Are you looking to level up your next Taco Tuesday or meal prep burrito bowls? You need this slow cooker pork carnitas recipe. It is so flavorful, so versatile, and so easy. The slow cooker does all the work, and this freezes so well. It's smoky and pulls through with deep, warm flavors, and you'll never want other tacos again.
Prepping Crock Pot Pork Carnitas
While my slow cooker pulled pork is a simple, four ingredient recipe, this has a few extra steps. That being said, the flavor of this is outstanding. My pork marinade all comes together in a food processor, but you can add all of the ingredients as is if you don't mind onions in with your pork. I prefer, however, to blend it all up and pour directly over the pork.
Once you cover the pork shoulder with your seasoning, you just turn on the slow cooker and wait. That's it. If you want crispy pork carnitas, which is what I prefer, I'll explain how to make them crispy in the next section.
Crispy Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
Once your pork is tender, you can easily shred it right in the slow cooker. I like to serve this the next day (I think it tastes even better), but you can serve it that day and it is still amazing.
First thing, I store the juices separately from the meat. With a four pound pork shoulder, I had about 2.5 cups of leftover juices. If serving the same day, I think the best method is crisping in a dry, hot pan. If I am serving the next day, I crisp it in the oven on a sheet pan.
When crisping in a pan, you are just cooking it on medium heat until you start seeing the meat brown and crisp. Give it a stir occasionally, but it is super simple and forgiving. When crisping in the oven, use your broiler and crisp for 7-15 minutes. Broilers are finicky and every oven is different. Stay nearby, and check every three minutes or so.
Adding liquid back into the pork carnitas
The reason why I store my liquid separately is because I want the pork to crisp up. The meat will still keep its texture with the added juices, but you wouldn't be able to achieve the crispiness without evaporating the liquid if you kept it together.
While the pork is crisping up, I warm the juices in a separate sauce pan and pour over when the pork is ready. I put the pork back in the oven for about 2 minutes to let the juices soak up and concentrate a bit. It is extra, but unbelievable. Trust me.
- 4 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp. ancho chili powder (you can do 1 if you're sensitive to heat)
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp oregano (I use Mexican oregano)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/4 cup adobo (the sauce in the chipotle in adobo can)
- 1 lime juiced
- 1/4 cup water (you can sub a fresh squeezed orange too)
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- Combine all ingredients (besides the pork) in a food processor and blend.
- Pour sauce all over the pork shoulder.
- Cook on high in your slow cooker for 6 hours or low for 10 hours.
- Shred pork in slow cooker. Meat should be tender enough you can do this with tongs.
- If crisping pork, separate liquid from pork.
- Crisping Pork in a pan: crisp pork in a pan for a few minutes until pork is browned and edges are crispy. In a small pot, warm reserved juices. Once pork is browned and crispy, add sauce to pan and cook for 2 more minutes and serve.
- Crisping Pork in the oven: spread pork evenly on a baking sheet. Set broiler to high and broil pork for 7-15 minutes (if heating after refrigerating). Warm cooking liquid in a sauce pan and pour over pork once the pork is crisp. Broil pork again for another 1-2 minutes and serve.
This freezes really well!
Serving Size:1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 217Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 87mgSodium: 427mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 28g