Carnitas Recipe

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Carnitas AKA Mexican Slow Cooker Pulled Pork takes minutes to prep and is great in tacos, bean burritos, quesadillas, chimichangas and more!

We love to have this delicious pulled pork with some of our favorite sides, including homemade flour tortillas, Mexican rice and Mexican street corn.

Carnitas recipe in dish

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 delicious alone, in a simple flour tortilla, or served in tacos, burritos, over nachos, in a quesadilla… Really they’re great in almost anything. 

This is the kind of meat that we love to cook a ton of, then bag and freeze for several dinners through out the month. It really is so delicous

Best meat for carnitas

Best Meat for Carnitas

What cut of meat is best for carnitas?: You will want to choose a well marbled cut of pork. The more marbling there is the more tender and juicy the shredded pork will be. Pork butt and boneless pork ribs are both 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 it weight while cooking. 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 process pic

How to Make Carnitas?

Carnitas is easier to make than you think!!

RUB. Begin by making the rub in a small bowl and sitting aside.

SEASON + SLOW COOK. Dry pork butt and rub garlic salt and pepper all over it. Put rub ingredients on pork butt and place in slow cooker, with the fat side up.

SPICES + COOK. Add minced garlic, onion and jalapeno and 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.

Carnitas Instant Pot Instructions

Instant Pot: To make juicy fall apart shredded pork more quickly use an Instant Pot. 

  • Cut larger pork roasts into 2-4 sections depending on the size and place it in the pot.
  • Add the other ingredients.
  • Seal the lid and make sure the valve is set to “sealing”
  • Select “manual” and set for 60 minutes. (Double check your pots user manual for specific time)
  • 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. 

Homemade carnitas aka Mexican slow cooker pulled pork

Storing, Freezing + Side Options

How to store + freeze carnitas? Store leftover pork in an airtight container in the fridge for about 4 days. You can also store it in the freezer for 2-3 months. Thaw and warm it up in the crock pot or oven until hot. Be sure to include the drippings in the storage containers. The juice will help keep the meat moist and flavorful. 

To make it crispy broil 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.

What to Serve Carnitas with? So many side options go great with this recipe! Here are some of our favs:

Easy carnitas recipe close up image

So many great uses for Carnitas! We think you’ll love this juicy, flavorful pork that is great in so many recipes!!

For more Mexican dishes, check out:

Carnitas Recipe

5 from 6 votes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 9 hours
Servings 12
Calories 225 kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 lb pork butt boneless, skinless
  • 2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 4 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 jalapeno deseeded, chopped
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice

Rub Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. Combine rub ingredients in a small bowl and sit aside.

  2. Dry pork butt and rub garlic salt and pepper all over it. Put rub ingredients on pork butt and place in slow cooker, with the fat side up.

  3. Add minced garlic, onion and jalapeno and top with lime and orange juices.

  4. Cook on HIGH for 6 hours or LOW for 9-10 hours.

  5. Let cool for 20 minutes before shredding making sure to discard any big chunks of fat.

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Author

Kristyn Merkley

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative – from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    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.

  2. 5 stars
    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.