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Chilorio

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5 from 19 votes

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This Mexican pork in chile sauce is tender, juicy, and spicy. Served on warm tortillas, homemade Chilorio makes the best tacos and burritos ever!

Want to spice up your taco and burrito routine? Friends, let me introduce you to chilorio. This dish is popular in northern Mexico, especially Sinaloa. This braised pork recipe gets its signature redness from a combination of dried chiles used in the sauce. The finished dish has a wonderful spiciness, smokiness, and even sweetness.

You can use chilorio in everything from tacos and burritos to tortas and mulitas. Chilorio can also be served at any time of day: breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

What Makes This Chiloro Recipe So Good?

There are many reasons to love this authentic Mexican recipe. Here are the top ones!

  • Juicy. The secrets to its juiciness are not to overcook it but also to use pork shoulder. You want a little fat to bring everything together, but not so little that it turns your mouth into a desert. Good chilorio should be moist from the thickened sauce, not soupy.
  • Flavorful. If you’re thinking about how to up your taco and burrito game, chilorio is the answer. Spicy and slightly tangy from the orange juice and vinegar, this shredded meat is the perfect base for lots of flavorful meals. It’s not really served on its own, but doesn’t that just make things more interesting?
  • Flexible. Whether it’s in a gordita or breakfast eggs, this Mexican pork in chile sauce is a shining star in terms of versatility, prep-friendliness, and simplicity. Once you see what this lesser-known dish is made of, you’ll hardly go a week without keeping some in your fridge.
  • Authentic. This is a legit Mexican recipe right down to the use of lard, spices, and dried chilis.
Chilorio in a large serving dish.

What Is Chilorio?

Chilorio is like the shredded, juicier sibling of chorizo. It’s pork meat that’s slowly simmered in a chile-based sauce until nice and tender before fried and shredded or chopped. It comes from the northern state of Sinaloa, Mexico, and can be served at any time of day. In Mexico, you can find canned chilorio that people will use in everything from burritos and tacos to gorditas and chimichangas. You can also commonly find chilorio available from street food vendors.

Ingredients for chilorio.

Recipe Ingredients

It’s time to stock up on dried chiles! Check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for full ingredient amounts.

  • Pork shoulder – Pork butt works too.
  • Orange juice – Use freshly squeezed juice, please.
  • White onion – This yields the best flavor, but yellow onion is a good substitute.
  • Spices – Ground oregano, cumin and bay leaves.
  • Water
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dried chilies – Ancho, pasilla and guajillo.
  • Garlic cloves
  • Granulated sugar – I prefer white granulated sugar, but light brown sugar also works.
  • Lard – Feel free to use olive, vegetable, corn, or canola oil.
  • White vinegar – Apple cider vinegar works too.

What Kind of Pork Do You Use for Chilorio?

Pork shoulder is best for making chilorio because it’s not as lean as loins or pork chops. However, pork butt works too as long as it’s got a little bit of fat.

Chilorio tacos with diced onion and cilantro.

How to Make Chilorio (Sinaloan Pork)

Properly rehydrating the chiles is the key to a good sauce. If you nail that, your pork in chile sauce is bound to be amazing.

  • Cook the pork. Add the pork, orange juice, onion, oregano, cumin, and bay leaves into a large pot. Pour in water to cover the pork completely. Season with salt and pepper Bring it to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Let the pork simmer for 40 minutes to 1 hr. Check if it still has enough water every 20 minutes. Transfer the pork into a bowl and reserve the cooking liquid.
  • Rehydrate the chiles. Add the dried peppers along with 2 cups of water to a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and then turnoff the heat and allow the peppers to soak in the water for 15 minutes.
  • Blend the sauce. Transfer the peppers and the cooking liquid to a blender (affiliate link) with the garlic, sugar and vinegar. Blend until you get a smooth mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  • Sear the pork. In the same pot you boiled the pork in, melt the lard over medium-high heat. Add the chunks of pork into the pot and sear them for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Use two forks to shred the pork by pulling the meat apart in opposite directions.
  • Cook. Strain the chile sauce over the pork and discard the pulp. If you use a high speed blender, you will not need to strain the sauce. Add about 2 cups of the reserved liquid from the pork. Stir until well combined. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer uncovered for 25 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Final touches. Season with more salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin to taste. Serve with corn or flour tortillas, refried beans, and red rice. Enjoy.

Tips for Making Braised Pork in Chile Sauce

These tips will make the best pork in chile sauce so don’t skip them:

  • Use boneless pork. Cut down on useless prep time by using boneless pork shoulder.
  • Let the sauce evaporate. Make sure to cook the chilorio in the pan long enough for the sauce to evaporate because it’s a dry kind of meat, not a soupy one.
  • Add chicken broth. Replace the water with chicken broth for extra flavor.
  • Use shredded pork. Buy store-bought shredded pork to significantly cut down on prep and cooking time.
Chilorio tacos, refried beans, and red rice.

What to Serve with Chilorio

Chilorio is great for tacos, burritos, tostadas, and gorditas! Serve them with refried beans or red rice (arroz rojo) on the side for an extra flavorful meal.

You can also scramble it into your breakfast eggs and use it instead of chorizo to make traditional migas (crispy tortilla chips with scrambled eggs.)

How to Store & Reheat Leftovers

  • Fridge: Refrigerate any cooled leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • To Reheat: Pop single servings into the microwave and reheat until warm, stirring halfway through the heating time. You can also reheat chilorio on the stove in a pan over medium heat for 4-5 minutes.

Can I Freeze Extras?

Yes! Let your chilorio cool then place it in an airtight, freezer-safe container and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat as directed above.

More Authentic Mexican Recipes

Chilorio

5 from 19 votes
Spicy and smokey, chilorio is Mexican pork in chile sauce. Cumin and orange juice give it an unexpected flavor punch that’s perfect for tacos.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time2 hours
Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1.8 pounds pork shoulder, with a little bit of fat and cut into large chunks
  • 3 cups fresh squeezed orange juice, about 7-8 oranges
  • 1 small white onion, quartered
  • ½ teaspoon ground oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Water, for boiling
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 dried chile ancho, seeded and stemmed
  • 3 dried chile pasilla, seeded and stemmed
  • 3 dried chile guajillo, seeded and stemmed
  • 3 medium size garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lard, or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar

Instructions

  • Cook the pork. Add the pork shoulder, orange juice, white onion, oregano, cumin, and bay leaves into a large stockpot. Pour in enough water to cover the pork completely. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Let the pork continue simmering for 40 minutes and up to an hour. Check back every 20 minutes to make sure it still has enough liquid. If it's not fully covered anymore, add more water accordingly. Once ready, transfer the pork into a bowl and reserve the cooking liquid. Discard the onion pieces.
  • Rehydrate the chiles. Add the dried peppers along with 2 cups of water to a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and then turnoff the heat and allow the peppers to soak in the water for 15 minutes.
  • Blend the sauce. Transfer the peppers and the cooking liquid to a blender with the garlic, sugar and vinegar. Blend until you get a smooth mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set the sauce aside.
  • Sear the pork. In the same pot you boiled the pork in, melt the lard over medium-high heat. Add the chunks of pork into the pot and sear them for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Use two forks to shred the pork by pulling the meat apart in opposite directions.
  • Cook. Strain the chile sauce over the pork and discard the pulp. If you use a high speed blender, you will not need to strain the sauce. Add about 2 cups of the reserved liquid from the pork. Stir until well combined. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer uncovered for 25 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Final touches. Season with more salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin to taste. Serve with corn or flour tortillas, refried beans, and red rice. Enjoy.
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Nutrition

Calories: 144kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 486mg | Potassium: 432mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 380IU | Vitamin C: 49mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as a courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.
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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Debbie Johnson

    Is it possible to make this with less spicy chilies? If so which ones please. It sounds delicious but I can’t tolerate heat. Thanks! Debbie~

    1. Rustic Family Recipes

      Although it’s packed with 3 different dried chiles, chilorio isn’t crazy spicy 🙂 Between the orange juice and vinegar in the recipe, the heat balances out quite well.

      Guajillo, ancho, and chile pasilla are actually on the sweeter/mild spectrum of Mexican dried chiles. However, if you don’t want to take any chances, substitute the pasillas and guajillos for chile ancho. You’ll have an all-ancho chilorio which is a bit darker in color than the original one but it’ll be smokey, mild, and sweet. Chile ancho is the sweetest dried chile so you can’t go wrong with it. An all-pasilla chilorio should work just as well!

      You could also do a combination of 50/50 pasilla and ancho, or either kind and chile cascabel (which is also sweet). I would skip an all-guajillo chilorio just because it’s nearly twice as spicy as anchos and pasilla chiles.