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Easy Pork Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)

Easy Pork Carnitas are sure to win you over. They are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside! With the power of the slow cooker, you will make restaurant-quality carnitas with little mess or fuss.

Pork Carnitas tacos with herbs and limes

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Hi there! My name is Natalya and I run the blog Momsdish. If you already follow me, you know I can’t get enough of easy slow cooker meals that require simple ingredients and minimal clean-up. I’m SO looking forward to sharing this recipe with you! For years, I toiled with creating the perfect carnitas. They either came out too dry or too greasy. But, these are JUST right.

What is Carnitas?

Carnitas, or “little meats” in Spanish, is a dish of braised or simmered pork that has been cooked in juice until ridiculously tender. If they already aren’t one of your favorite dishes to order at your local taqueria, get prepared to fall in love. This pork packs some serious flavor and is the perfect candidate for weekend meal prepping. From tacos to burritos to salads, carnitas go great on just about anything.

Pork Carnitas on a baking sheet with herbs

How to Make Pork Carnitas

Let the slow cooker do ALL the work for you. Cooking your pork low and slow ensures that it will be nice and tender when it is time to chow down. There’s nothing worse than spending a bunch of time prepping carnitas for them to simply turn out bland and dry. Follow this easy step-by-step process and don’t let that happen to you:

  1. Pat your pork dry and season pork roast liberally.
  2. Add your veggies, broth, and citrus to the slow cooker.
  3. Add the roast and slow cook on high heat for 5 hours.
  4. Shred pork with a fork, transfer to a baking sheet and pour juices on top.
  5. Broil the shredded pork for 5 minutes, until the edges are delicious and crispy.

Step by step of Pork Carnita in the making

What Can I Make with Pork Carnitas?

  • Street tacos: Grab your favorite corn tortilla, some onions, cowboy caviar, cilantro, and lime wedges. Pack each tortilla with a hefty chunk of pork. This is the perfect party food!
  • Nachos: Oh yes, everyone’s favorite snack food is made that much more delicious with some homemade carnitas. Top your chips off with a scoop of carnitas, cheese, guacamole and pico de gallo.
  • Burrito: I mean, who doesn’t love a good burrito? Stuff a large, flour tortilla with all the usual suspects and dip it into jalapeno ranch.
  • Salad: Add carnitas for our favorite Mexican Salad! This makes for a great weekday lunch.

A tray of nachos with vibrant veggies on top

Is this the Same as Barbacoa?

Carnitas are often confused for another dish called “barbacoa”. While the concept is similar, barbacoa is typically beef that has been slow-cooked in dried chiles and spices until tender. Also, barbacoa is much spicier!

How to Store Pork Carnitas

We love that this Mexican pulled pork can be made ahead. Carnitas can be covered and refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 3 months. To freeze, pack carnitas in a freezer-safe bag with some of the juices from the slow cooker. To prevent freezer burn, remove as much air as you can when sealing.

Mexican pulled pork tacos garnished with tomatoes and cilantro

More Pork Recipes

Easy Pork Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)

4.88 from 25 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours 20 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours 40 minutes
Pork Carnitas in tortillas to make carnita tacos

Easy pork carnitas are sure to win you over. They come out just right - and that means crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside!

Author: Natalya Drozhzhin
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $15 to $20
Keyword: carnitas, pork carnitas
Cuisine: Mexican
Course: Main Course
Calories: 324
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 lb boneless pork roast
  • 3 Tbsp fine sea salt, (or 2 1/2 tsp table salt)
  • 1 Tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 4 Tbsp lime juice, (from 2 limes)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice, (from 2 oranges)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves

Instructions

  1. Pat the pork dry with a paper towel. Combine salt, pepper and dried oregano and rub pork with the seasoning.

  2. In the slow cooker, add chopped onion, garlic cloves, broth, lime juice, orange juice, and bay leaves.

  3. Add the pork to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 5 hours or on low for 7-8 hours.

  4. Remove the pork from the slow cooker. Shredded the pork with two forks. Keep the juice.

  5. To get crispy edges, transfer the shredded pork to a baking sheet. Pour ½ cup of the juices on top of the meat and broil it for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown.

Nutrition Facts
Easy Pork Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 324 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 143mg48%
Sodium 2738mg119%
Potassium 951mg27%
Carbohydrates 5g2%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 52g104%
Vitamin A 31IU1%
Vitamin C 12mg15%
Calcium 27mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen

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Natalya Drozhzhin

Natalya is a food blogger who founded Momsdish.com to make cooking easier. Growing up on a farm in Ukraine, Natalya was inspired by the amazing dishes that were prepared using simple ingredients. Natalya is most notably known for making cooking approachable for any person.

Read more posts by Natalya

Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

  • Morgan Waterman
    October 17, 2021

    Love these carnitas! I use kosher salt and I think the 3 Tablespoons is spot on, with 4 pounds of meat and the natural amount of fat in the meat, you need that much salt (plus some gets left behind in the liquid) I serve it with homemade salsa verde, raw onion, and cilantro. Every time I make this for others they ask for the recipe!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      October 17, 2021

      Great to hear that this always gets good reviews from others too! Thank you for your good comments and feedback, Morgan.

      Reply

  • Ken B
    September 26, 2021

    If we to replace the pork with a vegetable; to make it for a vegetarian what vegetable would you use for this? We are going to make the Pork Carnitas but we also need to make a small portion of this (without meat) for a guest who is a vegetarian. So, if there is a vegetable that you would recommend to use or a meat alternative please let us know.

    Thank You 🙂

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 27, 2021

      Hi Ken, I haven’t tried a vegetarian substitution myself to advise on the outcome. If you happen to experiment, I’d love to know how it goes!

      Reply

  • Courtney
    May 7, 2021

    These were a hit at my husbands birthday. The only negative is you could not eat the meat on its own because it was so salty! When added with all the taco fixings it was good. My husband usually likes things much saltier than I do and even he said it was a bit much for him. I triple checked that the recipe actually called for 3 TABLESPOONS. I would definitely cut this to 1.5 next time.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      May 7, 2021

      Hi Courtney, we use fine sea salt, but if using table salt, I would definitely recommend using 2 1/2 tsp. I added that note in the recipe card to clarify.

      Reply

  • John
    April 19, 2021

    Do you have to use juice straight from lime or orange? Would bottled juice be ok?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 19, 2021

      Hi John, I haven’t tried bottled juice to advise on the outcome; it truly works best with fresh squeezed!

      Reply

  • Michele
    April 18, 2021

    OMG! These were amazing! Even my picky 12 year old liked them too! We added pico, guacamole, coijta, and the jalapeño ranch. Sooooo good! We will be making these again soon. ❤️

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      April 18, 2021

      Fantastic! So great to hear that the recipe was a hit. I hope you and your family will love every recipe that you will try for them.

      Reply

  • Randy Winkler
    April 15, 2021

    I have made this two times. The first time it was okay, nothing to write home about. I had made a mistake the first time by forgetting to place under the broiler for a few minutes. So it tasted just okay. The second time I did the broiler and WOW what a difference. It was so good and tasty. I also changed the recipe by using a can of beer in place of the chicken stock because beer makes me a jolly good fellow. You have to be old to know that song. Anyway going to make it again. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      April 16, 2021

      Hi Randy, nice to know that you enjoyed this recipe! Thank you so much for sharing your experience making this recipe, that was helpful!

      Reply

  • Bonnie
    March 27, 2021

    Could I cook in a roasting pan in oven on low heat? If so, what temp do you suggest? I need to make for 30 people. TiA!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      March 30, 2021

      Hi Bonnie, I haven’t tested this recipe in the oven so I can’t speak to that. If anyone else has advice on that, please let us know.

      Reply

  • Amy
    February 5, 2021

    This was such a great recipe! I loved the carnitas!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      February 5, 2021

      I’m so happy to hear that! Thank you for sharing your great review, Amy!

      Reply

  • Kristine
    January 23, 2021

    OMG the title of this from Pinterest did not lie. This was hands down THE BEST tasting and juiciest carnitas ever!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      January 23, 2021

      That’s so great! It sounds like you have a new favorite!

      Reply

  • Kristine
    January 23, 2021

    OMG the title of this from Pinterest did not lie. This was seriously THE BEST tasting carnitas I’ve ever had. 😍😍😍 hands down, most tastiest and moist carnitas!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      January 23, 2021

      Thank you for the wonderful review!

      Reply

  • Barbara MacPherson
    January 1, 2021

    After reading other reviews, I cut back on salt to 1 T. Then I followed the directions as written. It was fabulous! I made Carnitas Burritos, with shredded cheese, pico de Gallo, sour cream and shredded lettuce!
    Best carnitas I’ve ever had!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      January 2, 2021

      That’s so great! It sounds like you have a new favorite, Barbara!

      Reply

  • Katie Rae
    December 29, 2020

    What temp do you usually cook this meat at? Our slow cooker is always fast!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      December 30, 2020

      Hi Katie, we used the slow cooker function on our instant pot for this. The low setting is about 170 degrees, and high is 210 degrees.

      Reply

  • Giana
    December 21, 2020

    What did I do wrong?? It’s sooo salty! 😩

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      December 22, 2020

      Hi Giana, I would double-check the ingredients and measurements you used based on the amount of meat. It sounds like something was not proportioned correctly.

      Reply

    • Brandon
      December 28, 2020

      You didn’t do anything wrong. That is way too much salt for this recipe. Even the nutrition facts show that’s enough salt to cause a problem.

      I used low sodium broth and cut the salt to 3 tsps. You can always add more later.

      Reply

    • Rick
      January 24, 2021

      Cut back on the added salt. Chicken broth has a lot of salt in it already, so you can skip the added salt all together, or cut it to about 1 teaspoon.

      Reply

  • Lorraine Ekberg
    November 27, 2020

    I’m a rebel, and I got tired of turkey and Ham on Thanksgiving. So I made Carnitas. Coming from California I know Good Carnitas. Now I live in a small town. I had friends ove for Thanksgiving all Mexican menu…

    Carnita tacos
    Spanish rice
    refried beans
    pico de gallo
    margaritas Virgin

    I have a feeling a lot of people are coming next year, because some of my guest are still talking about the best carnitas they ever had. i guess I’ll make some tamales.
    Thank you Natsha The recipe was a star!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      November 27, 2020

      That’s so great! That sounds like a very tasty and special Thanksgiving Dinner! THank you so much for sharing that with me!

      Reply

  • Heather
    November 17, 2020

    Best carnitas I ever had!! Accidentally bought a bone in pork, still worked though. Amazing, so good!!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      November 18, 2020

      Fantastic! Thank you for your excellent rating, Heather. I’m glad you enjoyed this recipe!

      Reply

  • katherine
    November 1, 2020

    could I use a pork tenderloin for this?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      November 2, 2020

      Hi Katherine, I have not tried this with pork tenderloin to advise. If you experiment I would like to know how you like this recipe.

      Reply

  • Sydney
    October 27, 2020

    Hi! Can this be made in the instant pot? What time would you suggest?

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      October 27, 2020

      Hi Sydney, typically for this amount of pork, you could make pork carnitas in an instant pot on high pressure for 30 minutes with a 15-minute natural pressure release.

      Reply

  • Nallely Gatica
    October 6, 2020

    Do i use all the seasoning? Seems like a lot but don’t want to not use it if need be.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      October 6, 2020

      Hi Nallely, we used everything listed in the recipe!

      Reply

  • Steve
    October 5, 2020

    I bought a massive pork shoulder/butt from Costco. So I split up the pork and made 2 different carnitas recipes. This recipe totally annihilated the other recipe!!! This recipe is sooo good, my whole family enjoyed it, including my 5 yr old and 1 yr old! I definitely want to make this for an upcoming celebration/party. Thanks for sharing! One note: I did have to cook mine slightly longer, maybe 8.5 hours in the slow cooker, but I also could have had closer to a 5 lb pork shoulder. Totally worth the wait!!!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      October 7, 2020

      Yay so great to read your comments and awesome feedback. Thank you so much for sharing, Steve!

      Reply

  • Ted peake
    September 29, 2020

    Excellent, I used coke instead of stock

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 29, 2020

      I’m so glad you enjoyed that! Thank you for sharing that substation idea with us!

      Reply

  • Annie
    September 14, 2020

    Can I cook on low? How long?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 14, 2020

      Hi Annie, I bet that could work. I imagine it will take significantly more time and without testing that I can’t say. I would recommend checking it with a temperature probe to be sure it is fully cooked.

      Reply

  • Samantha
    September 13, 2020

    Hi Natasha!
    Can you use Bone-In Pork Butt for this recipe? Any different cooking times?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 14, 2020

      Hi Samantha, I haven’t tested this bone in but I imagine you will need to increase cook time.

      Reply

  • Anisa
    September 6, 2020

    Love love love this recipe! I get a little intimated by cooking meats sometimes as I was vegetarian for a few years. But this has got to be one of my favorite meals I’ve made! The meat is juicy & flavorful, no additional seasoning required! We made street tacos out of this & topped it with green Chile salsa & cheese on a corn tortilla, so yummy! Oh & it’s easy! What more can you ask for in a weeknight dinner recipe?!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      September 7, 2020

      I love your comments! Thank you so much for sharing that with us, so glad you loved this recipe!

      Reply

  • Carrie Childers
    July 28, 2020

    Amazing! Cooked this tonight with a 2.75lb. Pork roast and still used the recipe ingredients as recommended. I let cook on high for 5 hours. So juicy and tender. Made corn tortillas and served with radishes, onion and cilantro and a bit of cheese. So good. I may try it next time with a bit of cumin it spice it up a bit but overall we enjoyed it and will definitely be making it again!!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      July 29, 2020

      That sounds so awesome! I am so glad you enjoyed this recipe, thank you for sharing your experience with us!

      Reply

  • judith matalavy
    July 20, 2020

    This sounds wonderful. For the carnitas do you use a pork loin roast?

    Thank you

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      July 20, 2020

      Hi Judith! I hope you love this recipe! We used a 4 lb boneless pork roast.

      Reply

  • Shannon
    July 19, 2020

    What if I don’t have orange juice or oranges? What can I use instead? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      July 19, 2020

      Hi Shannon, I have not tried any other substitute ingredient to advise.

      Reply

      • J Davis
        July 22, 2020

        The recipe calls for 5 garlic cloves. Are added whole? Step 2 in the instructions say add garlic cloves then at the end of the sentence it says to add garlic and bay leaves.

        Reply

        • Natasha
          July 22, 2020

          Hi, yes those are whole cloves and I apologize we had the word garlic doubled in those instructions.

          Reply

  • Paula Englert
    June 22, 2020

    I love all of Natasha’s recipes. She makes them all sound so easy and so good. I really like the nutritional info after each recipe, BUT while recipes give info on a serving, SERVING SIZE is not given. For those of us on special diets, we need the serving size so we can plan our daily meals and keep nutritional values within our necessary ranges. Can that be included in the nutrition info, please?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      June 22, 2020

      Hi Paula, thank you so much for that suggestion. As you can imagine it is a time-consuming process to add those to each post and we are working through our list. We include the serving sized on our printable recipe card.

      Reply

  • Andrew
    May 25, 2020

    Looks like that would be an awesome meal for a pressure cooker.
    Cooked half the time.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      May 25, 2020

      I hope you like it and please share with us how it goes.

      Reply

  • Sandy
    May 24, 2020

    Try using smoked pork for making this. It takes it all up to another level of deliciousness. As always, I love your blog and trying your recipes. Good work Natasha!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      May 24, 2020

      So great to hear that Sandy. Thank you so much for your suggestion and tip!

      Reply

  • Isa
    May 22, 2020

    It looks delicious. Is that pickled red onions you served them with? How do you make it?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      May 22, 2020

      HI Isa, if you marinate sliced red onion in a little vinegar, it will create pickled onion. I don’t have a recipe posted for that yet but that is the simplest way.

      Reply

  • Roger
    May 20, 2020

    Loved this recipe and flavor was good but next time I cook this I will cut the salt in half as it was too salty for me.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      May 20, 2020

      I’m so happy you enjoyed that. Thank you for sharing that with us!

      Reply

    • Claire
      December 11, 2020

      I agree, way to salty and this is coming from someone who will literally lick salt from the palm of their hand.

      Reply

  • Kathy
    May 5, 2020

    My husband loved it and I did, too!! <3

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      May 5, 2020

      Great to hear that, Kathy! I hope you both love every recipe that you try.

      Reply

  • Lia
    April 29, 2020

    I have a bone-in pork roast. Should I adjust cook time?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 29, 2020

      Hi Lia, you’re right – bone-in would require more cook time.

      Reply

  • Debbie Cook
    April 26, 2020

    Made these for all the neighbors, they were amazing!! Everyone loved them! Will make again, freezer left overs were just as good!!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      April 26, 2020

      That is so nice of you to share it with your neighbors. I’m glad everyone enjoyed this recipe!

      Reply

  • robert sumner
    April 23, 2020

    THE PICS FOR THE RECIPE SURE DON’T ADD UP?? WHATS THE GREEN STUFF?? WHERE DID THE RED ONIONS COME FROM??

    Reply

    • Natasha
      April 23, 2020

      Hi Robert, those are serving suggestions since pork carnitas are just the plain flavored pork without toppings or fixings.

      Reply

  • chefkreso
    April 22, 2020

    Thanks so much for the recipe, these look so delicious, perfect weekday lunch idea! Can’t wait to prepare these for my family!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 22, 2020

      I hope your family loves this recipe!

      Reply

  • Tony Arkin
    April 22, 2020

    Easier way. Cut a pork shoulder into four sections, place in a oven roasting bag – like the turkey bags but smaller – place in roasting pan and into a 300 degree over for four hours the meat will literally fall off the bone scoop the meat out with a slotted spoon and it’s ready. What happens as the meat cooks the fat is rendered out and the pork will actually deep fry itself in it’s own fat. One can put rubs on pieces before cooking and add a quartered onion to the bag. Comes out like carnitas which is really deep fried pork

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 22, 2020

      Thank you so much for sharing that with me.

      Reply

  • Barbara S.
    April 22, 2020

    This sounds delicious! Do you think it could be done in an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker, and how long would that take? Thanks in advance for your advice!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      April 22, 2020

      Hi Barbara, typically for this amount of pork, you could make pork carnitas in an instant pot on high pressure for 30 minutes with a 15-minute natural pressure release.

      Reply

  • Marina Tadzhibayev
    April 21, 2020

    Can I cook on the stove or in the oven of i don’t have a slow cooker? If so, for how long? Thanks

    Reply

    • Natasha
      April 21, 2020

      Hi Marina, you can also make baked carnitas in the oven covered in a dutch oven at 300˚F for about 3 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender and easy to shred with forks.

      Reply

  • Alisha
    April 21, 2020

    Great for Taco Tuesday

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 21, 2020

      The best! I hope you love this recipe!

      Reply

  • Chelsea
    April 21, 2020

    These are seriously sooo delicious and flavorful! And so simple! My family is so obsessed! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      April 21, 2020

      I’m so happy you love the carnitas recipe! Thank you for sharing that with me!

      Reply

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