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photo of shredded pork on a white plate with fresh lime

Pork Carnitas Recipe

  • Author: Melissa Griffiths - Bless this Mess
  • Total Time: 8 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8-12 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


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.


  • 3.5-4 pound pork should 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)


  1. 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.
  2. In a small bowl add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, oregano, and cumin and stir to combine.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Cooke on high for 7-9 hours or low for 8-10 hours or until the is very tender and shreds very easily.
  6. Remove the pork from the slow cook and place it in a rimmed dish (like a baking dish).
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Shred the meat while the juices are reducing.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. If you have any remaining juices drizzle the last of it over all of the crispy pork.
  14. Serve the crispy pork carnitas (little meats) in your favorite tacos, burritos, and in a salad.
  15. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for much longer.


  • 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.
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Category: main dish
  • Method: slow cooker
  • Cuisine: American

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