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!

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.

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.

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.