😉 Yeah, I’d imagine the cilantro would be better!! This recipe looks great though, I needed something other than chicken on our menu! Will try this week! You guys are the best!!

    • 4.2

      Dang, I was sure that wasn’t cilantro too! Glad I’m not going crazy. After all, I figured a food blogger knows her herbs (so where did I go wrong…) whew!

  5. 5
    becky says:

    I can’t find chipotle chili powder anywhere. it’s in another recipe of yours I can’t remember which. Could I add a little smoked paprika (finally found it at Target) to some chili powder??

  6. 6
    Rachel says:


  7. 7

    Wow you have THE best tacos at your house! Oh my goodness. What a wonderful treatment. Tacos fly in our family for the same reason—-offers
    choices. It also lets kids have a sense of positive power in regard to food.

  8. 8
    Jessica Dunford says:

    I am wondering if I could adapt this with kalua pork? I made some the other night and have a bunch left over. I was thinking just make the sauce and then simmer adding the cooked pork just to warm. What do you think? These look delicious!!

  9. 9

    Made this tonight and it was AMAZING! I was worried my 6 yo wouldn’t eat it unless he took the salad off and had sour cream and cheese but he enjoyed it. The baby had his without the salad and scarfed it down. Definitely on my ‘make again’ list! Thank you.

    I will reduce the liquid sauce ingredients next time even though I had a pound and a half of pork. It was just too much sauce, very messy. And incidentally I doubled or tripled most of the spices and garlic and it was perfect. I also used a bit more honey in the dressing, I liked it, hubby thot it was too sweet. I also used red cabbage in the slaw since we can’t get jicama here in suburban Ontario. Yum. They didn’t have tenderloin so I used a pork loin rib roast and cut that up and it worked fine in case someone wants a cheaper substitute.

  10. 10
    Sunny Drohan says:

    Cooking it now and almost done. But is the purple in your slaw?
    Had to take the pork out and let the sauce reduce more. But smells great.
    Hope it works out.

  11. 11
    Erin McMullen says:

    These are seriously some of my favorite tacos! Pair these with the homemade tortillas and some Spanish rice… Delish!! Thanks for always having such great recipes. Everything you guys make is incredibly delicious 🙂

  12. 12
    Liz H says:

    Made these and they were sooooo good! Yum yum! Does the nutrition info also include the corn tortilla or is it just for the pork mixture?

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