How To Make Pork Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Jul 27, 2020 | meat, Recipes

Pork tacos with pineapple salsa, yes, it is as delicious as you think it is going to be, maybe even more so. But do you want to know what the best part is? You can make this at home. Yes, you! I don’t care if you have never cooked anything in your life. I don’t care if you have never eaten a taco before. You can make this; I’m going to show you how. I am going to walk you through the whole process, and I’m going to make it look easy. Why? Because when you break it down into small steps, it is easy. Even for the most inexperienced cooks out there. Are you ready? Let’s go.

The Right Pork For The Job

First and foremost, we have to talk about the pork. It’s kind of the star of the show, so it seems like a logical place to start. Don’t use a lean piece of pork like loin or tenderloin for this. The pork needs to have a bit of fat because it is going to be slow-cooked. If there isn’t enough fat, it will dry out and ruin your tacos. I like to use pork shoulder. It might be called picnic roast or picnic ham (though it is not smoked). You can usually find it at the grocery store in relatively small pieces, on the cheap.

The pork shoulder is going to have a bit of skin on it, and a bone that runs through the middle of it. If you have the time to marinate the pork overnight, you don’t have to worry about the skin and bone. Just leave it alone. However, if you want to do this all in one day, you will need to remove the skin and cut the meat away from the bone.

To remove the skin from the pork shoulder, find the thinnest part of the skin (usually around the bone) and cut through it. Now, grab one piece of the skin that you just cut through and using your knife, slightly angled up towards the meat, cut the skin away from the meat. You should be able to take all the skin off in one piece.

Now that the skin is off the meat, you have to cut the meat into smaller chunks and remove it from the bone. If you look down at the piece of pork, you will see a few white lines. These lines separate individual muscles. Use these lines as your guide. Follow them with your knife making shallow cuts with the knife’s tip until you get one muscle cut away. At some point, your knife is going to hit bone. When this happens, angle your knife so that the side of the blade is being guided by the side of the bone. Use the tip of the knife to cut away any bits that you are finding difficult.

That’s it, you did it! You just cut up a pork shoulder. Now, it’s ready for the marinade.

The Marinade

For the most part, the marinade for this pork is pretty straight forward. There is, however, one ingredient that may be a little difficult to find. The ingredient in question is Annatto paste. You may be able to find it in the international section of your local grocery store. More than likely, however, you will have to find a Speciality Latin American Grocery Store. If neither of these options works for you, you can order Annatto on Amazon right here. You can leave Annatto out of the recipe, but it will affect the flavour and colour.

What is Annatto?

Annatto is a seed that is native to the tropical regions from Mexico to Brazil. You’ve eaten it whether you know it or now as it is used to colour cheddar cheese orange, among other everyday things. By itself, Annatto doesn’t have much of a flavour, though it does have some. More typically, it is used to add colour to a dish. The Annatto paste that I used is a combination of Annatto and spices. Even with the spices, the paste still has a mild flavour, but somehow, it adds a lot to the pork. For more information on Annatto, check out this Wikipedia article about it.

Making The Marinade

The marinade for the pork is a combination of the Annatto, citrus, garlic, onion, and spices. This mixture is puréed in a blender or with an immersion or stick blender, then poured over the pork. For full measurements and ingredients, see the recipe below.

If you are leaving the Annatto out of this recipe, double the cilantro, add in 1 tbsp dried oregano, 1/4 cup chopped parsley, and double the cumin and coriander. For a more smokey flavour, you can replace the jalapeno with an equal amount of chipotle in adobo. You can find this at most grocery stores.

When zesting the citrus (this can be done with a Microplane or on the finest part of a cheese grater), stop as soon as you get to the white part of the rind, this white bit is very bitter and can turn the whole marinade and the pork bitter. Also, zest the citrus directly into the bowl of the blender if you can. This will help to keep the natural citrus oil and most of the flavour in the dish rather than being lost in your cutting board.

Marinating The Pork

With the marinade made and ready to go, and the pork cut up and ready to go, it’s time to combine the two. Put the pork in a large ziplock bag. Pour the marinade over the pork, squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible and seal it. Gently toss the bag around to coat the pork in the marinade. Put the pork in the fridge for at least two hours to marinate. If you have the time, overnight is better.

Roasting The Pork

It’s been at least two hours, and the pork is ready to cook. Turn the oven on to 300°F and let it preheat for about 15 minutes. Put the marinated pork into a roasting pan, along with all the marinade. Cover with parchment paper, and wrap tightly with foil. Roast in the oven for 2 – 2 1/2 hours or until the pork is tender enough that it can easily be shredded with two forks.

Once the pork is cooked, take the meat out of the roasting pan and pull into small pieces using two forks or a set of tongs. Pour half the liquid from the roasting pan onto the pork, stir it in and taste. I used all of the liquid from my roasting pan, and you can too, but start with half and add more as needed. All of that liquid is pure flavour. You don’t want to lose it if you can avoid it. Once you get the pork and the liquid mixed, taste the pork again, and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and lime juice to suit your taste.

Pork Taco Marinade

This citrus, annatto, and jalapeno, marinade, is the perfect thing to take those pork tacos from good to great.
Total Time: 10 minutes
Course: Marinade
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Barbecue Pork, Marinade, Pork Marinade, Pork Tacos, Steak Tacos
Servings: 1 cup
Author: Chef Ben Kelly


  • 3 Lbs Pork Shoulder cut into large chunks
  • 2 tbsp Annato
  • 1 Orange Juice and Zest
  • 1 Lime Juice and Zest
  • 1 Jalapeno
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1/4 tsp Coriander
  • 1 Medium Sized Onion diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1/4 cup Loosely Packed Cilantro
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp Sugar
  • 2 tsp Kosher Salt


  • Put all of the ingredients except the pork in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  • Put the pork in a large ziplock bag and cover with the marinade.
  • Remove as much air as possible from the bag, seal, and put in the fridge to marinate for a minimum of 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
  • Remove the pork from the marinade, put in a mediumesized roasting pan and cook on 300°F for 2 – 2 1/2 hours or until the pork is easy to pull apart with two forks.
  • Shred the pork into the juices that have accumulated in the roasting pan. Taste adn adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and lime juice as needed.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Pineapple Salsa

Pork and pineapple are one of those magical combinations that go perfectly well together in most cases, but not all. (I’m looking at you Hawaiian Pizza). And so, pineapple salsa is the perfect accompaniment for our pork tacos. To make this Pineapple Salsa, combine 1 cup of diced fresh pineapple (dice it as fine as you can because it makes it easier to spoon on to the tacos) with 1/2 cup minced red onion, and the zest and juice from 1 lime. Add to that 1 tbsp chopped cilantro, 1/2 a tsp of cumin, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1 tbsp chopped pickled jalapeno (you can use fresh jalapeno, but I like the extra acidity these provide to the salsa.), and 1 tbsp olive oil. If you would like the salsa to be a little sweeter, you can add 1 tbsp of honey as well. Mix this all up, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt as needed then put in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Pineapple Salsa

A simple, and delicious pineapple salsa recipe that pairs perfectly with pork or fish tacos.
Total Time: 10 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Pineapple Salsa, Pork Tacos, Salsa, Steak Tacos
Servings: 2 cups
Author: Chef Ben Kelly


  • 1 cup Fresh Pineapple, diced
  • 1/2 cup Red Onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Lime, zest and juice
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 tbsp Pickled Jalapeno, chopped You can use fresh if you would prefer.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  • Put all the ingredients into a bowl, stir, taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the fridge to marinate for at least one hour.
  • Serve with pork tacos.


If you would prefer the salsa to be a little sweeter add 1 tbsp of honey.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Putting The Tacos Together

Okay, you have the pork cooked and shredded. The pineapple salsa has been in the fridge for over an hour. It’s time to eat! You can take the pork as it is and throw it on a tortilla, eat it and be perfectly happy. However, I prefer to sauté the pork and brown it a little before serving it. As you can see in the pictures below, I did this on a little electric griddle, but of course, you can do this in a pan. Get the pan nice and hot over medium-high heat, add 1 tsp of oil then add in the pork along with the juices. Let the pork cook until most of the juices have evaporated and the pork is browned in some places. This will do two main things. It will give the pork a deeper more nuanced flavour by carmelizing some of the sugar. Secondly, a lot of the liquid in the sauce that the pork is in (the juices) will evaporate making the flavour of the sauce, and the pork, more intense. Do yourself a favour and do not skip this step.

The Tortillas

I made my own tortillas using P.A.N. masa flour. It is surprisingly easy to do, but it is a fair amount of work. I’m not going to judge you for buying tortillas for this. What I will say about it, though, is that you put in a tonne of effort up until this point, don’t blow it by cheap out on the tortillas. Buy soft, corn tortillas if you can, if not, buy soft flour tortillas. Leave the hardshell tacos to Old El Paso and Taco Bell.

You can heat the tortillas in the oven wrapped in foil, or a tortilla warmer if you have one. I heated mine right on the griddle with the pork. This way, the tortillas absorb a bit of the juice from the pork adding even more flavour. I’ll leave that up to you. If you are interested in making your own tortillas, check out this post I did about it a while back.

Time to eat some Pork Tacos

Once the meat is lovely and browned, put it on some warmed tortillas, along with a bit of the pineapple salsa. Add some of your favourite Mexican hot sauce (I like Cholula, which you can find in the hot sauce section of most grocery stores). Squeeze a bit of fresh lime over the tacos, throw on a sprig or two of cilantro and enjoy! If you’d like to, you can finish the tacos with a bit of queso fresco (I use ricotta cheese or sometimes feta because it is hard to find authentic Mexican queso fresco where I live). Just like that, you’ve made delicious homemade pork tacos with pineapple salad, congratulations!


Make these tacos. Seriously, you will be happy that you did.

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