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!

pork carnitas in slow cooker

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.

carnitas tacos on a plate



5 from 13 votes

Best Pork Carnitas

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!
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 8 hours
Total 8 hours 10 minutes
Servings 8


  • 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
  • 1/4 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 1/2 cup of the juice from the slow cooker over the meat. Broil for 8-10 minutes until crisp. Drizzle with 1/4 -1/2 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.



NOTE ON INSTANT POT METHOD:  If you are using an instant pot, you need to add 2 cups of broth to the pot for this recipe instead of 1.  Keep in mind that your pot takes time to come to pressure, and natural release so total cooking time will be about 2 hours.
NOTE ON SERVING CARNITAS:  You can scroll up above the recipe card to see a list of our favorite ways to serve this dish!


Calories: 215kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 28g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 93mg, Sodium: 808mg, Potassium: 525mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 297IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 39mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
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Hey! Nice to meet you! I'm Nichole!

Welcome to The Salty Marshmallow! I'm a mom, animal lover, photographer, & kitchen mess-maker. Here you will find the result of my decades-long passion for chasing the best flavors in the kitchen, all meant to be cooked by regular people with busy lives just like you and me.

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