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Best Slow Cooker Carnitas

I looooove me some Carnitas, and today we’re making it in the crockpot! This easy carnitas recipe is big on flavor and low of effort. Slow cooker carnitas is a fabulous base recipe for tacos, salads, enchiladas…  I could go on forever.

Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe #carnitas #tacos #mexican #slowcooker #crockpot

What is it about Mexican cuisine that makes us ravenously woozy with anticipation?

I can’t quite put a finger on it, but I can tell you, tender shreds of spicy pork served with cheese, veggies, and warm tortillas always sounds good to me.


Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe #carnitas #tacos #mexican #slowcooker #crockpot

We make carnitas as a base recipe for all sorts of Mexican creations.

Seriously… you can use a good carnitas recipe in anything from chili, to quesadillas, to nachos, even on pizza. I’ll stop now before I pass out from the thought of a hot carnitas pizza covered in cheese.

Traditional carnitas is made in a dutch oven, but I like to prepare slow cooker carnitas, so I can start it in the morning and not think about it again until dinner time.

Crockpot Carnitas Recipe #carnitas #tacos #mexican #slowcooker #crockpot

This is so easy guys.

You simply dump all the ingredients for the carnitas recipe in the slow cooker, set it, and walk away. With sweet and tangy orange juice, aromatic spices, and a little bit of liquid smoke cuddling up to the pork for hours, how could this not be divine?

Simple Carnitas Recipe #carnitas #tacos #mexican #slowcooker #crockpot

Once you’ve cooked the tar out of the carnitas (in the words of my dad) the pork is so tender, it nearly falls apart when you shred it with a fork.

Then either serve it as-is, or crisp-ify it under the broiler.

Personally, I’m crazy over the little crispy bits.

Slow Cooker Carnitas #carnitas #tacos #mexican #slowcooker #crockpot

This simple slow cooker carnitas recipe is a must-have in your arsenal of recipes.

We use it most often in “street tacos” with onions, cilantro, and fresh warm puffy tortillas.

Es increíble!

Best Slow Cooker Carnitas

Yield: 10-12 servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 4-8 hours


  • 4 pounds pork butt roast
  • 2 tablespoons bacon grease
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Smear the bacon grease on the bottom of the slow cooker. Cut the pork into large chunks and place inside the slow cooker. Then add all remaining ingredients around the pork.
  2. Turn the slow cooker on: Low for 8-10 hours, or High for 4-6 hours. Once the pork is fork-tender, use 2 forks to shred the meat into the juices.  If you like your carnitas crispy on the edges (like it's served in restaurants) use a slotted spoon to scoop the meat out of the juices and spread in a thin layer on a baking sheet(s). Place on the upper oven rack and broil for 2-5 minutes, until darker crispy edges form. Do not take your eyes off the broiler--you can burn the carnitas quickly.
  3. Serve over rice, taco, or on top of salads!

Making this recipe? Why not take a quick shot and share it on Instagram! Make sure to tag it #ASpicyPerspective so we can see what you're cooking!

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44 Responses to “Best Slow Cooker Carnitas”

  1. Brianne Collierposted March 5, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Brie’s plans for the weekend: Get pork drunk.


  2. Tina Muirposted March 5, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Yum! This looks fantastic, and I bet it is even better because it is made in the slow cooker!!! I LOVE the idea of putting it in the broiler after, that is such a great idea! I am gonna make this one ASAP!


  3. Jenny Flakeposted March 5, 2014 at 7:22 am

    Gorgeous tacos!! Love the slow cookie idea!


  4. Mariaposted March 5, 2014 at 8:07 am

    Love that you used the slow cooker!


  5. Sandy @ ReluctantEntertainerposted March 5, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Perfect for a large group, Sommer. Beautiful!


  6. Prudy | Butter, Basil, and Breadcrumbsposted March 5, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Yum. Just YUM.


  7. Jenniferposted March 5, 2014 at 8:37 am

    I really love your idea of putting the pork under the broiler for a few minutes. That would resolve my conflicted feelings about cooking hunks of meat in the slow cooker. It usually comes out too soft for me. I really like some chew when I’m eating meat. You know?


  8. Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountainposted March 5, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Pinned! And making this weekend!!! #fistbump


  9. Heather Christoposted March 5, 2014 at 9:12 am

    These look completely awesome and will undoubtedly be making an appearance on my table this weekend (maybe after skiing!?)


  10. Lana @ Never Enough Thymeposted March 5, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Oh. my. gosh. This looks so incredibly delicious! I especially love the crisping up under the broiler.


  11. Rochelle @ Oh So Sweet Bakerposted March 5, 2014 at 9:31 am

    These carnitas look absolutely divine. I love slow cooking the meat then finishing them under the grill getting that charred bits. Charred bits are the best!


  12. Kevin @ Closet Cookingposted March 5, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Love carnitas and these look fabulous!


  13. Layla @ Brunch Time Bakerposted March 5, 2014 at 10:22 am

    I saw this recipe on pinterest and had to hop over here and let you know how amazing these carnitas look!


  14. Gabyposted March 5, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Must go with the crispy carnitas, so delicious!


  15. Julie @ Table for Twoposted March 5, 2014 at 10:53 am

    This is like ultimate comfort food, Sommer! I want to dig right in!!


  16. Kim @ Sand & Sisalposted March 5, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Oh my yum! I will be making this tomorrow for dinner! I can.not.wait! (Pinned & Stumbled it!)


  17. Rachael | Spache the Spatulaposted March 5, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Okay these are totally not helping the taco cravings I can’t get over! And served on puffy tortillas?! Yep, I could definitely eat a plate full right now!


  18. Courtney @ Neighborfoodposted March 5, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    I love that you crispified this under the broiler! Such a good idea. And you’re totally right–I’m never NOT craving tacos. :)


  19. Jocelyneposted March 5, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    What is the bacon grease? Looks delicious :)


    • Sommer — March 6th, 2014 @ 6:56 am

      Hey Jocelyne, Bacon grease it leftover bacon fat from the skillet. Here in the south we save it for just such occasions! You could also use oil if you prefer.


  20. Tieghanposted March 5, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    I love carnitas!! These look so good Sommer. I wish they were cooking away now!!


  21. Nutmeg Nannyposted March 5, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    This pork looks glorious! I am seriously drooling over this dish!


  22. marlaposted March 6, 2014 at 6:08 am

    These look amazing Sommer!


  23. Aimee @ ShugarySweetsposted March 6, 2014 at 6:35 am

    I love that you crisped these up! I make carnitas often in my slow cooker, and every once in awhile I toss them in the oven before eating. What a difference it makes! Your photos are stunning too, PINNED!!!


  24. Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabblesposted March 6, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Carnitas…one of my all-time favorite meals. I want some with your puffy tortillas!


  25. Meredithposted March 6, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Over the top amazing!


  26. Nancy @ gottagetbakedposted March 9, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    I JUST got a slow cooker and I CAN’T WAIT TO USE IT! Sorry for all the capital letters, I’m just really really excited. I’ve pinned this recipe so that I can make it asap. Your carnetas look incredible! I love how tender and crispy your pork looks. Yum!


  27. Jamielyn@iheartnaptimeposted March 10, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    These look amazing!! Cannot wait to try them. Pinning! xo


  28. Mark @YeaDadsHomeposted March 13, 2014 at 8:23 am

    This looks awesome! I don’t use the slow cooker very much because it seems everything is a bit soupy. Need to try the broiler trick. Thanks!


  29. carla edenposted March 18, 2014 at 6:53 am

    Hey, so I’m all set to make this today and realized I don’t have ancho chili powder! any recommendations for a substitute? Thanks!


    • Sommer — March 18th, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

      Hey Carla, You can substitute regular chili powder.


  30. Pingback: Spicy Pork Carnitas | Cook AZ I Do

  31. Emily Schuermannposted June 2, 2014 at 10:20 am

    These look so good! I bet the OJ makes something magical happen! I will have to try it out!! My all time fav is the salsa verde Carne asada tacos crockpot recipe!! I bet this will be a contender for 1st place though! Thanks for sharing


  32. Amyposted July 14, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    These have been cooking all day. It smells AMAZING in my house! Cant wait to try them. Thanks for the great recipe. ♡


  33. Cheriposted September 28, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    I’m making these for the second time… the last time, they were amazing and yielded so much meat that we froze the excess and had delicious carnitas everything for weeks. We used it in tacos, nachos, burritos, quesadillas, homemade mac & cheese, and more.

    Thanks for the great recipe!


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  35. Pingback: modernparent.net | Love Mexican? Love Your Slow Cooker!

  36. Sylviaposted March 6, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    do you need a large crockpot or can you use 4 qt?


  37. Cyndieposted March 8, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    I made this today in my slow cooker. The texture is great and there is lots of broth and onion to blend together to make gravy. BEWARE! 1 TBSP was too much SALT for me. Next time I will start with 1 Teaspoon. I’m looking for my barbecue sauce recipe and I will leave out the salt.


    • Cyndie — March 8th, 2015 @ 6:50 pm

      I just realized why my pork is so salty. I used a Swift Premium Boneless Petite Pork Roast WITH up to “12% solution of pork broth, salt and natural flavor.” I better watch that next time.


  38. Davidposted March 20, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    I used a quarter cup of homemade orange marmalade, and a half cup of white wine, and a little ancho chile powder too. Fughettaboutit.


  39. Stephanieposted August 30, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    So excited to make these!  Is the liquid smoke a must, if so, is that something easy to find in a grocery store?  
    Also, do these come out spicy?  My hubby thinks the spicier the better.  Thanks! 


    • Sommer — September 2nd, 2015 @ 9:04 pm

      Hi Stephanie! You can find liquid smoke near the barbecue sauce in the grocery store. The carnitas aren’t super spicy on their own, but you could definitely turn up the heat. :)


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