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Whether you’re feeding a crowd or just want to treat your tastebuds to full-on Mexican flavors, this slow cooker carnitas recipe is the one for you. My kids cheer and love this carnitas taco recipe, making sure to make one for their dad too.

Best Carnitas Recipe

You know what I love about this best carnitas recipe? It’s so easy. Sometimes I will set it up on a Sunday morning so it’s ready for dinner at night. Other times, I make it in the morning on a weekday so we have a healthy and wholesome dinner to come home to. Whenever you make it you’ll realize it’s a keeper.

Easy Carnitas Recipe

This pork carnitas recipe takes very little time to prep. Just 15 minutes and then it can go in your slow cooker. It’s best to use the low setting for 10 hours but if you’re in a hurry, you can put it on high for 7 hours. You have delicious slow cooker pork tacos served up with very little work.

Carnitas Ingredients

  • Pork shoulder – this tough meat is rendered tender by your slow cooker to fall apart with a fork and melt in your mouth. Its the perfect cut of meat for Mexican pulled pork.
  • Garlic and onions – these pungent aromatics add flavor deep in the meat and really enhance this pulled pork taco recipe.
  • Jalapenos – gotta have a little kick of spice in there.
  • Orange juice – the sweet secret that helps your meat become tender, juicy, and just a bit citrusy.
  • Carnitas seasoning rub – with olive oil plus dried oregano and cumin, this imparts those Mexican flavors you love.

How do you Make Authentic Mexican Carnitas?

This slow cooker carnitas recipe is super easy. After patting the meat dry, you’ll add salt and pepper. Then you’ll make the rub and rub it all over the meat. Put it in the slow cooker with the fat facing you, then throw in the onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Pour the orange juice in and voila! It’s ready to turn on in the slow cooker. After cooking time, you will shred it using 2 forks. You can crisp it up in batches, frying in a nonstick skillet with a little oil over high. Adding the juices in as you do will let it crisp up just slightly, imparting more flavor and texture.

Don’t trust people that dislike tacos…they’re probably not human.
Anonymous

Expert Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Carnitas Every Time

  • Use tough cuts of meat. Pork shoulder is traditional for carnitas. It becomes super-tender when slow-cooked. Don’t choose a tenderloin for this as it will become chewy and unbearable.
  • Don’t skip browning! If you’ve tried making crockpot carnitas before, the reason they didn’t taste amazing was because you didn’t brown them. Yes, it’s an added step but it doesn’t take long and the results are amazing.

How do you cook real carnitas?

Simply follow this slow cooker pork carnitas recipe for real carnitas. It’s all in the seasonings, slow cooking, and the finishing over the stove!

What is the difference between pulled pork and carnitas?

While both are slow cooked for hours, pulled pork tends to have a BBQ flavor. Also, for true authentic flavor, carnitas are supposed to be finished on the stove so they crisp up a little. Think of carnitas as Mexican slow cooker pulled pork.

What is the best cut of meat for pork carnitas?

Pork shoulder is the absolute best for carnitas. It’s fatty and tough, but as you slow cook it, the fat melts into the meat, making it perfect for pork carnitas tacos.

Can you put raw pork in a slow cooker?

Of course you can! That’s how this recipe works. Simply rub the meat with the seasonings, add in the aromatics and juice, put on the lid, and set the time and temperature.

How do you keep carnitas moist?

You should keep them in the juices that render from the cooking process. When storing it, make sure you reserve those juices. They will prevent it from drying out.

What temperature do I cook pork carnitas?

Pork carnitas in a crock pot will surely be done after 10 hours of slow and low cooking in your slow cooker. To be on the safe side, a thermometer reading of 145F internally means they are done.

How Long to Cook Carnitas in a Slow Cooker

It’s best to go with a low and slow cook on this, so I recommend setting your slow cooker to low for 10 hours. But you can use high if you’d prefer for 7 hours.

What can I make with carnitas?

Perhaps a better question would be what you can’t make! Carnitas allows you to make everything from pulled pork tacos to burritos and beyond. Top it on pizzas, add it to rice and beans for a bowl, enchiladas, flautas, quesadillas, nachos, and more. The possibilities are endless.

What goes with Pork Carnitas?

Pork carnitas meat is very versatile. You can use it for Mexican pork tacos, making chipotle bowls, enchiladas, burritos, nachos, quesadillas, sliders, Mexican pizzas, even toss it on a salad. Serve with plenty of guacamole and Pico de Gallo for a truly spectacular meal.

What toppings go on carnitas tacos?

Carnitas tacos are some of the best. You should top them with onions (red or white), jalapeno, shredded cabbage, chopped cilantro, cotija, lime juice, crema, and guacamole.

Why are my carnitas tough?

You didn’t cook them long enough. This is why I say slow and low when it comes to cooking. Put it in your slow cooker on low for 10 hours and you will have tender, juicy meat.

How to Store Carnitas

Your carnitas need to be refrigerated when you’re finished eating. Let it cool and store it in an airtight container.

How Long Does Carnitas Last?

Better hurry up and use those pork carnitas up. They will last up to 3 days in the fridge. If you’ve made a monstrous portion, you can freeze it.

Can You Freeze Carnitas?

Pork carnitas are one of my favorite things to freeze because I can stash them for future use. Make sure they’re sealed airtight and with a little bit of the cooking liquid to keep it moist. It will last up to 3 months.

How to Reheat Carnitas?

Take it out the night before from the freezer and put it in your fridge. By dinner time, it will have thawed enough to reheat on the stovetop. If there’s not enough liquid, you can add some water or broth to keep the meat from drying out.


Watch How To Make Carnitas (Video)

Authentic Mexican Carnitas Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 7 hours
Total Time 7 hours 15 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 266
This Mexican carnitas recipe is super easy in a slow cooker and packed with flavor. Your carnitas will come out tender, juicy, and crispy all at the same time! These carnitas are absolutely mouth-watering, have several delicious ways to serve them, and use NO LARD.

Ingredients

  • 4 lb pork shoulder
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 2 jalapenos (chopped)
  • 8 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 cup orange juice

Carnitas Rub Recipe

  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Instructions 

  • Pat the pork shoulder dry, then coat with the salt and pepper. Combine the ingredients for the rub and rub all over the pork shoulder. Place the pork shoulder in the slow cooker, fat cap facing up. Top with the onion, jalapeño, and garlic, then pour over the orange juice. Slow cook the pork for 10 hours on low heat, or 7 hours on high heat.
  • Once cooked, remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred with two forks. Place the remaining juices in a small bowl or measuring cup and set aside. After the pork has been shredded, crisp up the meat in batches by frying in a large nonstick pan or skillet with a little bit of oil on high heat. Pour some of the juices over the meat and allow them to evaporate and for the meat to develop a golden crust before removing from the pan. After the pork has been crisped, pour some of the juices over the meat. Serve hot.
Calories: 266kcal
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican

Nutrition

Calories: 266kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 93mg | Sodium: 980mg | Potassium: 599mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 130IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 3mg

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Author Megan Miller

I’m a mom of two, food and wine lover, and recipe creation enthusiast. Good food brings families together. Which is why I’m devoted to sharing my best recipes that are simple enough for even the beginner cook that your family will love!

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