Leftover pulled pork is one of the best things to have in your refrigerator, in my opinion.
It can be transformed into virtually any meal, but one of the best (and easiest) ways to use that leftover meat is by making pulled pork tacos!
Whether you made a batch of my healthy slow cooker pulled pork from pork loin, made your own version with pork shoulder or pork butt, or have leftover pulled pork from takeout, tacos are the perfect way to make sure that meat doesn’t go to waste.
To take this Taco Tuesday celebration to the next level, we’re going to transform our leftover pulled pork into crispy pork carnitas to assemble the best tacos imaginable.
Tacos are one of my favorite ways to use pulled pork because there are endless ways to make tacos, meaning you can enjoy a pork taco recipe that’s a little different every single weeknight. Whether you prefer crispy tacos, street tacos on warm tortillas, or taco bowls, you’ll never get sick of this recipe.
How to Make Carnitas from Leftover Pulled Pork
To make our leftover pork tacos, we’re going to throw together a quick batch of leftover pork carnitas. I wrote up a recipe dedicated to carnitas that you can find here, but I’ll walk you through it here as well.
If you’re unfamiliar, carnitas is a Mexican dish that’s made from braised or slow-cooked pork that’s then shredded and lightly fried until crispy.
For this recipe, we’re using leftover pulled pork to make carnitas in just minutes, and it couldn’t be easier. All you need is a bowl, a large skillet, and a few simple ingredients.
I started with my healthy slow cooker pulled pork recipe, but you can use any leftover pulled pork you have.
To make crispy carnitas from pulled pork, you’ll need to whisk together the lime juice, chicken broth, chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt, black pepper, and minced garlic in a large bowl.
Next, add in the leftover shredded pork until all (or most) of the liquid has been absorbed.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the pulled pork mixture. Allow the meat to sear for a few minutes, then flip and sear the other side to create crispy carnitas. Remove the carnitas from the heat, and get ready to assemble your tacos.
If you end up making a ton of carnitas and have lots of leftovers, you can store leftovers in an airtight container to enjoy the next day or later in the week.
You can even freeze the pulled pork in freezer bags for a later date! When you’re ready for a quick & delicious meal, move the frozen pork to the fridge overnight to thaw, or give it a quick thaw in the microwave, and it’ll taste perfectly fresh.
It’s a great way to have a quick meal on hand when you’re short on time during the week (in fact, this is exactly what I did for my pulled pork burrito recipe).
How to Assemble the Perfect Pulled Pork Taco
I’m going to walk you through how I decided to prepare my tacos for this recipe, but I’ll give you some other options as well because we all have different tastes when it comes to tacos.
No matter how you choose to assemble your tacos, you truly cannot screw it up. As long as you’re working with our delicious carnitas, there’s no wrong way to taco.
Start by toasting your tortillas, either by adding them to a hot pan or by putting them directly on the stovetop flame for about 30 seconds per side. Be careful if you choose to toast them directly on a flame, and use tongs to remove the tortillas from the heat.
I used corn tortillas for my tacos, but soft flour tortillas also work incredibly well.
Add roughly 2oz of carnitas to each toasted tortilla, then top with some diced jalapeno and avocado. To give your tacos the best flavor, I highly recommend toppings them with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice to bring it all together.
Of course, you may be noticing the lack of salsa (although I did add hot sauce after the fact), lettuce, or melty cheese on my tacos. This is exactly what I mean: you can customize these tacos however you’d like!
Add red onions, top with queso fresco or sour cream, use crunchy taco shells, layer a plate of tortilla chips for pork nachos, or customize with any of your favorite toppings.
My tacos may look boring to you, but that’s the great thing about tacos- they can be totally unique to you. You can be a crunchy taco kind of person, and I can be all about the street tacos, and we can get along just fine.
Kind of a beautiful metaphor for life, huh?
I should also mention that I prefer to serve pico de gallo or salsa on the side of my tacos rather than inside my tacos to prevent them from getting soggy. I suppose that may be weird, but to me, that’s the best way to do it!
Other Ways to Enjoy Leftover Pulled Pork
Shredded pork tacos are just one of many delicious ways to enjoy leftover pulled pork, but certainly not the only way. If you have a big batch of pork to use up and need an easy recipe to throw together, here are some of the best leftover pulled pork recipes:
Instead of pork street tacos, take your carnitas and turn them into a loaded pulled pork burrito.
There are countless other ways to use up pulled pork: you can make pulled pork nachos, pulled pork egg rolls, lettuce wraps, pork enchiladas, BBQ pizza, pulled pork mac, or anything else you can dream up.
- 12oz Leftover Pulled Pork
- 2 Tbsp Lime Juice
- 1/2 Cup Chicken Broth
- 1 tsp Chili Powder
- 1/4 tsp Oregano
- 1/2 tsp Cumin
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 Minced Garlic Clove
- 6 Street Taco Tortillas
- 1/2 Avocado
- 1/4 Fresh Lime
- 1/2 Jalapeno Pepper
- Cilantro for Topping
- Note: you can add any other toppings you like on your tacos such as cheese or salsa
- Prep your carnitas by whisking all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, then mix in your leftover pulled pork until the liquid has been absorbed.
- Heat a large skillet over high heat and add the pulled pork mixture. Allow the meat to sear for a few minutes, then flip and sear the other side to create crispy carnitas.
- Remove from heat.
- Toast your tortillas by either adding them to your hot pan, or by putting them directly on the stovetop flame for about 30 seconds per side (if you go this route, be very careful and use tongs to remove the tortillas from the heat).
- Add roughly 2oz of the pulled pork to each tortilla.
- Dice up jalapeno and avocado, then add those on top of your pulled pork. Prep any additional toppings like salsa, pico de gallo, shredded cheese, or queso, and enjoy tacos your way.
- Add some fresh cilantro to your pulled pork tacos and squeeze fresh lime juice over the top, then enjoy!
- I highly recommend making a large batch of carnitas so you can enjoy more tacos or even burritos throughout the week.
- There's truly no wrong way to make a taco, so you can add whatever you'd like to these!
- I don't enjoy when tacos are dripping with liquid, which is why I opted to leave the salsa off of these tacos and serve it on the side instead.
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1 Taco
Amount Per Serving Calories 155Total Fat 6gCarbohydrates 15gProtein 14g