Slow Cooker Sweet Tomatillo Chipotle Pork
So versatile and so delicious, this slow cooker sweet pork is simple and flavorful. Serve over rice or use the tasty pork in burritos, enchiladas, or on a salad. The options are endless!
This slow cooker sweet tomatillo chipotle pork has become my secret weapon meal. I’ve easily made it a dozen times in the last month or so.
Why, you ask? That’s a great question considering I have about a million other recipes calling my name.
Besides wanting to really perfect the recipe for the slow cooker, the main reason is because it is insanely delicious. And easy enough for a weeknight.
It’s also perfect for company (which it seems we’ve had a lot of the last little while, and I love it – I could totally open a bed and breakfast, and my life would be complete).
So versatile and so tasty, you’ll be wanting to send me your firstborn child to say thank you for this sweet pork recipe. (But please reconsider, and send me chocolate instead.)
One of the keys to this sweet tomatillo chipotle pork recipe is…well, tomatillos. I love tomatillos in so many things but I now seek them out just for this recipe (thankfully, they are super duper easy to find in my very average grocery store).
Plus, removing those papery skins and revealing the slightly tacky-feeling fruit (veg?) underneath is very rewarding.
And by rewarding, I mean, it’s rewarding to see my kids tackle that job.
To better understand the flavor profile of this pork, think of it as tender, juicy pork with a lightly sweet and slightly spicy (but not overly so) green salsa-ish vibe.
Most often, I serve this sweet pork over rice, because it’s so easy. But since the leftovers of this flavorful tomatillo pork freeze amazingly well, we’ve also had it atop a crisp, green salad and in burritos with cilantro lime rice, black beans and a little bit (ok, a lot) of cheese thrown in there.
Be still my heart.
In all my experimenting, I actually made this twice in the InstantPot, and while I love that little machine to the moon and back, I prefer this pork made in the slow cooker.
The ratio of sauciness to pork is just right, and I think the flavor of the long and slow cooking time makes it better.
However, I know you and your love for the ol’ pressure cooker, and so I’ve included some hints below in the notes if you want to tackle the sweet pork in the IP or other pressure cooker.
A huge thank you to Jess M, a sweet MKC reader, who inspired today’s recipe.
She sent me a recipe a while ago using similar flavors with chicken drumsticks, and after making it, I knew the fresh tomatillos, spicy chipotles, and hint of sweetness would be perfect with pork.
Read through the notes of the recipe for tips on different cuts of pork as well as a life-changing discovery I made in relation to chopped, canned chipotle chiles. I wanted to cry, I was so excited.
What To Serve With This:
Hot, cooked rice (or make it into burritos/tacos)
Fresh seasonal fruit or this Creamy 5-Cup Fruit Salad
One Year Ago: German Potato Salad
Two Years Ago: Lightened Up Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
Three Years Ago: Orzo Salad with Tomatoes, Basil and Feta
Slow Cooker Sweet Tomatillo Chipotle Pork
- 3 to 5 pound pork sirloin roast, see note for other cuts of pork
- Coarse kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- ⅓ cup light or dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons canned chipotle chiles (see note)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2-3 pounds tomatillos, about 20-25 tomatillos, husks removed, washed well, and cut in half (or quartered if they are large)
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- Hot cooked rice for serving
- Season all sides of the pork roast with salt and pepper.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium or medium-high heat until the oil is hot and rippling. Add the roast and brown on each side until golden, about 1-2 minutes each side.
- Transfer the roast to the insert of a slow cooker.
- Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and add the chopped onions to the skillet (if the skillet is very dry, add another teaspoon or so of oil). Cook the onions, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so.
- Stir in the brown sugar, chipotle chiles, salt, and pepper.
- Scrape the mixture into the slow cooker with the pork.
- Add the halved (or quartered) tomatillos to the slow cooker, nestling them on the sides of the pork so they aren’t all piled on top, and pour in the broth.
- Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
- Shred the pork (if the pork is lean and boneless, it can be done right in the slow cooker with two forks) and return it to the slow cooker, tossing it with the cooking liquid and tomatillos. Serve over hot, cooked rice (the pork filling is also delicious in burritos, tacos, on top of salad, etc.).
Recipe Source: inspired by a recipe sent to me by a wonderful reader, Jess M. (she sent a chicken drumstick recipe in a brown sugar, tomatillo and chipotle sauce) – thanks, Jess!
68 Comments on “Slow Cooker Sweet Tomatillo Chipotle Pork”
Mine had a sour taste – probably because of underripe tomatillos? How would I know if they’re ripe or not?
It can depend on the variety. I buy the green tomatillos – they should be bright green – if they have started to turn yellow, they won’t have the same flavor.
Fool proof pork with fantastic flavor! I make it for everyone I know! Thanks Mel!
This an awesome recipe. I wish our tomatillo season was longer in Maine! Couple of questions. Do you have an easy way to get the stickiness off the tomatillos. I’ve used the veggie wash in the store and just hot water. Always seems to have a soapy foam to water with either method. Also used the slow cooker setting on my instant pot (not the pressure cook) and I think the normal setting is the equivalent to low but it takes much longer than 8-10 hours. I’m new to my instant pot. Do you have any tips? I love your recipes! This was 5 star but couldn’t figure out the rating system on my iPhone.
Hey Tammie, I don’t have a good way to get the stickiness off…I don’t really stress as long as I’ve cleaned the tomatillos pretty well. As for the slow cooker function on the IP…well, quite honestly, I think it’s pretty terrible. I have had the toughest time getting the settings right so I just use my regular slow cooker. I’ve given up on the IP slow cooker function. Sorry I’m not more help!
Thank you! 🙂 Guess I won’t get rid of my slow cooker!
Has anyone used this in a cafe rio type salad or burrito? All the copycat recipes for cafe rio pork have soda in them & i think I’d prefer something like this but I’m not sure what it tastes like.
Has anyone ever tried this with a pork tenderloin instead? Just curious how it would turn out because that is what I have right now.
So… for those of us that have weak-sauce taste buds and can’t handle much firing of pain receptors in our taste buds… how spicy would you say this is? I like Cafe Rio pork, but that’s about as spicy as I go. Also, I’m cooking for kids who don’t love spice either.
Hi Tianna – I don’t find this spicy at all…but it’s all dependent on the chipotle chiles. If you don’t want it spicy at all, I’d probably eliminate the chipotle chiles and add a teaspoon or two of chili powder (a brand you’ve used before so you know whether it is mild or spicy).
What are the macro nutrients to this.. does anyone know?! Hubs is on a keto diet and we need to know fat, protein, and carbs. Net carbs as well. Thanks in advanced
Can you point me to which enchilada recipe you use with the leftover meat? Thanks!
I use it a lot of times in these chicken enchiladas: https://www.melskitchencafe.com/white-and-green-chicken-enchiladas/ or these red enchiladas: https://www.melskitchencafe.com/red-chile-sauce-chicken-enchiladas/
I made this tonight in the instant pot. It. Was. Freaking. Amazing. With it we had a pear/red onion/cilantro/lime salad (in other words, all the plants in my fridge) and it was mind blowing. Ate the pork and tomatillos on tortillas with your lime cilantro dressing. I feel like I may have to explore the rest of your recipes!!!!! Thanks for this one!!!
So happy you loved it!
Somehow I now live in a part of the country where none of the four closest grocery stores carry tomatillos (and I grew up in San Diego, so I know what I’m looking for!). I couldn’t get this recipe out of my head though, so I decided to make it anyway by substituting a small bottle of Herdez salsa verde for the tomatillos, cutting out the broth, and going down to 1 tbsp chipotle. I also didn’t add any salt to the crock pot. (I also omitted the sugar but that had nothing to do with the tomatillo substitution.) I’m happy to say this turned out delicious! We ate it in burritos with brown rice and shredded cheese, and I’ll definitely be making it again.
So good! I followed recipe exactly and even my picky ten year old ate with no complaints 🙂 used fresh tomatillos out of the garden. Plenty of leftovers, now need some ideas on how to use it!
The tomatillos in my market are the size of small tomatoes. Are you sure 25? I have a large slow cooker and I can’t imagine placing them inside with the roast and other ingredients. Did you use the tiny ones?
Hi Misty, the tomatillos I use are probably a bit smaller, so you could try using less (although they do cook down quite a bit). The slow cooker will be really full to start but everything cooks down by the end.
Hey Mel, same Phil as above here. I just made this again last night for Sunday dinner, but tried it in the instant pot instead and had it over white sticky rice with some barley mixed in. It was extremely soupy, but it was still tasty enough that we figured it’s still worth making that way if we didn’t have time for the slow cooker in the morning.
Then, my wife thought to cook down all the extra liquid, and it turned into the best green enchilada sauce we’ve ever had. So, tonight, my wife made pork enchiladas using the leftover pork and the sauce. She made them in corn tortillas. They were sooooo good! We will always make this in the instant pot from now on so that we can enjoy these delicious enchiladas! Thanks again =)
Oh yum! That’s an incredible idea to reduce the tomatillo sauce! I will definitely be trying that. 🙂
Let me know what you think!
This pork was delicious. It smelled wonderful as it sat cooking all day. I used the shredded meat to top some tortilla chips, added homemade mango salsa and a combination of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese for some heavenly nachos to watch the big game we had recorded. The meat will be use again tonight for salads or tacos as you suggested. Or maybe your smothered burritos … There are so many good choices for this one! Thanks, Mel.
Hi… do you think we could do this in a Dutch oven? Any suggestions?
Yes, I actually made it that way a couple times. Baked it at 325 degrees for a couple hours…but I did have to add more liquid partway through.
Wow!! We loved it! So easy, and so good! Made great leftovers to pack for lunch this week. Thanks for a great recipe!
FYI…The SAN Marcos brand chilis are made with canola oil instead of the soybean oil…for Kristy above.
Thanks Mel for another great recipe. It’s cooking as I type. Can’t wait to try it!
So so random, but could you post a picture of the chipotle chiles? I’m not sure I bought the right kind… Thanks!
Here’s a link that shows the chiles I buy. Is this what you got?
Hi Mel, would you try this recipe in a pressure cooker? If so how would change it?
I think you definitely could – I tried it once in my InstantPot and it was a little soupier than in the crockpot.
Do you thaw the frozen leftovers overnight and then cook on the stove? Or do you do the slow cooker again?
Yes, I usually reheat on the stove in a pan.
Tastes good. Made this yesterday morning, I was canning so I needed something family could eat besides frozen dinner pizza haha. Had it served with rice and garlic bread. Then for lunch we did tacos. We def prefer the taco version. Thanks it was great.
This is on the menu for the week! Can’t wait!
Do you think the leftovers would be good in your smothered sweet pork burritos? I’ve been wanting to try those for forever, so I thought I might be able to kill 2 bird (pigs? ) with one stone!
Yes, that would be amazing!
I made this for my wife’s birthday today. Just got home and shredded it, now waiting for her to get home so we can eat. I can’t wait. I used two 2 lb sirloins and was afraid 10 hours would be too long fine they are smaller pieces, but it looks perfect. And I’ve never had an easier time shredding pork. I made your “sinless” tiramisu in lui of a cake at my wife’s request, and it looks like that turned it fantastic as well.
My wife cooks a lot of your recipes, and when the cooking falls to me I almost always turn to you first, Mel. Thanks for providing so many great recipes that a working husband and father with so-so cooking skills can follow. It’s days like this that I do feel like a rock star husband.
Since* they are smaller pieces.
Yep, both we’re super good and a big hit with my beautiful wife. Thanks again, Mel!
Wow, Phil, I’m impressed! And so happy you enjoyed this meal (hope the tiramisu was well-received, too). Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. You definitely get major rock star points for a birthday meal like this!
She told me tonight as we ate more of the tiramisu that this will probably be what she wants for all future birthdays. So yes, I’d say it was well-received! Also, when our two-year-old saw me pull it out of the fridge again tonight he got very excited and yelled, “CUPCAKE!!”
So as usual, I’ve procrastinated. Can I do this on high for four hours instead of low for 8? I don’t think my family will be happy with dinner at 9 pm.
Hi Lacey – you can definitely try that out; it should probably work just fine. I hope it worked out!
I made this slow cooker gem this weekend and it was a hit. We had some friends stop by unannounced when I was clearing supper and I served them up a plate (which I hardly ever do unless it’s a tried and true recipe). I served it in a large shallow bowl with a side of rice and black beans and a lime wedge garnish. It was so wonderful! The next day my husband made two soft tacos out of the leftovers. He said he woke up waiting for the clock to turn a reasonable hour to have lunch so he could make them! 🙂
This was unbelievably good. Does it need the sugar Mel? I cut it to 1/4 cup – don’t even know why it needs it. How do you handle the frozen leftovers? One of your best…
If you open a bed and breakfast heaven will have come to earth!!!!
Haha! I have to convince my husband. 🙂
Hi Mel, you are hilarious! I love reading your intros and I love making your recipes. I just discovered Kiefer so I devoured your post on that as well. You have such an awesome family. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know your sister. Thanks for all the time, effort and love you share with people through your blog and delicious recipes!!
Thanks, Angela! 🙂
20-25 tomatillos? Is that real? I’m scared of them – never used them! Could a sauce be substituted?
I’ve only ever made this with tomatillos; they really aren’t intimidating! Once you peel off the husk, they are just like a friendly green tomato. 🙂
Can’t wait to try this! We’ve been gathering tomatillos from our garden and throwing them in the freezer until we have enough to use. This will be perfect. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Are the chilies the chipotle chilies in adobo sauce?
Chipotle chiles in a JAR?! That is BIG NEWS, MEL!
I wish I were exaggerating for effect, but you know I’m not. Must find them immediately.
I know, Nicole, I know.
Oh, boy – this sounds wonderful and it is ON MY LIST!! And thanks for the pork roast info – I didn’t know about a sirloin roast.
Chipotles… I found a chipotle paste in a tube that I’ve been liking. I think I got it via Amazon.
Tomatillos – LOVE them and they are available in my local NW Montana groceries – at least in the past 2-3 years.
Chipotle paste in a tube? I’m definitely seeking that out.
Would you mind checking you jar of chipotle to see if it has soy? Daughter has a soy allergy, I’m hoping the jar is different than the can. One of our all time favorite recipes of yours-chipotle chicken skewers, has soy in the canned chipotles (we just don’t marinate her skewer). It’s easier when I don’t have to do hers separate, and fun for her to try new things (I’m keeping my fingers crossed)
Hey Kristy – I can only imagine how frustrating that would be! Bless you for dealing with this on a daily basis. I just looked and it does contain soybean oil. 🙁
I appreciate you checking for me, thanks a bunch!
You could always add dried instead.
This looks amazing. Also I’ll partner with you on the b&b. It’s been my dream forever!
I also found the amazing jar of chipotle about 6 months ago but then my grocery store stopped carrying them!!! 🙁
Before I found the I would actually buy the big jar of chipotle, blitz in my food processor and then scoop tablespoons into an ice cube tray and freeze. After they froze I’d put them into a freezer bag and I could pop out a tablespoon at a time!
Do you think this would be good with chicken breasts? I really don’t like pork. Wish I did… I just don’t 🙂
You could definitely experiment and see although I’d cut the slow cooking time down to 4-6 hours, probably.