This is a classic recipe for slow cooker pork carnitas that's finished by broiling in the oven until crispy. The pork is slow cooked with fresh orange & lime juice to keep it tender & flavorful.
About This Recipe
These carnitas are cooked with a traditional mix of spices (chili powder, cumin & oregano) along with orange & lime juice.
The result is perfectly tender, flavorful pork that's broiled in the oven until the edges are caramelized & crispy.
This recipe can be prepped in about 5 minutes and then you 'set it & forget it' in your slow cooker until it's done cooking. It's an easy dinner to make in the morning and serve in the evening.
Also, these carnitas are tasty as tacos! Here's the full recipe: How to Make Carnitas Tacos.
What Is Carnitas?
Carnitas are a Mexican dish that's traditionally made by simmering pork in lard or oil. In this version we skip the lard and cook the pork in a slow cooker until tender.
How to Make Slow Cooker Carnitas
To make slow cooker carnitas, you'll start by making a spice mix and then rubbing it over your pork. The pork then goes into the slow cooker along with fresh orange juice, lime juice, onion and garlic.
You'll cook the pork in the slow cooker until tender, shred it, and then broil it in the oven until crispy.
What Kind of Meat Is Used for Carnitas?
Pork shoulder or pork butt are used and they are nearly the same cut of meat. Both are fatty and very tender when slow cooked. This recipe calls for boneless pork shoulder or butt.
Tips & Tricks for the Recipe
- How to know when it's done: this recipe takes 8 to 10 hours to cook on low or 5 to 6 hours to cook on high. The meat should be so tender that it shreds easily, almost falling apart. You can also use a meat thermometer (145 degrees Fahrenheit is considered done).
- To make it crispy: to make these carnitas crispy you'll broil them in the oven. Turn the broiler on as soon as they go in & keep a close eye as they near the end of the 7 to 10 minute cook time. The edges should be browned & caramelized.
- Add fresh lime: serve your carnitas with a slice of fresh lime and squeeze it on before eating for some added flavor.
How to Store Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
- In the fridge: store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- In the freezer: store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Freeze with some of the liquid from the slow cooker to prevent the pork from drying out.
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
- Total Time: 8 hours 15 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
A simple recipe for classic slow cooker pork carnitas. The pork is slow cooked with orange & lime juice and then broiled until crispy in the oven. Eat these carnitas alone or in tacos, burritos, nachos & more!
- 4 - 5 pounds boneless (skinless pork shoulder or pork butt)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 oranges (juiced)
- 3 limes (juiced)
- 1 yellow onion (quartered)
- 3 garlic cloves (chopped)
- In a small bowl, make the spice rub: stir together chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper.
- Rub the spice mix over the pork, covering all sides.
- Place the pork in the slow cooker. Add orange juice and lime juice. Add onion and garlic on top of the pork.
- Cover and cook on low for 8 - 10 hours or high for 5 - 6 hours. The pork should be cooked through and tender enough to easily shred.
- Remove the pork from the slow cooker and place on a cutting board. Let cool for 5 - 10 minutes and then shred using two forks.
- Add the shredded pork to a baking sheet in 1 layer and pour over 1 cup of liquid from the slow cooker.
- Place the pork in the oven and turn on to broil at 450 degrees. Broil 7 - 10 minutes, until the edges of the pork are darkened and crispy.
- To serve: if desired, pour additional liquid from the slow cooker over the pork before serving. You can eat these carnitas alone or in tacos, burritos, nachos, etc!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
- Category: Main Course
Keywords: canitas, pulled pork, mexican, slow cooker, easy, pork, bbq, dinner
What is the best way to reheat this if you put in freezer.
Hi Heather! Here's a couple options for reheating these carnitas if they're frozen. In both cases you'll want to take it out of the freezer and let it thaw for 24 hours in the fridge first.
1.) Microwave: microwave until hot & the internal temperature of the pork should be 165 degrees.
2.) Oven: wrap in foil with a couple ounces of water or orange juice. Bake in an oven preheated to 225 degrees until the pork reaches 165 degrees. Broil for a couple minutes to make it crispy.
The oven method is best to keep the texture/moisture of the pork but both are tasty! 🙂
Looking forward to grilling season! Appreciate the post - trying to learn as much as I can before the Spring is in full swing.