Pork Carnitas

Total Time:
7 hr 15 min
15 min
7 hr

4 to 6 servings

  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder (or 2 1/2 pounds bone-in)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and ribs removed, chopped
  • 1 orange, cut in half
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Rinse and dry the pork shoulder. Salt and pepper liberally. Mix the oregano and the cumin with olive oil and rub all over pork. Place the pork in a slow cooker and top with the onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Squeeze over the juice of the orange and add the two halves. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high 4 hours.

Once the meat is tender, remove from slow cooker and let cool slightly before pulling apart with a fork. In a large saute pan, heat the vegetable oil over high heat. Press the carnitas into the oil and fry until crusty on one side. Serve.

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    102 Reviews
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    This recipe rocks! I was skeptical to try it but still wanted to give it a whirl. After reading some of the reviews I decided I would bump up the amount of spices; extra cumin, coriander instead of oregano, garlic powder (including 3 garlic cloves), S&P, and added the juice of 2 limes, onion, jalapeno, and orange. Ah-amazing! I could've eaten the entire pan after I threw it in the skillet to put a little crisp on it!! Oh, and I used about 2 pounds of pork loin because that's what I had/like. Served with flour tortillas, cilantro lime rice, extra cilantro and a dab of sour cream. Sooooooo full of flavor I might make it my midnight snack! Try it, you will not be disappointed!
    I hate to be the minority but mine lacked flavor as well. I have cooked a lot of different slow cooker pork recipes and have never had such a bland result which was disappointing. Next time I will use lime and definitely take the advice of one rater and flavor the meat again while it is frying.
    I make this recipe ALL the time for myself and parties. It has been a huge hit! The only thing I'd recommend is to salt the meat again while frying--it helps to bring out the flavor.
    I made this last night and it was a huge success! And so easy! I did add a Mexican coke to the liquid in the slow cooker as I thought that the amount of liquid was insufficient for a slow cooker recipe. After about 7 hours of cooking my roast was falling off the bone tender so using a pair of tongs I easily shredded the pork and left it in the slow cooker for another hour and a half to infuse with the flavor of the broth. I did take the extra few minutes to fry the carnitas after I removed them from the slow cooker and I believe this makes all the difference in the world. The sweet Mexican coke caramelized on the pork and gave us crispy crunchy delicious pork. DON'T SKIP THIS STEP! I promise you won't regret it. The pork is good straight out of the slow cooker, but AMAZING after you fry it! Makes a really good stuffing for tacos or burritos.
    How did you fry afterwards with the coke? Did you heat some oil in a pan and throw the shredded meat in there?
    this my 2nd time to making this recipe...thank you so much melissa for the recipe...
    Love this recipe!! So easy too!!
    I guess I will be the minority here and say that this wasn't as good as I expected. I like most of Melissa's recipes, but just like the other reviewers had pointed out, this one lacked flavor. I also didn't like how overpowering the orange was in this recipe. Maybe next time I will try to double the seasoning and omit the orange altogether. I am sure that with a few tweaks this could be an ok carnitas recipe. To use up the not so great leftovers, I will probably add some chipotle peppers, green chiles, corn and tomatoes and make an echillada filling to use up the 4 lbs of meat I made.
    This recipe tastes like authentic carnitas! Its awesome!
    I am getting ready to make this now. I hope someone sees this quickly.....My question is the liquid involved. The only listed liquid is the juice on one orange, which is about 1/4 cup? How can this be enough for a slow cooker??? Any help?
    you don't actually need that much liquid in a slow cooker, just 1/2 cup 
    Really good! To get that extra flavor, my butcher recommended adding a bottle of Mexican Coke! This is so tender and yummy but when you take it out and fry it up a bit, that coke flavor carmelizes and just takes it to another level. I recommend adding the Coke.
    Pork carnitas is delicious. I also love how it's so versatile. You can make some brown or white rice ladle some of the meat and juices on top or on the side with beans and a salad, or just rap it up in a tortilla with rice, bean, tomatoes, avocado, and some Greek yogurt. 
    These were absolutely delicious!! I did not fry them in the oil at the end, as it really seemed unnecessary. My entire family loved them. We served them on tortillas, topped with splashes of lime juice. My kids topped theirs with mozzarella cheese, and my husband and I had raw spinach on ours. (no lettuce or cabbage chopped up, and the spinach was ready-to-go)
    These carnitas are delicious. I had never eaten carnitas so I was a little afraid. I follow the recipe exactly! (the salt and pepper I use liberally on the pork) Because Carnitas meat is usually inexpensive, we have this at least once every 2 weeks. We eat them on corn tortillas with sour cream, cheese and salsa. Yum!!!
    This is a great recipe. So easy! It has become a "go to" for crockpot nights in my home. I've found that the lack of flavor can be a result of not salting the meat enough. Be sure to salt and pepper it before you put the cumin/oregano mix on. Seems to matter. 
    I've also stopped frying it after taking it out to save time (the reason why we crockpotted in the first place). 
    I also put some cilantro, garlic, juice from two limes and olive oil in a food processor and then mix it with the rice. Top it with some Mexican style cheese and a corn/bean salsa ...Nice!
    I love this recipe!!! If you serve it blue corn tortillas, topped with a little cilantro, avocado, pickled red onions, a twist of lime juice and a little queso blanco, it is a perfect bite.
    I have made this several times and gotten raves on it. So easy and inexpensive to make. The house smells wonderful while this is cooking in the crockpot. This is perfect for a crowd and also makes for tasty leftovers. I made it exactly as the recipe states and the flavors are fantastic.
    I had a 7 pound bone in so cooked on high for 9 hours. I used 4X the spices and about 5 jalapenos. The meat is cooked, tender, and falling apart as it should, but it doesn't taste like much of anything even after frying.
    I was a little disappointed that the meat wasn't more flavorful. The smells coming out of the crockpot all day had my mouth watering, but the taste just didn't really deliver. It's still good, and I will likely make it again, but it needs more flavor.
    A go to dish. Great to store leftovers in freezer for a quick taco night.
    Wow, this is the exact recipe from La Fogata restaurant. Not exactly original.
    Great comment. Glad that the recipe is similar to a restaurant that no one has heard of. I can't imagine that somehow out of the 6 billion people on the planet that there are two similar recipes!!!!
    11041097 did not say it was similar, they said it was the exact recipe, so maybe that would explain it better, and your comment about being similar does not match their comment, think maybe that's the reason??? :)
    11041097, maybe I can't see it, but where did she say it was an original recipe???
    This recipe, first of all, is not bad whatsoever. It's tasty, easy, and juicy, though maybe not quite as flavorful as homemade carnitas usually would be. I didn't find the orange to be overpowering, though it may depend on the orange in question. I find it better to add chicken stock to the crock pot at the beginning, then it really makes everyone say "mmmm!" with every bite. In my house, this one got the reviews "not as amazing as usual, but definitely really good." I also like adding a couple tablespoons of light brown sugar, we missed that sweetness this time without it, but that's more a personal preference as I haven't seen it in a carnitas recipe before. I didn't see any reason in letting the meat cool before shredding; I've always just opened the crock pot and let it fall apart by just grabbing at it with some tongs, then removing about 2/3rds of the juice with a ladle. The frying of the meat was ok, I usually pop it in the oven for about 15 minutes instead to keep the fat down.
    This recipe just played to rave reviews in my house. I'm "hard to please" when it comes to Mexican/Southwestern recipes, but I really liked this one. I followed the recipe to a tee (although I accidentally dropped a couple of bay leaves in) and served it with pintos, Mexican rice, and lettuce/salsa salad.  
    Next time, I think I'll probably marinate the pork over night...maybe in some lime juice and chilies. I really like this one.
    These carnitas are delicious. I cooked for about 8 hours on low then shredded the meat and added it back to the crockpot for another 2 hours with the juices (that I strained). Definitely needed much more seasoning when I tasted the carnitas by itself, but once I added it to my rice/beans/guac etc it was deeeelicious
    Not a favorite. The meat was kind of dry and although it smelled good, was lacking in flavor, with an overbearing orange note. Ended up shredding the meat and mixing with BBQ sauce for pulled pork in order to salvage a ruined roast. Next time, I'll just make the pulled pork BBQ from the get-go!!!
    FABULOUS!!! The flavor was perfect, and the meat was so tender it just fell off the bone. One taste, and I decide to serve it right out of the slow cooker (I omitted the pan fry step). I served it on soft flour tortillas with sour cream, sliced avocado, and Ellie Krieger's mango salsa. Everyone went back for seconds. This one is a keeper - easy and delicious!
    Great tasting and easy dish! I used 3lbs. bonless pork tenderloin instead of shoulder and it turned out incredibly well in just 6 hours.
    This was easy and fun and it made my whole house smell great!! I started it last night and we are ready today/ tonight for taco Tuesday!! I have my Iron Skillet ready to go and I plan on frying it in bacon grease just to finish it off. The taste is perfect ! Not to hot and not to mild. Perfect for taco's or Burritos or even Nachos. One can add spice Hot Sauce ect !! But this is perfect to serve for Kids and Adults !!  
    Thank you Melissa
    Really good only suggestion, fry with bacon grease gives it good flavor! Thank you!
    The key is browning at the end. Don't skip it.
    Awesome. Don't skip the frying!! 4.5 lb shoulder took around 9 hours. Reduce the liquids by half, dip the pulled (and fried pork, place in a tortilla/taco, add your favorite toppings and enjoy. I used Canola oil on super high heat for about 1-2 minutes. Still cannot believe the flavor.
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    Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchen