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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.

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.

Note: 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!

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

A Few More Pork Recipes

  • Roasted Pork Tenderloin: One of the tastiest and versatile budget pork cuts out there. This tenderloin gets so tender and is super easy to make.
  • Pulled Pork Recipe: Stuff this pulled pork between a buttery bun and pair with some coleslaw or a fat plate of fries. YUM!
  • Instant Pot Ribs: The Instant Pot makes just about everything super tender in a fraction of the time. Ribs are no exception. If you are a fanatic, this will surely become a member of your weeknight rotation.
  • Air Fryer Pork Chops: I LOVE pork chops. They are so cheap and tasty. When made in the air fryer, they get that nice crispy crust with half the fat.
  • Cuban Pork Sandwich: This sandwich puts the meat front and center. It’s the perfect balance of vinegar and juiciness.

Mexican pulled pork tacos garnished with tomatoes and cilantro

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.

Easy Pork Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)

4.89 from 9 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 kcal
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 lb boneless pork roast
  • 3 Tbsp 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

  • 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

  • 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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