Best Pork Carnitas are easy, cooked to perfection in the slow cooker or instant pot, and come out juicy and crisp every time! This Carnitas recipe hast he best blend of spices for the most flavor!
This is one of our family favorite, authentic, Mexican recipes! I've made it so that you can cook it up in your slow cooker, or instant pot, so there's a good option for everyone! I love that this pork comes out perfectly juicy, fall apart tender, and majorly flavor packed! Then, of course we pop it under the broiler for a few minutes to get that lovely crisp on it, so good! Carnitas are made from pork shoulder, which is also known as pork butt. You may see the terms used interchangeably depending on your grocery store, but don't worry they're the same thing! You will always want to use this cut of meat for this recipe because it has a higher fat content and that's what keeps our meat nice and juicy! Basically, the longer cooking time allows the fat to really melt down into the meat, it truly shreds apart soft as butter when it's done! One thing you don't need to worry about at all is bone in or bone out, whichever you can find will do just fine. The pork shoulder simmers in a simple mix of spices, broth, fresh orange juice, lime, onions, and garlic! If you're looking for a few more Mexican faves, try out our Authentic Machaca Recipe and Chicken Tinga too!
What Can I Make with This Recipe?
This cut of meat is super versatile, and the sky is the limit for how you want to eat your carnitas! Traditionally, they are served in soft corn tortillas with lots of cilantro and fresh dried onion. Here are a few recipes, and other ways we like to serve them at our house.
- As far as tortillas, you can use your fave and make these into soft/crunchy tacos, or even burritos, or nachos!
- Try out our Pico De Gallo Recipe for these! It's so fresh and really compliments the meat, not to mention it's fast and easy to make.
- Black Bean Salsa is not only a personal favorite but also a reader fave, it's good with anything! You could top the carnitas with it, or even serve on the side.
- If you want to whip up a homemade salsa be sure to try out our Salsa Verde recipe! Or, you of course can use your favorite bottled red or green salsa, taco sauce, or even hot sauce.
- One of the things I love most is to serve this with a big dollop of Guacamole! Our guacamole is SUPER popular, you have to try it, you'll love it! Honestly, Mango Salsa is also great if you're up for something different.
- If you're looking for a great side, have this with some Spanish Rice, or even pile it in a bowl with the rice and lots of toppings!
- Other options we love are sour cream, chopped cilantro, extra fresh oranges and limes for squeezing over the meat, queso fresco, and red or green onion.
Best Pork Carnitas
- 4-5 Pound Pork Shoulder Pork Butt
- 1 Tablespoon Oregano
- 2 teaspoons Ground Cumin
- 2 teaspoons Chili Powder
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika OPTIONAL
- ¼ teaspoon Cinnamon
- 2 Medium Oranges
- 2 Large Limes
- 1 Cup Beef Broth
- 1 Large White or Yellow Onion Diced
- 3 Cloves Garlic Minced
Slow Cooker Method:
- Remove the pork from its package and place in the bottom of a 6 quart or larger slow cooker.
- In a small bowl stir together the oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, paprika, and cinnamon.
- Season the pork evenly on all sides, rubbing the spice mixture into the meat.
- Cut the oranges and limes in half and squeeze the juice out evenly over the meat.
- Pour in the broth, and sprinkle in the onion and garlic.
- Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours until tender.
- Once the meat is tender, preheat your oven broiler to high.
- Shred the meat onto a large baking sheet and spread out in an even layer. Pour ½ cup of the juice from the slow cooker over the meat. Broil for 8-10 minutes until crisp. Drizzle with ¼ -½ cup more of the juices if desired.
Instant Pot Method:
- Season the pork as listed above. Add the pork to the bottom of a 6 quart or larger instant pot (see note for liquid).
- Squeeze the orange and lime juices over the meat, then add in the broth, onions, and garlic.
- Place the lid on the pot and set the valve to sealing position. Cook on either the MANUAL or MEAT setting at 15 minutes per pound of meat. (60 minutes for 4 pounds).
- Once the cooking time is up, allow the pot to come to pressure naturally. Once the pressure has gone down completely, open the sealing valve. Remove the meat from the pot and shred. Follow step 8 from above to crisp the carnitas in the oven if desired.
The biggest shoulder at my store was 3.5lbs. Should I adjust the cooking time for slow cooker?
I would still give it a good 8 hours of cook time in the slow cooker 🙂
SO. GOOD. I've tried other carnitas recipes and they just weren't as flavorful. I didn't have an orange so I added an extra lime and it still turned out great. Served it with the Black Bean Salsa and some tortilla chips. My husband and kids probably ate half of it while I was shredding it out of the slow cooker, they loved it.
JESSICA I BLOUIN says
I honestly didn't know I could make anything decent until I got an Instant Pot. I made this last night and it was the most amazing thing I've ever eaten. I tried your beef stew recipe a few weeks ago and floored everyone away so I thought I would try this and I'm so happy I did. Will do another one of yours this week and I'm sure it will be delicious. Thank you so much!
Do you use pork shoulder on the bone or boneless? I have bone in, would that affect cooking time/weight needed?
As long as you're within the 4-5 pounds you don't need to change anything for bone in or boneless 🙂
Thank you for the quick reply!
I'm wondering if I can make this ahead of time and freeze it
Yes! It will freeze fine for up to 3 months
Lisa Huff says
I bet all that citrus with those spices is amazing!! A great family-friendly dinner, yum!
Oh I am totally craving tacos now. These look amazing.
Kathryn Donangelo says
I love Pork Carnitas and this recipe seems so easy. I can't wait to try it out! Perfect for taco Tuesday 🙂
This is my new fav recipe for carnitas. The citrus lends such a lovely flavor, and it's so simple to make! A+
Looks amazing! Can't wait to try this with the family.
Arturo Maldonado says
This is must try for me