Easy Carnitas, Slow Cooker or Dutch Oven

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Easy Carnitas, Slow Cooker or Dutch Oven
Had I known carnitas was this easy, I would have made this meal years ago.

What is Carnitas?

Carnitas means little meats. This carnitas is pork braised in broth for at least 3 hours, then pulled apart, crisped up and caramelized in the juices under the broiler or in the oven. I usually double this recipe and braise the meat in this 7 quart cast iron dutch oven.

carnitas promo graphic

You can only imagine how exciting the last part of the cooking is.

One of my favorite ways to eat pork tacos is with this red cabbage slaw.

carnitas on top of tortilla

I also love to have my carnitas with salsa verde, recipe found here.

We did this dinner for a recent birthday, because it’s a great crowd pleaser and doesn’t take a lot of time to put together. You can braise in a cast iron dutch oven, which is what I did, or make it in a slow cooker.

Pork Carnitas, Braised in Slow Cooker or Dutch Oven then Baked to Crispy

You will need to use the oven for the final twenty minutes, when the shredded pork cooks away in its juices and gets crispy on the ends. I was lucky enough to find a orange chipotle salt at Whole Foods, a new addition to their spices. It added that extra kick, but I didn’t include it in the recipe, because not everyone would have access to it.

My husband’s famous guacamole or sliced avocados are a must.

Easy Carnitas, Slow Cooker or Dutch Oven

Perfect for a Cinco de Maya party, serve carnitas, which can be made ahead, even frozen.

Pair with Homemade Fresh Citrus Margaritas or strawberry lime basil sangria.

Sauces for Carnitas

Roasted Salsa Verde

Make a Corn Tomato Salad as a Side.

corn salad in a bowl

Grain Free, Gluten Free Tortillas

Enjoy these easy Carnitas and let me know how the recipe works out. It’s one of my  “go to” crowd pleasers.

Print Recipe
4.54 from 15 votes

Easy Carnitas, Slow Cooker or Dutch Oven

Easy Carnitas with tortillas.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time4 hours
Total Time4 hours 20 minutes
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: braised pork steak, carnitas, tacos
Servings: 8
Author: Angela Roberts


  • 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder see notes
  • sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion coarsely chopped
  • 2 jalapeno seeded and ribs removed, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled and sliced
  • 1 orange cut in half
  • 4 limes divided
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 2-4 cups beef broth or water
  • tortillas
  • 2 red onions diced to serve with carnitas
  • handful cilantro
  • guacamole or sliced avocado


  • Trim excess fat from pork shoulder. Cut into 4 separate pieces.
  • Salt liberally.
  • Heat tablespoon of olive oil in dutch oven and brown pork pieces on all sides. Remove, set aside.
  • Add onions, pepper to pan. Cook for two minutes. Add garlic. Cook for one minute.
  • Add in juice of orange and orange pieces, juice of limes. I refrain from adding in lime pieces, as the lime can add bitterness.
  • Add pork back in.
  • Add in just enough water or broth to cover 2/3 of the meat. Add cinnamon Stick and chile powder.
  • Cover and braise for 3 1/2 hours.
  • Place in slow cooker on high for 4 hours, or low for 10 hours. (You may need to add in a little more water. Check hourly if you are using dutch oven.
  • Remove from oven. Strain pork from broth., making sure to save broth. Pull pork into pieces. Strain the broth.
  • Pull pork in pieces and place on large baking sheet. Pour about 1 cup of broth over pork. You want the crisp up the ends a little, but still keep pork tender.
  • Bake in oven at 375 degrees F. for approximately twenty minutes until most of the broth is gone and the meat has crispy crackling edges.
  • Serve with tortillas, chopped red onion, cilantro, sliced avocado, lime slices.
  • You can freeze for up to three months.


I  have also used 5 pound carnitas with bone. 

Please follow me on instagram. If you make this recipe,  please tag me #spinachtiger.

If you love this recipe, please give it five stars. It means a lot. xoxo

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  1. 5 stars
    Made it today and it was fabulous!!! Even the pickets eater had 3 street tacos. Follow the recipe 99%. After 2.5 hours in the duch oven at 275 I added about a tea spoon of cumin. I lowered the temp to 225 and let it go 2 more hours. Followed the recipe about shredding and cooking at 375 it came out crispy and delicious. I will definitely make this again.

  2. I LOVE carnitas! This recipe sounds awesome! My confusion: Recipe has olive oil listed twice – First has 1 Tbsp then further down has 3 Tbsps, but directions don’t mention anything but heating olive oil at the beginning. Where do the 3 Tbsps of olive oil belong in the recipe or . . . are we to use all 4 Tbsps to brown the Pork? Also, ingredients list Chili Powder but directions don’t mention where you add it. Does it get added along with the Cinnamon? Thank you for sharing this recipe.

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  4. Given the majority of the world uses Celsius to indicate temperature, 300 degrees seems very high for this recipe. This makes me wonder if you mean 300 Fahrenheit. Could you please amend your recipe to make that clear?

  5. I followed this recipe exactly & it turned out awful! I had to throw the whole thing away. I think it was the peel from the limes that made it so bitter. Would have been good I think if I just added the juice from the fruit and not the fruit itself. I thought that was odd when I read directions, but went with it anyway. Oh well, I guess they can’t all be winners. Bummer though, for sure.

  6. I love carnitas…so awesome. Yours look fantastic!! Just wanted to let you know that I made one of your recipes for SRC…I made your parmesan honey biscuits and LOVED them…they were so good! Thanks for a great recipe 🙂

4.54 from 15 votes (8 ratings without comment)

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