Crockpot Pork Carnitas – juicy, tender meat that will melt in your mouth. These pork are carnitas are incredibly simple to make and extremely versatile, perfect for tacos or burritos!
I absolutely LOVE making pork carnitas, which is essentially just another way to say Mexican pulled pork. There is so much flavor in this meat, the pork will blow your mind. I make pork carnitas often because of their versatility. They are perfect for tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and enchiladas – to name a few.
I’ve discovered that these are much easier to make in a slow cooker, it requires very little effort. The beauty of cooking in a slow cooker is that you can basically throw all of your ingredients in it, set it and forget it. The end result is incredibly juicy, tender pieces of pork with unbelievable flavor.
What Are Carnitas?
Carnitas are a dish originated in Mexico. Carnitas actually means “little meats“, the Mexican version of pulled pork.
Carnitas are made by either braising or simmering pork in oil or sometimes, lard – until tender and then shredding it into small pieces to be used as a filling for a variety of Mexican dishes. The only difference between carnitas and pulled pork is that carnitas are typically put under a broiler after cooking to give the meat a crispy finish.
Keep scrolling to the recipe card for a full list of ingredient amounts and instructions or click the “Jump to Recipe” button at the top of the page!
- Pork – I used a pork shoulder.
- Onion – Large, quartered.
- Herbs and Spices – I used a blend of garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and dried oregano.
- Salt and Pepper – To taste.
- Bay leaves – If you don’t have bay leaf, you can substitute 1/4 tsp. dried thyme or oregano for each leaf.
- Cinnamon – I used a full stick. If you don’t have cinnamon sticks you can use whatever cinnamon you have in your pantry.
- Orange Juice – You can use freshly squeezed or store bought.
- Beer – I like using a light beer or lager. Modelo is a nice Mexican beer that works well.
How to make pork carnitas in the crockpot
- Cut Pork – Cut the pork shoulder into large 2 inch chunks. Trim some of the fat if needed.
- Cook Pork – In your crockpot add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Add the pork to the crockpot and stir. There should be enough liquid to cover the pork. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 5 hours.
- Shred Pork – Take 2 forks and start shredding the meat into smaller pieces. Pour some of the leftover liquid over the meat or strain the liquid and use it to make a gravy.
- Serve – Serve on tacos, burritos, tamales, sandwiches, etc.
The right cut of meat
The trick to getting perfect pork carnitas is using the right cut of meat! And in my opinion, that is pork shoulder or pork butt. The reason for this is because it’s a fattier cut of meat. I wouldn’t recommend using pork tenderloin since it can tend to turn out dry – you won’t end up with the same juicy, tender pork other cuts will render.
How to serve
You have options when it comes to crockpot pork carnitas! You can serve it as is, straight out of the crockpot – shredded on a bun, in a taco or wrap. If you want a little crispiness, pop the meat under the broiler. You can even make a gravy with the leftover juices! (See recipe notes for how to make gravy)
I loaded my burritos with the pork and then filled them with lettuce, red peppers, herbs (cilantro and dill), scrambled eggs, pickled beets, some with Sriracha, some with gravy and some with mayo – the ultimate breakfast burritos! You can go for a more traditional option if you’d prefer.
Can I make this in advance?
Absolutely! You can prep everything the night before, turn on your slow cooker and in the morning, your house will smell fabulous and you’ll have mouthwatering pork ready to be shredded for breakfast, lunch or dinner throughout the week!
Leftover pork should be stored in airtight containers or wrap tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Properly stored, your leftovers will keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.
If you want to preserve the life of your leftovers, you can keep them in the freezer – sealed or tightly wrapped for up to three months. While the pork will keep longer, it will lose some of its texture quality.
More great recipes to try:
- Beef Carnitas Tacos
- Pork Carnitas
- Pork Loin Roast
- Spanish Rice with Ground Beef
- Pork Fajitas
- Mexican Stuffed Peppers
- Brown Sugar Balsamic Pulled Pork
- Cheesy Beef Quesadillas
- Mexican Beef and Rice Casserole
- Steak Fajitas
- Pork and Balsamic Onion Quesadilla
- Mexican Beer and Chicken Taco Casserole
- Crockpot Mexican Chicken
Looking for more recipes? Follow on…
Crockpot Pork Carnitas
- Cut the pork shoulder into large 2 inch chunks. Trim some of the fat if needed.
- In your crockpot add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Add the pork to the crockpot and stir. There should be enough liquid to cover the pork.
- Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 5 hours.
- Remove the pork from the slow cooker using a slotted spoon. Take 2 forks and start shredding the meat into smaller pieces. Pour some of the leftover liquid over the meat or strain the liquid and use it to make a gravy. See notes for instructions.
- Serve on tacos, burritos, tamales, sandwiches, etc.
- To make a gravy from the leftover juices, strain the liquid through a sieve. Add the liquid to a saucepan and sprinkle 2 to 3 tbsp of all-purpose flour over it. Whisk it vigorously until smooth and comes to a boil, over medium heat.
- If you wanted crispy pork carnitas, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread the pulled pork over the prepared baking sheet and place it under the broiler for about 3 to 5 minutes or until crispy.
- Store pork carnitas leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.
- Nutritional information is only for the pork caritas, not for the burritos. Calories for burritos can vary greatly based on ingredients used.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.