You don’t need to wait for Cinco de Mayo to cook up a batch of these mouthwatering pork carnitas. No excuses necessary – you can enjoy these anytime you’re looking for a satisfying, smack-your-lips carnitas experience.
If you’ve got omnivore, plant-heavy tendencies like me, go right ahead and load up your carnitas plate with plenty of veggie sides. I like to enjoy my pork carnitas bowl-style, with these sides:
- black beans
- cilantro lime slaw (grab my recipe here)
- quick-pickled red onions (and grab this recipe, too!)
- diced avocado
- brown rice
If you’re feeding a household, and those hungry mouths are demanding tacos, these carnitas are delicious tucked into a soft corn tortilla. Top with those same sides I mentioned above for the full carnitas experience.
Quick & Easy (plus plenty of leftovers!)
This recipe is easy enough to whip up any day of the week, and is a fantastic choice for batch cooking. One go-around of these in your slow cooker wil leave you with enough for several nights of dinner! Pop the extra in your freezer, and enjoy an easy quick dinner or two in the coming weeks.
You’ll start with rubbing the spice mixture onto the pork, and then refrigerate pork overnight (it’s perfectly fine to skip the wait time if you just can’t squeeze it in). Next, you’ll add the sliced onions and bay leaves to the bottom of the slow cooker, then place the pork on top. After that, squeeze in the citrus (lime and orange). Set your slow cooker to low, and let it cook for 8-10 hours, until perfect tenderness.
Use two forks to shred the pork in a large dish or on a large platter. Finally, spread some of the pork onto a sheet pan, and heat under broiler for about three minutes until crisp on the edges. If you plan to freeze some carnitas for future meals, hold off on crisping those portions under the broiler. Simply freeze those portions as is.
Options (because it’s important to make a recipe work for you):
- Make this recipe in your slow cooker, or in the oven. I’ve included directions for both methods. Choose what works for you.
- Feel free to cut this recipe in half if the yield is just too much for your household. Cook time will remain the same.
- Squeezed for time? No need to marinade in the rub prior to cooking. It’s a nice extra that boosts the flavor a bit, but if you can’t fit that step in, no worries. I guarantee that your pork carnitas will still taste amazing regardless.
- Freeze any extras for an easy, quick weeknight meal in the coming weeks or next month. Just be sure to wrap it airtight before you put it in the freezer (and hold off on the crisping step until you plan to serve it).
- Take your pick – slow cooker or oven method. Do what works for you. Directions for both methods are included in recipe instructions below.
Drop me a comment and let me know how you liked this recipe! And don’t forget to snap a pic of your carnitas creation, post it and tag it #nourishednotfamished. I’d love to see what you’re cooking in your kitchen!
|Prep Time||15 minutes|
|Cook Time||8 hours (in slow cooker)|
|Passive Time||8 hours (for marinade; optional)|
- 6 or so lbs pork butt or pork shoulder (bone in or boneless works)
- 1 tablespoon dried minced garlic or garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 onions, sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 3 limes (2 for juicing into pork, 1 to serve as wedges for garnish)
- 2 oranges
- Combine garlic powder, oregano, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, crushed red pepper, and salt in a small bowl. Season pork with mixture, rubbing to coat all sides thoroughly.
- Store seasoned pork in refrigerator overnight (or proceed directly to next cooking steps).
- Place sliced onions in bottom of slow cooker. Add bay leaves. Place pork on top.
- Juice the two oranges and two of the limes directly into the slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on low in slow cooker for 8-10 hours.
- Remove pork from slow cooker and place onto a large platter. Shred pork. Next, follow directions for last step - crisping (see below).
- Preheat the oven to 300F.
- Place the onions and bay leaves in a layer in the bottom of a roaster or large oven safe Dutch oven. Place pork on top, and juice two limes and two oranges over the pork.
- Cook covered for 3 hours, then flip the pork over and cook for 2 more hours. You'll know it's done when it's fork tender (target range is 145F-160F).
- Remove pork from pan and place onto a large platter. Shred pork. Next, follow directions for last step - crisping (see below).
- Spoon some of the pork cooking juices over the shredded pork.
- Broiler: Preheat oven to broil. Place some of the pork (the portion you are serving for that meal) onto a baking sheet. Cook for 3-4 minutes until slightly crispy.
- Or in skillet: Set a skillet over medium heat. When the pan is very hot, add the pork, spreading it out evenly over the bottom of the pan. Cook undisturbed for a couple of minutes, until it is richly browned and releases itself from the bottom of the pan. Gently turn the pieces to brown the other side. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt (preferrably coarse salt for most flavor impact!).