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).
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!
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.
- 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.
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.
What goes with pork carnitas?
To serve carnitas:
To go with carnitas:
- Tortilla chips
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!
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
- Slow Cooker
- baking sheet
- 4 lb pork shoulder skinless, boneless
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 jalapeno deseeded, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 oranges juiced
- 2 limes juiced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- Nutrition information for meat only!
Thursday 1st of September 2022
My husband walked in the door last night and I had already eaten because I literally couldn't wait to try these. PHENOMENAL. Absolutely delicious. I don't cook with meat like this very often and if you're intimidated or unsure what to buy when you're at the store, looking over all the meat options - just ask the butcher! I told the butcher at Whole Foods what I need and bam, done. Mine did come on the bone but I was still able to cook it in the crockpot just fine, and enjoy that sweet moment when the meat falls right off! Amazing. Currently eating the meat, onions, and jalapeno's with some cilantro rice today as leftovers. Seriously so good, Jordo.
Friday 17th of June 2022
These are simple to make and oh.so.good! Some of the best carnitas I’ve had!
Saturday 27th of November 2021
One of my favorite slow cooker meals. Tiny amount of prep for great tacos.
Sunday 24th of October 2021
So so yummy and easy!!!
Friday 15th of October 2021
I would eat this every night if I could! So good and easy to make!!