Carnitas are a traditional Mexican dish comprised of shredded slow-cooked pork. The traditional cooking method for this dish is similar to confit. The pork is slowly braised in lard in a copper pot for hours. Then towards the end the heat is increased in order to give the pork a crispy exterior. While nothing beats the real deal you can still enjoy tasty carnitas at home without spending hours toiling over a hot pot or dealing with buckets of lard. All you need is Suvie (or a slow cooker) and a little bit of time. Served wrapped in soft tortillas with homemade salsa, quesa fresco, and fresh guacamole, this is one dish that you will keep coming back for more! Follow this simple guide to make perfectly cooked slow cooker carnitas every time.
Ingredients and Tools
- Boneless pork butt or pork shoulder (2-3 lbs)
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 4 cloves crushed garlic
- 1 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 large diced onion
- 3 diced fresh chilis (we used jalapenos)
- 3 large strips orange peel
- Soft corn or flour taco wraps
- Queso Fresco cheese
- Salsa or pico de gallo
- Sour cream
*Ingredient quantities are for a slow cooker, if you’re making for Suvie you can halve the recipe
- Suvie or a slow cooker
- Baking tray
If the pork still has the fat cap attached cut several incisions into the fat in a cross hatch pattern. Pat the pork but dry with a paper towel and season generously with the salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, combine the cumin, garlic, oregano, and olive oil. Coat the pork with the cumin, garlic, and oregano mixture making sure to get it into any crevices.
If the pork is too large to fit in the Suvie pan, cut into pieces. Combine the orange juice and chicken stock in the Suvie pan (you can split it between two if necessary). Place the pork in the Suvie pan and add onions, chilis, and orange peel. Place in the upper right and/or the upper left cooking zone.
Add water to the reservoir, enter the Slow Cook settings and cook.
Slow Cook Settings
Protein: High, 8 hours
Starch: 0 minutes
After the cook, remove the pan or pans.
Slow Cooker Instructions
Combine the orange juice and chicken stock in the slow cooker pot. Place the pork butt into the pot. Add the onions, chilis, and orange peel. Enter the slow cooker settings and cook:
Low: 10 hours
High: 6 Hours
Once the cook is finished, remove the pork from the pot. Skim off the fat from the top of the liquid. Do not discard the cooking liquid.
Place the pork in a large bowl or in a baking sheet and shred it with two forks.
After the cook, skim of the fat from the liquid and drain from the pan but reserve it to add back to the pork.
Shred the pork with two forks and return to Suvie. Broil for 8-10 minutes until the tips of the pork is crispy.
Remove from Suvie and add a ladleful of the cooking mixture. Stir to combine and serve.
Place the shredded pork in a baking tray in an even layer. Spread a large ladleful of the liquid over the pork. Broil for about 10 minutes or until the edges are starting to crisp.
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp of oil. Once the oil is hot add the pork to the pan (you might have to do this batches). Add a large ladleful of the cooking liquid and mix. Sear the pork turning occasionally until the edges become crispy. Remove from heat and serve.
Recipes to try
Carnitas-Tamale Shepherd’s Pie
East Carolina Pulled Pork
Pulled Pork with Beans and Coleslaw
Cider-Braised Pulled Pork
Do I need to use the same ingredients?
Nope, the spice and liquid ingredients we have suggested are just that, suggestions.
Isn’t this basically pulled pork?
Not quite, but there are definitely similarities. Pulled pork and carnitas are both involve cooking pork over low heat until tender, however, there are a few crucial differences. Pulled pork is an American barbecue dish while carnitas is Mexican. Pulled pork is traditionally coated in a dry rub and then smoked. conversely, carnitas are often braised in oil or lard. Finally, pulled pork is often mixed with BBQ sauce straight after shredding before serving. Carnitas, on the other hand, are seared over a high heat towards the end of the cooking process which gives them their distinctly crispy texture.
Can I use bone-in pork?
Of course! This technique will work with boneless and bone-in pork.