Carnitas is shredded pork that is moist and tender with crispy, delicious edges. It's a Mexican favorite that's simple to cook at home. Simply combine all of the ingredients in your slow cooker, let it work its magic, and then broil the shredded pork to create that crispy, caramelized edges.
I have a major crush on carnitas. It's one of the simplest recipes ever, transforming a plain pork shoulder into soft and juicy meat with only a few ingredients. Thank you, Mexican cuisine, for providing one of the finest carnitas dishes ever!
When I go to Mexico, I always order carnitas. I adore pulled pork, but carnitas affects me in a new manner - in the greatest way conceivable. The simple mix of Mexican spices, diced jalapeño pepper, onions, garlic, and orange juice gives the meat an excellent flavor. Plus, those crispy edges are to die for!
So, today, I'll teach you how to create perfect carnitas using only one tool: your slow cooker! Simply put everything in, shred it when done, and crisp it up in the oven.
Carnitas is traditionally cooked with pork shoulder due to its increased fat content. While cooking, the fat helps to make the meat incredibly moist and tender.
- Pork shoulder: Choose a 4 to 5-pound pork shoulder. You could always make it a little larger if your slow cooker can handle it. You may only need to increase the time slightly.
- Spices: A basic combination of oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper gives a lot of flavors.
- Aromatics: While the meat gently cooks, chopped onion, minced garlic, and finely sliced jalapeño pepper season it. Don't worry, the jalapeño pepper doesn't make the final beef too fiery or spicy.
- Orange: The juice from one freshly squeezed orange provides a naturally sweet balance to the other flavors.
HOW TO MAKE PORK CARNITAS
Pork should be generously seasoned before being placed in the slow cooker. That's basically it, to put it briefly. You don't need additional liquids like chicken broth, in case you were wondering.
The liquid will be released while the pork shoulder steams in the slow cooker.
- Mix: Combine the oregano, cumin, black pepper, salt, and chili powder in a small bowl.
- Rub: Put the pork shoulder in the slow cooker after generously rubbing it with the spice mixture.
- Add: Fill the slow cooker with the onions, minced garlic, jalapenos, and orange juice.
- Cook: Cover and cook the meat until it is completely tender, about 8 to 10 hours on low heat or 5 to 6 hours on high heat.
- Shred: Transfer the pork from the slow cooker to a sizable cutting board, then shred it with two forks. Don't discard the remaining liquid either!
HOW TO MAKE YOUR CARNITAS CRISPY
There are two ways to achieve those crispy golden edges: in the oven or on the stovetop. I decided to broil it in the oven for this particular recipe. But I'll also explain how to do it on a stovetop.
- On a baking sheet, spread the pork out evenly to bake. 1 cup of the slow cooker's liquid reserve should be added on top. It should be broiled for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are crispy and golden brown.
- On the stovetop, add one or two tablespoons of avocado oil to a big skillet that's been heated to medium-high. You might need to work in batches. Cook the shredded pork for about 5 minutes, or until the bottom is browned.
- The edges should be crispy after another 5 to 7 minutes of tossing.
Does the carnitas need to be crisped? It is entirely optional, though. You can also eat it right out of the slow cooker!
WHAT TO SERVE WITH CARNITAS
Let's be clear: Carnitas on its own is insanely delicious. However, it's also incredibly adaptable, so enjoy using it. Delicious meals can be prepared throughout the week using leftovers as a base!
- Tacos: Carnitas tacos should be served with tortillas and a variety of fresh garnishes, including avocado slices, chopped cilantro, and lime crema.
- Plate: Prepare some black beans and Mexican rice to go with the carnitas on a traditional plate.
- Bowl: Turn it into a burrito bowl with rice, beans, avocado, pico de gallo, and guacamole.
- Stuff It: Stuff corn, black beans, and carnitas into poblano peppers.
- Omelette: Make a carnitas omelet with fajita vegetables and tasty toppings to serve for breakfast.
- Refrigerator: Meal preparation is great with leftover carnitas! Simply store it in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days in an airtight container.
- Freezer: If you intend to freeze leftovers, wait until you've given them a good crisp under the broiler or skillet. Instead, reserve a batch for freezing and make plans to make it crispy just before serving. For up to three months in the freezer, it will remain edible.
- Reheat: If it was frozen, simply let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. After that, microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, or until thoroughly heated.
BEST CARNITAS (SLOW COOKER PULLED PORK)
- 4 pound boneless pork shoulder or butt
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and finely diced
- 1 orange, juiced
HOW TO MAKE CARNITAS
- In a small bowl place oregano, cumin, black pepper, salt, and chili powder, then stir together.
- Trim any excess fat from the pork shoulder (but remember that some fat is good), then rub the spice mixture generously around the entire pork shoulder and place in the slow cooker.
- Add the onion, minced garlic, jalapeno and orange juice in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on the low setting for 8-10 hours, or high heat for 5-6 hours (until the meat falls apart).
- Remove the pork from the slow cooker to a large cutting board and use two forks to shred the meat. Don't get rid of the liquid as you will be using it later.
TO CRISP IN THE OVEN
- Place the shredded pork on a baking sheet. Pour 1 cup of the reserved slow cooker liquid over the pork to keep it moist and tender.
- Broil for 5 to 10 minutes or until the meat becomes golden browned and crispy on the edges.
- This is a great slow cooker with a ceramic insert and it’s perfect for transporting!
- Getting the pork shoulder out of the slow cooker after it’s cooked can be a little difficult, given that it’s so tender and will likely fall apart. I recommend using a spatula underneath to support it when removing.