Slow Cooker Carnitas come together effortlessly in the crockpot with an inexpensive cut of pork and a flavorful braising liquid.
While Crockpot Carnitas makes the perfect base for tacos, the options on how to use this spiced shredded pork are endless. It is an easy set-it-and-forget-it crockpot recipe that makes a great family meal.
A Crockpot Favorite
Traditional Carnitas are made by braising or simmering pork shoulder in oil or lard. While these Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas are not authentic, in the fact they are not simmered in lard, they are every bit as delicious.
Cooked in a flavorful combination of spices, beer, and orange juice, and then crisped up in the oven, these Crockpot Carnitas are a family favorite recipe and make the most delicious pork tacos.
The pork roast becomes tender, juicy, and shreds up perfectly. Add in the fact that these Carnitas are made in the slow cooker with minimal work--well, this family meal just got even better! But if you need this recipe for Carnitas to be sped up, try out my Instant Pot Carnitas.
Notes on Ingredients
- Pork Roast: You can use a pork shoulder, pork butt, or pork loin. For the best flavor and results, I recommend using a Pork Butt. Pork Loin is a great substitute if you need the recipe to be lower in fat.
- Beer: Use a mild lager-style beef like Corona or Coors Light. If you do care to use alcohol or need this recipe to be gluten-free, use chicken stock in place of the beer.
- Orange Juice: The orange juice can not be substituted. It adds flavor, depth, and acidity that helps to flavor and tenderizes the pork. Be sure to use pulp-free orange juice.
How to Make Crockpot Carnitas
- Cut the pork roast into 3 to 4-inch chunks and season all sides with salt and pepper.
- In a large crockpot, mix together the beer, orange juice, and seasonings.
- Place the seasoned pork into the mixture inside the crockpot.
- Set the crockpot to low for 10-12 hours or on high 5-7 hours.
- Once the meat has cooked, shred the pork with two forks and mix into the juices that were rendered while cooking.
Traditionally carnitas meat has a crispy texture. To achieve this same texture, place the shredded pork onto a sheet pan with ½ cup of the cooking liquid. Broil for 3-5 minutes and then remove the sheet pan, flip the pork and broil for 2-3 more additional minutes until slightly charred.
How to Serve
This easy Pork Carnita Meat is great for a variety of dishes.
- Strain off the cooking juices and serve in flour tortillas, corn tortillas, or taco shells topped with cabbage, queso fresco, and cilantro.
- Use as the meat in Burrito bowls or in a Taco Salad.
- Topping a baked sweet potato or baked potato.
- Use as the shredded meat in Easy Enchiladas.
Tips and Modifications
- If you need Gluten-Free Carnitas, just omit beer and use chicken stock and serve on corn tortillas. You can even use these homemade corn tortillas from Foolproof Living.
- If you need a lower fat recipe, use pork loin in place of pork butt for a lean, yet flavorful carnitas meat, but you can use pork shoulder if you'd prefer.
- This recipe works well with an equal amount of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs in place of the pork roast. Simply ut the cooking time down to just 5-6 hours on low and 2-3 hours on high.
- Store leftover shredded pork in an airtight container for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months in an airtight container. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before heating.
Side Dishes for Carnitas
- Instant Pot Refried Beans
- Instant Pot Cilantro Lime Rice
- Instant Pot Spanish Rice
- Mexican Quinoa Salad
- Grilled Corn on the Cob
If you tried these Slow Cooker Carnitas, I would love for you to leave a comment and rating below.
Slow Cooker Carnitas
- 2 ½ lb pork shoulder or pork butt roast cut into 3-4 inch chunks
- 1 ½ tsp kosher salt divided
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper optional
- 12 ounces pale beer (or chicken stock)
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice about 2 limes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup chopped cilantro optional
- ¼ cup minced red onion
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 cups purple or green cabbage shredded
For the Carnita Meat
- Cut the pork roast into 3-4 inch chunks and season with the pepper and ½ teaspoon of salt.
- Combine the beer (or stock), orange juice, remaining salt, garlic, cumin, chili, and cayenne together in the slow cooker, and then nestle the pork into the liquid.
- Set the crockpot to cook on low for 10-12 hours or on high 5-7 hours.
- Once cooked, remove the meat to a large mixing bowl and shred the meat with 2 forks. Once shredded, add ½ cup to 1 cup of the cooking liquid to the meat and stir to moisten.
- For crispy pork, place the shredded pork along onto a rimmed sheet pan and broil until lightly charred.
- Serve the crispy, shredded pork on tortillas or over rice and top with slaw and crumbled queso fresco or feta if desired.
- While the meat is cooking, combine lime zest, lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, onion, cumin, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add the cabbage and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes prior to serving.
This recipe was originally shared in 2016 but has been updated in 2021 with new tips and photos.