Best Slow Cooker Carnitas
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.
CrockPot Pork Carnitas Recipe
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 steaming pork carnitas pizza covered in cheese.
Traditional carnitas are made in a dutch oven, but I like to prepare my Best Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe in the crock pot, so I can start it in the morning and not think about it again until dinner time.
(Those are the best kind of dinner. Am I right, mothers?)
This authentic carnitas recipe is one that will leave you full and curb all your Mexican restaurant cravings!
Slow Cooker Carnitas Ingredients
- Bacon Grease – To add extra pork essence.
- Onions and Garlic – The essentials for deep flavor. Be sure to use fresh cloves garlic.
- Pork Butt – Buy one big roast and cut it into large chunks.
- Orange Juice – This offers sweetness and tang.
- Liquid Smoke – To make the pork taste like it was cooked on a smoker.
- Ground Cumin – To a peppery note.
- Ancho Chile Pepper – The most flavorful chile pepper, in my humble opinion. But chili powder would work in a pinch.
How To Make the Best Slow Cooker Carnitas
This is so easy, guys…
- Smear the bacon grease on the bottom of a large slow cooker. Cut the pork into large chunks and place it inside the slow cooker. Then add ALL remaining ingredients around the pork.
- 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. Serve over rice, in tacos with lime juice and pico de gallo, or on top of salads!
With sweet and tangy orange juice, aromatic spices, and a little bit of liquid smoke mingling with the pork for hours, how could this not be divine?
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Tip for Cripsy Edges
Once you’ve cooked the tar out of the carnitas (in the words of my dad) the pork is so tender, that 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.
Get the Full (Printable) Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe Below!
Slow Cooking Carnitas Additional Tips and Tricks
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!
For dessert after these carnitas tacos, you can always stick with the Latin theme and make a decadent Tres Leches Pie.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What cut of meat can you use for carnitas?
The best cut of meat for carnitas is one that had a high-fat content, like pork shoulder (or pork butt). This will help the pork to stay juicy and full of flavor.
How long do leftovers last in the fridge?
Keep the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
You can also freeze leftover carnitas in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Place in the fridge overnight to defrost before warming up in the oven.
Where do I get bacon grease?
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.
Why use orange juice?
The orange juice balances the heavier flavors and spices, and the acidity also helps break down the meat to soften it.
Is carnitas healthy?
Pork Carnitas are high in proteins. If you are worried about the fat content of the pork butt, you can opt for a leaner piece of meat. This recipe is gluten-free and low carb as well.
Is carnitas keto?
This is keto-friendly as it is low in carbs, but be careful what you pair with it. Maybe make a cheese wrap and load it with vegetables.
What is the difference between carnitas and pulled pork?
Carnitas is a Mexican version of Southern Pulled Pork. It tends to include more spices, giving it a bolder flavor than pulled pork.
More Comforting Recipes We Love
- Slow Cooker Jambalaya
- Spicy Southwest Pumpkin Soup
- Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja
- Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Beef Tenderloin
- Baked Turnip Fries
- Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup
- Taco Mac & Cheese Bundt Cake
- Chicken Chipotle Burritos Bowl Recipe
- Enchiladas Suizas (Creamy Chicken Enchiladas)
- Instant Pot Shredded Pork Carnitas
- Smoked Cheese Dip (Spread) with Sour Cream
- How to make Corn Tortillas
Best Slow Cooker Carnitas
- 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.
- 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. Serve over rice, taco, or on top of salads!
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