This Pork Carnitas recipe is tender, flavorful, and perfect for serving in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tamales or salads. The best part is you can make carnitas in the oven, slow cooker or instant pot.
I love making International cuisine from home and Carnitas (Spanish for “little meats”) is one of the tastiest and easiest additions to our taco night! Carnitas pork is similar to pulled pork but flavored with Mexican spices and oven roasted after slow cooking.
Why I love this recipe:
- 5 Minute Prep and let the oven, slow cooker or instant pot do all the work.
- Versatile – Serve them in just about anything from tacos, burritos, tamales, quesadillas or burrito bowls.
- Freezer Friendly – save the leftovers for another meal.
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 then generously season the pork on all sides.
Add Onion, Garlic and Citrus: Place the seasoned pork in the bottom of the slow cooker then 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, then 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 make it more authentic, you can place the meat on a baking sheet and broil it for 2-3 minutes until the edges are crispy. For carnitas tacos, serve inside warm corn tortillas, garnished with cilantro.
Instant Pot Carnitas:
Prepare and season the pork the same, inside the instant pot then 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 then shred the meat. Broil if desired.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F then 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 then 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 this easy carnitas recipe 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 with Mexican recipes, like:
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- 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. Taste and add more seasonings and salt and pepper, if needed.
- At this point you can eat the pork as is, or for a more authentic taste, place the meat on a baking sheet and broil it for 2-3 minutes until the edges are crispy.
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I originally shared this recipe March 2017. Updated March 2020 and July 2023.
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