Slow cooker carnitas are tender, juicy, and can be used in so many ways. Make this delicious Mexican pork recipe in just a few steps!
Slow cooker recipes let you get all the flavor into your meal with very little work. This is especially true with meat. The longer cook time always produces a melt-in-your-mouth, delicious meal.
These carnitas need just a little extra love at the end, but the crispy texture is worth the wait.
This recipe is also great for meal prep. Make the pork when you have some free time, then portion out the meat to be used later in a variety of recipes.
Using a slow cooker also saves you time when you have a busy schedule. Just toss everything in first thing in the morning, and your food is ready and waiting when it’s dinner time.
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How to make slow cooker carnitas
- Start by measuring out all of your ingredients. Cut the pork shoulder into 2” chunks, chop the onion, and mince the garlic.
- Add the broth, orange and lime juices, and spices to a large measuring cup. Stir well to combine.
- Lay the pork on the bottom of the slow cooker in a single layer.
- Place the onions and garlic on top of the meat.
- Pour the liquid mixture over everything and add the bay leaves on top.
- Then, place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
- When the meat has finished cooking, remove it from the slow cooker, shred it, and finish under the broiler if desired.
- Spoon into tortillas and top with avocado, salsa, and lime.
Other uses: Pork carnitas is a versatile dish, and the meat may be used in many different ways.
- Breakfast hash
- Carnitas meal prep bowls
Fresh ingredients: Fresher ingredients mean more authentic flavor. These slow cooker carnitas taste best with fresh-squeezed orange and lime juices, and whole garlic cloves.
If possible, get your pork shoulder hormone and antibiotic-free from a local butcher or a reputable online source like ButcherBox, which I really recommend! Got a different type of pork? Try my Garlic Butter Baked Pork Chops or Easy Oven Pork Chop Recipe!
Frequently asked questions
How long can I store this after it’s cooked?
Slow cooker carnitas will last in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To freeze, add the meat to a freezer-safe bag or container with a splash of the cooking liquid before placing in the freezer.
If you will be using the carnitas in other recipes, it can help to measure out what you will need into individual containers. Then you can thaw only the amount that you need.
Do I have to broil it at the end?
Juicy but crispy pork is the definition of carnitas, and you can’t get that crispy texture without broiling. The onion also gets caramelized at the end, which adds extra flavor.
However, the meat will be just as delicious if you serve straight from the slow cooker.
Can I prep the ingredients the night before?
Yes, you certainly can. This is great if you don’t have a lot of time in the morning and need to dump everything in and go.
It will be best to juice your citrus right before making the recipe and don’t add the spices to the liquids until right before as well.
More Mexican recipes to try:
- Easy Grilled Fish Tacos Recipe
- Ground Beef Taco Salad
- Taco Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- Taco Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 2 cups chicken broth
- ¼ cup orange juice
- Juice from 1 lime
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 3.4 lb pork shoulder cut into 2″ chunks (You can buy a hormone + antibiotic free pork shoulder from ButcherBox, which I highly recommend!).
- 2 cups white onion chopped
- 1 tbsp garlic clove minced
- 2 bay leaves
- In a large measuring cup, add the chicken stock, orange, lime, cumin, chilli powder, oregano, salt and black pepper. Stir everything well to combine. Set aside.
- Place the pork shoulder chunks, onions and garlic in the slow cooker.
- Pour over the chicken broth mixture and add in the bay leaves.
- Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
- Shred meat with two forks directly in the slow cooker using 2 forks. Set your oven to broil.
- Remove all the meat from the slow cooker and transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet, discard the bay leaves and ladle some of the sauce on top.
- Broil the meat for 10 minutes, stirring the pork after 5 minutes in the oven.
- Serve on tortillas with guacamole, salsa and lime.
- Instead of broiling the meat, you can crisp it up on the stove top.
- A slow cooker liner will make cleaning up the slow cooker afterward much more effortless.
- Avoid opening the slow cooker as the carnitas cooks as you'll release the built-up steam.
- To store: Store the leftover in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge.
- To reheat: Reheat the carnitas in the oven or in the microwave if you're in a hurry. Make sure to reheat with the liquid so the meat stays moist.
- To freeze: You can freeze this recipe before or after cooking. It will keep for up to 4 months. Simply thaw before cooking or reheating.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.