Juicy, flavorful, crispy. We’re talking about these beautiful crockpot carnitas!
Favorite things in life, in order:
And one thing that has been known to transform the tacos in my life is juicy, tender, savory, fall-apart pork that is both massively flavorful (garlic, spices, and just a hint of tangy lime) and juuust browned and crispy enough to keep me snacking on little bites of it while prepping my taco ingredients.
Yes, you know it. We’re talking about crockpot carnitas.
In my life, I give bonus points to any recipe that is idiot-proof easy to make and can be popped in the slow cooker or Instant Pot to cook while you manage your normal life things. More bonus points for recipes that can be frozen, prepped ahead, or kept easily as leftovers. And let’s just say that this carnitas recipe is racking up the bonus points right now.
Are you so into this right now? I AM SO INTO THIS.
In This Post: Everything You Need For Crockpot Carnitas
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Super Simple Ingredients For Carnitas
This recipe is absolutely my go-to for “entertaining” aka “hey you guys should come over and watch the game and we’ll eat something yummy while sitting on the couch.”
Here’s what you’ll need:
- pork shoulder
- beer (or broth)
- orange juice
You can prep all your beautiful extras (guacamole, fresh cilantro and lime, sour cream, cotija cheese, radish, red onion, tortillas, pico de gallo) in advance, and maybe even run a few errands (oops, forgot the drinks, and the dog could probably use a walk, and have I showered yet today?), all while the meat does its delicious thing, needing no supervision whatsoever.
Pork Shoulder Vs. Pork Butt
So you’re in the grocery store and you can find pork shoulder but not pork butt? That’ll work great still for this carnitas recipe! Both are tough cuts from the pig’s shoulder – pork butt is just a smidge higher up on the animal. Both are really perfect cuts though for long and slow cooking, like roasting, braising, or making crispy carnitas tacos!
How To Make This Crispy Pork
- Plop the pork shoulder in your slow cooker with the garlic and massage the seasonings into the meat.
- Add in the lime juice, beer, orange juice, and salsa. Walk away and let this pork turn into something magical.
- Shred the meat and crisp it up in the oven. See more below!
Time For a Quick Browning Treatment
When it’s time for friends to arrive, you shred that meat in the crockpot (it’s okay if you have extra liquid in there), you brown it up under a broiler (THIS IS ESSENTIAL DO NOT SKIP), and you plate it up nice and pretty and let everyone compliment you for this delicious, juicy, colorful spread.
Juicy, tender, saucy, and simultaneously crispy carnitas. Truly a thing of beauty.
Easy Crockpot Carnitas: Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a substitute for the beer?
You can use chicken broth instead.
Can these be made in the Instant Pot?
Sure can! Watch our video here for how to make these easy carnitas in the Instant Pot.
I found pork butt, but I can’t find pork shoulder. Will that work?
Yes! Both are tougher cuts of meat that will do great with a long and slow cook.
Source notes: Carnitas is a staple of Mexican cooking and eating and literally means “little meats.” The method to make it can vary from person to person, but what’s always consistent is shreddable pork for tacos, tortas, and more. This is a simple slow cooker version of carnitas, but traditional carnitas recipes are typically cooked by simmering or braising the pork in oil. You can learn all about the history of carnitas here. Also, to explore Mexican food more, highly recommend checking out the vibrant and fun Chicano Eats cookbook, written by Esteban Castillo and described as “Mexican food with an immigrant sensibility that weaves seamlessly between Mexican and American genres and cultures.”
These are the easiest crockpot carnitas and simple enough for anyone to make! Juicy, flavorful, and perfectly browned with a crispy crust.
4–5 lbs. pork shoulder
5 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chipotle hot sauce (optional)
- juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup orange juice
12 ounces beer (a standard lager works great for this!)
1/2 cup salsa (I like to use a less chunky one)
- Place the pork shoulder in the slow cooker. Roughly chop the garlic and place in the slow cooker (I actually kind of rubbed it onto the meat to get as much garlic flavor as possible, but you could just toss it in, too).
- Sprinkle the meat with salt, cumin, chili powder, black pepper, oregano, cinnamon, and cayenne. Rub seasonings onto the pork.
- Add lime juice, orange juice, beer, and salsa. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
- Shred meat with two forks directly in the slow cooker (or take out, shred, and replace in sauce). It should fall apart easily.
- Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the shredded meat on the cooking sheet and pour a few spoonfuls of sauce over the top. Broil for 5-10 minutes or until you get browned edges on the pork.
- Serve on tortillas with fresh cilantro, avocado, and lime juice.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Method: Slow Cooker
Keywords: crockpot carnitas, easy carnitas recipe, carnitas recipe
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