It doesn’t get much simpler or more delicious than tender and flavorful pork Carnitas. This delicious shredded pork is flavored with Mexican spices and can be served in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tamales or salads.
My saving grace as a busy mom is recipes I can prepare first thing in the morning in the slow cooker, or 30-minute meals I can throw together easily after work!
What are pork carnitas?
Carnitas (spanish for “little meats”) is a popular Mexican recipe that is made by slow cooking pork shoulder, then shredding it and roasting it in the oven. It’s very similar to pulled pork except that it’s oven roasted after slow cooking and I like to cook my carnitas with a touch of lime and orange juice.
Who needs a Mexican restaurant when you can make it so much better at home, with really simple pantry ingredients? I know you’re going to love theses carnitas!
Why I love this recipe:
- 5 minute prep time, and you can cook carnitas in the oven, slow cooker or in the instant pot!
- Versatile: serve them in just about anything from tacos, burritos, tamales, quesadillas or burrito bowls.
- Freezer friendly
How to make Carnitas (slow cooker method):
- Season pork. Trim and discard excess fat from the pork. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Generously season the pork on all sides.
- Add onion, garlic and citrus. Place the seasoned pork in the bottom of the slow cooker and add garlic, chopped onions, orange juice, and lime juice around it.
- Cook. Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
- Shred. Remove pork from the slow cooker, shred the meat, and return it to the pot. Taste and add more seasonings or salt and pepper, if needed.
Broil (optional). At this point you can eat the pork as is or, to be truly authentic, you can place the meat on a baking sheet and broil it for 2-3 minutes until the edges are crispy.
For tacos, serve inside warm corn tortillas, garnished with cilantro.
To make in the Instant Pot:
Prepare and season the pork the same, inside the instant pot. Add an additional cup of water or chicken broth to the pot. Cook on Manual/High pressure for 70 minutes. When timer beeps, allow the pot to naturally release pressure, about 15 minutes longer. Remove lid and shred the meat. Broil if desired.
To make in the Oven:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Cut the pork into 4 pieces (this will allow it to cook faster and more evenly in the pot). Season the pork on all sides and place in pot. Add an additional cup of water/broth to the pot. Prepare and season the pork the same, but cut it into a few large chunks to fit evenly into a dutch oven pan or oven-safe pot. Bake for 3-3/12 hours, until tender.
Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions:
To make ahead: Add everything to the pot, cover and refrigerate for 1-2 days before cooking (depending on the freshness of your ingredients).
To freeze: Allow the pork to cool completely, then store in a freezer safe container or bag for up to 4 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. To rewarm, spread the meat on a baking sheet with a little of the juice and reheat at 400 degrees F until warm, about 10-15 minutes.
Serve Carnitas with my other favorite Mexican recipes, like:
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- 4 pounds pork shoulder
- 2 Tablespoons chili powder
- 4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 3 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
- 2-3 teaspoons salt or more, to taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 onions roughly chopped
- juice from 2 large oranges
- juice from 2 limes
- Trim and discard excess fat from the pork.
- In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Generously season the pork on all sides.
- Add the seasoned pork to the bottom of the slow cooker. Add garlic, chopped onions, orange juice, and lime juice.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
- Remove pork from the slow cooker, shred the meat, and return it to the pot. Taste and add more seasonings and salt and pepper, if needed.
- At this point you can eat the pork as it, or (to be truly authentic) you can place the meat on a baking sheet and broil it for 2-3 minutes until the edges are crispy.
- Serve with a side of authentic Mexican rice and refried beans.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
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I made this with my Dutch oven, I did a smaller 2.5lb shoulder roast, it still turned out amazing. I did add some bacon fat as to make up for not using lard and it turned out great! Will definitely be making this again.
Made this today in the crockpot and served it on homemade tortillas. It was easy and so delish! Leftovers will be a pizza topping in a few days.
Super easy, super tender, super yummy! I served this with avocado, lime wedges, green onion and Spanish rice on the side. Definitely a keeper recipe!
So great, and one better was to mix left overs with Kinders BBQ Sauce – OMG soooo GOOD! You’ll never make shredded pork any other way <3
This is soooo good! I’ve made it for my husband and I every week since I found it – we both love it every time I make it. The tacos honestly need nothing as the meat is so good itself
These are SO good. My daughter asks for this all the time. We have them with the tortillas, rice and even on nachos. Delicious.
I just bought a new grill – super pumped! Appreciate the post – trying to learn as much as I can before the Spring is in full swing.
I made this dish in my slow cooker and couldn’t believe how easy is was to put together. I also tried your suggestion of browning it under the broiler to crisp up the edges and liked the result. I used soft tacos spread with avocado and salsa and then topped with the pork. My husband absolutely loved them!
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