Slow cooker pork carnitas are fall apart tender, perfectly seasoned, and as easy as turning on the slow cooker.
What are Carnitas?
Carnitas translates to “little meats”. Pork is simmered in oil or broth until tender, then pulled.
Carnitas are then fried or baked until the edges crisp, giving them some extra texture and flavor.
Pork carnitas are usually served like tacos, in corn or flour tortillas. You can also find them in quesadillas, burritos, on tostadas, and over nachos!
What Type Of Pork To Use
Fattier cuts of meat almost always turn out better in the slow cooker. The fat breaks down when cooked low and slow, creating tender, fall apart meat.
Pork butt (pork shoulder) and pork loin roast are the most commonly used when making pork carnitas. Leaner cuts, like pork tenderloin, will dry out when slow cooked.
Our slow cooker is 6 quart, and fits an 8 pound pork shoulder roast. Double check the size of your CrockPot before selecting the pork shoulder.
How To Make Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
- Trim excess fat off of the pork shoulder.
- Place onion and garlic into slow cooker. Place pork tenderloin over them. Season with cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Pour in fresh squeezed orange and lime juice.
- Cover, and slow cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours. Pork should be fork tender and fall apart.
- Remove pork shoulder from slow cooker. Reserve about a cup of the liquid. Shred the pork shoulder using two forks or shredders.
- Place the shredded pork on a baking sheet in a single layer. Pour reserved cooking liquid over the pork (this is where all the flavor is).
- Broil the pork for 5-7 minutes or until edges are crisp and golden.
- Serve pork carnitas with tortillas, and favorite taco toppings.
What To Serve With Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
Slow cooker pork carnitas can be served over just about anything with success. They’re great in burritos, taquitos, tostadas, even added to salad.
Tacos are the classic serving for pork carnitas. Here are some of our favorite toppings:
- Pickled red onions – for an acidic crunch
- Radishes – fresh and delicious
- Shredded lettuce
- Pico de gallo
- Sour cream
- Hot sauce
- Diced white onions
- Green onions
Storing Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
Slow cooker pork carnitas will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. Once cooled, place in an air tight container.
To reheat slow cooker pork carnitas, place on a baking sheet in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Alternatively, pan fry them over medium heat. We like to pour a little broth or stock over the carnitas while reheating to keep them nice and juicy.
To freeze slow cooker pork carnitas, place them in a plastic freezer bag in the freezer for up to 6 months. To defrost frozen pork carnitas, place them in a pan over medium – low heat. Once they can be broken up, increase the heat to medium and saute until edges are slightly crisp.
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Tips and Substitutions
- Don’t forget to pour the juices over the carnitas before broiling. All the flavor is in there – juices, spices, and garlic/onion goodness.
- If preferred, pan fry the carnitas for 5 minutes over medium-high heat until golden rather than broiling them.
- To make serving easy, prep the toppings and sides before the carnitas get browned.
- While pulling the pork shoulder, working against the grain of the meat is the quickest method.
- Fresh orange and lime juice make all the difference in this recipe, so grab a couple limes and oranges while you’re at the grocery store.
More Slow Cooker Favorites
- Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken – so creamy
- Slow Cooker Mulled Wine – great for a crowd
- Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon – a family favorite
- CrockPot Hot Chocolate – kid approved
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
- 1 onion peeled and quartered
- 4 cloves garlic peeled
- 8 pounds pork shoulder roast
- ½ cup orange juice fresh, about 1 orange
- ¼ cup lime juice fresh, about 2 limes
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons pepper
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- corn tortillas
- red onions
- sour cream
- shredded cheese
- Place sliced onions and garlic into a slow cooker. Trim excess fat off of pork shoulder. Place pork shoulder over onions.
- Add fresh orange and lime juice to slow cooker. Sprinkle pork shoulder with cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Cover, and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 5-6 hours. Pork shoulder should be tender enough to shred. Reserve 1 cup of slow cooker juices.
- Place pork shoulder on working surface. Shred with forks or shredders.
- Place shredded pork in a single layer on a baking sheet. Pour reserved liquid over carnitas. Broil for 8-10 minutes or until edges are golden and crisp.
- Serve with favorite carnitas toppings.
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