Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Pulled Pork Tacos

I am now epically, exhaustingly, and grammatically acquainted with the term, “fall.” It’s in the crispness of the air, the flavor of these Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Pulled Pork Tacos, and it’s really really in the 140 bags of leaves that Ben and I raked this weekend.

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Pulled Pork Tacos. Easy, healthy and perfect for fall!When we bought Ben’s childhood home from his parents, I vaguely recall a bit of commentary about the leaves. A few neighbors advised me to, “get ready.” Ben’s mom (who, God bless her, came over to help us rake all day Sunday, along with Ben’s dad) gifted me a pair of gardening gloves. I grew up raking leaves with my dad watching my dad rake leaves, then jumping into them, and it seemed like a romantic outdoor activity, at least to my eight-year-old self.

Let me tell you, shredding the equivalent of 140 bags of leaves, stuffing those leaves into yard bags, then cramming them into your garage because the dump isn’t open until Tuesday is not romantic. I imagine the dumping process (which involves two trips and a borrowed SUV) won’t be especially romantic either. The semi-disheartening/totally insane part? Not even a quarter of our leaves have fallen. We have to do this again! And again! Then one or six more times! I’m going to have some serious calluses character by the time fall ends.

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Pulled Pork Tacos

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash and Pulled Pork Tacos. Our entire family loved these!I will also be eating serious amounts of Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Pulled Pork Tacos. Hours of raking gives a girl an appetite. Fortunately, I can envision no happier end to a long day than exactly how I finished mine: an enormous plate of Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Pulled Pork Tacos and an ice cold cerveza. Say it with me now, “ahhhh.”

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash and Pulled Pork Tacos. So easy and healthy too!Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Pulled Pork Tacos are my favorite kind of slow cooker recipe: dump, ignore, eat. No browning of the meat or reducing of the sauce required here. These slow cooker tacos are also rocking my new favorite southwest flavor combination: citrus and chipotle.

Orange juice keeps the meat moist and adds brightness, and the smoky chipotle chilis are the perfect contrast to the sweet butternut squash. I also added a splash of Pompeian Jalapeño-Infused Red Wine Vinegar for an extra kick. Nestle the vibrant filling inside a warm corn tortilla, sprinkle with cilantro and feta, and you’re all set to fall in love, taco-style.

A few quick ingredient notes: for the pork, I used a pork loin roast, which I find is the leanest cut that can hold up to slow-cooking without becoming tough and dry. For the cheese, I imagine that queso fresco would be equally delectable as feta (perhaps even more so)—I simply couldn’t find it within a 10-mile radius of my house.

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash and Pulled Pork TacosSo, any friends looking to take a little field trip to the dump? SUV preferred, and Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Pulled Pork Tacos offered in exchange!

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Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Pulled Pork Tacos

Easy slow cooker butternut squash pulled pork tacos made with smoky chipotle chiles and bright orange juice. Your entire family will love this fresh, healthy meal!

Yield: Serves 6

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 7 hours

Total Time: 7 hours 40 minutes

Ingredients:

For the Pork and Butternut Squash

  • 3 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 pounds boneless pork loin roast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 chipotle peppers packed in adobo (individual peppers, not full cans!), coarsely chopped* (add more for more heat)
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from the canned chiles
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons Pompeian Jalapeño Red Wine Vinegar (or substitute regular red wine vinegar or additional orange juice)

To Serve

  • Corn tortillas, fresh cilantro, lime wedges, and feta cheese or queso fresco

Directions:

  1. Arrange the squash around the edges of a 4-quart or similar slow cooker. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  2. Season the pork with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and black pepper. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, cinnamon, olive oil, chipotle chiles, and adobo sauce to form a paste. Rub all over the pork. Place the pork in the center of the slow cooker (it may overlap slightly with the squash). Top with the onion and garlic. Pour the orange juice and red wine vinegar over the top.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours (the actual cook time may vary based on your slow cooker). Once the meat is tender and cooked through, remove from the slow cooker and transfer to a plate to cool slightly. Shred the pork, then transfer to a large bowl, along with any of the rub that may have come off during shredding. With a slotted spoon, remove the squash and onions from the slow cooker and place in the bowl with the pork. Toss to combine.
  4. To serve: warm the tortillas in the microwave (I like to cover mine with a lightly damp paper towel to prevent them from drying out. Fill, then garnish with cilantro, fresh lime juice, and cheese.
  • *Ingredient note: Look for chipotle chiles in adobo in the Hispanic food section of most major grocery stores
  • **Leftover adobo sauce? Make my Chipotle Grapefruit Margaritas!
All images and text ©/Well Plated.

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About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

76 comments

  1. Love the combination of flavors in these tacos! And I love that they can be made in the slow cooker. Perfect for Taco night!

  2. Gahhh, these tacos look so good!!! All the flavors!

  3. These pulled port tacos look splendid. Love how you put a little fall butternut squash in there. Tantalizing combination of flavors.

    And leaves! Good for you for raking your own. WE wait till they blow over to the neighbors house and how they rake them up when they hit their fence. Just kidding! Because then we feel guilty and have a little raking party. We should make these tacos for a neighborly dinner and then I’m sure they wouldn’t be mad at all.

  4. Oh the joys of home ownership: yard work. At least it’s a good calorie burn. These tacos look amazing. Love the addition of orange juice in here!

  5. I’m not a pork girl, but I am total a taco and slow cooker girl. Can I try this with a different meat? Love the squash, too!

  6. These look amazing! I love every thing about them.

  7. Hi Mir—ABSOLUTELY! I’m not sure what other types of meat you enjoy, but I think this would be great with chicken thighs too. Whichever meat you choose, just be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

  8. Dude, I seriously can’t believe you raked that many leaves!! You need to eat like 47 of these tacos!! Look amazing!

  9. These tacos look great. A perfect treat after raking all those leaves.

  10. I’m now realizing how much I take city living for granted….no raking leaves or shoveling snow. I can, however, devour tacos like it’s nobodys business though.

  11. I’m so with you! We had to rake our first leaves this year. We never raked leaves in California. What the heck is the deal with leaves? We’ve raked twice and our trees still have leaves, too!

  12. Thank you Erin for the nice recipe.

  13. Wow! Finally an ingredient (queso fresco) that I can find easily where I live. Usually recipes I like are full of ingredients that I cannot find locally. Maybe in this case it’s cheating to live right on the border with Mexico?

    I’m very glad that I no longer have leaves to rake. However, we have a couple of mesquite trees that shed a lot of pods, and we have to rake up all the ones I don’t use. So we have to get out there several times to get them all. (Once again I can blame this on living on the border.)

    Fortunately you have found a very nice reward for all that hard work. I just got another slow cooker, so I may have to try this recipe. It sounds delicious. Good luck with that character/callus building… :-)

  14. Count me in on that field trip to the dump – I will come help you rake even – seeing these tacos are what you are using as bribery!

  15. This is the perfect taco compromise for the hubs and me. He loves pork and I love butternut squash. I love the ease of the slow-cooker too. Great recipe!

  16. You mean the light leaves and crisp air is not romantic? Maybe the heavy snow and cold might be? Lol!! Love love these tacos!!

  17. omg – YUM. I’ve done butternut squash in tacos before but never with pork. What a great combo! xo

  18. Whaaaaat. Slow cooker anything is my fave. Love the Modelo in the background. Gotta keep it real.

  19. If you haven’t gone yet, you must try El Rey for anything Hispanic! http://elreyfoods.publishpath.com

  20. Whoa, 140 bags of leaves?! You deserve your fair share of these tacos then!

  21. I hear you about the leaves. It seems like a never-ending battle! I needed to have these tacos to refuel with after our last go with the leaves!

  22. Love these tacos Erin, perfect combination. Good luck with your leaves!

  23. Danae @ Recipe Runner Reply

    Girl you deserve all the tacos in the world after raking up those leaves! I thought our tree out front was bad this weekend when we raked up 6 bags. I’ll definitely be giving these fall tacos a try, love the squash and pork combo!

  24. I always complain about the lack of trees in Colorado but it’s reading things like this that makes me kind of grateful. I think I’ll stick with the cacti. These tacos look awesome! I love putting butternut squash in everything this time of year!

  25. Mmm…these look scrumptious! I can only imagine how hungry you must have been after all that yard work – at first I thought you were kidding about the 140 bags of leaves, but yowza! These were some well-earned tacos indeed!

  26. I spotted these beauties on Twitter this morning and instantly fell in love. Yum!

  27. Hahaha, the LEAVES! We have one tree that drops a lot of leaves and it already makes me crazy, I can’t imagine all that work :) The tacos sound perfect!

  28. 140 bags?! That is insane. If you lived closer, I’d be right over to help you with the second (and third? fourth?) round of raking, but since I don’t, I’m just going to drool over these pork taco pictures and put them on my menu ASAP. ;)

    • Taylor, it is seriously nuts. We have this thing called a “yard vac” that sucks up all the leaves and reduces them 7 to 1 so that you can put more in a bag. And raked 20 of those bags! And today? It looks like we didn’t rake LOL. So what I’m saying is, if you’re near Milwaukee anytime soon, I know a really fun outdoor activity we could do together ;-)

  29. I would so help you in exchange for some tacos if I was near! I can’t wait to try these in the slow cooker. They sound so easy!

  30. You have no idea how excited I am about this recipe. I CRAAAVE pork tacos on the daily. In Seattle, there’s this place called Pyramid and before Mariners, Sounders, or Seahawks games, they have a beer garden outside and serve the BEST pork tacos. Glad I can finally make these babies at home! Seriously. I’m really excited. ;)

  31. I thought our yard was bad, but HOLY CRAP, 140 bags? Typically, I just watch Kevin from inside as he rakes, but that quantity would force me to help. It’s absolutely essential to have something as good as these waiting for you after that kind of torture….

  32. Dang that’s a lot of leaves!! We don’t have a lot of trees in our yard so really haven’t had to deal with it much. Which as much as I wish we had a better yard, is definitely a plus!

    And loveee these tacos – they look completely delicious!

  33. I made this tonight. Loved it!! So good. I am planning on making the graveyard chocolate dip soon too :)

  34. As a serious mexican food lover this recipe is definitely one that will be coming in handy. Thanks for sharing it Erin, I love that you used a slow cooker especially!

  35. Erin, these look incredible and so easy to prepare!

  36. I have been loving butternut squash lately! And in a slow cooker? Yes please!

  37. I totally feel your raking woes! Here in NY, raking is an annual event. Well, events. Because it always takes a few times. Our new house doesn’t have as many trees, so I’m hoping (really hoping) that we can get away with just one rake. But everyone else on our block has landscapers, so their lawns are pristine and ours is… well, looks neglected. I may just mow over the leaves and try to pulverize them.

    These tacos… if I had them waiting for me, maybe that would help in motivating me! They look awesome!!

  38. How amazingly awesome is the slow cooker, we do everything in our slow cooker. :) Love this tasty combo of flavors in these tacos! Soooo tasty! :)

  39. Holy cow that’s a lot of leaves!! Please tell me you at least jumped in them once. :) I am definitely on the hunt for more slow cooker recipes, and this sounds wonderful!

  40. Erin, can you double this recipe in the same pot? I have a large crowd I’m planning on serving this to. Can’t wait to eat them!

    • Hi Maggie! I’ve never tried doubling it, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Just make sure you have a very large crockpot, and the cooking time may need to be adjusted too. I hope you all absolutely love it!

  41. Erin,
    I made these yesterday on my day off for tonight’s dinner… BIG hit with everyone- even the picky one.  Good thing I put in extra time at the gym today!
    Thanks for the great recipes!

  42. This dish looks delicious. Is it very spicy as is? I’d like to also give it to my 14 month old as she’s eating a lot of what we eat these days.  Thanks! 

  43. I plan on making these tomorrow! I was curious, is it possible to freeze the leftover shredded pork to reheat later?

    • Hi Erika! You can absolutely freeze the leftovers. Just let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat them slowly with a little chicken stock to keep the meat from drying out. I hope you love the recipe!

  44. Do you think you could prep all of this in a freezer bag for a freezer meal and then pop in the crockpot?

    • Hi Kelly! To be honest, I’m not sure. I’ve frozen the filling after it’s cooked and thawed it with fairly good results (the squash got kind of mushy but still tasted great reheated).I wish I could help, but I can’t say for certain, since I haven’t tried freezing the ingredients first.

  45. Is bottled juice or fresh better for this recipe?

  46. awesome recipe, we very much enjoyed our night, thanks to you.

  47. Do you happen to have the nutritional facts? Thank you.

    • Hi Jeanny! Regarding nutritional info, this is something that I’ve actually started adding to all of my new recipes, effective January 2016 (you’ll see it in the recipe box at the bottom). Unfortunately, it’s pretty time consuming, so I’m unable to go back and add it to past recipes. If you’d like the nutritional info for any of my older recipes (or really any other recipe or food), you can actually calculate it yourself for free at myfitnesspal.com (this is how I calculate the new recipes on my blog). I’m sorry I can’t give you the information for this exact recipe, but I hope that My Fitness Pal will be a helpful resource for you.

  48. I see how these are really amazing; except, I used 2 CANS of chipotle chilies in adobe sauce instead of 2-3 canned chipotles in adobe sauce. Don’t make my mistake. Read directions carefully. I’ll be trying these again next month, as I love the combination. 

    • WOW, talk about spicy!! I’m glad to hear you still want to give the tacos another try with just a few individual chiles. :) I hope you enjoy them!

  49. Way too spicy

    • Karen, I’m sorry to hear you didn’t love this! Spice can definitely be personal preference, but the tacos certainly shouldn’t have burned your mouth. Just to confirm, you only used two or three chipotle chiles correct? Not the whole can? It’s an easy mistake to make and that would definitely impact the final result. If you try again, I would suggest cutting back on the spice and maybe even omitting the chiles entirely.

      • This is exactly what happened to us. We thought 2-3 cans seemed like a lot, but looking at the recipe again, we see how easily the wording confused us. Maybe something like “2-3 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce from a can” would help alleviate any confusion. I felt bad, but my family took a bite, and we had to through out the entire meal. Maybe we’ll try it again correctly next time.

  50. I’m not a fan of pork, I would like to use ground turkey, any suggestions on how long to cook it for how much turkey and NO hot stuff, I can’t take the heat! I do love Taco’s and crock pots! When you reply, I will tell you how many trees I have on my half acre lot, the leaves are unbelievable but we use a mulching riding lawn mower, I refuse to rake all those leaves! My yard gets mowed every 2 weeks to keep up with the falling leaves. I haven’t made the recipe yet, waiting for your reply. Thanks, I bet it will be yummy!

    • Hi Pamela, ground turkey will probably take less time to cook. I’d recommend looking up slow cooker recipes for ground turkey and use that as a guideline! Make sure you leave out the chipotle peppers and adobo if you’re looking to avoid spice. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  51. I made these last night and they are delicious! I found I am not the biggest fan of soft corn tortillas so subed for flour at lunch today. YUM! I’ve been on the hunt for new healthy crockpot recipes instead of adding cream of whatever. These fit the bill! Oh and the big plus is my husband liked them, too! Thanks for sharing!

    Rating: 4.5
  52. Tried this today and it was surprisingly delicious! I was a bit hesitant about the squash with pork but holy cow do the flavors go well together. I accidentally used TWO CANS of Chipotle peppers but the cilantro helped to tame the spice (we love spicy food though). I recommend adding another onion to the mix. We topped with homemade salsa, cilantro, roasted jalapenos, and lime. Definitely a keeper! So so glad I found this recipe!

    Rating: 5
    • Hi Barbara, I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed this, even with the extra chipotle peppers! Thanks for taking the time to give this recipe a try and share this great review!

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