Steak Carnitas Meat in the Crock-Pot

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Smoky and hearty Steak Carnitas Meat in the Crock-Pot is one of the best set-it-and-forget-it meals that’s exquisitely flavored and makes some tender and rich tacos.

Smoky and hearty Steak Carnitas Meat in the Crock-Pot is one of the best set-it-and-forget-it meals that's exquisitely flavored and makes some tender and rich tacos.

Steak Carnitas Meat in the Crock-Pot

What’s better than tacos? There isn’t much that I can think of… Maybe my kids and husband and, on a good day, our new puppy. Right below them on my list of favorite things? Tacos. Obviously. This Crock-Pot recipe will take your taco game to a whole new level, too, so get ready. I could eat these over and over and over again — they just don’t get old.

Perfectly seasoned with some hearty veggies to beef it up (pun intended), these steak carnitas bring some serious flavor to all your favorite Tex-Mex dishes, including tacos (of course), as well as quesadillas, nachos, and big-as-your-face burritos. Plus, this recipe is super-duper flexible. For real — I’ve used this method and spice rub on elk steaks, pork, and lamb, and it goes well on all the things. Just give it a try for yourself to see what I mean!

Smoky and hearty Steak Carnitas Meat in the Crock-Pot is one of the best set-it-and-forget-it meals that's exquisitely flavored and makes some tender and rich tacos.

What’s the difference between barbacoa and carnitas?

Barbacoa comes from the same word as “barbecue,” while carnitas means “little meats.” Barbacoa is often braised meat from a cow head, and carnitas are often made of pork and are fried in their own fat. (Although, my rendition, as you know, uses steak!)

How do you make steak carnitas?

Steak carnitas in the slow cooker are easier than you could imagine. Simply rub the flank steak down with your dry spice rub (recipe below), place it in the Crock-Pot, cover with additional veggies (onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno), and cook on low for 7 or 8 hours. When the time is up, remove the meat from the cooker, and shred in a bowl using two forks. Serve on tortillas for tacos, or on your favorite Tex-Mex meal!

Can you make steak carnitas in the Instant Pot?

You can! You’ll want to be sure to add some beef broth so it doesn’t dry out. Use the “saute” setting for a few minutes before pressure-cooking it for about 30 minutes.

Smoky and hearty Steak Carnitas Meat in the Crock-Pot is one of the best set-it-and-forget-it meals that's exquisitely flavored and makes some tender and rich tacos.

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inside view of the steak carnitas filling

Steak Carnitas Meat in the Crockpot


  • Author: Melissa Griffiths - Bless this Mess
  • Total Time: 7 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 10 1x

Description

Smoky and hearty Steak Carnitas Meat in the Crock-Pot is one of the best set-it-and-forget-it meals that’s exquisitely flavored and makes some tender and rich tacos.


Ingredients

Scale

For the Carnitas:

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin or smoked cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 pounds flank steak
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

Serving Options:

  • Corn tortillas
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Grated cheese
  • Tomato
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa

Instructions

  1. Mix all of the spices together in a small bowl for the spice rub. Rub the spices into each side of the steak, using all of the mixture.
  2. Place the spice-rubbed steak in the bottom of the slow cooker. Place the chopped onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno on top of the steak.
  3. Cook for on low for 7 to 8 hours.
  4. After the cooking time has lapsed, remove the steak from the Crock-Pot and shred with two forks. Serve immediately, or return to the Crock-Pot for a few hours until you are ready to eat.
  5. Serve on corn tortillas with your favorite toppings.

Notes

  • Flank steak is generally a tougher, and therefore cheaper, piece of meat. It’s a great candidate for the Crock-Pot. I have actually used everything from elk steaks to lamb and pork with this recipe, and loved them all. It’s VERY versatile, so use what you have on hand or what’s on sale — if it’s a leaner cut of meat, you may need to add a bit of beef stock at the end to make sure it doesn’t dry out before it’s done cooking.
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 7 hours
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: slow cooker
  • Cuisine: American, Tex-Mex, Mexican

Keywords: steak, carnitas, tacos, slow cooker, beef, tacos

Complete the meal with some of these sides:

This post was originally published in 2012 and has been updated and rephotographed in June 2019.

Smoky and hearty Steak Carnitas Meat in the Crock-Pot is one of the best set-it-and-forget-it meals that’s exquisitely flavored and makes some tender and rich tacos.

About Melissa

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63 Comments

  1. We had another night of carnitas. Easily this could be made into enchiladas, burritos or just a pile of yummy stuff on a plate with other sides to compliment it. The remainder has been divided into servings and placed in the freezer for nights I don’t want to cook and of course, I have a serving to run thru the freeze dryer. It looked lean enough to FD ok…..I will test run the first batch and if it turns out amazing, I will cook another batch and skim off any fat hiding in the liquid before adding the meat/veggies back in. Less fat means a longer storage life. This could be another fantastic trail dinner to share with you someday!

  2. Hey…this stuff is good…really, really, really good! I always slightly panic at the words cayenne pepper and jalapeno…I’m a wimp….but I made the recipe as printed…well, I used a London Broil instead of Flank steak because Flank, Skirt or Flat-Iron do not exist in my store…..and…..the flavors were amazing! Even though we threw the shredded meat into tortillas and topped them like regular tacos, the taste and texture weren’t even similar! Mr. Picky won’t knowingly eat bell peppers, so I chopped them up small and they disappeared into the meat perfectly. If he had spotted a green thing, I would have told him it was jalapeno anyway! This recipe is a 100% keeper! Thanks a zillion!!!

    1. Wohoooo!!! And what do you have planned with the leftovers? Is it lean enough to do something with your freeze drier??

  3. You got the puppy!!!!!!!!! I will probably never knowingly eat barbaco again! My brain won’t let me! bahahahaha. PS….I’m gonna try this soon!!!