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Easy Crock Pot Pork Carnitas Recipe

Slow Cooker or Crock Pot Carnitas should be fork tender and bursting with flavor. You’ll love this easy recipe for pork carnitas on tortillas or in bowls.

Pork Carnitas on flour tortillas with sour cream, cilantro, and jalapenos

When it comes to dinners, I love a delicious meal that takes very little work.

In our family, tex-mex foods are a staple. They appeal to everyone, and can be customized in flavors by the fabulous toppings and sides.

What are Carnitas

Pork Carnitas on cooked tortillas with onion, cilantro, jalapeno, and lime.

Typically at a mexican restaurant you’ll find carnitas on the menu, among tacos, fajitas, and barbacoa.

Carnitas, which means “little meats”, are made by simmering pork until the lard is tender. Slow cookers and crock pots are the perfect route to cook carnitas, to get that tender, flavorful meat.

Think of carnitas as a mexican version of pulled pork! Delicious.

How to make Carnitas

pork tenderloin in crockpot

Step 1: Place pork in the bottom of a large crock pot or slow cooker. Season with garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and cumin. 

Top with fresh snipped cilantro, salsa (any kind), chicken broth, tequila, and chopped green chilies.

Add the juice of one orange.

Step 2: Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. (I would cook closer to 8 hours for pork shoulder)

Step 3: Shred pork with two forks, mix with juices and serve.

Shredded Pork Carnitas in bowl with cilantro lime rice, black beans, sour cream, jalapeno, and cilantro.

What cut of pork is best for Carnitas

When choosing a cut of pork for carnitas, it can be a very personal decision. 

Typically you may want to opt for a pork shoulder (pork butt) because of the higher concentration of fat. In an effort to cut down on the fat we eat, I make mine using tenderloins. 

Pork tenderloins do become dry if over cooked, but because the seasoning is so flavorful in these carnitas, my family doesn’t seem to mind.

For a more traditional route though, choose the pork shoulder.

Shredded Pork Tenderloins for Carnitas

What to serve with Pork Carnitas

You be the judge on what to serve with your delicious fork tender crock pot carnitas.

Here are some ideas on what to serve with them:

You can create a “taco” by serving on a flour or corn tortilla. Or turn your carnitas into a “bowl” with all the toppings on a bed of lettuce.

Tips for making perfect Carnitas recipe

  • If you like your carnitas crispy, once you’ve shredded them in the slow cooker, lay them on a baking sheet and broil for about 15 minutes, stirring once.
  • Substitute beer or more chicken broth for the tequila, if desired
  • Want to freeze Carnitas? Place leftovers in a freezer safe container or ziploc bag. Freeze with juices until ready to use. Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Heat and enjoy.
  • Squeeze a fresh lime over the carnitas right before serving for a delicious zing!

What you’ll need for Slow Cooker Carnitas

If you want a quick glance at what’s needed for today’s recipe, look no further. For the printable recipe with measurements, scroll all the way down!

Ingredients:

  • 4 lb Pork (tenderloin, shoulder, loin- you choose)
  • Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cumin
  • Cilantro
  • Salsa
  • Chicken Broth
  • Tequila
  • Green Chilies
  • Orange
  • Toppings- tortillas, black beans, rice, guacamole, salsa, lime, onions, cilantro, etc

Tools:

  • 6 qt (or larger) Slow Cooker- I love my Ninja Slow Cooker. It heats evenly, and is easy to clean up!

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Crock Pot Carnitas Recipe:

Yield: 8 servings

Crock Pot Carnitas

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 10 minutes

Slow Cooker or Crock Pot Carnitas should be fork tender and bursting with flavor. You'll love this easy recipe for pork carnitas with little prep and lots of flavor.

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs. pork tenderloin (or pork shoulder/butt)
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1½ cup cilantro, snipped
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup tequila (or beer)
  • 1 can (4oz) chopped green chilies
  • 1 orange, juiced

Toppings:

  • tortillas
  • black beans
  • guacamole
  • pico de gallo
  • cilantro
  • onions

Instructions

  1. Place pork in crock pot. Sprinkle with garlic, oil, salt, pepper and cumin. Top with cilantro, salsa, broth, tequila, green chilies, and juice from one orange. Cover and cook on low for about 6-8 hours.
  2. Shred pork with two forks and continue to cook until heated through.
  3. Serve on a tortilla with all the fixings, or make a rice bowl with black beans and all the fixings. Enjoy!

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 381 Total Fat: 10g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 6g Cholesterol: 166mg Sodium: 682mg Carbohydrates: 6g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 3g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 60g
*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.

Recipe originally published March 31, 2011. Photos updated August 2019.

Slow Cooker or Crock Pot Pork Carnitas are fork tender and the perfect recipe for a crowd.

Aimee

About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

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Posted on August 21, 2019

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