These 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.
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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 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.
Can I make Carnitas in the Instant Pot?
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:
- Over Rice
What to serve with Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
- Homemade Tortilla Chips
- Pico De Gallo
- Spicy Chipotle Guacamole
- Creamy Confetti Corn
- Enchilada Rice
- Instant Pot Spanish Rice
- Homemade White Queso
- Spanish Rice
- Green Rice
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!
Here are more Easy Slow Cooker Recipes to try!
- Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken
- Easy Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken
- Slow Cooker Firecracker Chicken Meatballs
- Crockpot Shredded Mexican Beef
- Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken
Crispy Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
- 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
- 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.