Smoked Pork Tacos with Creamy Cilantro Sauce
Twin Cities food blogger greens & chocolate shares her family’s cherished Smoked Pork Tacos recipe. There’s only one problem: It’s SO good the whole neighborhood will beg to join your BBQ.
We’ve been making these smoked pork tacos for years now, and I am so excited to finally share the recipe. This is one of those meals I make whenever we have a big backyard party during the warmer months. People love smoked meat and, while it can be a little time intensive because the meat smokes all day, it’s relatively hands-off and is a fun project to keep an eye on throughout the day.
Let’s talk about the specifics of this recipe. It starts with a pork butt which, unlike how it sounds, is not from the rear of the pig. It’s from the upper shoulder region and is well-marbled, making it perfect for pulled pork. It is sold bone-in or boneless and we’ve used both.
For the size of the pork butt, it just depends on how many people you are cooking for. When we are just cooking for our family, I like a 4-5 pound pork butt, which gives us plenty of leftovers and we don’t have to wake up at 5 a.m. to start. Typically you want ⅓-½ pound per person, so keep that in mind.
Cover the pork with a dry rub the night before, allowing it a good 8-12 hours to soak in a bunch of flavor. The rub I use in this recipe combines chili powder, cumin, garlic, onion powder, oregano, dry mustard, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. The recipe for the rub makes more than you will likely use, so you will probably have leftover for next time. This is a good thing!
The morning of, I set the pork out for an hour to let it come closer to room temperature. Then the pork butt gets smoked for 90 minutes per pound of meat at 240-250 F. We always use a meat thermometer for determining when the pork is done, and it’s recommended to cook it to 195-205 F. If you like it to be completely shreddable, cook to at least 200 F. We like ours super tender and shreddable, so we always go to 200-205 F.
While the meat itself is incredible and so flavorful, the creamy cilantro sauce makes these tacos irresistible. I make this cilantro sauce all the time and, in addition to putting it on our pork tacos, we love it on nachos, eggs, grain bowls, burritos, and even as a chip dip. Seriously, it’s so good.
Believe me, with this combination of smoked pork and cilantro sauce, you’re going to have people begging you to have them over for a BBQ!
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Marinating Time: 8-10 hours
Rest Time: 1 hour
Cook time: 7 ½ hours
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon pepper
4-5 pounds pork butt
Creamy Cilantro Sauce:
½ cup fresh cilantro
1 jalapeño, seeds and stem removed
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup water
The night before:
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all the dry rub ingredients.
- Rub a generous amount of the rub over the entire pork butt. You might have some rub leftover — save it for next time!
- Cover the pork butt with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning:
- Remove the pork butt from the refrigerator one hour prior to placing it in your smoker
- Heat the smoker to 225-250 F. We keep ours around 240 F or as close as possible.
- Smoke the pork for 90 minutes per pound, or until the temperature of the meat reads 200 degrees F with a meat thermometer. Note: It is common for the temperature to stall around 145-160 F. Don’t worry – it will get past this range, it just takes a little longer.
- Remove the pork from the smoker and wrap it in aluminum foil. Then wrap the foil-wrapped pork in a few towels to maintain moisture and temperature, and let it rest for one hour in a cooler.
- Remove the pork from the cooler and aluminum foil and shred.
To make the cilantro sauce:
- Place all cilantro sauce ingredients in a blender and puree. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Serve the shredded pork inside taco shells, topped with creamy cilantro sauce and Mexican Street Corn. Enjoy!