It’s taco tuesday and I can’t think of a more appropriate recipe to share than these 30 minute caramelized pork tacos with pineapple-habanero salsa! Not only are they delicious, but they are easy to make and they’re done in 30 minutes! I love a quick and easy weeknight meal, but you shouldn’t sacrifice quality for time and now you don’t have to! The pork briefly marinates in this recipe and while it does, it’s super easy to whip up the pineapple salsa and some cilantro crema. These caramelized pork tacos may seem simple, but they are so tender and flavorful that no one will believe this recipe only took 30 minutes!
tips for making caramelized pork tacos
Pork. These caramelized pork tacos really benefit from using pork tenderloin. Like the name suggests, it is extremely tender! It’s basically the filet mignon of pork. Pork loin, though similar, is not the same and not nearly as tender. Make sure you trim the silverskin from the pork before dicing it, which if you have never heard the term, is the connective tissue surrounding some meats. It’s very rubbery and never breaks down and becomes tender, so it’s worthwhile to remove. The Kitchn has a great tutorial here. Guess what? You can also ask your butcher to do it for you! Just let them know that you’d like the silver skin removed from your pork tenderloin and you’re good to go! Can you substitute chicken in this recipe? Sure, just make sure you’re using boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
Habanero. Is habanero necessary in this recipe? No. You could absolutely substitute jalapeño or serrano, but I just really like the flavor of habanero peppers. Is this salsa super spicy? Surprisingly, no! There is a small amount of heat, but not as much as I was expecting. If you are worried about too much heat, simply remove the seeds from whatever chile pepper you decide to use.
Cooking. You will notice that after you add the pork and marinade to the pan, there’s going to be a lot of liquid all of a sudden. That’s okay! That’s the pork releasing some water because of the salt. If you used previously frozen pork tenderloin, you might notice the same thing. Don’t panic! Just allow the pork to keep cooking. The liquid will eventually evaporate and the pork will start to caramelize.
Tortillas. Use your favorite here! I am, hands down, a corn tortilla person for most tacos so that’s what I usually go with. Feel free to sub in flour if that’s more your jam.
other 30 minute meals you’ll love:
1 1/2 lbs. pork tenderloin, silver skin removed, and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon neutral oil
1 jalapeño, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
warm corn tortillas, for serving
lime wedges, for serving
avocado slices, for serving (optional)
1 cup finely diced pineapple
1/2 cup white onion, finely diced
1–2 habanero peppers, very finely minced (less or more depending on your heat preference)
2 limes, juiced
3 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 oz mexican crema or sour cream
1 lime, zest and juice
1/2 cup cilantro leaves and stems
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
To make the pork: In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, garlic, jalapeño, chili powder, honey, lime juice and salt until well mixed. Combine with the pork in a large ziplock bag and marinate for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, to make the pineapple salsa, mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
To make the crema, add all the ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Once the skillet is very hot, add all the pork and marinade into the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. You will see the pork release a lot of liquid, that’s okay! Just be patient and once the liquid evaporates, you’ll see the pork start to caramelize. At this point, stir the pork frequently so it doesn’t burn. Once the pork is cooked all the way through and browned, remove from heat. Serve on corn tortillas with the pineapple-habanero salsa and the cilantro crema, and extra lime wedges.