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!


  • 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


  • 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

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.


  • 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


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


  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:



Serving Size:


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.

**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

40 comments on “Easy Crock Pot Pork Carnitas Recipe”

  1. Once again, a recipe I know I will be making! 🙂

    Thank you for sharing, and commenting on post’s….dont you just love reading comments?

  2. yes. yes. yes.

    I LOVE carnitas and just bought a new crockpot!

    I used my old one until it went kaput 😉

  3. Let me just be honest, if I see carnitas anywhere on a Mexican menu I order it. Whatever it is. This is being bookmarked. I have a hunk of pork this recipes name all over it!

  4. Enjoy, I love carnitas myself, obviously 🙂

  5. Oh this looks great! perfect to-go meal for the baseball park!

  6. I’m your newest follower, girl. You sold me on some of those treats you make….but this one sealed the deal! I “rock the crock” on my blog periodically. When I try this yummy-looking dinner I’ll link up this post, k? Thanks! 🙂

  7. This sounds really good, bet the house smelled great too:@)

  8. What a great dish! Thank you for sharing and have a wonderful week!

  9. Wow.. this looks awesome! I may have to add this to my list for our Cinco De Mayo dinner night. YUM! Thanks for linking up for Tasty Tuesday this week!

    Mother of Pearl It Is

  10. Thanks for linking up to THIS WEEK’s CRAVINGS “Mexican Dishes”. We appreciate you sharing your recipe with us! We hope you come back next Monday for “Brunch Recipes / Mother’s Day”. Have a great weekend!


  11. Ha, funny-funny. I posted Carnitas too. I think I’ll have to use some of the ingredients from yours to add in and try next time. But I did like the cooking technique used in the one I posted (I liked the crispy edges)

  12. Yum!! I make shredded pork in my crock pot all the time. Love your recipe and will definitely try it!!

  13. Oh yummy, I shouldn’t be reading food posts while I am hungry, cause I am starving now, lol!!

  14. I am so excited about this recipe! I’ve been looking for a good carnitas recipe!

  15. Umm the carnitas look great. I just pinned the recipe to my pinterest board. I can’t wait to try your recipe. Found you on Gooseberry Patches RR.

    Tina @ Mommy’s Kitchen

  16. Oh this recipe looks soo good. I can eat mexican food every night! pinning this!


  17. Kristen

    We looooove carnitas at our house! But I have always made them in the oven and it is just too HOOOOT right now. So I will give your awesome-sounding recipe a try! Thanks so much!
    Hopefully it turns out just as good with a boneless shoulder instead of the tenderloins… I was originally thinking of trying the bbq rootbeer recipe tomorrow, but I’ve been craving carnitas and these sound awesome!

    • Kristen

      Hi again… wanted to THANK you for a YUMMY and EEEEEASY recipe! This simmered all day in the crock pot (boneless pork picnic roast) with everything except the cilantro (because I forgot). Serious YUMMINESS ratings all-around – and we’re a family that LOOOVES our carnitas! Thanks so much for posting this awesome recipe that doesn’t require using the oven or the broiler (though once it’s cooler, crisping up the meat a bit under the broiler would add nice texture). 5 Stars! 🙂

  18. Michelle

    Would this be ok without tequila or beer? I’d love to make it but have a strict no alcohol policy for two years now. Thank you

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  21. Kristyn

    Love these!! My favorite to eat! Love that it’s a crock pot recipe!

  22. ND

    Gosh! I love this pork recipe. I am making it again for our next Taco Tuesday!

  23. Krissy Allori

    These look fantastic! It will make the perfect Sunday meal.

  24. Natasha

    What a delicious dinner! Can’t wait to try this out

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