Coconut-Lime Pork Tacos with Black Beans and Avocado

By • May 20, 2013 168 Comments

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Author Notes: Tacos are a recurring weeknight meal for my family. One of our favorite versions is spiced ground pork with lime, pineapple, and black beans, piled high with diced avocado. It was only recently that I thought to add coconut milk to the mix. This one ingredient elevates the dish and plays really well with the other flavors. Similar to pork shoulder or loin braised in milk, simmering the ground pork in coconut milk infuses it with flavor and helps avert the typical dryness that comes with ground meat. This meal can go from kitchen to table in about 20 minutes, perfect for those nights when you don’t have a lot of time but crave (and deserve) an interesting, flavorful meal. EmilyC

Food52 Review: WHO: EmilyC has been charming us with recipes since the beginning -- this one is no different.
WHAT: A speedy taco that is much more than a vehicle for avocado and sour cream.
HOW: Brown the meat, toast your spices, pile everything in a tortilla. Wash down with a margarita.
WHY WE LOVE IT: The care that went into flavoring these tacos is what makes them wonderful. A serious, toasted spice blend gives them another dimension, and the lime and pineapple juices another still. Then everything gets tempered in a cloak of creamy coconut milk. We love tortillas, but we could eat this straight out the pan.
The Editors

Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk, stirred (full-fat recommended)
  • 3 tablespoons pineapple juice (I keep small cans on hand for this dish)
  • 1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, from 1 lime
  • 2 cups or one 15 ounce can cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Corn or flour tortillas, for serving
  • 1 1 large avocado, diced
  • Other recommended toppings: corn salsa, chopped cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
  1. In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and a large pinch of salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until they’ve softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Push the onion and garlic to one side of the pan, and add the cumin, paprika, oregano, and cayenne. Let sizzle in the pan until they’re toasted and fragrant, about 1 minute, then stir well until the onions and garlic are evenly coated with the spices.
  2. Add the ground pork to the pan. Cook over medium-high heat, breaking up any large chunks of pork and stirring occasionally, until the pork is just cooked through. Season with salt to taste. Remove any excess fat from the pan.
  3. Add the coconut milk; simmer for about 5 minutes until thickened, then stir in the black beans, pineapple juice and 1 tablespoon lime juice and cook for an additional minute or two. Taste and add more lime juice if needed. Adjust the seasoning to taste. You can serve right away, or cover the pan and let the pork gently simmer over low heat.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, divide the ground pork equally among lightly warmed flour tortillas. Serve with lots of avocado and other toppings of your choice.

Topics: Weeknight Cooking

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Comments (168) Questions (0)

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about 1 month ago NotTooSweet

Made this for dinner last night - delicious! As instructed in the recipe, I tasted for salt/spices and did add a bit more of everything, otherwise made just as instructed. I used the leftover coconut milk in smoothies this morning - also delicious! Thanks for another terrific and easy recipe!

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about 1 month ago EmilyC

That last step of tasting for salt/spices is key! So glad you tried and liked these!

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about 1 month ago lindsay

Made this last night, it was fabulous. Used lettuce wraps instead of tortillas, highly recommended!

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about 1 month ago EmilyC

Great idea! Thanks for sharing!

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3 months ago pennyolsen

How does one know if recipe calls for refrigerated coconut milk or the stuff in the can?

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3 months ago linda

I used the can and it was great

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3 months ago pennyolsen

I use refrigerated daily so that's what I'm going to use. Hope it works.

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3 months ago pennyolsen

BTW thank you Linda.

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3 months ago EmilyC

Hi Penny -- I've never used refrigerated coconut milk, but I assume it's more watered down than full-fat coconut milk from a can. A few people have reported back that low-fat coconut milk doesn't work nearly as well (also too watery), so I'm not sure if you'll have good luck with the refrigerated variety or not. Hope this helps!

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3 months ago pennyolsen

I am using refrigerated because that's what I have. I will post my results. Thank you for your response. I don't have use for a partial can......I use refrigerated on my cereal etc. It's delish.

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3 months ago Nancy Curran

Do you have any idea what the carbohydrate count is (cooking for a diabetic)? Many thanks!

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3 months ago Phyllis Harding

Wondering if ground beef would work as we don't cook with pork either. I'm the vegetarian in the family so will be trying with tofu or even Quirn crumbles

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3 months ago EmilyC

Hi Phyllis -- How about ground turkey or chicken? I've made these several times with ground turkey and know firsthand that it's a good substitute. Not sure about beef, but it should work ok as well. You might need to be more assertive with the spices if you go the beef route. Report back if you try them!

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5 months ago Karen Brooks

Loved this! Just the right of amount of "heat" for my husband who is a hot pepper wimp. And it was still spicy enough for me. I made it with the full amount of lime juice and chopped, rather than sliced, the garlic. Served on whole wheat tortillas.

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5 months ago EmilyC

So glad the tacos were a hit! Thanks for trying them!

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6 months ago Sarah E.

Just made these tonight - delicious! Will definitely make again.
Has anyone tried the recipe without pineapple juice, or an alternative?
Thanks!

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6 months ago EmilyC

Great! Glad you liked them. I've made them with just lime juice and they're good that way, too.

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11 months ago NotTooSweet

I made these tonight as a departure from the "same old tacos" we usually have and they were such a big hit! I will be stocking up on little cans of pineapple juice for the inevitable craving we will be getting soon to have these yummy tacos again! Thanks so much for the creative spin on an old favorite.

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11 months ago EmilyC

You're quite welcome -- so glad to hear that you enjoyed them and plan to make them again!

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12 months ago Jaxmccaff

I made these the other night and they were delicious and so easy. I accidentally put in too much coconut milk and had to simmer it down but the flavours still came through nicely. I used ground pork but could see using ground chicken or even crumbled tofu as well. Great recipe!

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12 months ago EmilyC

Thank you -- so glad you liked them! And your accident is exactly the way I've been making them lately -- adding extra coconut milk so that they can lazily simmer away and hold longer on the stove.

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about 1 year ago Susan Cordell

Made these the other night-fantastic recipe-husband loved it! Sort of Mexican/Thai fusion and it really worked. I can see why its a favorite-thanks for the recipe!

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

You're welcome! So glad you tried and liked them!

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over 1 year ago Manny Rodrigues III

I've been cooking for a LONG time and this is one of the best recipes I've ever made. Thank you so much!

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

Wow, what a lovely comment; thanks so much.

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over 1 year ago Robin

LOVE! Having it for the second time. Thanks Emily!

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

You're quite welcome -- so glad you like them!

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over 1 year ago linda

Fantastic!

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

Great to hear -- thank you!

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over 1 year ago Rhoda Murphy

I just made this dish and I'm with Marlene on this--it was just strange. My husband hated it and I thought it was edible. We found the combination of coconut, pineapple and Mexican spices to be weird. Regular tacos are much better.

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

Bummer that this didn't suit you, but thanks for trying.

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over 1 year ago sheila356

The first thing my husband said was "COCONUT MILK". These were very good and I took davesmalls technique for cooking corn tortillas . I like that. It will be how I cook tortillas in the future.

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

Glad you enjoyed them!

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over 1 year ago jhoranco

I made this recipe tonight as written and enjoyed it. However, my husband is on a heart-healthy diet and pork is out. (He's out of town now and when he's out of town, the kids and I indulge.) Has anyone made this with ground turkey?

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

Actually, when I started making these tacos (as written but without coconut milk), I often used ground turkey. I think ground turkey will pair just fine with the coconut milk, and since it tends to be leaner than pork, the coconut milk will help prevent dryness. If you try them this way, please report back!

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about 1 year ago aquarius

I made these for a large group that included several non pork eaters so I made half with ground turkey. They were great!

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Good to know, thanks!

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over 1 year ago maggiepcs

We loved this - and "we" includes my 11-month-old son, who was gobbling up the (more lightly spiced) filling like crazy! I used apple juice instead of pineapple b/c it's what I had on hand. It worked but I look forward to trying it with pineapple, which I will now keep on hand for this recipe because I plan to add it to the rotation. Thanks!

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

Wonderful! This dish is in my rotation for the same reason -- my kids love it! Thanks for your note.

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over 1 year ago Marlene

This was AWFUL! I don't know how this recipe can be a contest finalist?!!!

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over 1 year ago davesmall

Pretty good recipe. I'm not sold that the coconut milk made all that much difference but would make this again.

Much better with corn tortillas than flour tortillas if you prepare the corn tortillas as follows: Spray corn tortillas with PAM or equivalent lightly on both sides. Place each tortilla directly on an oven rack with the oven preheated to 350F. Monitor the tortillas carefully. The goal here is to take them out about half way between uncooked are so crispy that they break.

You don't want them to be uncooked directly from the package. Nor do you want them to be hard and breakable like store bought taco shells. This takes about 5 minutes in the oven. When prepared this way, the tortillas are a bit chewy and have great texture. They're still pliable for folding into a taco and very good. The PAM spray and oven treatment works great and yields a tortilla that isn't loaded with grease as would happen if you were to fry them.

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks for trying them, davesmall! You could always try them again without the coconut milk to see what you think. I made these tacos multiple times before I thought to add coconut milk. Both ways are good, but the coconut version is richer with better texture in my opinion. Thanks for your note about the tortillas, too.

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over 1 year ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

I also wanted more punch out of the coconut milk... so I ended up adding the whole can! I'm sure this changed the consistency (more like a creamy chili type situation), but we loved it!

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

So glad to hear it!

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over 1 year ago Margie

I made this last night for the first time. YUMMMMM. It was easy and fast. I didn't taste the coconut as much as I thought, but it was wonderful..I didn't have a ripe avocado (of course it's ripe this morning!!) so I used guacamole (store bought from Trader Joe's which I NEVER do, but this was an emergency (of sorts!) and it was great - next time - fresh avocado and salsa on the side..thank you!!

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks so much for reporting back -- glad you liked them! Funny about the guacamole but I'm sure they were good that way!