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Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

These crispy, tender, and juicy pork carnitas are delicious! What's even better is how easy this slow cooker pork carnitas recipe is to make (hint: very easy).

This is a picture of pulled pork on a sheet pan. There is plate with 3 small street tacos, each with pulled pork, jalapenos, limes, and cilantro. A hand is holding up one of the tacos.

What are pork carnitas?

For comparison, carnitas are a close equivalent to pulled pork in American barbecue. Carnitas and pulled pork are both typically made using pork shoulder, but pork carnitas are usually browned and crisped while pulled pork is typically covered in BBQ sauce. My favorite way to make pork carnitas is in the slow cooker.

Slow cooker pork carnitas

While there are several methods to make pork carnitas, my favorite is the slow cooker! Using a slow cooker allows for extra time for the pork to become well-seasoned, tender, and juicy. The trick is to finish the carnitas in the oven so the meat browns and gets crispy! This recipe requires minimal attention as you add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker and let it work its magic. A few hours later you will crisp, shred, and enjoy some amazing pork carnitas!

This is a picture of pulled pork on a sheet pan. There is plate with 3 small street tacos, each with pulled pork, jalapenos, limes, and cilantro.

What ingredients do I need?

For this recipe, you'll need ingredients to place in the slow cooker with the pork, as well as ingredients to make the rub for the pork.

The pork

  • Pork shoulder - I use a boneless, skinless pork shoulder for this recipe. However, you can also use a pork butt.
  • Onion - Chopped onion adds awesome flavor to the dish.
  • Jalapeno - If you want some extra heat in the carnitas, leave the seeds in the jalapeno.
  • Garlic  - You can always add extra garlic.
  • Oranges - If you don't have fresh oranges, you can use orange juice.
  • Limes  - If you don't have lime juice, you can also use lime juice.

The rub

These are the basic ingredients I like to use for the rub. Feel free to adjust quantities or add ingredients based on what kind of flavor you like.

  • Cumin - To add heat.
  • Brown sugar - For some sweetness.
  • Cayenne - For extra heat.
  • Olive oil - To help with the rub.
  • Salt - I like to include salt in the rub and extra after it's done cooking!
  • Black pepper - For extra flavor.

How do I make pork carnitas?

The method for making pork carnitas in this recipe is a slow cooker. It's SO easy to make pork carnitas in the slow cooker. After letting the meat cook all day, you'll finish the pork in the oven so it gets brown and crispy.

This is a picture of pulled pork on a sheet pan. There is plate with 3 small street tacos, each with pulled pork, jalapenos, limes, and cilantro.

What goes with pork carnitas?

To serve carnitas:

  • Tortillas
  • Limes
  • Cilantro
  • Onion
  • Jalapeno

To go with carnitas:

  • Rice
  • Tortilla chips
  • Beans
This is a picture of pulled pork on a sheet pan. There is tin foil with crispy pork topped with cilantro and limes.

Are carnitas healthy?

These pork carnitas are packed with nutrients! One serving of pork carnitas is 339 calories and offers 37 grams of protein!

Looking for more easy dinner recipes?

Try one of these popular easy dinner recipes:

Can I have the recipe?

If you try this recipe and love it, please rate it and me know your thoughts! I hope you enjoy these healthy chicken enchiladas!

This is a picture of pulled pork on a sheet pan. There is plate with 3 small street tacos, each with pulled pork, jalapenos, limes, and cilantro. A hand is holding up one of the tacos.
Print Recipe
5 from 6 votes

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

These crispy, tender, and juicy pork carnitas are delicious! What's even better is how easy this recipe is to make.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time8 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: pork, pork carnitas, slow cooker
Servings: 6
Calories: 339kcal
Author: Jordan Smith

Equipment

  • Slow Cooker
  • oven
  • baking sheet

Ingredients

THE PORK

  • 4 lb pork shoulder skinless, boneless
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 jalapeno deseeded, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 oranges juiced
  • 2 limes juiced

THE RUB

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Instructions

TO COOK:

  • Rinse and dry the pork shoulder. To do this, take the pork out of the packaging and use paper towels to soak up all the excess liquid.
  • Combine the rub ingredients into a small bowl. Use your hands to add the rub all over the pork.
  • Place the pork in the slow cooker (fat cap up). Top the pork with the onion, jalapeño, garlic, and juice of the oranges and limes.
  • Slow cook the pork on low for about 7-8 hours or until done. The pork should be tender enough to shred.
  • Remove the pork from the slow cooker and let it cool so you can shred using two forks.
  • Keep the liquid so it can be used to season the pork! You can use a slotted spoon to remove the fat from the liquid (optional).

TO CRISP:

  • Once the pork is shredded, spread it out on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
  • Use some of the juices you set aside in the slow cooker and pour about 1 cup of the liquid over the pork.
  • Broil in the oven for about 5-10 minutes on high heat until the meat becomes crispy on the edges and looked golden brown.

TO SERVE:

  • Serve on tortillas with extra jalapeños, limes, onions, or whatever you like best!
TO STORE:
  • Add the extra juices to the meat when storing for extra flavor. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Notes

  • Nutrition information for meat only!

Nutrition

Calories: 339kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 124mg | Sodium: 919mg | Potassium: 798mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 297IU | Vitamin C: 36mg | Calcium: 69mg | Iron: 3mg
Recipe Rating




Katie

Friday 15th of October 2021

I would eat this every night if I could! So good and easy to make!!

Jennifer

Monday 12th of July 2021

Can you convert this to a pressure cooker?

Diana Duncan

Thursday 17th of June 2021

How much is a serving?

Jordan Smith

Thursday 24th of June 2021

This recipe makes 6 servings. You can either weigh the total amount of meat and divide by 6 OR eyeball/estimate into 6 servings. Hope this helps!

Jordan

Thursday 6th of May 2021

Super simple and delicious!! Made this for Cinco de Mayo and I kept getting compliments on it all night. Highly recommend giving it a try if you haven’t already.

Love that it’s something I can enjoy while tracking macros when my friends don’t. Thanks for taking the time on putting the macros together, Jordo!!

Shayna Pena

Wednesday 21st of April 2021

Absolutely delicious!! Another easy and tasty recipe!