- pork shoulder, boneless, skinless 4 pounds
- Salt 2 1/2 tsp • 1 kcal
- Freshly ground black pepper 1 tsp
- onion, chopped 1
- jalapeño, deseeded, chopped 1
- Garlic, minced 4 cloves
- freshly squeezed orange juice 3/4 cup
- for the rub
- Dried oregano 1 tbsp
- Ground cinnamon 2 tsp
- Extra virgin olive oil 1 tbsp
Whether you enjoy it in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, over nachos, or on its own, pork carnitas is sure to hit the spot. It's melt-in-your-mouth, ultra-tender and juicy on the inside, and browned and crispy on the outside, thanks to the way it's cooked.
Carnitas is slow-cooked to perfection, so it falls apart and shreds easily, then it's fried with some of the cooking juices to get nice and crispy. It's a fantastic dish to serve up when you're looking to feed a crowd.
What are Carnitas?
Carnitas is Mexican pulled pork. It's made from pork shoulder, which is also sold under the name pork butt. Carnitas is usually served in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, as a topping for nachos, and can also be eaten in a sandwich, or with eggs.
Carnitas is slow-cooked which helps the meat become incredibly tender until it practically melts in your mouth. It's seasoned with traditional Mexican herbs and spices like oregano and cumin.
How to Make Carnitas
Making pork carnitas at home is pretty hands-off. A few minutes of prep, then pop it in the slow cooker, wait several hours, and you're ready to shred!
Here's how to do it from the first step. Pat the pork shoulder dry with a paper towel, then season it generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Whisk the ingredients for the rub together in a small bowl, then massage it into the meat, making sure to coat it well. Put the pork into your slow cooker with the fat cap facing upwards. This will help the pork stay juicy and tender as it cooks. Add the remaining ingredients into the slow cooker, secure the lid, and cook on high for 7 hours or on low for 10 hours.
After the pork has finished cooking, place it on a cutting board and shred it with two forks. Now it's time to crisp it up! Heat oil in a large skillet and add the shredded pork and some of the cooking juices to the pan. Cook until the juices evaporate, then flip and cook for a few minutes more, working in batches if you need to. Drizzle more of the cooking juices onto the pork before serving, and enjoy!
How to Serve Pork Carnitas
Use carnitas as a burrito, taco, or quesadilla filling, or have it with healthy cauliflower rice to make it a low-carb meal. Enjoy your carnitas topped with tasty Mexican slaw, basic guacamole, or pico de gallo.
Tips for Making Easy Carnitas
Cook with the fat cap facing upwards – this will help keep your pork moist and tender as it cooks.
If you don't have a slow cooker, there are several other methods for making carnitas. You can cook it in an Instant Pot for 1 hour 30 minutes on high, followed by a natural release. Then simply brown the meat as outlined in the recipe.
If you prefer to roast the pork, pour 2 cups of water around the meat, wrap it with foil, and bake it for 2 hours at 325F. Remove the foil and bake it for another 1 hour and 30 minutes uncovered. You may need to add more water, so check on it periodically.
Use Mexican oregano for the best, most authentic flavor.
Skim off some of the fat from the top of the cooking juices before using it. Otherwise, it will be very greasy.
How to Store Slow Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork
Keep your carnitas fresh by transferring it to an airtight container and refrigerating it. Enjoy it within 4 days.
Can You Freeze Pork Carnitas?
Absolutely! Frozen carnitas lasts for 3 months when frozen in an airtight container.
More Recipes You'll Like:
Dry the pork shoulder. Season it with salt and pepper.
Whisk the oregano, cumin, and olive oil in a small bowl. Rub into the pork.
Arrange the pork fat side up in a slow cooker. Add onion, jalapeno, garlic, and orange juice. Secure the lid and cook on high for 7 hours or on low for 10 hours.
Take the pork out of the slow cooker. Shred the meat with two forks.
Heat some oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add in the pork and some of the cooking juices. Allow the juices to evaporate, then flip the pork to brown lightly.
Garnish with more of the cooking juices and serve.
In a pinch, you can use orange juice from the carton, however, freshly squeezed orange juice will always give you the best flavor.