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Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

Crock-Pot Pork Carnitas

Slow Cook­er Pork Car­ni­tas are THE best slow-cook­er pork I’ve ever eat­en. Car­ni­tas is Span­ish for “lit­tle meats” and it refers to a method of cook­ing pork that is com­mon in Mex­i­co. Car­ni­tas are usu­al­ly braised or roast­ed and then shred­ded. Even at this stage of the process, car­ni­tas are melt-in-your-mouth-ten­der and crazy deli­cious. The fla­vor­ful mari­nade it’s cooked in leaves every scrump­tious morsel tast­ing of cit­rus and spices.

But the secret to tra­di­tion­al car­ni­tas is to take the suc­cu­lent shred­ded meat and fry it in a skil­let just long enough to caramelize some of the sug­ars and cre­ate crispy edges that amp up the tex­ture and cre­ate five-star deli­cious­ness! I’ve learned to short-cut this step with­out added fat, by sim­ply plac­ing the por­tion of meat I’ll be serv­ing under a broil­er for a cou­ple of min­utes. The results are equal­ly satisfying.

How Can You Serve Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

Car­ni­tas are super ver­sa­tile and the beau­ty of this recipe is that you will prob­a­bly get at least two meals out of it, plus some lunch­es. The first night we almost always serve the car­ni­tas in taco form. We use Home­made Gua­camole, minced onion, toma­to, cilantro and lime juice or sal­sa. You could add any of your favorite taco toppings.

Crock-Pot Carnitas Tacos

Car­ni­tas also make fan­tas­tic rice bowls, ful­ly loaded with your favorite veg­eta­bles and top­pings. You could also try them, instead of chick­en on a Tex-Mex or South­west salad.

My son and hus­band will always eat at least one lunch with Slow Cook­er Pork Car­ni­tas piled on sand­wich rolls and drip­ping with their favorite bar­be­cue sauce.

You should also try them on nachos and loaded baked pota­toes. The pos­si­bil­i­ties are only lim­it­ed by your imagination.

How to Make Slow Cooker Carnitas

Place a 4–5 lb pork loin roast into your crock-pot. Set it aside, while you mix up the cook­ing marinade.

Pork loin roast in Crock-Pot

For the mari­nade, stir togeth­er orange juice and zest, lime juice and zest, water, bay leaves, gar­lic, cumin, chili pow­der, oregano, cin­na­mon, salt, black pep­per, jalapeno and minced onion. 

Ingredients for Cooking Liquid

Once com­bined, pour the mari­nade over the roast in your crock-pot. 

Crock-Pot-Pork Carnitas ready to cook

Set the slow cook­er to low and allow to cook for 8–10 hours. The roast will be fall-apart ten­der and able to be shred­ded with a fork when it is done.

Once the roast is done, I shred it and then put half away for anoth­er meal. I also strain and reserve the cook­ing liq­uid. We use it to driz­zle over the meat that has been crisped in the oven.

Once you have the half you will be sav­ing put away, spread the oth­er half on a *bak­ing sheet and place under the broil­er for 3–4 min­utes. Let it just start to get some crispy edges. Don’t leave it long enough to dry out. (You can def­i­nite­ly skip this step and serve your car­ni­tas just as they come out of the crock-pot, juicy, suc­cu­lent and deli­cious. But, the authen­tic car­ni­tas expe­ri­ence is more about the crisp­ing of the edges.)

While the meat is brown­ing under the broil­er, you’ll be able to get some top­pings ready for what­ev­er dish you plan to serve. Choose your favorites.

toppings for Crock-Pot Pork Carnitas

How­ev­er you decide to serve them, I know you and your fam­i­ly are going to flip for these deli­cious Car­ni­tas! The recipe is so sim­ple to put togeth­er. Load that Crock-Pot and go about your day. Let the slow cook­er do the work and reap the rewards at din­ner time! Enjoy!

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crock-pot pork carnitas

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas


  • Author: Glen­da Embree
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 16 serv­ings 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 4–5 lbs. pork loin roast
  • 2 limes, juice and zest
  • 2 large oranges, juice and zest of 1
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Table­spoons minced garlic
  • 1 medi­um red onion, minced
  • ½ large jalapeno, minced
  • 1 table­spoon salt
  • 2 tea­spoons cumin
  • 1 tea­spoon chili powder
  • 1 tea­spoon black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tea­spoon oregano
  • ½ tea­spoon cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Place the pork loin into your crock-pot. Set it aside, while you mix up the cook­ing marinade.
  2. For the mari­nade, stir togeth­er orange juice and zest, lime juice and zest, water, bay leaves, gar­lic, cumin, chili pow­der, oregano, cin­na­mon, salt, black pep­per, jalapeno and minced onion.
  3. Once com­bined, pour the mari­nade over the roast in your crock-pot.
  4. Set the slow cook­er to low and allow to cook for 8–10 hours. The roast will be fall-apart ten­der and able to be shred­ded with a fork when it is done.
  5. Once the roast is done, I shred it and then put half away for anoth­er meal. I also strain and reserve the cook­ing liq­uid. We use it to driz­zle over the meat that has been crisped in the oven.
  6. Once you have the half you will be sav­ing put away, spread the oth­er half on a *bak­ing sheet and place under the broil­er for 3–4 min­utes. Let it just start to get some crispy edges. Don’t leave it long enough to dry out. (You can def­i­nite­ly skip this step and serve your car­ni­tas just as they come out of the crock-pot, juicy, suc­cu­lent and deli­cious. But, the authen­tic car­ni­tas expe­ri­ence is more about the crisp­ing of the edges.)
  7. Remove from the oven and serve in the dish you have planned, i.e.  tacos, rice bowls, nachos, loaded baked pota­toes, bar­be­cue sand­wich­es, etc.
  • Cat­e­go­ry: Main Dish, Meat, Protein
  • Cui­sine: Mex­i­can
Crock-Pot Pork Carnitas

Be sure to have plen­ty of Home­made Gua­camole on hand, too. Check out my sim­ple recipe.

homemade guacamole
Carnitas Tacos

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