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Easy Pork Carnitas Recipe

Are you looking for an easy pork carnitas recipe? Look no further! This recipe is simple to follow and yields delicious results. 

pork carnitas, slaw, sour cream, tomatoes, and cilantro on a tortilla

Pork carnitas are perfect for tacos, salads, rice bowls, burritos, or just about anything else you can think of. So give this recipe a try and enjoy some amazing carnitas tonight!

Most of my recipes are flexible. If you like extra spicy food, you can add more cumin or jalapeños.

However, if this is your first time making it, I always recommend trying the recipe exactly as it is stated before making any changes.

pork carnitas and all of the toppings inside a tortilla

I love slow cooker carnitas for several reasons. First, it’s easy to get the tender juiciness you want for this dish. 

Second, it’s so easy to put everything into the pot and then come home to dinner that’s almost ready.

And third, it’s the perfect party food because it’s easy, delicious, and so much fun to eat.

All you have to do is cook it in the Crock Pot and serve a bunch of toppings. Then let your guests put everything together the way they want!

What is Pork Carnitas?

Pork carnitas is a Mexican style shredded cooked pulled pork. It’s packed with flavor, and it’s good in tacos, rice bowls, or salads.

pork carnitas with slaw, tomatoes, sour cream, cilantro, and cheese on a tortilla

Most of the time it’s made in a slow cooker that cooks the meat slowly on a low temperature.

This slow cooker pulled pork is super tender, flavorful, and juicy.

Pork Carnitas Ingredients

These are all basic ingredients for most Mexican style dishes. Everything should be easy to find in the grocery store.

raw pork roast

Here is what you’ll need:

  • Pork Roast
  • Chopped onion
  • Beef broth
  • Orange juice (fresh orange juice is best)
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • Ground cumin
  • Chopped jalapeno
  • Oregano
  • Salt and black pepper
ingredients for carnitas: cumin, garlic, orange, salt, black pepper, onion, oregano, beef broth, jalapeno, and cilantro

Other ingredients you might want to try:

  • Brown sugar Chopped bell pepper
  • Ground cayenne pepper
  • Bay leaves
  • Chili powder
  • Lime juice
  • Chicken broth
pork carnitas on a tortilla

How to Make Pork Carnitas

It’s super easy to make these pork carnitas. Once you get the hang of it, you should have everything in the pot within 10 minutes. 

Then all you have to do is plug it in, turn it on, and come back to a delicious dinner at the end of the day.

First, I like to spray the inside of my Crock Pot with nonstick cooking spray. This makes it much easier to clean the pot later.

Carefully place the pork roast in the center of the pot.

Mine came wrapped with twine to hold it together. Since I’m going to shred it later, I cut the twine off before cooking.

pork roast in the center of a slow cooker pot

Next, sprinkle the chopped onion, minced garlic, chopped cilantro, chopped jalapeño, ground cumin, dried oregano, salt, and pepper over the roast.

Spread it out evenly.

pork roast with dry ingredients in Crock Pot

Pour the beef broth into the pot.

Now squeeze the orange over the pork roast. I used a navel orange that didn’t have seeds.

squeezing orange over dry ingredients in Crock Pot

However, if you use a different kind of orange that does have seeds, make sure you remove them if they fall into the pot.

You should have about an inch of liquid from the broth and orange juice.

All of the ingredients for pork carnitas in the slow cooker pot

Once all of the ingredients are in the pot, put the lid on and go about your busy day.

When you come home, your house should smell amazing. 

lid on the slow cooker full of pork carnitas ingredients

Remove the lid from the pot and either shred it in the pot or transfer the pork to a large bowl for shredding.  

You can use a couple of forks, a pair of meat shredders, or even a meat masher. You’ll be amazed by how easily the meat falls apart with very little effort on your part.

shredding pork carnitas with a meat masher

If you put the pork in a bowl, now return it to the pot and mix it into the juice so it can absorb more of the delicious flavors.

How to Serve Pork Carnitas

There are quite a few ways to serve pork carnitas. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Soft or crunchy tacos (flour or corn tortillas)
  • Burritos
  • Salads
  • Rice bowls
  • Over mashed potatoes or pasta

In order to have crispy pork carnitas, simply put some in a hot skillet with a little bit of olive oil. I like to use a cast iron skillet, but you can use any pan you happen to have. Fry it until the pulled pork is as crispy as you want it.

We’ve been eating quite a bit of cheese lately, so I made some pork carnitas tacos without cheese.

Then my husband asked for one with cheese. I sprinkled a little bit of shredded cheddar cheese over it.

Can You Freeze Pork Carnitas?

Yes, you can freeze pork carnitas. In fact, you won’t lose any of the flavor after freezing it. I like to make enough for at least a couple of extra meals.

I use quart-size freezer bags to freeze double servings of pork carnitas. This is all I need since I’m typically just cooking for my husband and myself.

Pork carnitas will be good for up to 3 months in the freezer.

How Long Will Pork Carnitas Last in the Fridge?

If you plan to have pork carnitas the next day or two, put the leftover pork carnitas in an airtight container. It should last for about 4 days.

Can You Cook Pork Carnitas in an Instant Pot or Other Pressure Cooker?

Yes, this is great in an Instant Pot. Use the same ingredients and cook on high pressure for 35 minutes.

Instant Pot on a countertop

Then either let the pressure release naturally or manually release the pressure. It doesn’t matter which release method you choose.

Remove the pork and put it in a bowl with some of the broth. Then shred it the same way you would when it’s cooked in a Crock Pot.

Can You Use a Dutch Oven?

You can use a Dutch oven to cook pork carnitas. Put all of the ingredients into your Dutch oven, cover it, and cook in a preheated 300˚ F oven for 3 to 4 hours or until the meat is fall-apart tender.

Can You Use Chicken Instead of Pork?

Chicken carnitas are delicious! Simply swap out the pork and use the same amount of boneless skinless chicken instead. I’ve tried both chicken breasts and chicken thighs. The thighs come out much more flavorful because they contain more fat.

pork carnitas on 3 different tortillas, each with different fillings and toppings

See this recipe shared at Weekend Potluck and Full Plate Thursday.

More Mexican or Tex Mex Recipes

My husband and I enjoy a variety of food, so I cook quite a few Mexican and Tex Mex dishes. Here are some of our favorites:

Chili con Carne – Loaded with meat, this chili con carne is so filling and comforting you’ll want to make it often.

Mexican Salad with Black Beans – Here’s a budget-friendly, nutritious, and delicious dish that the family will ask for again and again.

Tex Mex Ranch Potatoes – These delicious Tex Mex ranch potatoes are the perfect side dish for almost any meal you make.

Beef and Bean Enchilada Casserole – When the Mexican food craving hits, this will satisfy. It’s absolutely delicious!

Chicken Taco Soup – So easy to make yet delicious and packed with all kinds of goodness, you’ll want to add this to your homemade soup rotation!

Mexican Ground Beef Casserole – This recipe from Back to My Southern Roots is super easy and absolutely delicious!

Baja Sauce (Copycat Taco Bell Recipe) – Sometimes you just need the perfect sauce to take your tacos, or any other Tex Mex dish to the next level. And this is it!

pork carnitas on a corn tortilla with salsa, tomatoes, and cilantro

Easy Pork Carnitas

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes

Easy to make for a family dinner or get-together with friends, this pork carnitas recipe will quickly become one of your favorite dishes!

Ingredients

  • 3 pound pork roast
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • Juice from 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Spray the inside of the slow cooker pot with nonstick cooking spray to make cleanup easier.
  2. Place the pork roast in the center of the pot.
  3. Sprinkle the onion, garlic, chopped cilantro, chopped jalapeño, ground cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper over the pork roast.
  4. Squeeze the orange over the pork roast. Remove any seeds that fall into the pot.
  5. Pour the beef broth into the pot.
  6. Place the lid on the pot and cook on low for 8 hours.
  7. After the roast is done, it should be fork tender and super easy to shred. Using 2 forks or meat shredders, shred the meat and mix it with the juice.
  8. Now your pork carnitas is ready to enjoy in a tortilla, on a salad, or with a bowl of rice. 
Nutrition Information
Yield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 530Total Fat 37gSaturated Fat 13gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 20gCholesterol 153mgSodium 720mgCarbohydrates 8gFiber 1gSugar 6gProtein 40g

The nutrition information is a product of online calculators. I try to provide true and accurate information, but these numbers are estimates.

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