Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe

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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!

Our favorite way to enjoy Homemade Carnitas is stuffed into Homemade Flour Tortillas and topped with our favorite Mexican condiments, like Homemade Salsa Pico de Gallo and Best Guacamole.

Shredded slow cooker pork on a plate

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.

A pork roast in the slow cooker to make pork carnitas

How to Make Slow Cooker Carnitas

  1. 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.
  2. Toss in some garlic, and pour in salsa, lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice and chicken stock.
  3. 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!
  4. 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).

A sheet pan with shredded pork broiled to get crispy

Serving Suggestions

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.

Carnitas shredded on a plate with limes and parsley garnish

Love this Pork Carnitas Recipe? Here are some more delicious Mexican recipes to try:

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A plate of Pork Carnitas

Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe

4.86 from 7 votes
These easy Slow Cooker Carnitas are so tender and juicy and full of flavor. Stuff them in tacos and burritos or layer them in salads or on nachos!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 8 hrs
Total Time 8 hrs 15 mins
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 8 servings
Calories 272kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 5-6 pound Pork Shoulder bone-in preferred - if boneless, 3-4 pounds is good
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 2 limes

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 272kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 35gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 116mgSodium: 1087mgPotassium: 655mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 191IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 33mgIron: 2mg

slow cooker carnitas pin

 

Kristin Maxwell

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.

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Comments

  1. This recipe is GLORIOUS! The smell throughout the house while cooking was heavenly, and the taste just amazing. Thankyou for sharing this recipe!

  2. Thank you for this easy recipe!! Homemade pico de Gallo is delicious with this (onions, jalapeños, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, salt, pepper and a dash of cumin)!!

      1. Hi! My grocery store only had an 8 pound pork butt – would this still only take 8-10 hours or longer? Should I double the amounts in the recipe!? Thanks!

        1. It should work fine and you could increase the seasoning amounts a little bit. The only thing I’d worry about is if it has a bone it releases a lot of liquid. Make sure you’re using a 6 quart slow cooker.

  3. This was amazing. I followed the recipe with the exception of the liquid. I did not have chicken stock so I used beer. Definitely will make this again.

  4. thank you! this was one so good. Had this at a restaurant. Sorry to say I wont be ordering it any more LOL. I will make it at home Thanks again. Keep the recipes coming.

  5. This has been by far my favorite recipe. This is so good and juicy. Thank you for sharing. My family loves this. We use it for multiple things pulled pork sandwiches the seasoning make is so much better. Tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, you name it and this meat works.

  6. Wow! I am a huge fan of carnitas on tacos but never tried to make on my own. This recipe was amazing!! The flavor of the pork was great and leftovers the next day even better. How does this hold up to freezing? This is going into my “make often” file!! Thank you for sharing.

  7. I’ve made these carnitas several times. They are definitely our favorite! We have a friend who is a missionary and every time he comes to visit this is what he asks for. Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  8. I cooked my meat a bit too far in advance — it’s done cooking but I’m not serving for 8 more hours. Should I warm it all that time? Or should I pull it out and refrigerate and then warm/broil it closed to serving?

  9. OMG! This was amazing. I think I peed a little it was so good. Now, if I could find a good Chile Verde recipe, I may never eat out again. Thank you, this has been a great little find!

    1. I have used Pace and Rojos brands. It’s really a personal choice – just use your favorite brand, or even homemade!