Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas are cooked low and slow for 8 hours until fall-apart tender. Then they get broiled in the oven until perfectly crispy on the outside! They are amazing in tacos, burritos, salads, and quesadillas.

Short on time? Try my Instant Pot Chicken Carnitas or my Instant Pot Pork Carnitas! Both of these recipes can be made in under an hour!

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas in a baking tray being served with tongs.

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

These Crispy Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas (aka Mexican pulled pork) is one of the best recipes I’ve ever made! These crockpot pork carnitas come out juicy and tender on the inside and nice and crispy on the outside.

The pork is cooked low and slow for 8 hours until it is fall-apart tender. It is so flavorful thanks to the carnitas seasoning, diced green chili, freshly squeezed lime juice, garlic, and onions. After the pork carnitas are cooked I transfer them to the oven and broil until golden brown and crispy. This step is crucial and makes the best carnitas!

My favorite way to serve these authentic carnitas is in tacos with tons of fresh cilantro and diced onion on top! Pork Carnitas are also great on loaded nachos, in burritos, or on top of a loaded salad.

Ingredients in a slow cooker.

Ingredients for Pork Carnitas

  • Pork: For the cut of meat, you can use either pork shoulder or pork butt. Make sure you trim off the excess fat and sear it before adding it to the crockpot to lock in the juices!
  • Onion & Garlic: These two key ingredients pack in so much flavor.
  • Chiles: For a kick of heat I added one can of diced green chiles. If you can’t find them in your grocery store, add in a chile pepper of your choice, or add a little extra chili powder.
  • Broth: Chicken broth provides salt and liquid to braise the meat perfectly.
  • Herbs & spices: For the best flavor, I added bay leaves, salt and pepper, cumin, oregano, chili powder, and chipotle chili powder which is spicy and smoky. If you can’t find chipotle chili powder, smoked paprika with a little extra chili powder would be fine!
  • Lime: The juice of one whole lime is added to give the pork carnitas a kick of tartness and to balance out the other flavors. It is delicious! I like to add a squeeze of fresh lime when I’m serving it as well.

How to make Authentic Carnitas

  • Brown the pork: I like to sear the pork before adding it to the slow cooker. It adds so much flavor and also helps to lock in the juices! Make sure to choose either skinless pork butt or pork shoulder for the best carnitas. To sear the pork start by heating oil in a large pan over high heat. Add the pork and sear on each side until browned, about 1-2 minutes per side.
  • Slow cook: Transfer pork to a large slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours or until the pork is tender. Remove the bay leaves.
  • Shred the meat: Remove the meat from the slow cooker and shred. (Make sure to keep the liquid)
  • Broil: Transfer the shredded pork to a baking sheet and broil for 5 minutes or until crispy. Remove from the oven and pour 1/4 cup of the reserved juices from the slow cooker onto the crispy pork and toss. Place the baking sheet back in the broiler for an additional 5 minutes or until the meat is crispy. Pour an additional 1/4 cup liquid over the crispy pork and serve immediately with cilantro for serving, if desired.

Storage & Reheating Instructions

  • Store: The pork can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Reheat: The best way to reheat pork carnitas is to re broil them until crispy or heat them up in a skillet with a little bit of olive oil!
  • Freeze for up to 3 months in an airtight container or zip-top bag.

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas in a baking tray with lime and cilantro garnish.

Can I make Carnitas in the Instant Pot?

Yes! If you are short on time but still want tender fall-apart pork cook the carnitas in the pressure cooker! Try my recipe for Instant Pot Chicken Carnitas or my Instant Pot Pork Carnitas!

Can this be made with chicken?

Absolutely! Simply substitute chicken breasts or thighs for the pork and cook for 4-5 hours on low or until tender (the chicken should shred easily). Broil as directed and serve!

Ways to serve Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

I love serving these pork carnitas with a generous sprinkle of cilantro and extra lime wedges. They go great in:

  • Tacos
  • Salads
  • Quesadillas
  • Enchiladas
  • Tamales
  • Burritos
  • Nachos
  • Tostadas
  • Over Rice

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas in a baking tray being served with tongs.

What to serve with Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

Tips for Success

  • Be sure to sear the pork before slow cooking it. Searing the meat adds a ton of flavor and locks in the juices making the pork carnitas taste even better! This process is called braising when you both sear the meat and cook it in liquid (broth).
  • This recipe is perfect for freezing! I like to freeze half for later when I’m making this for just my family as the recipe feeds 6-8 people.
  • Don’t skip the broiling! This makes the pork carnitas perfectly crispy. It is my favorite part!

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas in a baking tray being served with tongs.

Here are more Easy Slow Cooker Recipes to try!

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Crispy Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

4.78 from 45 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 6 -8
Crispy Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas. Cooked low and slow for 8 hours then broiled in the oven until crispy on the outside!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 4-5 pound pork shoulder/pork butt trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 medium onion roughly chopped
  • 1 4-ounce can diced green chiles
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • cilantro for serving if desired

Instructions

Images:
  • Heat oil in a large pan over high heat. Add the pork and sear on each side until browned, about 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer pork to a large slow cooker.
  • Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours or until the pork is tender. Remove the bay leaves.
  • Remove the meat from the slow cooker and shred. (Make sure to keep the liquid)
  • Transfer the shredded pork to a baking sheet and broil for 5 minutes or until crispy.
  • Remove from the oven and pour 1/4 cup of the reserved juices from the slow cooker onto the crispy pork and toss.
  • Place the baking sheet back in the broiler for an additional 5 minutes or until the meat is crispy. Pour an additional 1/4 cup liquid over the crispy pork and serve immediately with cilantro for serving, if desired.
  • The pork can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.
Nutrition Facts
Crispy Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
Amount Per Serving
Calories 320 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Fat 16g25%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 124mg41%
Sodium 702mg31%
Potassium 761mg22%
Carbohydrates 6g2%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 37g74%
Vitamin A 525IU11%
Vitamin C 10mg12%
Calcium 62mg6%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Crispy Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas, Easy Slow Cooker Recipes, Easy Weeknight Dinner, Pork

 

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Comments - page 1/10

    • Hi Caitlin!

      Yes this will work perfectly with chicken. I would cook on high or 4 hours or on low for 6.

      Thanks!

      Kelley

    • Marie

      Can’t wait to get to the store tonight and make this ??????

  • Jeannie Johansen

    You rock! This was so good I can’t even describe it. Perfect! I have tried making carnitas as well as pulled pork so many times. It always turned out dry & bland. Usually the dog got it. Never again. Thank you!

  • Jeannie Johansen

    Poor Buddy. He will no longer be eating carnitas….it’s all too good to share

  • phil

    couple questions,

    1. after it is broiled, why does it have to refrigerated in an airtight container? is it ok to just put foil or saran wrap over the baking pan and refrigerated that?

    2. would it be a good idea to marinate the pork over night before browning and slow cooking it?

    • Hi Phil,

      I always prefer to put whatever I cooked in a different container than the one cooked in for food safety.

      You can’t go wrong marinating the pork. I think that’s an excellent idea!!

      Thanks & Enjoy!

      Kelley

    • Marie

      Can’t wait to get to the store tonight and make this ???????

    • Hi Cailey,

      Pork carnitas is not a type of meat. Is there another name for the type of meat you would like to substitute so I can better assist?

      Thanks!

      Kelley

  • Travis

    This recipe is a WINNER! This is EXACTLY what I want when I think of Carnitas. This has been added to the favorites list.

  • Amanda

    I made this a few weeks ago and it was absolutely amazing! Only change I made was instead of chipotle powder I used a few chopped up canned chipotle peppers. It was so good! My family has requested I make this this upcoming week, and for 2 little picky eating girls….that’s an accomplishment!

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