These carnitas are impossibly easy—place everything in a slow cooker, let it cook, shred the meat, and dinner is served! Serve them on mini tortillas with all your favorite toppings.
Slow Cooker Carnitas are one of my favorite recipes to feed a crowd. One pork shoulder feeds so many people! The recipe is super easy, requires hardly any hands-on time, and everyone loves the finished dish.
Have I sold you yet? Here’s how to make them!
How to make carnitas
Place a pork shoulder in a slow cooker with chicken stock, orange juice, onions, and salt.
Cook on high for 4–5 hours or on low for 6–7 hours. The pork shoulder will shrink in size, but don’t worry—there are still tons of servings of meat!
Shred the meat with a fork and place on a sheet pan. Broil for 3–4 minutes, or until the pork begins to get crispy on the edges.
That’s it! You’ve made carnitas.
How to serve carnitas
The tortilla here is key! Corn tortillas are traditional, but I don’t love them, so I use flour tortillas.
You can find mini flour tortillas (they are called “street taco tortillas”) in the international foods aisle of many grocery stores. They are dough-y and delicious.
They are even MORE delicious when you char them on the stovetop. Turn a gas burner on low and place one tortilla directly on the stovetop over the flame. Have a pair of tongs ready. Let the tortilla cook and char in spots (this takes maybe 10 seconds, but watch closely!). Flip and repeat. Now you have some great smoky flavor in the tortilla.
How to top carnitas
Carnitas are traditionally served with chopped cilantro and chopped white onion. That’s my favorite way to enjoy them.
Pico de gallo also makes a great topping. Here’s how I make mine:
Two tomatoes on the vine
Half of a white onion
A handful of fresh cilantro
The juice of half a lime
A pinch of salt
Chop everything finely and stir together.
If you make it ahead of time, leave out the salt and stir it in at the last minute. The salt draws the water out of the tomatoes and you’ll be left with a lot of liquid on the bottom if you salt it ahead of time.
What to do with leftover carnitas
These carnitas are also great for repurposing into leftovers. Here are a few ideas for using the extra meat:
– Pork Quesadillas: place a small amount of butter in a skillet over medium heat, place a mini tortilla on top, and top with cheese and pork. Top with another mini tortilla, flip, and cook until the cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream and pico de gallo.
– Burrito bowls: serve with rice, black beans, shredded cheese, corn salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream
– Breakfast hash: sauté a chopped onion, diced potatoes, and a diced red pepper; stir in pork. Top with a fried egg and chopped cilantro.
I make these Slow Cooker Carnitas every time that I find pork shoulder on sale at the grocery store. The meat also freezes wonderfully for an easy dinner later on!
While we have the slow cooker out, don’t miss this recipe for Slow Cooker Smothered Steak. It’s so easy and so good!
Slow Cooker Carnitas
- 1 (4–5 lb) bone-in pork shoulder
- 1 cup chicken stock
- ⅓ cup orange juice
- 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sea salt
- To serve: tortillas, chopped cilantro, chopped white onion, pico de gallo
- Place pork shoulder and onions in a slow cooker. Sprinkle with the salt. Pour the chicken stock and orange juice around the pork shoulder.
- Cook on high for 4–5 hours or on low for 6–7 hours. Remove the pork shoulder and let cool for 15 minutes. Shred the meat with a fork and discard the bone. Combine the meat with the cooked onions and broil if desired (directions below), or skip to step #4.
- (Optional) Preheat oven to broil. Place the shredded pork and onions on a sheet pan. Broil for 3–4 minutes, or until the pork begins to get crispy.
- Serve the shredded pork and onions on tortillas with chopped cilantro, chopped white onion, and/or pico de gallo.