Slow Cooker Carnitas

  • Yield : About 3.5 lbs (1600 g)
  • Servings : 20
  • Prep Time : 15m
  • Cook Time : 6:00 h
  • Ready In : 6:40 h
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  • Cobb Salad

  • Salisbury Steak Or Meatballs

Nutritional Info

This information is per serving.

  • Calories

  • Calories From Fat

  • Total Fat

  • Saturated Fat

  • Tran Fat

  • Cholesterol

  • Sodium

  • Carbohydrates

  • Dietary Fiber

  • Sugar

  • Added Sugar

  • Protein

  • Serving Size:

    3 oz (85 g) lean only

Carnitas is Mexican for little meat. Traditionally made with pork braised in oil or lard to produce tender, juicy, easy to shred pork.

Carnitas can be served two ways; crisp or not crisp. To crisp the pork, it can be cooked at a higher temperature in the pot after the meat is tender or the meat transferred to a baking dish and broiled.

Mexican-American restaurants usually serve carnitas with corn or flour tortillas and beans. The beans can be whole or refried. Some restaurants serve carnitas in tacos, tostadas, burros, and enchiladas. You can also use the meat for make carnitas fajitas.

Crispy carnitas using a slow cooker requires a second step involving broiling. But that step is optional.


Without Broiling

With Broiling


Slow Cooker Size

This recipe requires a 5 to 6 quart/liter slow cooker. For smaller slow cookers, cut recipe in half.

Cook’s Tip

  1. If you have a blender, you can blend all ingredients expect the bay leaves and pour the mixture over the pork.
  2. Small country style spare ribs can be cooked whole.
  3. Left over juice can be refrigerated, the saturated fat layer removed, and then frozen for later use in soups or stews like Brunswick Stew.

Updated 12-5-2022 to reduce serving size from 5 to 3 ounces (140 to 85 g).


  • One Half (100 g) onion, red, white, or yellow
  • 4 to 6 (20 g) garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) dried oregano or marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon (0.625 ml) ground cloves, sliced or chopped
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) kosher salt
  • 4 lbs (1900 g) pork shoulder, butt, or country-style ribs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) orange juice
  • 6 oz (170 g) tomatoes, chopped (optional)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped (optional)

Method of Preparation

Step 1

Cut whole pork or large pork ribs into 4 to 5 inch (10 - 12 cm) chucks and place in slow cooker. Add bay leaves, garlic, tomatoes, and jalapeño peppers.

Step 2

Combine remaining ingredients with the orange juice. Pour over pork. Cover and cook on high about 6 hours and low about 12 hours. Carnitas are done when easily pierced with a fork and shreds without effort.

Step 3

Use a slotted spoon to remove pork from slow cooker and two forks to shred into large or small chunks. Discard any large piece of fat.

Step 4

For crisp carnitas, place a oven rack about 5 inches (12 cm) from broiling element and set oven on broil. Distribute pork evenly on a large baking sheet. Pour about a cup of juice over the meat. Place under broiler and broil 10 to 15 minutes or until desired texture.