The whole family will love my Slow Cooker Carnitas recipe! Tender pork carnitas that are so juicy and full of flavor, and crispy with no frying! Make some delicious carnitas tacos, stuff them into burritos and layer them in salads or on nachos!
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 true 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 Pork 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, their carnitas recipe was 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 Sunday carnitas tacos! 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.
Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe
This pork carnitas 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. And guess what, now they ARE amazing!
I actually used to fry them in some oil in a hot skillet, but that just made them greasy. I love the broiling method so much more. However, if you prefer you can heat some oil in a large (preferably) cast iron skillet and fry the pork until crispy on the edges. Either way you get tender pork carnitas with lots of crispy bits.
How to Make Slow Cooker Carnitas
Begin by rinsing the pork roast, patting it dray and placing it in your slow cooker, then rub it with a whole bunch of spices.
Toss in some garlic, and pour in salsa, lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice and chicken stock.
Cover and set the slow cooker to low and cook the meat for 8-10 hours. Best way to get your family to join you for breakfast? Cook this all night long and serve it with some eggs and tortillas in the morning. So good!
When meat is finished cooking, remove the roast by chunks to a cutting board. Discard the bone (if there is one) 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 and serve directly from the slow cooker. This will keep the meat hot and juicy. (You could also shred the meat directly in the slow cooker if you prefer).
Crispy Carnitas with No Frying
Traditional Mexican restaurants will fry the meat to get it crispy. Instead of frying, all you need to do is broil the shredded pork on a sheet pan in your oven!
Using a slotted spoon to drain excess liquid, place the shredded meat on a foil covered baking sheet with a raised edge.
Slide the sheet pan under the broiler for 5-10 minutes, or until the top starts to brown and get delicious crispy bits.
Serve from the sheet pan (do not put the meat back into the slow cooker).
Slow Cooker Carnitas are delicious on their own served with traditional sides like Mexican Rice, Slow Cooker Beans or refried beans or wrapped in a tortilla with onions and cilantro, or even on nachos. The nachos are my personal favorite! You can stuff the meat into a tortilla and make tacos or burritos, tostadas or even enchiladas. This recipe makes a lot, so you’ll definitely have enough for two meals. Just be sure to serve some lime wedges on the side!
Best Meat to Use
Carnitas are the Mexican version of pulled pork. They are traditionally made with a pork roast that has a higher fat content, like pork shoulder (also known as pork butt). Fat equals flavor! However if you are looking for a lower fat option, you can use a pork tenderloin. The meat will not be quite as tender but still tasty.
Love this Pork Carnitas Recipe? Here are some more delicious Mexican recipes to try:
5-6poundPork Shoulderbone-in preferred - if boneless, 3-4 pounds is good
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 around 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. Using a slotted spoon to drain excess liquid, place the shredded meat on a foil covered baking sheet with a raised edge. Slide the sheet pan 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. Also great in salads and on top of nachos.
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Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.