Carnitas pulled pork takes minutes to prep and is great in tacos, bean burritos, quesadillas, chimichangas, and more!
We love to have delicious pulled pork carnitas with some of our favorite sides, including corn tortillas or homemade Flour Tortillas, Mexican Rice, or Mexican Street Corn.
What is Carnitas?
Carnitas is pork cut into smaller sections and then slow-cooked. In fact, carnitas translates to “little meat”. It’s seasoned with citrus and other delicious spices.
The meat becomes permeated with flavor and is fall apart tender, making it beyond delicious.
Carnitas are a Mexican version of pulled pork. It is flavored with delicious spices, but isn’t spicy – perfect for Cinco de Mayo or any fiesta!
This pork carnitas recipe is delicious alone, in a simple Flour Tortilla, served in Tacos, Burritos, over Nachos, or in a Quesadilla.
Best Meat for Carnitas
Best cut of meat. Choose a well-marbled cut of pork. The more marbling, the more tender and juicy the shredded pork will be. Pork roast, pork shoulder, pork tenderloin, pork butt, and boneless pork ribs are all great choices.
How much to make. Plan to buy ⅓ to ½ pound of pork per person. That may seem like a lot, but remember that the pork will lose some of its weight while cooking. If using bone-in pork, purchase a larger amount to compensate for the weight of the bone.
Keep the pork warm in the crock pot or chafing dish while serving. This pork also freezes well so go ahead and stock up.
How to Make Carnitas
Slow cooker carnitas is easier to make than you think!!
SEASON. Begin by making the rub in a small bowl and set it aside.
Dry pork butt and rub garlic salt and pepper all over it. Put rub ingredients on pork butt and place in a slow cooker, with the fat side up.
Add minced garlic, onion, and jalapeno. Top with lime and orange juices.
COOK. Cook on HIGH for 6 hours or LOW for 9-10 hours. Let cool for 20 minutes before shredding making sure to discard any big chunks of fat.
Make it crispy using the broiler in the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Spread the pulled pork evenly over the baking sheet and broil on the top rack until golden brown and crisp.
Carnitas Instant Pot Instructions
To quickly make juicy, fall-apart shredded pork use an Instant Pot.
- Cut larger pork roasts into 2-4 sections (depending on the size) and place them in the pot.
- Add the other ingredients.
- Seal the lid and make sure the valve is set to “sealing”.
- Select “manual” and set it for 60 minutes. (Double check your pots user manual for specific timing)
- Once done, allow the pressure to release naturally, this will take about 10 minutes. Remove the valve and allow the pressure to finish releasing.
- Remove the lid and take out the pork. It should already be falling apart. Finish shredding the pork and serve.
STORE leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 4 days.
FREEZE in an airtight container in the freezer for 2-3 months.
Reheat. Thaw and warm it up in the crock pot or oven until hot. Be sure to include the drippings in the storage containers. The liquid will help keep the meat moist and flavorful.
What to serve with Carnitas
Carnitas make tasty tacos topped with salsa, cheese, sour cream, avocado, tomato, or any of your favorites.
There are so many side options that go great with this recipe! Here are some of our favorites:
- Refried Beans or Black Beans
- Mexican Street Corn
- Homemade Flour Tortillas
- Pico de Gallo
- Homemade Spanish Rice
- Cilantro Lime Rice
Since you want the meat to fall apart and be as tender as possible, you want a cut of pork that’s on the fattier side. Pork tenderloin and pork loin are too lean to achieve that.
The acidity of orange juice helps to break down the meat so it’s super tender and easy to shred. It also adds a lot of flavor to the cooking liquid.
For more Mexican dishes, check out:
- 4 lb pork butt boneless, skinless
- 2 tsp garlic salt (with parsley flakes)
- 1 tsp pepper
- 4 tsp minced garlic
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 jalapeno deseeded, chopped
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Combine rub ingredients in a small bowl and sit aside.
- Dry pork butt and rub garlic salt and pepper all over it. Put rub ingredients on pork butt and place in a slow cooker, with the fat side up.
- Add minced garlic, onion, and jalapeno. Top with lime and orange juices.
- Cook on HIGH for 6 hours or LOW for 9-10 hours.
- Let cool for 20 minutes before shredding making sure to discard any big chunks of fat.
Love carnitas for street tacos! It is such an easy recipe that would be great for so many other recipes!
LOVE THIS SIMPLE RECIPE BECAUSE IT TASTES LIKE I WORKED ON THE FLAVOR ALL DAY. LOVING MY NEW INSTANT POT AND FINDING ALL THE BEST RECIPES FOR IT. THIS IS A NEW FAVORITE.
Carnitas are the best! My family love your recipe very easy to make!
I tried making this the other day and we loved it! It was easy to make. Served it with flour tortillas and even the kids loved it.
I love the flavor of this show cooked pork. It’s a nice change from my other recipes.
I love this versatile meat recipe! Can be uesd for different recipes and is deliCious!
Can I ask where that adorable casserole dish is from? I love it!
I wish I could remember! Probably Home Goods or TJMaxx. Thank you!
One of my favorite recipes!