Traditional pork tinga simmered with peppers and spices and served on tostadas with classic toppings. Via Macheesmo.

Pork Tinga Tostadas + The Meat Book

Pork Tinga simmered and crisped and served on tostadas with great toppings, packed with Tex-Mex flavor. From the Cook's Illustrated Meat Book.


Pork Tinga Tostadas + The Meat Book

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Welcome to Cookbook Week on Macheesmo! I’ll be posting recipes from five cookbooks this week and giving away copies! All winners will be announced next Friday (11/14).

Carnitas, crisp little fried bits of pork, are probably at the top of my list when it comes to traditional taco toppings. I assume I’m not alone here.

One problem though: Real pork carnitas takes a full work day to really do correctly. I make them occasionally (Grilled pork carnitas) and they are a delicious and fun food project. Not something you make on a whim though.

This recipe for Pork Tinga is from this other category of Mexican fillings called tinga. It’s an all encompassing word that basically means shredded meat. Generally though tinga is used for fillings (empanadas, etc.) because while it’s very flavorful, it doesn’t have a lot of texture to it.

This genius recipe though, from the new Cook’s Illustrated Meat Book, fixes the issue by using Pork Tinga (which takes about two hours instead of 10) and then crisps it up in a skillet.

Those Cook’s Illustrated people are smart. We knew this.

Traditional pork tinga simmered with peppers and spices and served on tostadas with classic toppings. Via Macheesmo.

Pork Tinga Tostadas

Pork Tinga simmered and crisped and served on tostadas with great toppings, packed with Tex-Mex flavor. From the Cook’s Illustrated Meat Book.
3.04 from 60 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Tex-Mex
Servings 6 Servings
Yield 12 Tostadas


  • 2-3 pounds pork butt cubed
  • 2 onions 1 quartered and 1 chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • Dried arbol peppers opt.
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chile powder
  • 2 bay leaves


  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 12 corn tortillas


  • Queso fresco
  • Avocado
  • Hot sauce
  • Cilantro
  • Lime wedges


  • For tinga:
  • Cube pork and add to a large pot with quartered onion, smashed garlic cloves, thyme sprigs, dried peppers, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 6-7 cups water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until pork is tender, 75-90 minutes. Skim off any fat as it cooks.
  • Drain pork, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid. Discard the add-ins. Shred pork into shreds using fingers or fork.
  • When ready to serve, heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shredded pork, diced onion, and dried oregano. Cook until pork is crispy and well-browned, 7-10 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
  • Add tomato sauce, chile powder, bay leaves, and 1 cup of reserved cooking liquid. Simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 6 minutes. Remove bay leaves and season with salt to taste.
  • For tostadas, heat a good drizzle of vegetable oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Poke a few holes in a corn tortilla with a fork and add to skillet. Use something like a potato masher to hold tortilla and keep it submerged in oil. Fry until it’s lightly browned and crispy, 45-60 seconds. Drain on a paper towel.
  • You can fry the tostadas and keep them warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to eat. They are fine at room temp also.
  • Top fried tostadas with pork tinga and toppings!


Serving: 2TostadasCalories: 538kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 32gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 13gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 146mgPotassium: 706mgFiber: 5gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 435IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 86mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Homemade Tostadas, Pork Tinga, Tex-Mex Recipes, Tostadas

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Pork Tinga

Cooking The Pork

When you make carnitas, it usually involves roasting a whole pork butt slowly for hours and hours which creates a delicious crispy crust on the pork.

This method skips all of that. Instead, it focuses on cooking the pork relatively quickly and infusing it with lots of flavor.

You start by just cubing up about three pounds of pork butt. I recommend cutting off any large pieces of fat.

Cubing pork for Pork Tinga
No need to measure here.

Add these a pot with a quartered onion, some smashed garlic cloves, a few thyme sprigs, and some dried chiles. The dried chiles weren’t in the original recipe, but I figured they couldn’t hurt and I always suck at following recipes perfectly.

Hard for me to follow a recipe...
Hard for me to follow a recipe…

Bring this all to a simmer and simmer it over medium-low heat for about 90 minutes until the pork is really tender.

You know there’s a lot of flavor in a pot like this.

Nice simmer - Pork Tinga
Nice simmer.

Strain the liquid and save it. That stuff is seriously gold. You’ll want to use some of it later in this Pork Tinga recipe (about a cup) but you can freeze the rest and basically have a delicious pork stock for soups or any tex-mex base.

Then shred that pork into good-sized shreds.

Shredded Pork Tinga.
Super shredded.

Finishing the Pork Tinga

The genius part of this recipe is that you don’t just serve the pork like this. Instead, shred it all and add it back to a skillet with some oil over medium-high heat. Add in some diced onion as well and the pork will crisp up in the hot oil.

Then add the tomato sauce and about a cup of reserved cooking liquid. Season the mix with some dried oregano, chipotle chile powder, and salt to taste.

Once most of the liquid has evaporated you’re ready to go.

Crisping pork tinga.
Crisped up in a pan!

Tostada Time

I make tostadas like this a lot. Just add some oil to a skillet and then add in a small corn tortilla. Poke it with a fork a few times to let out the steam and cook it until it’s crispy. It should only take a minute or two to make one.

Then let it drain on a paper towel and keep pumping them out until you have enough to serve.

Tostadas for Pork Tinga
Love making these.

Pile some Pork Tinga on the tostada with all the necessary toppings: queso fresco? Avocado? Cilantro? Hot sauce? Lettuce? Limes? All of the above?

Two or three of these bad boys makes a really delicious meal. It’s also the perfect game day dish.

Tinga is a thinga!

Traditional Pork Tinga simmered with spices and served shredded on tostadas with lots of classic toppings. From the Cook's Illustrated Meat book via Macheesmo.

98 Responses to “Pork Tinga Tostadas + The Meat Book” Leave a comment

  1. I try to pick up the Cook’s Illustrated magazine because they are just good reading and the recipes outstanding. Will have to try these Tingas. We have a Mexican restaurant here, but not always easy to get in and this would be a solution when we have to cook at home.

  2. What is the liquid in the pot that is used during the simmering? I can’t find it mentioned anywhere. Larry

    1. Hey Larry, it’s just water. After the simmer though, it ends up being a pretty delicious stock because of the dried peppers, onions, garlic, and pork.

  3. This looks great, I’ve always loved America’s Test Kitchen recipes. Thanks for the giveaway.

  4. Love, love Mexican food, but don’t always have the time to make it. This sounds like a great shortcut.

  5. Hoo boy these look good! One of the disadvantages of not having lots of people to cook for anymore is that it’s hard to find meat dishes that serve just a few. I could see adapting this to make a smaller amount. Yum.

  6. I have never had “real” carnitas, but you can never go wrong with an America’s Test Kitchen recipe! I am definitely going to try this one!

  7. Great looking recipe.. Do you have a recipe for the tortilla with out a press? I have a big bag of Maseca Instant Corn masa Flour that needs to be used.

  8. I have become a great fan of Cook’s Illustrated over the years! Have never been steered wrong by them! This pork is going on my “Have to make” list!

  9. This recipe looks delicious…can’t wait to try it out! Your blog is great! Thanks for posting these recipes!

  10. I love this idea of having a cookbook week. I might do that, having so many to review right now. Everyone wins and you get to try new recipes. Great thinking! Great cooking!

  11. Never tried these before, but the photos make this so appealing so I will have to try them. Thanks for sharing!

  12. I’ve been wanting to make carnitas for forever but thought it was too time consuming. Can’t wait to try this simplified version!

  13. Glad to see there’s a way to make carnitas that won’t take all day. I’m looking forward to trying this one.

  14. i love how this dish looks, and now am very hungry, lol! gave to try it :) you have such great recipes with great pics! love America’s Test Kitchen, used to watch them all the time and i am such a carnivore!! nom nom BACON!!!!! :D do we get notified by email if we won? thanks so much :)

  15. These look amazing. Do you think the cooking of the pork could happen in a slow cooker? Could take a weekend-only recipe and turn it into a weeknight favorite!

  16. Your pictures are beautiful! I remember watching this dish when they featured this dish on one of their shows, but it looks even better here. And what’s better than turning cheap pork butt into dinner!

  17. I love Cooks, also Kenji Lopez-Alt has done a fantastic fast Carnitas over at Serious Eats. The addition of the dried chiles here sounds wonderful!

  18. Great recipe! I’m always looking for ways to easily make stock while making a tasty meal and this looks perfect. Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

  19. This looks delicious. We often just stick pork in the crockpot but I think we’ll try this next time.

  20. Amazing! Totally making this for a dinner party tomorrow! Can’t ever go wrong with a recipe inspired by good old Kimball and Co.

  21. Love Americas test kitchen…best part of this recipe for me is that once I’ve had my fill of the carnitas version, I can make soup from the rest of the pork and broth…when cooking for one I love recipes I can reimagine in multiple ways.

  22. Add some Mexican Crema. You can find it in a Mexican mercado, if you live in the southwest. Delish.

  23. Ha! I just made something very similar to this the other day with some leftover pulled pork. :-) Also, if you think it takes all day to make a roast tender, you *seriously* need a pressure cooker. I make a fanstastic (and tender!) pot roast in mine and it only takes about 45 minutes for a 3 lb roast. :-)

  24. our family really enjoys meals like this, this recipe is one I could do for watching the game on Sunday w/family & friends – we really like pork and all the different seasonings and spices or chutneys & marinades are excellent choices for dinner – thanks for a chance to win this cookbook it’s one I don’t have yet

  25. I’ve got a couple of Arbol peppers left over from making Menudo so I’m going to give this a try, I know my kids and husband will love this recipe. Thanks for the photos also.

  26. Love America’s Test Kitchen. Their cookbooks are always huge! I love all the recipes and tips, but I think they weigh more than my 3 yr old.

  27. I think I’m least accomplished when it comes to cooking meats, especially roasts. This would be a perfect addition to my cookbook collection.

  28. I am a huge Cook’s Illustrated fan. I am kind of upset that I did not know about this book. I was raised a vegetarian and I am currently learning how to cook meat. This book would be a great tool for me to have further learning on the subject.

  29. shouldn’t look at the photos before dinner, I’m so hungry right now :)

    also, is this giveaway open worldwide or only for us citizens?

    1. Hi Ewelina,
      Yes. I believe the publisher will only ship to a US Address (you don’t need to be a US citizen though)…

  30. Cooks Illustrated, Cooks Country, ATK…I’ve been a loyal subscriber for years and to live with a “meat & potatoes man” this cook book would be very welcome to my kitchen arsenal.

  31. I’ve been a fan of ATK and CI for a long time, but I just found your blog. I’m so excited to read what you have to say. The recipe looks great. Thanks for the giveaway!

  32. I know, I love Cook’s Illustrated too!!! And Cook’s Country, America’s Test Kitchen, americastestkitchenfeed, the radio show, pretty much everything they put out in every format, I love it! :)

  33. Love how you make the recipe your own with the dried chiles – looking forward to trying these!

  34. I just saw this book on Saturday at Costco and I almost bought it but didn’t because I was carrying two boxes of wood laminate flooring at the time. I’ll have to go back and get it.

  35. I have had this made for me and it was so darn good!
    2 questions for ya…
    1. Can I put this in a slow cooker?
    2. Can I use a pork loin instead? I know very little about the pig, unfortunately.

    1. Hey Mandy! 1) Definitely! Cook in on low for 6-8 hours until it’s shreddable. 2) I wouldn’t. Pork loin is very lean and doesn’t do very well for long cooking times like this. It also doesn’t shred very well. I would stick to pork butt or pork shoulder for this one! Good luck!

  36. These are so good; the recipe is nicely-written and was fun & easy to follow. I’m also a big fan of COOK’S ILLUSTRATED/AMERICA’S TEST KITCHEN.. they seem to always find the best way of doing everything, don’t they?
    I like to keep the toppings simple and fresh. Fresh diced avocado drizzled with lime juice to keep it from going brown, cilantro, homemade salsa fresca (raw) and some crema (sour cream thinned out with buttermilk gives the same result as crema) is my favorite way to top these delicious ‘tings. Thanks for sharing!

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