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What is Carnitas?
Carnitas is one of the most traditional Mexican food recipes. It is made of tender pork meat that has been slow cooked for hours. Then fried to become crispy.
It is usually served with tortillas to make Carnitas Tacos. Top with your favorite salsa, cilantro, and chopped onions. It’s mouthwatering good!
- Spanish: Carnitas de Puerco
- English: Pork Carnitas
Once on my family’s ranch in Durango, Mexico, a pig was killed. Carnitas were made in a large copper pot called “Cazo de Cobre.” (AFFILIATE)
No gas stoves or fancy ovens. Underneath the “cazo,” there was a flame fired by wood. Those were the BEST carnitas tacos ever!
How to Make Carnitas de Puerco
My favorite way to make carnitas is in the slow cooker. Slow Cooker Carnitas, or Crock Pot Carnitas, if you will.
I’m making an authentic carnitas recipe, but the recipe and pictures show the slow cooker version which saves tons of time and still incredibly tasty.
My next door neighbor has an orange tree, and it’s blooming. You should smell it!
Orange blossoms have this soft, sweet scent. Love it! I grabbed a few oranges, brushed off the ol’ crock pot, and decided to make Carnitas de Puerco.
There’s something about citrus that enhances the delicious Carnitas de Puerco flavor. Pork and oranges. What a great combination!
Oooh, and let’s not forget freshly squeezed orange juice…. Yummm!! Orange Chicken has nothin’ on this Orange Pork.
For an authentic carnitas recipe lard is used. I’m not using lard because I like to be heart healthy when I can.
If you want to elevate this dish, go for it! To each their own…
- Add orange juice, garlic, oregano, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and pork.
- Set the slow cooker on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours.
- Cover the cooked pork with aluminum foil.
- Let it cool slightly before chopping it up into pieces.
The meat will be tender, juicy, and falling off the bone.
Don’t worry about getting it cold. We are going to warm it back up in the oven.
For Oven Carnitas:
- Simply put the pork meat and all the ingredients in an oven 350 degree F for 2 hours.
- Shred the meat once it’s cooked, and place on a cookie sheet.
- Continue with the recipe on Step 5.
Note: If the meat looks dry, add 1/2 cup chicken broth.
This Oven Carnitas recipe is great, but you can’t go anywhere when the oven is on.
You also have to be careful that the meat does NOT burn.
Instant Pot Carnitas Recipe:
- Press the “Saute” button.
- Add 2 tablespoons oil. Season the pork with salt and pepper.
- Sear the meat. Do this in batches so as not to overcrowd the pot.
- Once you have a good sear on the pork, press Cancel.
- Pour the remaining ingredients over the pork, mix well, and close the lid.
- Set vent to “Sealing.”
- Press “High Pressure,” set timer to “30 minutes.”
- Once the cycle is complete, release the valve to “Venting” for full natural release. About 15 minutes.
- Once meat is done, continue with the recipe on Step 5.
This truly is the quickest and easiest way to make carnitas.
Stovetop Carnitas Recipe:
- In a large stockpot, heat 2 tablespoon oil.
- Season pork with salt and pepper.
- Sear the meat until brown.
- Add the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine.
- Cook on low heat for 90 minutes. Check the meat after 1 hour. Add chicken broth, if needed.
- Once meat is done, continue with the recipe on Step 5.
Again, be very careful that the meat does not burn. If it looks dry, add 1/2 cup chicken broth.
These are pork carnitas tacos are going to be porking good. LOL.
How Long Do Carnitas Last?
- In the fridge, for up to 5 days.
- In the freezer, placed in a sealable plastic bag, with all the air removed, up 5 months.
Do you see why I like entertaining with Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas?
Pork Carnitas is a true Mexican food classic, but this Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas recipe involves minimal work with the same delicious flavor. Perfect for your next fiesta or busy weeknights.
For Easy Entertaining: You can make the pork ahead of time. Then place under the broiler when your guest arrive.
Don’t Forget to Pin This for Later.
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However you decide to make it, serve with warm tortillas, refried beans, Mexican rice, and your favorite Mexican salsa.
Just put a fork in the pork and enjoy!
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
- 4 lb pork shoulder roast
- 3 garlic clove finely minced
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon whole oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 oranges juiced
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
- Place everything in the slow cooker.
- Set the slow cooker on high for 4 hours, or low on 8 hours.
- Note: You can substitute the water and bouillon for 1 cup chicken broth.
- When done, remove the meat from the slow cooker.
- Let cool slightly.
- Chop the meat into tiny pieces.
- Spread meat evenly on an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Put under the broiler for 3-4 minutes, or until meat is crispy.
- Be careful not to burn.
- Serve with lime wedges, chiles toreados, warm tortillas, and salsa.
For More Authentic Mexican Food Recipes
Cochinita Pibil tacos are made of juicy, tender, and delicious shredded pork. Typically topped with cebolla en escabeche (pickled red onions). This Authentic Mexican recipe will have you swooning for more.
Chuletas Adobadas are pork chops marinated in a savory sauce. Grilled to perfection and perfect for your next BBQ. Serve with rice, beans, and salsa.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
This looks like a great recipe! I have never tried this before but have to try at least ONE of them.Lol.
mine came out perfect after 7 hours on low! thank you Mama Maggie for another perfect slow cooker recipe
That’s great to hear. Glad you enjoyed this recipe.