In this easy recipe for pork carnitas, the meat is cooked in the slow cooker until super tender, then broiled until wonderfully crispy.
Pork carnitas are basically mexican pulled pork. Instead of barbecue sauce, the cooked and shredded meat is flavored with a wonderful mix of spices, including oregano, cumin, and a touch of cinnamon.
It’s one of our favorite dinners as a family. As a cook, I love it because it is so easy to make, and the next day I get yummy leftovers. This is one of those dishes where leftovers taste even better the next day!
Ingredients needed for this recipe
You only need a few ingredients to make this recipe:
- Boneless pork shoulder
- Salt and pepper
- Spices: garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne
- Fresh orange juice
- Oil spray
How to make pork carnitas
Making pork carnitas is very easy. You simply place the pork shoulder in the slow cooker with some seasonings and allow the slow cooker to do all the work. Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
- Mix the spices and rub all over the pork.
- Place the pork in your slow cooker. Squeeze the fresh orange juice on top. Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours.
- Use two forks to shred the meat. Mix the shredded meat well with the cooking liquids.
- Spread the carnitas on a greased baking sheet. Spray with oil and broil until crisp.
- Drizzle the carnitas with the remaining cooking juices and serve.
What cut of pork is carnitas?
The best cut of pork for carnitas is the pork shoulder. It’s wonderfully fatty and flavorful. You could also use pork loin, but that’s a much leaner cut. So your carnitas will not be as flavorful and will not crisp up as well.
I also don’t recommend using pork tenderloin for carnitas. It’s too lean, so the carnitas could turn out quite dry. If you have pork tenderloin, it’s better to use it for roasted pork tenderloin or for bacon wrapped pork tenderloin.
Get those crispy bits using your broiler!
When the meat is fully cooked, it is so wonderfully tender, that it’s the easiest thing to shred it with two forks right inside your slow cooker.
The final step of making this recipe is just as important! The best thing about pork carnitas is the wonderful combination of soft, juicy pieces of shredded meat and crispy, caramelized pieces.
To achieve this, traditionally you would fry the cooked, shredded meat in several batches.
To make life easier, I simply spread the shredded meat on a pan, spray it with oil, and broil until about half of the meat is browned and crispy.
What toppings do you put on pork carnitas?
How to serve carnitas? We’re trying to keep things low carb and gluten free around here. So my best advice is to simply pile the tasty meat on a plate and serve, with a side salad.
Alternatively, you could layer the meat on a bed of lettuce, and top it with your favorite condiments. Tasty options include sour cream, guacamole, salsa and shredded cheese.
- 3 lb. boneless pork shoulder
- 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt (not fine salt)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 medium orange, juiced
- Avocado oil spray
- Use paper towels to dry the pork shoulder. If it comes tied in butcher twine, carefully remove it.
- In a small bowl, mix together the kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, cumin, cinnamon and cayenne. Rub the mixture all over the pork.
- Place the pork in your slow cooker. Squeeze the fresh orange juice on top. Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours, until the meat is fall-apart tender.
- Use two forks to shred the meat, right in the slow cooker pan. Be careful – the pan and cooking liquids will be very hot. Mix the shredded meat well with the cooking liquids.
- Preheat oven to broil. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray it with oil. Spread the carnitas on the baking sheet. Some of the cooking juices will remain in the slow cooker – keep them on warm. Spray the carnitas liberally with oil and broil until crispy, 3-4 minutes.
- Drizzle the carnitas with the remaining cooking juices. Serve immediately.