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Pork Carnitas (Slow Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork)

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Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas or Mexican Pulled Pork is the best Mexican pork recipe to stuff it into a tortilla, in tacos or turn it into a burrito bowl!

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas or Mexican Pulled Pork is the best Mexican pork recipe whether you stuff it into a tortilla, taco or turn it into a burrito bowl!
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Recipe

This pork carnitas recipe for the slow cooker is easy to make and comes out fork tender. Coming home from work and smelling this when you walk in the door is heavenly. The prep-time is fast, it only takes 15 minutes to prep which you can do the night before. Serve this as tacos, or rice bowls and use the leftovers for the week! If you prefer using a pressure cooker, see my Instant Pot Pork Carnitas recipe, and if you prefer beef over pork, you will love this Mexican Beef.

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas or Mexican Pulled Pork is the best Mexican pork recipe whether you stuff it into a tortilla, taco or turn it into a burrito bowl!

Making carnitas in the slow cooker is so easy, and the pork comes out juicy and tender. This is always on rotation in my house because it makes enough for several meals making this great for meal prep.

What are Carnitas?

If you go to any Mexican restaurant you’ll be sure to find carnitas on the menu. All throughout Mexico you’ll find lots of hole-in-the-wall restaurants that make the best authentic carnitas. They slow cook the pork in lard, like a confit which makes the pork fork tender. Luckily you can easily make them from scratch without all the lard and excess calories with delicious results in the slow cooker!

Tips for Perfect Pork Carnitas in the Slow Cooker

  • Always brown the meat! Browning the pork first is essential so don’t skip this step. Pork shoulder is very inexpensive and you can make a few meals out of this.
  • Easy Prep! To make mornings easier, prep this in the evening, it only takes about 15 minutes the night before. Get it ready and refrigerate it so you simply take it out and plug it in when you get up.

Ingredients:

  • Pork: Use a boneless or bone-in pork shoulder blade roast, or pork butt, trimmed of excess fat.
  • Carnitas Seasoning: kosher salt, black pepper, ground cumin, sazon seasoning, dry adobo seasoning, dried oregano and bay leaves.
  • Aromatics and flavor: fresh garlic cloves and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
  • Chicken broth, for liquid. You can also add orange juice or lime juice.

How To Make Carnitas

  1. Season the pork with salt and pepper.
  2. Let it cool, then using a sharp pairing knife, insert blade into pork, cutting small holes and insert garlic slivers all the way in so you no longer see them.
  3. Then brown the pork in a pan over high heat on all sides. Transfer to the slow cooker.
  4. Season pork generously with cumin, adobo, sazon, oregano all over and transfer to the slow cooker.
  5. Add chicken broth, bay leaves and chipotle peppers.
  6. Cook low for 8 hours, or until the pork easily shreds apart.
  7. Shred pork using two forks and combine well with the cooked liquid that accumulated at the bottom.
  8. Remove bay leaves and adjust salt and cumin as needed. Let it slow cook another 15-30 minutes.

What to Serve with Carnitas

My family loves this so many ways, and since this recipe makes a lot, leftovers are great! Here’s a few suggestions:

  1. Carnitas Tacos. Serve them on charred corn tortillas to make pork carnitas tacos topping them with avocado and pico de gallo.
  2. Burritos. Use a large flour tortilla and make a carnitas burrito, with rice, guacamole, black beans and salsa.
  3. Bowls. Make a pork carnitas burrito bowl serving the carnitas over cilantro lime rice. Top it with chopped lettuce, corn salsa, guacamole, and cheese.
  4. Mexican Rice – you can make a platter with rice and re-fried beans.
  5. Salads. Serve it over a big salad with avocado, pico de gallo and your favorite dressing. I like to use shredded cabbage as my base, but Romaine lettuce would also work.

How To Store

This recipe makes a lot! A whole pork roast will make enough for more that one meal. Leftover carnitas can be stored in the refrigerator 4 to 5 days, and reheated to be used in sandwiches, tacos, enchiladas, etc. It will last in the freezer, in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas or Mexican Pulled Pork is the best Mexican pork recipe whether you stuff it into a tortilla, taco or turn it into a burrito bowl!Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas or Mexican Pulled Pork is the best Mexican pork recipe whether you stuff it into a tortilla, taco or turn it into a burrito bowl!Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas or Mexican Pulled Pork is the best Mexican pork recipe whether you stuff it into a tortilla, taco or turn it into a burrito bowl!Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas or Mexican Pulled Pork is the best Mexican pork recipe whether you stuff it into a tortilla, taco or turn it into a burrito bowl!

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Pork Carnitas (Slow Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork)

4.95 from 71 votes
4
Cals:160
Protein:20
Carbs:1
Fat:7
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas or Mexican Pulled Pork is the best Mexican pork recipe whether you stuff it into a tortilla, taco or turn it into a burrito bowl!
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas or Mexican Pulled Pork is the best Mexican pork recipe whether you stuff it into a tortilla, taco or turn it into a burrito bowl!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 8 hours 30 minutes
Total: 8 hours 40 minutes
Yield: 11 servings
Serving Size: 1 /2 cup

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder blade roast, trimmed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 6 cloves garlic, cut into thin slivers
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sazon, homemade or packaged
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry adobo seasoning, I used Goya
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 3/4 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, to taste
  • 2 bay leaves

Instructions

Season and brown the pork

  • Season the pork on both sides with salt and black pepper.
  • Using a sharp knife, insert blade into pork, cutting small holes and insert garlic slivers all the way in so you no longer see them.
  • In a large skillet on high heat, brown pork on all sides for about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add pork to slow cooker

  • Place pork in slow cooker, and season generously with cumin, adobo, sazon, oregano on all sides.
  • Pour chicken broth in the slow cooker, add the bay leaves and chipotle peppers to the broth.
  • Cover and cook low for 8 hours.
  • After 8 hours, shred pork using two forks and combine well with the juices that accumulated at the bottom.
  • Remove bay leaves and adjust salt and cumin to taste, as needed.
  • Let it cook low for another 15-30 minutes to let the flavors meld.

Last Step:

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Video

Notes

If you want to crisp up your carnitas, you can spray a skillet and add the shredded pork and brown them a bit before eating.
Leftovers can be refrigerated 4 to 5 days, and reheated to be used in sandwiches, tacos, enchiladas, etc. Or freeze it up to 3 months.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1 /2 cup, Calories: 160 kcal, Carbohydrates: 1 g, Protein: 20 g, Fat: 7 g, Saturated Fat: 3 g, Cholesterol: 69 mg, Sodium: 397 mg

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Photo credit: Jess Larson