For years I've tried to figure out how to use emojis in Illustrator.
I finally found it. Natively. Without any weird workarounds.
Since this solution still doesn't come up in search results, I needed to share it. It's much simpler than anything I've seen.
I'm using Adobe Illustrator 2019, which is a free upgrade if you're using Creative Cloud.
The first step is to add a text block and delete the Lorum Ipsum text that Illustrator defaults to (this is important for the next step to work).
Now switch the font to Apple Color Emoji.
For me, the Glyphs window automatically popped up, but if not, go to Type then Glyphs in the menu.
Because you're selected on the Apple Color Emoji font, you'll see a random assortment of emojis that you can double-click to insert.
Once inserted, the emojies are real type and fully vector!