Slow Cooker Carnitas {Crispy Mexican Pork}

Slow Cooker Carnitas Crispy Mexican Pork

When you’re looking for a dish that yields plenty of fall-apart tender meat, Slow Cooker Carnitas is the perfect meal to try. The flavors of this easy carnitas recipe are basic, yet powerful, leaving the whole family wanting more!

Enjoy Mexican cooking? Give my Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Beef recipe a try. It’s another one that will feed a large family or potluck crowd.

carnitas in slow cooker with tacos on the side.

What is carnitas?

In short, carnitas literally means “little meats.” It’s a Mexican cuisine that is known for simmering pork until a tender and juicy perfection. With there being a variety of pork cuts to choose from, pork carnitas typically use the pork butt (Boston), also known as the pork shoulder or picnic cut. These cuts typically have the highest fat content, leading to a more tender meat when cooked.

The one cut you want to stay clear of for this recipe is the pork tenderloin. You’ll find that it won’t shred, and instead of being “juicy,” it will actually dry out.

Recipe Ingredients

ingredients for carnitas on a table.
  • Picnic Pork Roast: This cut is another name for the pork shoulder, which is considered a primal cut that comes from above the pig’s forelegs. Do not use pork loin or pork tenderloin, it will dry out.
  • Orange Juice and Lime Juice: The orange juice isn’t overpowering. Instead, it simply brightens the flavor with the perfect amount of acidity (and sweetness).
  • Olive Oil: This type of oil not only provides a flavor of its own, it will also help the dry rub of seasonings stick to the pork shoulder.
  • Garlic, Onion, and Green Chiles: This trio works together in the background from the beginning to help build a flavor-packed and juicy pulled pork.
  • Spices: Chili powder and cumin add a combination of smokiness and warmth. Oregano brings in an earthly note and herby flavor. Salt and pepper to taste always make a meal better.
  • Cilantro: Some is used during the slow cooking process, and the remainder is used as a fresh garnish.

Step by Step Directions

how to add carnita ingredients to the slow cooker.

Step One – On a rinsed, patted dried, and drizzled with olive oil pork shoulder, rub on the spice mixture.

Step Two – Place the seasoned pork shoulder into the slow cooker.

Step Three – Add the diced onion, minced garlic, green chilies, fresh cilantro, orange juice and lime juice

Step Four – Cook on LOW for 10 hours or on HIGH for 7 hours.

howt to shred pork and crisp in the oven collage.

Step Five – Remove the pork shoulder from the crock pot (save the juice for dipping) and place it into a bowl. Begin shredding with two forks.

Step Six – Continue shredding the pork should until your preference.

Step Seven – Place the shredded pork shoulder on a roasting pan and spread evenly.

Step Eight – Broil for about 3 minutes. Mix and broil for another three minutes. Serve the slow cooker pork carnitas on tortillas and enjoy!

overhead shot of crispy carnitas in crockpot.

How to serve

There are so many ways to serve slow cooker carnitas!

  • One of the most classic ways to serve carnitas is in flour tortillas or corn tortillas, also known as pork tacos. Place a spoonful or so into the tortilla, and then add some of the topping suggestions below.
  • Topping suggestions: grated cheese, diced onion, chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado, sour cream, and pico de gallo. You can also add chopped cilantro and shredded red cabbage.
  • If you’re looking for ideas of what to serve on the side of your pork carnitas recipe try: street corn salad, black beans, Mexican pasta, authentic Mexican rice, and/or Mexican cornbread.
  • This shredded meat can also be used for burrito bowls and taco salad topping.
3 carnita tacos on a plate with lime.

Recipe FAQs

Will the pulled pork keep in the slow cooker?

Believe it or not, if pork is cooked too long, it can become mushy in texture. If you are planning on keeping your crock pot carnitas in the slow cooker, be sure to turn it to the low setting.

How do I store leftovers?

If you just so happen to have leftovers, store them in an airtight container. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

How do I reheat the leftovers?

Leftovers can be reheated in the oven (on a baking sheet or roasting pan) at 350 degrees. You can also reheat them on the stovetop using an appropriately sized skillet (add some of the leftover juice, so it doesn’t burn).

Is this a good make-ahead meal?

Absolutely! You can actually cook this and freeze it for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to heat them up, you’ll want to let them thaw overnight before reheating.

close up of carnitas tacos on a plate.

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close up of carnitas tacos on a plate.

Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe

Slow Cooked pork with plenty of seasonings and citrus. Shredded and crisped in the oven for THE BEST carinitas you will ever have!

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Course: Main Course

Cuisine: American

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 hours

Total Time: 10 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 12


  • Rinse and pat dry the pork roast with paper towels. In a small bowl mix together the salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder and oregano. Drizzle the pork roast with the olive oil and rub on the spice mixture.

  • In the slow cooker pot, add the pork roast, diced onion, minced garlic, green chilies, fresh cilantro, orange juice and lime juice.

  • Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 7 hours. When done, remove from the slow cooker pot, reserving the cooking liquid and shred with forks and place on a baking sheet.

  • Turn the oven broiler to high and crisp the shredded pork for about 3 minutes, mix and broil again.

  • Serve hot with the reserved cooking liquid for dipping.

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Recipe Notes:

Toppings for tacos, shredded lettuce, avocado, tomato, pico de gallo, jalapeno, diced onion, cilantro, sour cream, shredded red cabbage. Perfect for burritos or quesadillas as well.
Refrigerate for up to 3 days in in an airtight container or 3 months in a freezer safe container.

Nutrition info is auto-generated. This information is an estimate; if you are on a special diet, please use your own calculations.

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