This juicy shredded pork is our delicious crock pot carnitas. Cooked low and slow until fall apart tender with bold spices, spicy jalapenos, and orange juice. Slow cooker pork carnitas is great on tacos, burrito bowls, or served simply over rice. However you serve, it's sure to be a Whole Lotta Yum!
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Crock Pot Pork Carnitas
A slow cooker recipe is one of patience, but good things come to those who wait. Letting the pork cook for hours on low and slow keeps it moist and gives it plenty of time to infuse all of those wonderful flavors you've added.
This is the best carnitas recipe and perfect for juicy pulled pork tacos. Hard shell tacos or soft, then topped with pico de gallo, sliced avocado, and sour cream. Perfection!
Tender shredded meat is such a versatile ingredient in so many dishes. You may also like our Mexican slow cooker shredded chicken, shredded buffalo chicken dip, or this mouthwatering barbacoa beef in the crock pot.
Why You'll Love This!
- Great for meal prep- When you're short on time during the week, a batch of carnitas is a great protein option for meal prep.
- Super yummy- Simple to adapt in taste and spice by adding herbs, other spices, and hotter peppers.
- Quick and easy! Slow cookers make quick work of breaking down pork shoulder.
- Healthy - Just 32 calories, plus gluten-free, dairy-free, and low-carb.
🥘 Pork Carnitas Recipe Ingredients
A delicious combination of bold spices, fresh fruit, peppers, onions, and a trimmed pork butt.
- Pork shoulder or Pork butt- Pork tenderloin or pork belly is also a great alternative.
- Dried Oregano - You can easily swap dried Oregano for dried basil.
- Ground cumin - Garam masala can be used in place of ground cumin.
- Chili powder - For an even spicier version, add ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the spice mixture.
- Salt & Black pepper - Can never go wrong with salt and pepper for flavor.
- Yellow onion - You can use a white onion or a Vidalia onion if you need.
- Fresh garlic cloves - Use jarred minced garlic if that's all you have.
- Jalapeno pepper - This recipe is prepared without the seeds of the jalapenos. If you want a spicer version, leave the pith and seeds of the jalapenos in.
- Navel oranges - Oranges add a natural sweetness without adding brown sugar.
- Fresh cilantro - It's worth it to buy fresh cilantro, don't skip it.
** Please see the recipe card at the bottom of the post for the exact quantities **
- Add more fruit: Adding fresh pineapple will add some more sweetness and tang. Pineapple also blends really nicely with the texture of pork.
- Without fruit: Omit the sugars and fruit juice. Replace the liquid needed with chicken broth instead.
- Meat: So many options when it comes to cuts of meat. Use pork loin roast, bone-in pork shoulder, or bone-in pork butt. Just be sure to remove the bone after slow cooking. You can also omit the pork altogether and use chicken thighs.
- Crock Pot or Slow Cooker
- Optional: Instant Pot on the slow cook setting.
🔪 How to Cook Slow Cooker Carnitas
Prepare your rub in a bowl and rub it into your pork. Place the pork, veggies, and orange juice in your crock pot then cook it low and slow.
Trim and skin or large pieces of fat from the pork shoulder.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the dried oregano, ground cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper.
Using your fingers, rub the spices into the pork then place the pork into the slow cooker.
Add the diced onion, garlic, and jalapeno peppers to the slow cooker evenly around the pork.
Squeeze the juice from the oranges over the pork then replace the lid.
If you are using a slow cooker with just a high and low button, set the slow cooker to the LOW setting. If you are using a crock pot that has 5 settings, set to LOW-8 HRS.
Cook the pork for 8 hours. You'll know it's ready when it shreds easily with a fork. If it doesn't pull apart effortlessly, it is not ready. Check back in 30 minutes.
Once it is fully cooked, use two forks to shred the pork in its own juices, and let sit for 5 minutes. Turn your broiler on high and allow it to preheat.
Scoop some of the pork and place in an even layer on the baking sheet.
Broil on high for 5 minutes to crisp up the pork.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with fresh cilantro.
Serve hot in a flour tortilla with a side of guacamole, fresh jalapenos, tomatoes, avocados, or a squeeze of lime.
🥗 Dietary Substitutions
As written this recipe is dairy free, Whole30, and gluten free.
- Keto: For a keto friendly version, omit the orange juice. Lemon or lime juice will work, but you'll want to start small as those citrus fruits are more sour than sweet.
💡 Recipe Tips
- I would recommend only broiling the amount you plan to eat at that time.
- The trick to this recipe is low and slow! Do not rush this recipe.
🥡 Storing and Reheating
- Storing: Keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 6 days.
- Freezing: You can freeze this recipe! I recommend freezing prior to broiling. Place in an airtight container and freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw on the counter, then follow steps 9 and 10 to broil it crispy.
- Reheating: Reheat by turning the oven on High Broil. Place the pork, evenly, on a cookie sheet and broil for 5-7 minutes.
Serve pulled pork carnitas with our Mexican corn on the cob or stuffed inside our taco stuffed sweet potatoes. Shredded pork is great in any burrito bowl or meal prep bowls then spritzed with a bit of lime juice.
In addition to that hint of sweetness, orange juice is added to carnitas because the acid helps to break the meat down until it's fork tender and juicy.
While both pulled pork and carnitas are cooked slowly in the crock pot. Carnitas is then spread onto a baking sheet and roasted in the oven until crispy.
😋 More Mexican Recipes
If you enjoy the taste of this recipe, chances are you'll like more of these Mexican favorites:
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