Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas - Handle the Heat
Filed Under: Main Dish | Mexican | Savory | Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

By Tessa Arias
February 20th, 2013

These pork carnitas are goooooood. So flavorful, so tender, and so easy. 

Yield: 4 -6 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook: 8 hours 10 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Full of flavor and spice without being eye-watering and mouth-searing. Texture: The pork is beautifully tender just out of the slow cooker then when you broil the pork you get those crunchy edges without the extra fat or mess from the traditional frying. Ease: Super duper easy. Appearance: There isn't a whole lot you can do to make shredded pork look beautiful but hey, at least it tastes great. Pros: Easy, delicious, perfect weeknight meal plus the leftovers are fantastic. Cons: None. Would I make this again? Absolutely.

Slow Cooker Carnitas

Lately I’ve been really loving the 90s radio station on Pandora. Every Britney, ‘N Sync, Destiny’s Child, Spice Girls, TLC, and Backstreet Boys song just makes me want to DANCE and reminds me of slumber parties and talent shows as a kid. Even the 90s rock and alternative hits make me smile because they remind me of being carted around in the backseat of my parents’ car with the radio on as a kid. It’s crazy to think how much popular music and top 40 radio has changed since then. I wonder how we’ll look back at the music of the early 2000s in another ten or twenty years. Music has been around for centuries but what will the internet be like in ten years? Will blogs still be popular? What will be the next Facebook or Twitter or Instagram? I guess we’ll find out eventually!

Sometimes I also wonder how we’ll look back on popular recipes and meals of today. Things like meat loaf and casserole seem so dated now, what will seem dated in the future? I don’t really care if something is considered modern or popular as long as it’s good. Like these pork carnitas. They are goooooood. So flavorful, so tender, and so easy. You can do a ton of things with the meat too if you didn’t want tacos. Plus, unlike traditional carnitas which are fried, these carnitas are broiled to give them those crisp edges.

How to make
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

Yield: 4 -6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes
These pork carnitas are goooooood. So flavorful, so tender, and so easy. 


  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • Tortillas, cilantro, avocado, limes, etc. for serving


  1. Place the pork shoulder in the slow cooker. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Add the garlic, onion, and jalapeno to the slow cooker. Pour the lime juice, orange juice, and salsa into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until tender.
  2. Shred the meat with two forks and return to slow cooker to combine with the leftover sauce inside.
  3. Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil and spread the meat evenly over the sheet. Pour some of the sauce over the meat. Broil for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the edges of the pork are browned.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Pinch of Yum
Course : Main Course
Cuisine : Mexican
Tessa Arias
Author: Tessa Arias

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Find Tessa on  

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Recipe Rating

  1. #
    Estin — March 18, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Tessa. This recipe was awesome! It was the first time I’ve ever used a slow cooker, and it turned out so great. My friends were really impressed. Thanks for sharing it! Also gotta give credit to who brought me here.

  2. #
    Carole — February 28, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Hi there. The current Food on Friday on Carole’s Chatter is collecting links to posts about Mexican dishes and flavours. I do hope you link this one in. This is the link . Please do pop back to check out some of the other links – there are a lot of good ones already. Have a great week.

  3. #
    Diane @ Vintage Zest — February 20, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    At first I wasn’t going to comment, but you mentioned how dishes like meatloaf and casserole seem dated. I have to beg to differ on the meatloaf dish because it has had a resurgence lately! I feel like home cooking is on TV more often (like on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives), hipster restaurants that re-imagine dishes frequently have a version of meatloaf on the menu, and I even saw a food truck around here serving meatloaf!

    For this dish, I’m wondering if chicken would be able to be subbed in (I can’t have pork). At the least, maybe a good cut of beef?

    Also, I made the curried red lentil soup on Sunday, and it was amazing! I have it on my list to be blogged about because I’m definitely making it again. 🙂

    • #
      Tessa — February 21, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      You’re totally right about meatloaf – but I think the idea that it has had a “resurgence” and has been “re-imagined” lately only speaks to the fact that at one point it was considered dated yet people will always love things that taste good so they’ll find ways to incorporate it into their menus!

      I think chicken would be totally fine – though you may want to shave off some cooking time depending on your slow cooker. Beef would work too.

      Yay! I love that soup for lunch throughout the week.

  4. #
    MaryB — February 20, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    We love carnitas and this particular recipe sounds delicious. Love the idea of combining the slow cooker and the broiler.

    Love your blog and just wanted to comment on how much I appreciate your “recipe rundown”. I love that you take the time to do it for each recipe. Thanks!

    • #
      Tessa — February 21, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoy the recipe rundowns 🙂

  5. #
    Tracey — February 20, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    I love the idea of combining the slow cooker with the broiler to make this! I’ve only made carnitas once but they were delicious and you definitely have me craving them again 🙂

  6. #
    Vanessa — February 20, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Hey Tessa, I love your blog and I think you should do some videos. xoxo

  7. #
    Vijay @ NoshOnIt — February 20, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Carnitas are one of my absolutely favorite dishes too! Just did a guest blog post on them actually =)

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