These easy Slow Cooker Carnitas are so tender and juicy and full of flavor. Since they are cooked in the crockpot, they are perfect for busy families and they would be great for football parties, too!
Years ago, there was a little hole in the wall Mexican restaurant that was one of those places where you knew you could always get an authentic Mexican meal. Some girlfriends and I would often go on the weekends because that was when they had these amazing melt in your mouth Carnitas. They were served with the traditional rice and beans and tortillas, and we would always laugh because they were always garnished with a peach half, straight out of the can.
But oh, the carnitas were phenomenal. Well a few months ago that amazing family-run restaurant closed down. It was sad to see a small business closed, but it also meant no more carnitas! I haven’t made them in my own kitchen for years since they never came close to my favorite meal, but I figured now’s as good a time as any to try again.
This recipe is adapted from one I used to make that was good, but not amazing. It starts with pork shoulder on the bone (you can use boneless but I love the intense flavor the bone adds) and a lot of citrus and seasonings. They all go in the slow cooker and cook on low all day long. After 8-10 hours the meat is shredded, dunked in the juice and then broiled on a baking sheet to give you those crispy bits, a little trick I picked up from Pinch of Yum. And guess what, now they ARE amazing!
Crockpot Carnitas are delicious on their own served with traditional sides like rice and beans, wrapped in a tortilla with onions and cilantro, or even on nachos. The recipe makes a lot, so you’ll definitely have enough for two meals. The nachos are my personal favorite!
- 5-6 pound Pork Shoulder (bone-in preferred)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 4 cloves garlic
- ½ cup salsa
- 1 cup chicken stock
- ¾ cup orange juice
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Juice of 2 limes
- Rinse pork roast, pat dry and place in the slow cooker. Slice the garlic cloves in half and add to the slow cooker.
- Combine spices and rub all over all sides of the pork.
- Combine salsa, lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice and chicken stock. Pour over the pork.
- Set the slow cooker to low and cook meat for 8-10 hours.
- When meat is finished cooking, remove the roast to a cutting board. Discard the bone and shred the meat with two forks, removing large chunks of fat as you go. Skim the juices left in the slow cooker with a slotted spoon to remove any large chunks of fat or pieces of garlic. Place the shredded meat back in the slow cooker with the juices. (You could also shred the meat directly in the slow cooker if you prefer).
- ** Optional Step: Preheat the broiler on your oven. Place the shredded meat on a foil covered baking sheet with a raised edge. Place the meat under the broiler for 5-10 minutes, or until the top starts to brown and get delicious crispy bits.
- Serve hot with traditional sides, like rice and beans, or in tortillas with onion, cilantro and a lime wedge.
For more easy dinner ideas, try these: