Shredded Mexican Style Pork

Hands down one of our favorite family recipes, this Mexican Shredded Pork (it can be made with beef, too) has it all. Flavor, as much or as little heat as you want, and it can be used so many ways. Tacos, Flautas, Tostadas, Burritos, just to get started. Best of all, it can be made in the oven or a crockpot, and let’s just not tell anyone how easy it is!

Mexican Shredded Pork
Mexican Shredded Pork

You’ll probably notice right away that this has five different kinds of hot peppers in it! Don’t let that scare you away, you can adjust:

  • Feel free to adjust heat upfront by adding fewer or more peppers – but remember peppers are flavor, so try reducing the amount of each kind rather than omitting one or two for the deepest range of flavor.
  • Once this is cooked, you’ll find the pork, itself, is beautifully flavored and the heat lies in the sauce. I like to take all that cooked down, caramelized sauce, defat it and pass it. Everyone can add as much or as little as they want (or dare!)

Leave a little time when this is done; the pork is best shredded after it’s rested a bit and then the sauce can be scraped up and put in the freezer. Yep, the freezer. The fat rises to the top and you can scrape any fat right off before you serve.

The sauce is AMAZING but carries the heat: Mix in with pork if you'd like or let everyone add their own.
The sauce is AMAZING but carries the heat: Mix in with pork if you’d like or let everyone add their own.

I most often make this in the oven (I love the darkened crunchy bits mixed in with the more tender shredded meat) but it can easily be made in the crock pot. As a matter of fact for a Food Day at work or a potluck, a crock pot is ideal.

Mexican Shredded Pork - Street style tacos!
Mexican Shredded Pork – Street style tacos!

When I make dishes like this that revolve around a lot of meat, I think about a couple of things to make it more frugal:

  • My family pigs out when large amounts of meat are around – I put away a portion in the fridge or freezer right away. If they see a smaller dish of this, they’re more likely to self portion.
  • I serve with sides and use smaller corn tortillas. Tostadas are really perfect because they don’t hold as much and take longer to eat; they’ll give you enough time for the brain to start signalling “fullness.”
  • I think about the “heaviness” of the dish and rather than serving up other sides (refried beans, rice, chips and guacomole) that have ton of calories, I go heavy on the vegetables and find lighter sides.
  • I consider lighter cheese options – and by this I don’t mean “light” cheese (yuck) but I might spend a bit more and grab a Mexican cheese or substitute a little feta…a little bit of a very flavorful cheese packs a lot of flavor for fewer calories.
Mexican Shredded Pork, here on tostadas w Crema, Queso Fresco & Cilantro
Mexican Shredded Pork, here on tostadas w Crema, Queso Fresco & Cilantro

If you wish to make huge Chipotle like burritos, that’s a different story, and you might want to use same amount of vegetables and a larger pork roast. This isn’t a copycat Chipotle Carnitas recipe (Chipotle wishes theirs was this good) but just follow the rice, beans and salsa recipes from my Tastes Like Chicken – Chipotle Chicken recipe. (That recipe, by the way, is a Copycat recipe.)

Homer says, "Mom, you know I don't like Mexican!"
Homer says, “Mom, you know I don’t like Mexican!”

With careful shopping, the Mexican Style Meat was about $5.32 – so this meal’s half is $2.66. It makes about 3 1/2 cups of meat (that’s about 16 to 18 modest tostadas) The toppings are a variable – lime is a must have condiment…it brightens the whole dish. I almost always serve this with an Avocado, Orange, Red Onion Salad . The tangy sweetness is really great with the rich Mexican Shredded Pork.

Mexican Shredded Pork; You can see you'll need to allow a little time to defat the sauce
Mexican Shredded Pork; You can see you’ll need to allow a little time to defat the sauce, but this is so flavorful and juicy.

Mexican Style Shredded Pork

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 three pound pork roast, shoulder is best, go larger if you wish
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons oil (plus extra for your tortillas)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15 – 16 ounce can of tomatoes with juice, broken up
  • 1 small can green chiles, diced
  • 1 – 3 jalapenos, seeded and diced (I like to use two, depending on size
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons chile pequin (or red chile flakes)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Brown pork on all sides in 1 tablespoon of oil, remove from pan. Add onions to pan with a little more oil if necessary. When translucent, add garlic and spices and cook for a moment longer. Add the tomatoes and juice and green chilis, then add the roast (and any drippings) back to the pan. Spoon the sauce over the roast, cover with a tight-fitting lid or foil and bake at 325 degrees for about three to three and a half hours.  The roast is done when it’s fork tender and easily shredded.

During the cooking process, check at about two hours and again around three to make certain there is still enough moisture in the pan, and add a little water if necessary.  All those goodies in the bottom of the pan are going to make your sauce, and depending on how big your pan is and how much fat content there is in the roast, the amount of liquid can vary.

When the roast is done, remove it from the pan, pour the sauce into a container and skim off any fat. You may need to add a bit of water to the drippings to make them a sauce-like consistency. Shred the roast and add some of the sauce if you wish and toss with the meat, saving some to pass on the side for serving.

This can be made as well in a crock pot: cook on low for about seven to 10 hours or overnight, and it’s perfectly good – but I do like the toasty pieces you get from oven roasting.

Makes about 3 1/2 cups of shredded meat and 1 1/2 cups sauce.

from the kitchen of

Mexican Shredded Pork; this is pretty easy to toss together!
Mexican Shredded Pork; this is pretty easy to toss together!

By the way, this recipe is so old and faded it’s a good thing I have it nearly memorized!!  I just had to show it!  Note I’ve marked it “five stars” per my recipe rating system…I’ve spoken a bit more about my “rating” system in Menu Planning 101.

If you couldn't already tell this is a favorite, you can still see my "five stars" at the top!
If you couldn’t already tell this is a favorite, you can still see my “five stars” at the top!


The easiest way I’ve found to get a good crunchy tortilla for a Tostada is to fry quickly in a small amount of hot oil in a nonstick pan that’s just a bit larger than the tortilla. I add the oil to a layer of about 1/4 inch, heat, lay in a tortilla, turn it over right away. As soon as one side is nearly golden brown, turn it back over and cook the other side for a bit longer.

They’ll darken a bit more and crisp when you take them out. Personally, I don’t like them hard all the way through, but like a little crisp with a touch of chewiness. Drain well and shake off the excess oil when you remove it from the pan. This can be done a bit ahead, but is best right before serving.

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read {Strategies Applied} for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

Kitchen & Cooking Hack:

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Put Your Own Spin on It:

      • I haven’t tried this yet, but I’ve always been curious how this would be rubbed with the spices and slow smoked in the barbecue….maybe this summer!
      • Vary your spices and amounts to taste – it’s your meal, have it how you’d like. Keep in mind that with a large roast like this, it’s hard to make it too hot – most of the spice is in the sauce so that gives you some control. If someone doesn’t like spicy, just reserve some of the meat for them.
      • Try making this with Rotel if you wish. Shortcut by using a good Salsa, too.
      • Try this with a chuck roast for Mexican Style Shredded Beef.
      • You’ll find a myriad of ways to serve this – burritos, tacos – it’s even great on a bun with barbecue sauce.

Comments and discussion always welcome - tell me what you think.

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