Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Tacos. Tender and juicy with just the right amount of spice and perfectly caramelized bits. The best filling for tacos, burritos and more! 

These carnitas are slow cooked until the meat is tender and easily falls apart. Then cooked over high heat to get crisp caramelized bits. This recipe is so easy to make with the use of a slow cooker. Although it can be modified to be made on the stovetop as well. This recipe pairs perfectly with Mexican Rice, Homemade Refried Beans and some Guacamole.

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas tacos, made on corn tortillas and topped with cilantro and onions.

This is the ONE and ONLY pork carnitas recipe you need! 

This recipe is quick and easy to put together. The meat is slow cooked, flavorful and tender. PLUS we can still get the crisp caramelized bits at the end while keeping the meat juicy. 

This recipe is perfect for taco Tuesday, or any day of the week! You can make this for a large gathering, or store leftovers in the freezer, making meal prep easy. 

A pile of shredded pork carnitas.

What is carnitas? 

Carnitas is basically Mexican pulled pork. It’s traditionally made by braising, or simmering pork in lard until it’s tender. Then once the meat is tender, the heat is increased to crisp up the outside of the pork. It’s used in tacos, burritos, tamales, or on tostadas. Or of course, you can add it to a salad, or just eat it by itself also. 

How to Make:

  1. Make the rub. In a small bowl combine the cumin, chipotle powder, salt, oregano, and black pepper, stir to combine.
  2. Rub down the pork roast with the seasoning.
  3. Place the roast into the slow cooker. Add the quartered onion, minced garlic, sliced jalapenos, and orange juice.
  4. Cook over low heat for 6-8 hours (depends on size, more information is included in the recipe card).
  5. Remove the roast from the slow cooker and shred. Save the juices from cooking the meat. (I like to save the juices in a sealed plastic container, I use it when crisping the meat, and also save it for helping to reheat any leftovers).
  6. Heat olive oil in large cast iron skillet. Add the shredded meat in a single layer in the skillet. Spoon excess juices from cooking the meat, over the meat in the skillet. Cook on high heat until bits of the meat begin to crisp and caramelize. Then remove from the heat.

Up close view of pork carnitas on corn tortillas, topped with white onion and cilantro.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What cut of meat do I use? The best cut is going to be a well marbled Boston butt, or picnic roast cut of pork. You might also see a Pork Butt labeled as a Pork Shoulder in the markets. It’s the same thing. 
  • What do I serve this with? Carnitas is definitely versatile. It goes great as a meat in most typical Mexican, or Tex Mex dishes. It can be used in tacos, burritos, enchiladas, salads, tostadas..the list goes on and on.
  • What do you put on it? Whatever you would like pretty much! In the photos I show a classic mixture of white onion and cilantro. Some other options would be a pico de Gallo, homemade salsa, guacamole, avocado, lime, queso fresco, shredded jack cheese, diced tomato, jalapeños. The sky is the limit.
  • What size slow cooker do you use?  I use a 6 quart slow cooker. It’s programmable, and easy to use. Here is the link to the exact slow cooker I use on Amazon. (affiliate link)
Corn tortillas filled with slow cooker pork carnitas.
A pile of shredded pork carnitas.

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Tacos

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Tacos. Tender and juicy with just the right amount of spice and perfectly caramelized bits. The best filling for tacos, burritos and more!
5 from 2 votes

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds pork shoulder roast
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp chipotle powder
  • tsp salt
  • 2 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper 
  • ¾ onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 oranges, juiced
  • 1 jalapeno, membranes and seeds removed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Equipment

Instructions

  • In a small bowl combine the cumin, chipotle powder, salt, oregano, and black pepper, stir to combine.
  • Rub down the pork roast with the seasoning. Place the roast into the slow cooker.
  • Add the quartered onion, minced garlic, sliced jalapenos, and orange juice.
  • Cook over LOW heat for 6 hours.
  • Remove the roast from the slow cooker and shred. Save the juices from cooking the meat. (I like to save the juices in a sealed plastic container, I use it when crisping the meat, and also save it for helping to reheat any leftovers)
  • Heat olive oil in large cast iron skillet. Working in batches, add the shredded meat in a single layer in the skillet. Spoon excess juices, from cooking the meat in the slow cooker, over the meat in the skillet.
  • Cook on high heat until bits of the meat begin to crisp and caramelize. Then remove from the heat.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Video

Notes

  • How Many Pounds of Pork Do I Need?- The general rule is to use 1/3-1/2 pound of pork per person when shredding the pork.
  • Cook Times Per Size: 1-3 pounds follow the recipe as stated 6-8 hours on low. 3-6 pounds 10 hours on low or 6 hours on high. 6-8 pounds 12 hours on low.  Pork should be cooked to an internal temperature of 190-195. BUT it will shred and fall apart perfectly once it reaches 200.
  • There is no need to remove the fat from the pork before cooking, most of the fat will cook off, and if there is excess amounts of fat it can be removed later.
  • How to make this recipe on the stovetop: follow the recipe, except place all of the ingredients in a large dutch oven with the lid on, cook over medium heat for about 2-3 hours, checking to stir/move the meat around periodically. Once the meat is easily shredded, remove it to shred and then add it to a large cast iron skillet to crisp up.
  • How to store this meat: leftovers of this recipe hold up very well. My favorite way to keep them is to keep the meat in a sealed container in the fridge, and then I keep the liquid from cooking in another container. That way when I reheat the meat I can add more juice as needed to keep the meat juicy.
  • When storing the liquids there is no need to skim the fat out unless you want to. After chilling in the fridge it will separate and you can use it or discard it and just use the juice.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g, Calories: 261kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 28g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 93mg, Sodium: 710mg, Potassium: 609mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 527IU, Vitamin C: 28mg, Calcium: 52mg, Iron: 2mg
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