Chipotle Apple Butter Carnitas

These chipotle apple butter carnitas are topped with apple cider sautéed onions and spiced butternut squash. This is one pork dish you will be craving!

These chipotle apple butter carnitas are topped with apple cider sautéed onions and spiced butternut squash. This is one pork dish you will be craving!

I have been craving carnitas for weeeeeeeeks!

I kept telling Art I was going to make them and would then forget I was going to make them until it was too late to actually make them. Then I started thinking about how I should put some sort of fall “twist” into the carnitas and drew a blank on that too.

I’m so good at my job.

These chipotle apple butter carnitas are topped with apple cider sautéed onions and spiced butternut squash. This is one pork dish you will be craving!

However, it all came together when Musselman’s asked me to come up with a recipe using their apple butter. I have always loved apple butter, and while I usually just slather it on homemade biscuits, it’s pretty amazing in savory dishes too. If you have never had apple butter before it’s a thick spiced apple spread. It’s just a few simple ingredients slow cooked down until thick luxurious. Basically, it’s the best.

Now the thing about these carnitas are they are the perfect combination of sweet and spicy and have just a touch of fall flavor. My favorite part is the extra toppings I made for my little tacos. I sautéed onions in a mixture of olive oil and apple cider and they came out perfectly sweet and tender. The spiced butternut squash isn’t too shabby either. It brings another punch of flavor and I love the soft potato like texture it brings to the taco.

These chipotle apple butter carnitas are topped with apple cider sautéed onions and spiced butternut squash. This is one pork dish you will be craving!

To serve these little babies I piled on the toppings, sprinkled on some cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

Oh and don’t forget the cold beer.

Or cold hard cider.

Blergh, I can’t make up my mind what would be better. Just make sure you have a cold drink, okay?


Chipotle Apple Butter Carnitas {topped with apple cider sautéed onions + spiced butternut squash}

These chipotle apple butter carnitas are topped with apple cider sautéed onions and spiced butternut squash. This is one pork dish you will be craving!

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours

Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes


For pork:

  • 1 (4 pound) bone-in pork shoulder
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 teaspoon adobo sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 cups apple cider

For onions:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large sweet onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

For butternut squash:

  • 2 cups small diced butternut squash
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

For tacos:

  • Corn tortillas, toasted
  • Cilantro, diced
  • Lime wedges


For pork:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a small bowl whisk together apple butter, garlic, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, cumin, smoked paprika, kosher salt, black pepper and oregano.

Add pork shoulder to a large Dutch oven and rub mixture over the top of the pork.

Pour apple cider into the Dutch oven and cover tightly.

Cook for about 2-1/2 to 3 hours until fork tender. Remove the lid, turn the heat up to 450 degrees and cook for about 20 minutes until the top of the pork is crispy.

Remove from the oven, shred with 2 forks (removing any bones and fat) and cover to keep hot while you prepare tacos.

For onions:
Set a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. Once the oil is hot add in onions, apple cider, kosher salt and pepper.

Cook until the onions are soft. If the mixture gets too dry add in a bit more apple cider.

For butternut squash:
In a large bowl mix together squash, olive oil, smoked paprika, chili powder, kosher salt and chipotle chile powder.

Roast for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees until soft.

For tacos:
Lay out toasted corn tortillas and fill with pork.

Top with onions, squash and a sprinkling of cilantro. Serve with a lime wedge.

Disclosure: I received compensation for creating a recipe using Musselman’s Apple Butter but as always all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

30 Responses to “Chipotle Apple Butter Carnitas”

  1. #
    Tina Muir — October 24, 2014 at 7:14 am

    This sounds SO good! I have never made carnitas, but I would love to, and this sounds like a great recipe to try! I love doing what you said about theming food to make it match the season/holiday, this was a great one!

  2. #
    Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness — October 24, 2014 at 7:31 am

    You know what is totally crazy? I just went to Chipotle FOR MY FIRST TIME! And, since then, I want ALL the carnitas. How did you know!?
    P.s apple butter in carnitas? You are my favorite. Pinned!

  3. #
    Martha @ A Family Feast — October 24, 2014 at 7:46 am

    What a delicious combination of flavors! Genius!

  4. #
    Amanda — October 24, 2014 at 7:48 am

    I would never have thought to pair Musselman’s apple butter with carnita’s, and now I cant STOP thinking about it! Totally making these asap. Thanks for the recipe!

  5. #
    Katie | Healthy Seasonal Recipes — October 24, 2014 at 7:51 am

    you’re kinda rocking my world here. I would have never thought to use apple butter in carnitas, but I love the idea. I bet these are delicious Brandy.

  6. #
    Beth @ The First Year — October 24, 2014 at 7:53 am

    I totally get the combo of apple butter and pork, yum! Makes my mouth water!

  7. #
    Millie | Add A Little — October 24, 2014 at 8:01 am

    This looks absolutely delicious Brandy! I love the idea of fall flavours!

  8. #
    Liz @ Floating Kitchen — October 24, 2014 at 8:01 am

    This is such a genius idea! Love fruity flavors with meat and apple butter + pork sounds incredible! Pinned!

  9. #
    Jamie — October 24, 2014 at 8:07 am

    I think using apple butter in a savory dish is fabulous but of course! Apples are wonderful in sweet and savory dishes, and pair so beautifully with all the ingredients you have brought together for this flavorful fall dish. I love this.

  10. #
    Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom — October 24, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Oh lordy. . apple butter. that’s all you need to say. . love love love these carnitas!!!

  11. #
    Amy @ A Healthy Life For Me — October 24, 2014 at 8:32 am

    These look amazing! I love carnita’s with apple butter… oh-my!

  12. #
    Julie — October 24, 2014 at 8:38 am

    I lovvvve cooking with apple butter – it blends in so nicely and gives everything a little spiced sweetness. These look great!

  13. #
    Jessica @ A Kitchen Addiction — October 24, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Love the apple butter and pork combination! This needs to get added to our menu soon!

  14. #
    Sommer@ASpicyPerspective — October 24, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Apple Butter makes everything better!!

  15. #
    Claire Gallam — October 24, 2014 at 10:32 am

    LOVE the use of apple butter!

  16. #
    Gerry @ Foodness Gracious — October 24, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Want for my lunch today!!

  17. #
    heather @french press — October 24, 2014 at 10:54 am

    I saw these on pinterest last night at about midnight, I wanted to make them right then and there, gorgeous

  18. #
    Kim (Feed Me, Seymour) — October 24, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    I adore carnitas so much. I love that you put a new twist on them! so yummy!

  19. #
    The Food Hunter — October 24, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    they sure look good!

  20. #
    Barbara @ Barbara Bakes — October 24, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    I always love sweet and spicy.

  21. #
    Brenda@Sugar-Free Mom — October 24, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    I just love the savory sweet thing going on here and apples just scream fall!

  22. #
    Brianne @ Cupcakes & Kale Chips — October 24, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    This sounds like such an insanely delicious dinner! Pinned because I have to try it!

  23. #
    Rachel @ Baked by Rachel — October 25, 2014 at 7:16 am

    Dying to try these!

  24. #
    Renee - Kudos Kitchen — October 25, 2014 at 10:05 am

    I love the way your culinary mind works! These look amazing!!!

  25. #
    christine — October 25, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    I never would have thought to use apple butter in a recipe like this but now that you’ve gone and done it, it totally makes sense!

  26. #
    Angela {Mind Over Batter} — October 26, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Yeah… I pretty much need to make these apple butter carnitas because it’s all I think about now. It’s all I’ve thought about all weekend. I love the way your mind works, lady.

  27. #
    Joanne Bruno — October 26, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    Double fisting tacos and hard cider is how I roll! How did you know? These sound like fall taco perfection. Every aspect is SPOT.ON.

  28. #
    Melissa from — October 27, 2014 at 6:51 am

    This is seriously a BRILLIANT idea! Kudos!

  29. #
    Jocelyn @BruCrew Life — October 27, 2014 at 7:57 am

    Good gravy those do sound amazing! What an awesome way to use apple butter!!!


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