Pork Carnitas (Mexican Slow Cooked Pulled Pork) full of flavor! This delicious seasoned pork recipe is so easy and made in the crock pot. The result is super tender, juicy pulled pork with crispy caramelized ends – Perfection!
Mexican Pulled Pork
If you have never had carnitas before, it will change your life! This simple recipe doesn’t require too much work on your part to prepare and is placed in a crockpot to do most of the cooking. The meat is completely melt-in-your-mouth, while the caramelization on the outside amps up the amazing flavors.
This is a recipe that can be put in tacos, sandwiches, over a bed of rice, or just eaten by itself, it’s that good!
Key Ingredients You’ll Need
Pork Butt: A cut of meat like this is important because it’s fatty and will help it pull apart a lot easier than other cuts.
Seasonings: You will need a blend of sweet, savory, and spicy ingredients including brown sugar, ground cumin, dried oregano, salt, garlic powder, pepper, paprika, jalapeno pepper, and some diced onion for more flavor.
Citrus: To add a sweet and slightly tangy flavor to the meat, I like to add the juice of an orange and lime.
What is Carnitas?
Carnitas – which means “little meats” in Spanish, is a Mexican dish using pork. Most often using boneless Boston butt or pork shoulder, and slowly cooked several hours with seasonings until it’s tender enough to shred. Traditionally lard is used, but this recipe excludes lard and uses olive oil.
How To Make Pork Carnitas
Step 1. Rinse the pork with water and use paper towels to dry it well. Add the brown sugar, ground cumin, oregano, salt, garlic powder, pepper, and paprika into a medium-sized bowl and combine. Pour in the 2 Tbsp of olive oil and combine again. Use this rub mixture to coat the entire pork butt. Place it into the slow cooker with the fat facing upwards.
Step 2. Take the seeds out of the jalapeño pepper and cut them up and put them on and around the pork. Cut up the onion and do the same as you did with the jalapeño peppers. Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice onto the pork. Put the orange halves into the crockpot with the pork. Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice onto the pork and place the lime halves into the crockpot as well.
Step 3. Cook the pork for 8 hours on high. Once ready, take the roast out and put it onto a wooden board. Let it sit for 10 minutes to cool down before using 2 forks to shred the meat. In a large skillet, add the rest of the 1 Tbsp of oil and set to high heat. Caramelize the pork in batches by frying it in the skillet. Put 1/4 of the meat into the skillet with 1/4 cup of the juices from the slow cooker. Use a spatula to press the meat into the bottom of the pan to sear it. Repeat this step until all the pork is seared. After it has all been seared, put it into a container to serve with more juices from the crockpot drizzled on top, and enjoy!
Is Pork Carnitas Spicy?
This recipe has a bit of spice because of the jalapeño peppers. However, if you do not want to have it spicy, you can simply remove that ingredient. If you want it spicier, you can add red pepper chili flakes.
Can I Use Other Cuts Of Pork Besides Pork Butt Roast?
Pulled pork is a recipe that needs high-fat meat to make it. A substitute for pork butt is something like pork shoulder. This is because it is very fatty. Whereas a cut of meat like pork loin is far too lean for a recipe like this.
Ways to serve Pork Carnitas
Pork Carnitas is delicious on it’s own served with cilantro and sides, but also used in burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas and our favorite Pork Carnitas Tacos!
Tips & Tricks
- Place any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.
- Searing the meat before being cooked in the slow cooker makes a huge difference in flavor.
- You can use bone-in or boneless pork for this recipe.
More Pork Recipes:
Pork Carnitas (Mexican Slow Cooker Pulled Pork)
- 4- lb. pork butt
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp cumin ground
- 1 Tbsp oregano dried
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- 3 Tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- 1 onion
- 1 orange
- 1 lime
- Rinse the roast and dry it well.
- In a medium size bowl, mix together brown sugar, ground cumin, oregano, salt, garlic powder, pepper, and paprika. Stir in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.
- Rub this mixture all over the pork butt. Place the seasoned pork into the slow cooker, fat on top.
- Remove seeds from the jalapeno pepper, slice it up and place it on and around the roast.
- Dice the onion and place it on and around the roast.
- Halve the orange and squeeze the juice over the roast, add the orange halves to the slow cooker.
- Halve the lime and squeeze the juice over the roast, add the lime halves to the slow cooker.
- Cook the roast at high power for 8 hours.
- Remove the roast from the pot and place it on a cutting board. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Then shred the meat using 2 forks.
- Place the remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil into a large skillet. Heat the skillet to high heat.
- Next, we will caramelize the pork by frying it (in batches- we don’t want to crowd it). Place about ¼ of the shredded pork and about ¼ cup of the juices from the crock pot in the skillet. Press the meat onto the bottom and allow it to sear. Continue this until all of the meat has been seared.
- Place the seared meat into your serving container. You may serve the meat drizzled with some of the remaining juices from the crock pot if you like.