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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.
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.
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!
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!
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: