Best Slow Cooker Carnitas

I looooove me some Carnitas, and today we’re making it in the crockpot! This is easily the Best Slow Cooker Carnitas recipe we’ve ever made, big on flavor and low of effort. 

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

Always.

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 my Best Slow Cooker Carnitas recipe, so I can start it in the morning and not think about it again until dinner time.

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

How to Make the Best Slow Cooker Carnitas

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 the Best Slow Cooker Carnitas as-is, or crisp-ify it under the broiler.

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

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

This simple “Best 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!

We also love this Slow Cooker Jambalaya!

Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe #carnitas #tacos #mexican #slowcooker #crockpot
Print
5 from 12 votes

Best Slow Cooker Carnitas

Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
4 hrs
Total Time
4 hrs 5 mins
 
Carnitas, the Mexican meat of the gods! This Best Slow Cooker Carnitas recipe is loaded with flavor and perfect for making tacos, salads and wraps.
Servings: 12
Nutrition Facts
Best Slow Cooker Carnitas
Amount Per Serving (6 ounces)
Calories 249 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 14%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 97mg 32%
Sodium 600mg 25%
Potassium 700mg 20%
Total Carbohydrates 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 2g
Protein 34g 68%
Vitamin A 15.8%
Vitamin C 14.2%
Calcium 3.5%
Iron 12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds pork butt roast
  • 2 tablespoons bacon grease or oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, 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

Instructions

  1. Smear the bacon grease on the bottom of a large 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.
  3. 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. Serve over rice, taco, or on top of salads!

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60 comments on “Best Slow Cooker Carnitas

  1. Justinposted February 17, 2019 at 1:15 am Reply

    Great recipe. I made it for my family with some fresh pico de gaillo and we all ate our fill until we were completely stuffed with plenty left over. 
    A couple of things I did differently:
    1. Left out the liquid smoke. Not a big fan and the cumin was enough. 
    2. I was unable to find ancho powder (even in a local bodega) but was able to find whole ancho chilis. I diced one up and used seeds and all in place of the powder. 
    3. Left out the bacon grease since there was enough fat on the meat. 

  2. Andrewposted January 1, 2019 at 8:40 pm Reply

    Wowzers- so good we barely got this onto the tacos  just from stealing tastes. 

    Not a fan in general of liquid smoke so we skipped it and it most definitely wasn’t lacking for it. 

    For sure our new slow-cooker go to meal – literally everything besides the pork is a kitchen staple. 

  3. Elizabeth Simmermanposted November 4, 2018 at 9:58 pm Reply

    We made this today without the chile because we cannot take the heat. The meat was absolutely delicious! We had it tonight on taco or tortilla shells, with lettuce, red onion, sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese. Tomorrow I will broil some to top a salad and/or fix sliders. A delicious result from a very simple recipe! I am glad I saw this and had just bought a pork roast.

  4. Jeremyposted October 27, 2018 at 1:29 pm Reply

    I’ve made this recipe probably half a dozen times and it definitely was changed! It should call for diced onion, orange juice, and liquid smoke. I don’t remember the quantities exactly but I think it was half an onion, diced, 1 to 1.5 cups orange juice, and a tablespoon of liquid smoke? I hope they fix it and put the original recipe back up, it was perfect!

    • Sommer Collierposted October 30, 2018 at 10:25 pm Reply

      Hi Jeremy,

      We are in the middle of a recipe format update but unfortunately there have been some glitches. Sorry about that. All fixed!

  5. JLee Raskeposted August 26, 2018 at 10:58 pm Reply

    Awesome recipe this will be my go to for carnitas from now on!

  6. Rachaelposted April 20, 2018 at 11:42 am Reply

    This is a wonderful recipe! I made this yesterday for dinner and it was a big hit! The spices are perfect as written.. I slow-cooked it for 10 hours and the meat was perfectly cooked. The only change I would make is to take it out of the sauce it cooks in and to broil it — but the taste is PERFECT! I made taco’s.. with the “Fresh Warm Puffy Tortillas” which were so simple to make, but SO GOOD.

  7. John Tongeposted April 15, 2018 at 8:52 am Reply

    The little Mexican joint we like finishes their Carnitas in a cast iron skillet. When we make them at home we finish them on a silicone sheet on the grill.

  8. Dilaniposted March 19, 2018 at 8:17 pm Reply

    Turned out great! I didn’t have any orange juice, so I substituted a combination of lemon juice / lime juice / apple cider vinegar that together equaled one cup. I also added a pineapple / red bell pepper relish on top when making the tacos (just cooked red bell peppers and added to a can of a pre cut pineapple).

  9. Lisaposted February 3, 2017 at 11:42 am Reply

    these look amazing! I’m not a huge fan of “citrusy” pork…is the OJ a prominent flavor when the meat is done? If so, what about chicken stock instead?

    • Sommerposted February 9, 2017 at 8:58 pm Reply

      Hi Lisa,

      I don’t think of the orange juice as a prominent flavor at the end. It does provide a bit of acidity to balance the fat, but it not overwhelming.

  10. Dorisposted November 12, 2016 at 11:35 am Reply

    Sommer—your website is amazing Just love the recipes and photos you post. I’m a gal from Brooklyn NY living in NC for over thirty years. I can truly cook a Southern or Mexican dish thanks to sites like yours. Have a great day!!

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  13. Helenposted March 12, 2016 at 9:31 pm Reply

    Best carnitas ever! Easy to make and absolutely delicious!

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  15. Sommerposted January 22, 2016 at 1:05 pm Reply

    Hi Vee! If you can’t find it, just omit the liquid smoke. :)

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  17. Stephanieposted August 30, 2015 at 11:20 pm Reply

    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! 

    • Sommerposted September 2, 2015 at 9:04 pm Reply

      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. :)

  18. Davidposted March 20, 2015 at 1:26 pm Reply

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

  19. Cyndieposted March 8, 2015 at 5:03 pm Reply

    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.

    • Cyndieposted March 8, 2015 at 6:50 pm Reply

      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.

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  22. Cheriposted September 28, 2014 at 4:27 pm Reply

    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!

  23. Amyposted July 14, 2014 at 5:04 pm Reply

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

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

    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

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

    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!

    • Sommerposted March 18, 2014 at 5:32 pm Reply

      Hey Carla, You can substitute regular chili powder.

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

    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!

  28. [email protected]posted March 10, 2014 at 6:50 pm Reply

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

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

    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!

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

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

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

    Over the top amazing!

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

    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!!!

  33. marlaposted March 6, 2014 at 6:08 am Reply

    These are amazing Sommer!

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

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

  35. Tieghanposted March 5, 2014 at 7:31 pm Reply

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

  36. Jocelyneposted March 5, 2014 at 6:31 pm Reply

    What is the bacon grease? Looks delicious :)

    • Sommerposted March 6, 2014 at 6:56 am Reply

      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.

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

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

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

    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!

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

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

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

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

  41. Gabyposted March 5, 2014 at 10:49 am Reply

    Must go with the crispy carnitas, so delicious!

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

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

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

    Love carnitas and these look fabulous!

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

    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!

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

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

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

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

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

    Pinned! And making this weekend!!! #fistbump

  48. Jenniferposted March 5, 2014 at 8:37 am Reply

    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?

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

    Yum. Just YUM.

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

    Perfect for a large group, Sommer. Beautiful!

  51. Mariaposted March 5, 2014 at 8:07 am Reply

    Love that you used the slow cooker!

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

    Gorgeous tacos!! Love the slow cookie idea!

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

    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!

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

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