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Crockpot Carnitas is a classic pork recipe where seasoned pork slow cooks until it’s ultra tender and shreddable, and then it’s broiled inside the oven to create this magical combination of juicy tender pork and crispy pork all-in-one!
The best part of making carnitas in the crockpot is the quick & easy 5 minute prep and then the slow cooker does all the work!
Crockpot Pork Carnitas Recipe (Slow Cooker Carnitas)
For some reason pork carnitas always scared me. Maybe it was the extra step of broiling the shredded pork meat, I don’t know what it was, but all I know now is that it’s one of my favorite things to make for dinner!
Super tender & moist pork get broiled until crispy and charred. Doing this extra step of broiling the meat is what makes it specifically ‘carnitas’. My tip to the best & most moist pork carnitas meat is to make sure the pork is completely submerged in chicken broth while it’s slow cooking. This ensures that the pork stays moist and does not dry out. It may seem like a lot of broth but trust me, it’s perfect.
Ingredients Needed For Carnitas
Making carnitas is actually fairly simple with dried seasonings, pork butt, and some freshly squeezed citrus juice.
- Kosher Salt – This is the best salt to use, especially when seasoning meats, because it elevates all the flavor without making it taste salty. I love using kosher salt for baking and grilling!
- Chili Powder
- Black Pepper
- Boneless Pork Butt or Pork Shoulder – Before adding the pork to the crockpot it will need to be cut into larger chunks. About 3-4 chunks.
- Chicken Broth – I recommend using the regular, full salted chicken broth for this carnitas recipe.
- Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice – About 2 large limes is what you will need.
- Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice – 1 large juicy orange will be enough.
- Garlic Cloves – This can be fresh cloves that have been minced or pressed, use chopped garlic from a jar, or use garlic paste.
How To Make Pork Carnitas In The Crockpot or Slow Cooker (Step-by-Step Directions)
- Mix the kosher salt, chili powder, pepper, cumin, and oregano in a small bowl.
- Pat the pork pieces dry with paper towel on all sides. Rub and press the seasoning into the pork chunks on all sides.
- Place the seasoned pork into the crockpot along with the chicken broth, lime juice, orange juice, and garlic. Cover with the lid.
- Cook on LOW heat for 8 hours or on HIGH heat for 4 hours. I recommend cooking it low & slow for 8 hours on LOW heat.
- Remove the pork chunks from the crockpot and place them onto a large cutting board. Use two forks to pull and shred the pork apart.
- Transfer the shredded pork to a baking sheet/sheet pan and place it under the broiler for 5-6 minutes or until the meat starts to get crispy.
- You’re ready to serve!
Can I Make Carnitas On The Stovetop Instead of the Crockpot?
Yes, you can make carnitas on the stovetop instead of the crockpot. Cut the pork into chunks, dry it, and season it as the recipe calls for. Add 2 tablespoons of oil into a dutch oven or ceramic pot, and sear the meat chunks on all sides.
Add the remaining ingredients into the pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the the heat to medium, cover the pot with a lid, and let it simmer for 2-3 hours.
I have never tried making this crockpot carnitas recipe on the stove top but it will work just fine this way. You may not need the full 64 ounces of chicken broth, just add half or so and see how full it fills up the pot. The pork should mostly be covered in the broth.
How To Properly Store and Freeze Pork Carnitas
Store any leftover carnitas inside an airtight container, in the fridge, for up to 4-5 days.
To keep leftovers for longer, freeze them for up to 2 months in the freezer. Let the meat cool to room temperature and then place the meat inside freezer-safe Ziploc bags (all in one bag, or portion it out) and remove all the excess air. Let thaw in the fridge overnight before using.
Serving Suggestions For Pork Carnitas
The serving options for pork carnitas is endless! Here are lots of serving ideas… these are also great ideas for a leftover meal too! My family’s favorite way to eat pork carnitas is as tacos – we love to add a healthy drizzle of this Cafe Rio Ranch Dressing over top! So good!
- Pork Carnitas Plate (Rice & Beans)
- Pork Carnitas Tacos
- Carnitas Quesadillas
- Pork Enchiladas – I love making this Enchiladas recipe but using the shredded pork carnitas instead of the chicken.
- Pork Tostadas – Crisp up some corn tostadas in the oven and then top them off with pork, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and any other toppings you love.
- Carnitas Rice Bowls
- Don’t Skip The Broil – This might be tempting to skip but I promise, crisping up that pork is what makes carnitas amazing! They just don’t taste the same without that charred crispy texture to them.
- Freshly Squeezed Citrus Juice – Squeeze the juice from 2 large limes and then 1 large orange. Fresh citrus juice is what will give these carnitas tons of bright flavor. Orange juice is the only one that I would consider using from a bottle or container. But for sure, do not use bottled lime juice. To get the maximum juice from citrus try pressing while rubbing it against the countertop (between your palm and the counter top). You will start to smell the citrus juices being released and the lime or orange will become softer.
- Pork Butt or Pork Shoulder – These are the best cuts of pork to use because they have plenty of fat to help keep the meat moist, juicy, and flavorful. I don’t recommend using a leaner cut of pork like tenderloin or roast.
- Pork Chunks – Don’t forget to cut the pork into large chunks before adding it into the crockpot. This will help the meat cook quicker and make it easier to remove from the slow cooker insert.
Crockpot Pork Carnitas
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 4-5 pounds boneless pork butt or pork shoulder
- 64 ounces chicken broth (equal to 8 cups)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced or pressed, chopped, or paste)
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 2 large limes)
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 large orange)
- Mix together the salt, chili powder, black pepper, cumin, and oregano in a small bowl. Set aside.1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Place the pork onto a cutting board and cut it into 3-4 large chunks. Take a paper towel and pat the pork dry on all sides. Sprinkle the seasoning mix over the pork chunks and rub/press the seasoning in on all sides of the pork. Place the pork chunks into the crockpot insert.4-5 pounds boneless pork butt or pork shoulder
- Add the chicken broth, garlic cloves, fresh lime juice, and fresh orange juice into the crockpot. Cover with the lid.64 ounces chicken broth, 4 cloves garlic, 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- Cook on LOW heat for 8 hours (preferred method) or cook on HIGH heat for 4-5 hours.
- Remove the pork chunks from the crockpot and place them onto a cutting board (not the same one as the raw meat from earlier). Use two forks to shred and pull apart the pork.
- Transfer the shredded pork to a baking sheet and place it in the oven and BROIL for 5-6 minutes or until the meat starts to get crispy and charred.
- Use tongs to serve the pork carnitas. Enjoy!