Crispy Pork Carnitas

5 from 2 votes

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Pork Carnitas are nothing short of heavenly. This slow cooked pork butt is so tender and full of bold flavor. Plus, it only takes 5 minutes to add the ingredients to the slow cooker. You’ll put this one on repeat!

Slow cooker pork carnitas is a Mexican favorite that is great in stuffed in tortillas, taco shells or on top of a salad. You can sit back and relax will the slow cooker does all of the work. It’s also a great way to add lots of protein to your meal in the most delicious way.

top view of shredded pork on a white plate with fresh lime
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Pork Carnitas

If you haven’t had pork carnitas before, here is the breakdown: it is basically a Mexican version of pulled pork. It is perfectly tender with crisp edges and so good that you will want to put it on everything!

I love making pork carnitas for a few reasons. They are delicious, easy, freeze great and can feed a crowd. I often double the batch so I can freeze some for a later meal. It tastes just as good after being frozen as it does day one. 

You know I love to feed people. It’s what I do and how I show my love. Well, this recipe is so great for feeding the masses. It stays fresh for hours after cooking. If you are having a party or inviting people over-pork carnitas are the way to go. So easy to cook up and you can have fun sides with it too.

What Cut Of Pork Is Best For This Recipe?

I love using a pork butt for the most juicy and tender meat, you can also use a pork shoulder. Make sure to buy skinless so you can put on the homemade spice rub. I prefer a boneless pork butt, but if you can only find bone-in, just get an additional 1/2 pound of meat.

shreded cooked pork on a white plate with fresh lime with carnitas ingredients all around

Recipe Ingredients

  • Pork shoulder or pork butt: this type of pork roast has some nice marbling and fat to it which helps the carnitas cook up flavorful and moist
  • Homemade spice rub: it includes salt, pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, dried oregano, and cumin. It comes together fast and makes for a great flavor base for the whole dish
  • White or yellow onion: this cooks so soft you can’t tell it’s there in the end product but it adds lots of flavor
  • Jalapeno: just a touch of heat to balance the richness of the pork, I promise it’s not spicy though (you can always add more to increase the heat!)
  • Juice from 2 oranges: a little sweet, a little acid, a little moisture, there’s some magic in the orange juice!

Step By Step Instructions

  1. Mix up your spice rub and rub it all over your pork butt or shoulder.
  2. Place the pork in the slow cooker and add the onion, jalapeno, and orange juice to the slow cooker.
  3. Let the pork cook until it is very tender.
  4. Shred the pork and separate it from the remaining juices in the slow cooker.
  5. Place the shredded pork in a hot skillet and add the juices (you might need to work in batches here so you don’t crowd your pan). Cook until the juices all evaporate and the pork starts to crisp.
  6. Serve the crispy pork carnitas in your favorite dishes like tacos, burritos, and enchiladas.
shredded pork on a white plate with carnitas ingredients in the background

Expert Tips & Tricks

  • If you like a little heat to your pork feel free to add another jalapeno or two and/or don’t remove the seeds.
  • I have the servings for this recipe as 8 but if you are having a lot of other toppings like rice and beans for your tacos the meat will go a lot further. If you are just doing pork and a really simple onion/jalapeno/lime/cilantro topping (like the one I make for chicken street tacos, it’s amazing) then you’ll use a lot more pork.

Storage & Reheating

  • To make this recipe ahead of time cook and shred the pork but then keep the shredded pork and juices stored separately in the fridge. When you are ready to serve it proceed with the pan crisping steps.
  • You can brown the pork a few hours ahead of time, reserving some of the liquid, and then keep the shredded browned pork in a warm slow cooker, with the remaining juices drizzled over it, until you are ready to serve it. That works great.
  • You can keep the prepared or leftover pork in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Just thaw overnight in the fridge and refresh in a warm skillet with a little oil in the bottom.

Frequently Asked Questions

What to serve with pork carnitas?

This recipe for pork carnitas is super versatile. I have used this meat inside tacos, enchiladas, burrito bowls, nachos and even on, pizza. Seriously, you will want to top anything and everything with this tender meat. You can serve it with cilantro lime rice, beans, fresh salsa or guacamole to complete the meal. 

How do I crisp up pork carnitas?

Once the pork butt is nice and tender from the slow cooker, shred the meat. Then, place the meat in a skillet on the stove. Add the remaining juices from the slow cooker to the skillet. This will cook off the extra liquid and sear the meat while still keeping the flavor intact. 

What is the easiest way to shred pork?

You can take the old school route and shred the pork using two forks but if you are cooking a lot of meat that needs to be shredded I like to throw it in a stand mixer and attach the flat beater paddle. Turn it on for about 30 seconds and watch that meat shred instantly before your eyes. So quick and easy. Often times this pork is fall apart on it’s own and you just give it a bit of a stir and it’s already shredded.

cast iron pot cooking off and browning shredded pork for Carnitas recipe

More great recipes:

If you’ve tried this healthy carnitas recipe or any other recipe on Bless this Mess, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some pictures of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories.

photo of shredded pork on a white plate with fresh lime
5 from 2 votes

Pork Carnitas Recipe

These Pork Carnitas are slow cooked to perfection before being fried until crispy. If you like Mexican food you must try this Mexican Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 8 hours
Total: 8 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 8 (Serves 8-12)

Ingredients 

  • 3.5-4 pound pork shoulder or pork butt, (boneless, if bone-in get an additional 1/2 pound)
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 large white or yellow onion,, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno,, seeds removed and chopped
  • juice from 2 oranges, (about 2/3 of a cup)

Instructions 

  • Remove the pork from it’s packaging and don’t worry about trimming it or removing any of the fat. We’ll strain some of the cooked fat off at the end and the fat adds a lot of great flavor.
  • In a small bowl add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, oregano, and cumin and stir to combine.
  • Rub the pork all over with the spice rub you just made and then set it in the slow cooker with the fattiest part of the roast on top.
  • Add the onion and jalapeno to the slow cooker on top of the pork and then pour the orange juice all over everything. No need to stir or anything at this point.
  • Cooke on high for 7-9 hours or low for 8-10 hours or until the is very tender and shreds very easily.
  • Remove the pork from the slow cook and place it in a rimmed dish (like a baking dish).
  • At this point you can skim the fat from the liquid left in the slow cook or you can leave it, it’s up to you. I normally skim a bit and leave about half.
  • If you have more than about 2 cups of liquid remaining, add all of the liquid to a saucepan and simmer vigorously until it has been reduced to about 2 cups. If you only have about 2 cups, you can skip this step. I leave all the little chunks of pepper and onion in the liquid whether I am reducing the liquid or not, no need to discard them, they are very soft and you don’t even notice them in the end tacos.
  • Shred the meat while the juices are reducing.
  • To crisp up your carnita meat, add a layer of shredded pork to the bottom of a large nonstick or cast iron skillet. Add a portion of the reserved juice and cook over medium-high heat until the juice has evaporated and the meat starts to crisp in the pan. Once crispy on one side, turn the meat over once, let it cook a few minutes longer and then remove from the pan.
  • Don’t crowd the pan at this step and work in batches if you need to. It takes me 2-3 batches in my large 14-inch cast iron skillet.
  • This step is where the magic is! All that flavor from the juices is reduced and soaks into the pulled pork. And the crispiness is so pleasant. This is the wow-factor for this dish, highly advise you don’t skip it.
  • If you have any remaining juices drizzle the last of it over all of the crispy pork.
  • Serve the crispy pork carnitas (little meats) in your favorite tacos, burritos, and in a salad.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for much longer.

Notes

  • To make this recipe ahead of time cook and shred the pork but then keep the shredded pork and juices stored separately in the fridge. When you are ready to serve it proceed with the pan crisping steps.
  • You can brown the pork a few hours ahead of time, reserving some of the liquid, and then keep the shredded browned pork in a warm slow cooker, with the remaining juices drizzled over it, until you are ready to serve it. That works great.
  • If you like a little heat to your pork feel free to add another jalapeno or two and/or don’t remove the seeds.
  • I have the servings for this recipe as 8 but if you are having a lot of other toppings like rice and beans for your tacos the meat will go a lot further. If you are just doing pork and a really simple onion/jalapeno/lime/cilantro topping (like the one I make for chicken street tacos, it’s amazing) then you’ll use a lot more pork.

Nutrition

Calories: 202kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 81mg, Sodium: 966mg, Potassium: 512mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 203IU, Vitamin C: 15mg, Calcium: 35mg, Iron: 2mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

Once you make this recipe for slow cooker Pork Carnitas you won’t make another one. The meat is tender, the flavor is bold and it is seriously good. Don’t sleep on this one, friends!

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Recipe Rating




3 Comments

  1. This recipe was so good! I almost skipped the jalapeño but so glad I didn’t. This was definitely flavorful and easy to make.

  2. 5 stars
    Oh my gosh! These carnitas are amazing! That crispy outside is to die for. These rival some of the best authentic street tacos I’ve ever had, no joke.