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Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas

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This easy slow cooker carnitas recipe is amazing! Everything gets thrown in the slow cooker in the morning and by dinnertime, you have mouthwatering, flavorful, crispy pulled pork. Serve it up in warm tortillas with some fresh onion, cilantro, your favorite salsa, and a wedge of lime. This carnitas recipe is sure to become a family favorite.

Easy slow cooker carnitas in a white bowl with lime and cilantro in the foreground and salsa in the background.

Scroll down to the bottom of the post to get the full list of ingredients, amounts, and directions for this recipe.

Mexican Food Amor

My love for Mexican food runs deep! It’s by far and away one of my favorite foods and it’s on the shortlist as one of the things I miss most about California. Outstanding taco shops are abundant in southern California and we had a few favorites that we ate at often when we lived there. 

After moving to the south, it became a top priority mission to find good Mexican food where we lived. Although it’s possible, some of the best places aren’t as close as we’d like (or as close as we are used to). Therefore, I made it my new mission to start coming up with my own recipes for some of our favorite Mexican food dishes. First and foremost on the list, carnitas. I love carnitas!

What are Carnitas?

For those who are unfamiliar with mouthwatering carnitas, I will share a little of what I know about this dish. Translated from Spanish, carnitas means, “little meats.” It originated in the state of Michoacán, Mexico. Carnitas is made by braising or slow cooking a “Boston butt” pork roast until it’s tender and basically falling apart (think pulled pork). Traditionally, it’s served with warm flour or corn tortillas, fresh chopped onion, cilantro, and salsa. Oftentimes, it’s also served with guacamole or avocado, Mexican rice, and refried pinto or black beans. 

Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas in a white bowl.

Carnitas is often and traditionally made with lard. The pork is placed in a heavy bottom pot on the stove and slathered in it. It’s cooked slowly over low heat and as the lard melts it cooks the pork with the spices. Once the appropriate tenderness of the pork is reached, the heat is turned up to allow it to crisp.

As much as I am a traditionalist, I rarely cook with lard. Therefore, this recipe has no lard in it. Even without using lard, the flavor, tenderness, juiciness, and crispness of my carnitas are fabulous. Also, without the lard in it, this is a MUCH healthier version of carnitas.

Ingredients In Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas

Ingredients to make carnitas o a wood board including pork butt roast, chicken broth, onion, garlic, jalapeño, and cumin.

  • Pork shoulder or pork butt
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oregano
  • Cumin
  • Chicken broth
  • Onion
  • Jalapeño
  • Garlic

How to Make Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas

First, rinse and dry the pork shoulder. Then, rub all over with salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin.

Next, pour the chicken broth into the slow cooker and place the pork inside (fat cap up). Top the pork with chopped onion, jalapeño, and minced garlic.

Pork shoulder in slow cooker with chicken broth, chopped onions, jalapeño, and garlic.

Slow cook the pork in the slow cooker on low for 10 hours or on high for 6-7 hours.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Meanwhile, remove the pork from the slow cooker, place it on a wood cutting board, and save the juices. Allow the pork to cool slightly. Then, using two forks, shred the meat.

A fork pulling apart the meat of the cooked pork roast.

Once all the pork is shredded, place it in an even layer on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Using a spoon, spoon some of the juices from the slow cooker over the meat to moisten it. Place the cookie sheet in the oven for about 10 minutes to allow the edges of the shredded pork to crisp.

Take the shredded pork out of the oven, toss it, spoon some more juices over it, and return it to the oven for another 10 minutes.

Once most of the edges of the pork have crisped, take it out of the oven, and put it in a bowl garnished with chopped cilantro.

Easy slow cooker carnitas in a white bowl with lime and cilantro in the foreground and salsa in the background.

Serve carnitas with warm corn or flour tortilla, chopped onion and cilantro, and your favorite salsa. Here is my favorite. You can also serve it with some guacamole or chopped avocado, queso fresco, Mexican rice, and refried pinto or black beans.

Easy slow cooker carnitas in a taco with salsa, onion, cilantro, and a lime wedge.

The Best Leftovers

One of the many reasons I love carnitas is that it makes the best leftovers! Not only is it delicious the next day to make more tacos, but you can also make nachos, enchiladas, burritos, tostadas, tamales, or tortas with it. How about some huevos rancheros in the morning? Yum!

The pork is so deliciously seasoned, you can reheat it in a pot on the stove and add your favorite barbecue sauce to it. Carnitas also makes delicious barbecue pulled pork sandwiches. I love to pile it high with cool, creamy coleslaw and dill pickle slices. 

If you love this carnitas recipe as much as we do here on the farm, you may want to try another one of my favorite Mexican recipes, Mexican Chicken Soup.

For more delicious and easy recipes, follow me on Pinterest. I love sharing recipes with you in my stories on Instagram too. I hope you will join me!

Easy slow cooker carnitas in a white bowl with lime and cilantro in the foreground and salsa in the background.
Yield: 6 servings

Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 7 hours
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 7 hours 30 minutes

This easy slow cooker carnitas recipe is amazing! Everything gets thrown in the slow cooker in the morning and by dinnertime, you have mouthwatering, flavorful, crispy pulled pork. Serve it up in warm tortillas with some fresh onion, cilantro, your favorite salsa, and a wedge of lime. This carnitas recipe is sure to become a family favorite.

Ingredients

  • 4 pound pork shoulder (pork butt)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 jalapeño, deseeded and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

Instructions

  1. Rinse and dry the pork shoulder, rub all over with salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin.
  2. Pour the chicken broth into the slow cooker. Place the pork inside (fat cap up). Top with chopped onion, jalapeño, and minced garlic.
  3. Slow cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6-7 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Remove the pork from the slow cooker (save the juices) and allow it to cool slightly. Using two forks, shred the meat.
  5. Once all the pork is shredded, place it in an even layer on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Using a spoon, spoon some of the juices from the slow cooker over the meat to moisten it. Place the cookie sheet in the oven for about 10 minutes to allow the edges of the shredded pork to crisp.
  6. Take the shredded pork out of the oven, toss it, spoon some more juices over it, and return it to the oven for another 10 minutes.
  7. Once most of the edges of the pork have crisped, take it out of the oven, and put it in a bowl garnished with chopped cilantro.
  8. Serve carnitas with warm corn or flour tortilla, chopped onion, cilantro, a lime wedge, and your favorite salsa. (See Easy Homemade Salsa recipe in the body of the post.) You can also serve it with some guacamole or chopped avocado, queso fresco, Mexican rice, and refried pinto or black beans. 

Notes

Use the leftovers for more tacos, burritos, nachos, tortas, tostadas, or enchiladas the next day. Carnitas are also great in huevos rancheros for breakfast!

Add your favorite BBQ sauce to the carnitas the next day to make BBQ pulled pork sandwiches with the leftovers too.

Pinterest Pin for easy slow cooker carnitas.

  1. […] in it. However, you can also replace the chicken in this recipe with ground beef or even better- Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas. If you do replace the chicken for beef or pork, I like to use another can of cream of celery or […]

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