Try these easy slow cooked carnitas for a juicy and flavorful addition to your tacos, burritos and rice bowls! This tender mexican pulled pork can be made in the oven or in a crockpot — just a few minutes of hands on prep and then relax while your carnitas cook to perfection!
Almost immediately after moving to the US I discovered that ordering at mexican restaurants requires a set of skills that I had not yet acquired. Having never lived in places where mexican cuisine was widespread, I was overwhelmed by the variety in styles of dishes, types of meats and different sauces on the menu. Now that a few years have passed, I finally know my tamales from my tortas and today I’m sharing with you one of my favorite pork dishes, which is also one of the first mexican recipes I tried cooking myself — carnitas!
While pork is often cooked in liquid when making carnitas, I prefer to use oil for several reasons. First, meat cooked in oil tends to heat up more evenly. Second, using oil to coat the pork makes it difficult for water to escape, which results in juicier carnitas! That being said, I don’t want to be using a ton of oil. To get around this, I pack the meat very tightly so that it takes a lot less oil to cover the pork. I’ve made this carnitas recipe both in the oven and in a slow cooker and it turns out equally delicious. Either way, I like to place the cooked meat under the broiler for a few minutes before serving to get a bit of a crispy crust on the carnitas.
The meat is so tender and flavorful that we sometimes find ourselves eating it straight from the pan! For the carnitas that make it past this initial taste testing, we like to serve them with corn tortillas, cilantro, onion and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. If you’re looking to dress up your carnitas tacos a bit more, you could also make a quick batch of pico de gallo or guacamole. And you definitely don’t have to limit your use of carnitas to tacos! This mexican shredded pork would be great in a burrito, with rice and beans or you could even try them in this empanada recipe in place of the shredded chicken.
- pork* 1 kg (2 lbs)
- chili powder 1 tbsp
- salt 2 tsp
- cumin 1 tsp
- oregano 1 tsp
- yellow onion 1 large
- garlic 4 cloves
- orange 2 large
- vegetable oil up to 250 ml (1 c)
- - tortillas
- - chopped white onion
- - cilantro
- - lime wedges
- This recipe can be made using an oven or slow cooker. If cooking in the oven, preheat to 300F (150C).
- Cut the pork into 2 inch (5 cm) chunks. Coat with chili powder, salt, cumin and oregano. Place in a roasting pan (or in a slow cooker if using).
- Chop the onion into 8 pieces and add to the pan along with the garlic.
- Juice the oranges into the pan, then adding the peel as well.
- Arrange the pan so that all ingredients fit tightly in a single layer.
- Add just enough oil to cover everything. You may need up to one cup (240 ml) of oil.
- If using an oven, cover with foil and cook for 3.5 hours. If using a slow cooker, cook covered on high for 3.5 hours.
- When the meat is done, transfer it to a baking tray and shred. Arrange the meat evenly on the baking tray and pour a few spoonfuls of leftover liquid on top. Broil for approximately 5 minutes or until slightly crispy.
- Serve with warm tortillas, chopped white onion, cilantro and lime wedges.
- pork: choose a pork cut with high fat content, such as pork butt or pork shoulder