April 8, 2020

Crispy Pork Carnitas

Crispy pork carnitas that are absolutely delicious! They’re made with a few simple ingredients and can easily be made in a dutch oven or your slow cooker. The perfect recipe to make when you need to hit the easy button on dinner. This healthy recipe is also Paleo, Keto, and Whole30 compliant!

Crispy Pork Carnitas

Crispy Pork Carnitas Perfect for Taco Tuesday

There are few things better than a hearty slow cooked meal and these slow cooked crispy pork carnitas are exactly that.

These carnitas are made from tender, slowly cooked, pork that has been seasoned with just the right spices and then crisped up right before serving.

Watch How to Make This Recipe

The best part about this recipe is that it can easily be made in a dutch oven or in your slow cooker. Both ways are simple, easy, and will give you flavorful crispy carnitas.

Crispy Pork Carnitas

What Kind of Meat Do You Use For Carnitas?

The base of any carnitas recipe is pork. For this particular recipe, you’ll use a boneless pork shoulder which is often called a “boston butt”. You’ll need two and a half pounds of pork shoulder for this recipe.

You can ask your butcher to cut your pork shoulder to the desired weight or you can easily make a double batch of this recipe if you have more pork.

To make things easier, and to get a good sear on the pork, I like to cut the pork into large chunks before searing.

The Ingredients For Flavorful Carnitas

seared pork with onions, spices, and bay leaves in dutch oven

The key to flavorful carnitas is a flavorful braising liquid and the key to a flavorful braising liquid is simple yet flavorful ingredients. Here is what you’ll need:

  • Orange juice

  • Lime juice

  • Chicken broth

  • Spices like cumin, dried oregano, and paprika

  • Bay leaves

  • Garlic

  • Onion

How To Make Crispy Pork Carnitas

braised pork in dutch oven

Step One: The trick to getting the most flavorful carnitas, is to sear the pork before allowing it to braise for hours.

First, season the pork with a liberal sprinkle of salt and then sear the pork pieces on both sides until golden brown in avocado oil. Browning the meat helps to develop a rich deep flavor.

Step Two: Next add the orange juice, lime juice, chicken broth, and spices to the pot, stir until well combined and then cook for three hours at 300 degrees.

If you are using a slow cooker, once the pork has been seared, remove it from the pan and add it to the slow cooker. Then add the remaining ingredients and cook the carnitas on high for 4-6 hours or until it is fork tender.

Step Three: Once the pork is tender and shreddable, remove it from your dutch oven or slow cooker and transfer the meat to a sheet pan.

Use two forks to shred the meat and then pour the braising liquid back over the meat.

Then, broil the carnitas in the oven until browned and crispy before serving!

Crispy Pork Carnitas on dark sheet pan

Need Some Ideas For Leftover Carnitas?

  • crisp it in a skillet for breakfast and serve with scrambled eggs and roasted sweet potatoes

  • use it instead of the ground pork for an easy breakfast hash

Meal Prep Tips for This Recipe

This slow cooker crispy carnitas recipe is a perfect recipe to add to your weekly meal prep. To make things even more simple for you here are a few of my favorite meal prep tips:

  • Prep the pork over the weekend or a day in advance of when you plan on eating it

  • Chop your taco toppings like tomatoes, radishes, or red onion in advance so you can easily assemble your tacos at a moment’s notice

  • Turn your tacos into a salad! Place your carnitas over a bed of mixed greens and veggies for a delicious salad. You can add cilantro lime white rice or cauliflower rice to make a delicious burrito bowl!

Crispy Pork Carnitas on a sheet pan

More Mexican Inspired Recipes to Love

Print

Crispy Pork Carnitas

  • Author: Ashlea Carver
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stove Top / Oven
  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Diet: Gluten Free
/
Scale:
  • Author: Ashlea Carver
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stove Top / Oven
  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Ingredients

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

  2. Heat a dutch oven or large skillet over medium-high heat. While the dutch oven is heating, sprinkle the pork pieces liberally with salt. Once the dutch oven is hot, add in a tablespoon of avocado oil and then add the pork. Sear for 4-5 minutes on each side until browned.

  3. Add the garlic, onion, orange juice, lime juice, chicken broth, salt, bay leaves, and spices to the pot. Stir until well combined, cover with a lid, and the braise for 3 hours at 300 degrees.

  4. If you are using a slow cooker, once the pork has been seared, remove it from the pan and add it to the slow cooker. Next, add the remaining ingredients and cook the carnitas on high for 4-6 hours or until the meat is fork tender.

  5. Once the pork is tender and shreddable, remove it from your dutch oven or slow cooker and transfer the meat to a sheet pan. Use two forks to shred the meat and then pour the remaining braising liquid back over the meat. Broil the carnitas in the oven on high until browned and crispy. Serve and enjoy!

Keywords: Whole30 crispy pork carnitas, Whole30 carnitas, carnitas, crispy pork carnitas

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Recipe rating

    101 comments
  1. These carnitas are soooo amazing! This is a go-to recipe in our house. I have loved every recipe I’ve ever tried of yours, but I’d say this one is at the top of the list!

  2. Made these for dinner last night and I think my husband wanted to marry me all over again. Haha! Seriously delicious and made enough for the two of us to be set for dinner tonight too. We did spanish rice with a salad last night, and tonight we are going to use it in a carnita bowl!

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I love how the flavors all mingle after slow cooking for 5 hours!

  3. This carnitas recipe is amazing! I’ve made it twice now, once in the slow cooker and once in the oven. Both times were equally great. Thank you for the recipe, Ashlea!

  4. These Pork Carnitas have been made multiple times at my house. I cook them in the slow cooker and then broil them as recommended. We LOVE them in tacos, burrito bowls and simple nachos with fresh pico de gallo.

    • So happy to hear this has become a favorite for y’all, Jessica! Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi, Jenny – you could try using chicken thighs but the recipe will take much less time. I’d recommend trying the chipotle slow cooker beef recipe instead.

  5. LOVE this recipe!!! It has become a staple in our household. It is just so easy and delicious, we literally make it almost every other week! Makes plenty for several meals so is a wonderful meal prep option

    • Yay! Happy to hear that, Annie! I’m so glad everyone enjoyed the recipe! Thanks for sharing!

  6. This recipe was SO easy and delicious. DO NOT skip the broiling step – it truly makes this a 5+ star dish. Thank you Ashlea!

  7. Absolutely delicious & bursting with flavor. The pork done in the Dutch oven is so unbelievably tender, it just melts in your mouth. New favorite!

  8. Amazing recipe!!! Meat was so tender in less than four hours and full of amazing flavor. I am obsessed with this recipe and have been telling all of my friends about it! So so SO good.

  9. Now I understand why everyone LOVES this recipe! So good, and so so easy to prepare! Thank you so much for sharing this amazing staple recipe, Ashley!!

    • You’re so welcome, Lindsay! So happy you enjoyed the recipe! Thanks for sharing!

  10. I made this recipe last night and it was HANDS DOWN the best/ most successful carnitas recipe I have ever made. The carnitas turned out perfectly cooked and super tasty. I have tried many pork recipes where the meat turns out gummy/ flavorless- not this one! It is 100% going to be the recipe I use every time, forever. Thank you!

    • You’re so welcome, Materya! I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!

  11. This recipe is so great! We added BBQ sauce for pulled pork sandwiches and it was a big hit with the whole family! Kids loved it and even my husband who normally doesn’t like shredded meat said it was great and I needed to make it again!

    • Yay! Love haring that, Emily! The addition of the BBQ sauce sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing!

  12. A great recipe that is both easy and so much flavor. I loved the crispy bits from broiling. Will be going in the permanent rotation. The flavor combo in the marinade is just perfect for the pork.

    • That’s the best, Jennifer! So glad this has become a regular favorite for you! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Wow! I usually don’t write reviews but I am sitting here, trying steaming hot carnitas straight out of the oven on a quick quesadilla and my mouth is watering. This is so good! And surprisingly easy! I have never made carnitas from scratch and assumed it would be a lot of work, but this was the easiest recipe! I followed the recipe exactly (except for adding a touch more seasoning when I seared the pork). The only recommendation I have would be to include what to do with the onion (cut into large chunks) and garlic (smash and leave whole) in the instructions. I had to scroll down to the comments to find and also referenced the picture to make sure I was doing this right. Will definitely be following your advice to have with eggs and on salad…if it even lasts that long to meal prep with. 5 stars!

  14. Made for taco night. My grandson loved them so much he had 4 tacos and leftovers for lunch today! Thanks for the great recipe

    • That’s the best! I’m so glad you all enjoyed the recipe! Thanks for sharing, Judy!

  15. Followed the recipe exactly as written. DELICIOUS! I made mine in the oven. Used in enchiladas for the kids and ate it as is with vegetables for me and my husband.

    • Such a great idea, Johnna! So glad everyone loved the recipe! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!

  16. Wow! These were fantastic! I loved how tender the meat turned out. Flavors, we’re on point and I have leftovers too! Thank you 💛

  17. Thank you for this delicious recipe! I was just wondering if I should have drained some of the fat after browning the pork chunks. There was quite a bit of fat in the braising liquid. Also, I couldn’t quite crisp the pork under broiler…should I have only put some (not all) of the braising liquid on top of the shredded pork before broiling? Please let me know what you think

    • Hi Cristina, You can drain some of the fat after browning if you prefer, but you don’t have to! If you would like, you could try less liquid next time before broiling and see how that works!

  18. This has become a trusted go to and what I love is that we can do SO many things with the end product: spice it up for tacos or bowls, add some bbq sauce to it so much. The meat is flavorful and delicious. It never disappoints!

    • I’m so happy you loved the recipe, Shunta! Love how you’re using it for so many different meals. Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!

    • This dish is one of my all time favourite!
      I find it extremely hard not to pile my plate high and not share with my family 🙈
      It’s the best way to cook pork…. flavoursome, tender and everyone LOVES it ❤️

      • So happy to hear that, Keeley! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!

  19. These are soooo good and so easy to make! This was the first recipe I tried from the site and I can’t wait to try more.

  20. Wow this was amazing!! Pork has always seemed overwhelming to me- but this recipe was so easy and wonderful! I used a bone in pork butt and it was about double the size you called for so I doubled everything. This will definitely be on repeat in our house! I also can’t wait to eat the leftovers all week!

  21. This recipe is amazing!!! It turned out so tender and flavorful; my family devoured it! We ate it with the cilantro lime rice and they were an awesome combo!

  22. Thanks so much for this! First timer and it was so good. Broiling at the end a must. We made way too much so wondering if it can be frozen?

  23. Simply the BEST carnitas I have ever made. Highly recommend the Dutch oven to really caramelize everything and send these flavors through the roof. Make sure you save the onions and mix them into your shredded meat – it’s just crazy how delicious this is! I will never need another carnitas recipe again, this is a keeper!

  24. These carnitas are delicious and easy to make! I actually used an instant pot and just pressure cooked the meat for about 40 minutes, it turned out great. I would definitely recommend trying these!

  25. These carnitas are so good! Before this recipe I had never made carnitas. Now, this is one of my go-to recipes either for dinner or to meal prep for a week of lunches. So yummy!

  26. Y’all, these carnitas are SO good!! I’ve made them at least once a month since I found this recipe. So simple, delicious, and makes amazing leftovers too! After living in San Diego, I’m kind of a carnitas snob and these are IT! Juicy and crispy, what’s not to love?!

  27. Oh my gosh this recipe is just delicious! We have made it so many times now and also used short ribs in place of pork a couple times. It works both ways and is just so tasty. We usually throw in a small can of green chiles as well just because we love them. Ashlea’s recipes have been a total game changer at our house! Thank you for everything you post and the hard work you put into your brand and business! Can’t wait to see what the New Year brings!

    • Thank you so much for your sweet words Amanda and for sharing that tip on the short ribs. I’m so glad you love the recipe. Grateful for your support and looking forward to all that this year brings!

  28. These are incredible! We’ve made them a few times now and the only tweaks I made were (1) dry brining the pork the day before cooking, (2) adding jalapeños in with the onions and (3) using my immersion blender to purée the onions and jalapeños into the juice & cooking it down a liiiitle bit before adding to the meat to broil. Honestly it’s just personal preference—this recipe is GREAT as is. DONT SKIP THE BROILING!! It’s a game changer!

    • Thank you so much for sharing your favorite tips, Sarah! They sound delicious! So happy you love the recipe!

  29. OBSESSED!! I’ve made these 3 times each time they turned out perfect. So tender and easy and so. Much. Flavor. Highly recommend this recipe!

  30. These sound amazing! I’d like to make them this weekend! Any chance you have instructions for making with an instant pot?

    • Hi, Andrea! I don’t have IP instructions at this time. If you do give it a try, please feel free to share what works best for you!

  31. This recipe was delicious and makes a huge batch so it’s perfect for lunches the rest of the week (or even with eggs for breakfast :)) Thank you so much for sharing this recipe Ashlea!!

  32. Wanting to make this tonight but just had a question first. In the instructions it mentions bay leaves but in thr ingredients there is no mention of this, how many should I use? Also, is the oj freshly squeezed or can I just use oj from a jug?

    • Hi, Jennifer! 2 bay leaves should be fine and I would use freshly squeezed orange juice or an oj with no added sugar for best results. Hope you love the recipe!

  33. It was love at first sight when I saw these on Instagram. Wow, they’re incredible. I can’t believe I waited this long to make them. So flavorful it’s hard not to just eat them off the pan. I made mine into a burrito bowl. Definitely filing this one!

  34. These are so good, and easy! I doubled the recipe since my roast was 6lbs, but also had a bone in. I also used the crockpot since I only have a small duty oven. It was perfect!

  35. My husband is a carnitas connoisseur and I’ve made this 4 times now. He says it’s hands down the best carnitas he has ever had. We love this recipe!

  36. Yum! The flavor is delicious and broiling it was such a great tip I’d never thought to do before! Will definitely make this again!!

  37. This recipe is delicious!! Our family loves it. My husband is from Chiapas, Mexico and he sat down to dinner the other night, took a bite, and instantly asked me how I knew how to prepare it so well. Ha! He loved it! So do I!

  38. Another P E R F E C T recipe! Family absolutely loved it. Paired it with an avocado, tomato, cilantro, cucumber & corn salad. SO good!!! One question, the ingredients do not include bay leaf, but #3 in the directions does. I added one just to keep with the directions. This is the 3rd recipe this week that I’ve made from Ashlea and every single one was delicious!! Thank you!!!

  39. This recipe is delicious! If I am to double it (5 lb pork shoulder) how long should I cook for?

  40. Delicious and easy! I’ve never made carnitas at home but my husband asked for this to be in our monthly rotation. Even my 2 year old wanted more.

    Super easy to make in the Dutch Oven and loved the broiler technique at the end to crisp it up a bit!

    I made a pineapple pico to go with our tacos and it paired great!

  41. This is the best carnitas recipe! We had 10 pounds of pork shoulder and thought we would have leftovers to freeze. Our family was staying with us and we ended up eating it all in two days! Can’t wait to make it again soon.

  42. Wow. I made these tonight for my boyfriend and I, and we can’t stop raving about them! I’m eating them over greens and I don’t miss the taco at all. They are super flavorful, and just the right amount of spicy for our tastes. Highly recommend taking out the onions and garlic and shredding those into the meat as well. We will definitely be making this again!

  43. I am a seasoned cook but always thought carnitas was laborious. I was wrong. This is such a easy recipe. I will say – check your meat 1.5 hours into the cook time. Mine was cooked through and am glad I checked. I didn’t want it to be dry. The sauce is so flavorful and the recommendation to broil should NOT be skipped. I love that Ashlea gives recommendations on how to serve too. I had this as taco bowls with rice and avocado. A quick tip – use your stand mixer with paddle attachment to shred this quickly! A must make!! 😋

  44. You did it again! Simple ingredients that come together to make an amazing dish! These carnitas are perfection.

  45. I was really intimidated by the idea of making carnitas, but these were so easy! Definitely worth the time. I made carnitas tacos and the whole family devoured them.

  46. Soooooooooooo easy and delicious! Anything that can be a taco is my weakness, and this hit the spot. Good balance of flavors. Definitely making this again!

  47. Looooooooved these!! I actually cooked the pork in an instant pot, but followed the other instructions and W. O. W. SOOO yummy! Huge hit in our house—this is going to be added to our regular rotation.

  48. I made this for dinner last night in the crockpot. I paired with some cilantro lime rice, guacamole, and pico de Gallo. HOLY GUACAMOLE was it good!
    I’ll definitely be making this again!

  49. I just made these pork carnitas. Wow, so delicious. Thank you for posting such a fantastic recipe.

  50. This is my favorite go to recipe for pork! We make it at least once a month in my home and I’ve shared this recipe with my other friends when they embark on Whole30. Thanks for a quick and easy recipe that still provides a meal my family raves about!

  51. These carnitas were amazing! They were a hit with my family and are honestly some of the best carnitas I’ve had (I’m Mexican for reference) give them a try 😊.

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