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Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

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Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas are an easy meal that the whole family will love. Cooked low and slow in the slow cooker with delicious spices, this Mexican pulled pork is both fall apart tender and crispy! An awesome flavor the whole family will love.

carnitas on flour taco shell with serving dish behind

Traditionally, carnitas are cooked simmered in lard, which helps to give it that bold flavor and juicy texture. And while amazingly awesome, most American families don’t have a copper pot full of lard and the time to stand over an open fire for a few hours. I mean, I wish I did, but I don’t. 

Luckily, this is where a slow cooker comes in and saves the day. This pork carnitas recipe is basically a “dump and go” dinner. Throw all the ingredients into the slow cooker, let it do its thing all day long, and then give it a brief stint under the broiler to get crispy edges and voila! Its time to eat!

white serving bowl with carnitas and two tortillas behind

Other great Latin American inspired family meals:

shredded pork roast on woden cutting board with to forks

How to make carnitas in the slow cooker

The best slow cooker carnitas are so easy to prepare! Make sure you scroll down to the recipe card below, but here is a brief overview of how to make this:

  1. Mix the spices together in a small bowl. Rub all over the pork.
  2. Place the pork in the slow cooker, fat side up. 
  3. Spread the minced garlic, green chilis, and onions over the top of the pork. Add the juice from the oranges and limes.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 7 hours. Its done when its tender enough to easily shred.
  5. Remove the meat from the crock and shred with two forks.
  6. Return the meat to the crock pot and let it simmer in its juices on low for 30 minutes. 
collage showing images to make caritas - ingredients, and adding ingredients to slow cooker

How to make carnitas crispy

After simmering the meat, using tongs, transfer the meat to a large rimmed sheet pan. You may need more than one, don’t crowd it. Place the sheet pan under the broiler for 1-3 minutes. Watch it closely! You want some of the meat to brown up and become crispy, but not all of it. Do NOT skip this step! It makes the caritas SO good! 

Serve!

pulled pork on baking tray

OPTIONAL: You can skip broiling the pulled pork and instead fry the pork in small batches in a hot skillet with a little oil and some of the extra juices. This is so good, but tends to take extra time, so I usually broil it.

carnitas on flour tortillas

What cut of pork do I use? For the best juicy pulled pork with loads of flavor, you want to use a pork shoulder (also called a pork butt). It doesn’t matter if it is bone in or bone out.

How can I prepare this ahead of time? You can turn this into a freezer meal by preparing the pork butt and placing it in a freezer bag. Rub the pork butt with the spice mixture. Add it to a freezer bag with the garlic, chilies, onions, and juice. Seal well and freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw completely before using. 

How do I store leftovers? Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also place it in a freezer safe container and freeze it for up to 6 months.

How do I reheat leftovers? You can reheat leftovers in the oven, covered with foil, at 350 F until warm. You can also place it in a skillet over medium heat.

side image of pulled pork in white serving bowl with jalapeño slices on top

How to serve pork carnitas to your family

Make a meal of this! Serve these slow cooker pork carnitas with corn tortillas, sour cream, and other taco toppings you like. Serve alongside seasoned black beans, easy pineapple salsa, and Mexican green rice for a tasty, colorful, and easy meal the whole family will love.

These carnitas are also great to use in enchiladas, Mexican stuffed sweet potatoes, in quesadillas, or Mexican casseroles.

slow cooker pulled pork carnitas on baking dish with tons

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Yield: 8 servings

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Recipe

side image of pulled pork in white serving bowl with jalapeño slices on top

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas are an easy meal that the whole family will love. Cooked low and slow in the slow cooker with delicious spices, this Mexican pulled pork is both fall apart tender and crispy! An awesome flavor the whole family will love.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 hours
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 10 hours 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds pork shoulder (pork butt)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-4 ounce can diced green chilis (or jalapenos for heat)
  • 2 medium white onions, sliced
  • Juice from 2 oranges
  • Juice from 2 limes

Instructions

    1. Mix cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper, together in a small bowl.
    2. Rub over all sides of the pork.
    3. Place the pork in the slow cooker, fat side up.
    4. Spread the minced garlic, green chilis, and onions over the top of the pork. Add the juice from the oranges and limes.
    5. Cover and cook on low 10 hours or high 7 hours.
    6. Remove the meat from the crock and shred with two forks.
    7. Return the meat to the crock pot and let it simmer on low for 30 minutes. (If there seems to be a lot of juices, you can remove some of it first)
    8. After simmering the meat, using tongs, transfer the meat to a large rimmed sheet pan. You may need more than one, don’t crowd it.
    9. Place it under the broiler for 1-3 minutes. Watch it closely! You want some of the meat to brown up and become crispy, but not all of it.
    10. Serve

Notes

This needs a longer cooking time than your usual crockpot meal for maximum flavor and tenderness.
If there is an abundance of liquid in the crockpot after cooking, it’s okay to remove some, but you still want plenty of juices for it to simmer in.
Anywhere from 3-5 pounds of meat works great without changing anything else.
You can use boneless or bone in pork shoulder

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 904Total Fat: 61gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 33gCholesterol: 255mgSodium: 761mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 2gSugar: 12gProtein: 67g

Nutrition information is an estimate and is provided for informational purposes only. For the most accurate information, please calculate using your specific brands and exact measurements.

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