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 CarnitasCrispy 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. 

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 CarnitasCrispy 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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    17 comments
  1. 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!!!

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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!! 😋

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. 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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