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Easy Crockpot Carnitas

130 reviews / 4.9 average

These are the easiest crockpot carnitas and simple enough for anyone to make! Juicy, flavorful, and perfectly browned with a crispy crust.

Favorite things in life, in order:

  • tacos
  • tacos
  • tacos.

And one thing that has been known to transform the tacos in my life is juicy, tender, savory, fall-apart pork that is both massively flavorful (garlic, spices, and just a hint of tangy lime) and juuust browned and crispy enough to keep me snacking on little bites of it while prepping my taco ingredients.

Yes, you know it. We’re talking about crockpot carnitas.

In my life, I give bonus points to any recipe that is idiot-proof easy to make and can be popped in the slow cooker or Instant Pot to cook while you manage your normal life things. More bonus points for recipes that can be frozen, prepped ahead, or kept easily as leftovers. And let’s just say that this carnitas recipe is racking up the bonus points right now.

Are you so into this right now? I AM SO INTO THIS.

Prefer To Watch Instead Of Read?

Close up of carnitas.

Super Simple Carnitas

This recipe is absolutely my go-to for “entertaining” aka “hey you guys should come over and watch the game and we’ll eat something yummy while sitting on the couch.”

You can prep all your beautiful extras (guacamole, fresh cilantro and lime, sour cream, cotija cheese, radish, red onion, tortillas, pico de gallo) in advance, and maybe even run a few errands (oops, forgot the drinks, and the dog could probably use a walk, and have I showered yet today?), all while the meat does its delicious thing, needing no supervision whatsoever.

Time For a Quick Browning Treatment

When it’s time for friends to arrive, you shred that meat, you brown it up under a broiler (THIS IS ESSENTIAL DO NOT SKIP), and you plate it up nice and pretty and let everyone compliment you for this delicious, juicy, colorful spread.

Juicy, tender, saucy and simultaneously crispy carnitas. Truly a thing of beauty.

Carnitas in a pan with limes and a serving fork.

Carnitas is a staple of Mexican cooking and eating and literally means “little meats.” The method to make it can vary from person to person, but what’s always consistent is shreddable pork for tacos, tortas, and more. This is a simple slow cooker version of carnitas, but traditional carnitas recipes are typically cooked by simmering or braising the pork in oil. You can learn all about the history of carnitas here. Also, to explore Mexican food more, highly recommend checking out the vibrant and fun Chicano Eats cookbook, written by Esteban Castillo and described as “Mexican food with an immigrant sensibility that weaves seamlessly between Mexican and American genres and cultures.”

More Pork Recipes To Make Over and Over Again

Common Questions About Our Easy Crockpot Carnitas

Is there a substitute for the beer?

You can use chicken broth instead.

Can these be made in the Instant Pot?

Sure can! Watch our video here for how to make these easy carnitas in the Instant Pot.

I found pork butt, but I can’t find pork shoulder. Will that work?

Yes! Both are tougher cuts of meat that will do great with a long and slow cook.

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Carnitas-6

Easy Crockpot Carnitas


  • Author: Pinch of Yum
  • Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1012 1x

Description

These are the easiest crockpot carnitas and simple enough for anyone to make! Juicy, flavorful, and perfectly browned with a crispy crust.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 45 lbs. pork shoulder
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle hot sauce (optional)
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 12 ounces beer (a standard lager works great for this!)
  • 1/2 cup salsa (I like to use a less chunky one)

Instructions

  1. Place the pork shoulder in the slow cooker. Roughly chop the garlic and place in the slow cooker (I actually kind of rubbed it onto the meat to get as much garlic flavor as possible, but you could just toss it in, too).
  2. Sprinkle the meat with salt, cumin, chili powder, black pepper, oregano, cinnamon, and cayenne. Rub seasonings onto the pork.
  3. Add lime juice, orange juice, beer, and salsa. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
  4. Shred meat with two forks directly in the slow cooker (or take out, shred, and replace in sauce). It should fall apart easily.
  5. Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the shredded meat on the cooking sheet and pour a few spoonfuls of sauce over the top. Broil for 5-10 minutes or until you get browned edges on the pork.
  6. Serve on tortillas with fresh cilantro, avocado, and lime juice.

Equipment

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: crockpot carnitas, easy carnitas recipe, carnitas recipe

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One More Thing!

This recipe is part of our collection of yummy pork recipes. Check it out!

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Recipe rating

547 Comments

  1. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Kim

    These carnitas are so flavorful, I am so impressed! I’m definitely going to be making this regularly, it was so easy and so good. The only variation I did from the recipe was to use chicken broth in place of the beer purely because we didn’t have any lagers on hand, and it turned out amazing. Thank you so much for this recipe!






  2. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Gina

    Oh my!!! I made this yesterday because I wanted a crockpot meal to make with things I had. We eat and cook a lot of traditional Mexican foods and we were blown away with the flavors in this recipes. I didn’t add the chipotle hot sauce or salsa into the crock and I used Ancho chili powder. Bottom line this is such a simple crock recipe loaded with true Mexican flavors!!! Everyone loved it! This recipe is getting printed snd added to the family cookbook!






  3. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Kyal Bubenik

    I made these over the holiday weekend and spice say I’ve been eating carnita tacos for 3 days now. I’ve been making tacos for probably 30 years nothing special decided to do this. Slow cooked crock pot for about 9 hours then broiled for about 20 25 minutes to crisp up. Then garnished with fresh Romaine limes avocado and cilantro. The best tacos I’ve ever made maybe not the best I’ve had cuz other people know to make pretty good tacos, but the best I’ve made yummy






  4. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Claudia

    This looks great! One question, I can’t have gluten. What can I use instead of beer?

    Thank you !

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Jessica

    Hi! I’ve made these carnitas so many times in my instapot and they are insanely delicious. My husband requests for them often.
    I am going on a group trip and will only have a Dutch oven. Do you think these could be slow cooked in that? If so, how long do you think they will need?






  6. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Janey

    SO GOOD! Made these last night and maybe it’s because I’m pregnant but I have been eating the meat cold out of the leftover container I love it so much. I don’t have a lot of go-to pork recipes but this is a make-again for sure!






    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Jessica

      Hi! I’ve made these carnitas so many times in my instapot and they are insanely delicious. My husband requests for them often.

      I am going on a group trip and will only have a Dutch oven. Do you think these could be slow cooked in that? If so, how long do you think they will need?






      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Krista @ Pinch of Yum

        Yes, that should work just fine. You’d probably need to simmer at least 2-3 hours! If the meat is still tough, it should be cooked longer!

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Susan

    If you make ahead and freeze, should you hold off on the broiling step until just before serving? Thank you!

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Nicole Smith

    Any specific kind of beer?
    I plan on making these tomorrow for Cinco De Mayo!! I can’t wait!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      We use whichever restaurant style salsa is available. We’ve used Pace brand in the past!

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Amy

    Going to try these this week—they look amazing! Looks like they can feed a crowd—if I’m cooking for a family of 4, you think I can I freeze leftovers & they would be good?

  10. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Kaitlin

    I normally don’t love pork, but these carnitas were amazing! Threw them into a bowl with rice, beans, cabbage, and hot sauce. Delicious!!






  11. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Kristina

    Hello! These look amazing. For a family who prefers chicken to pork, any idea if that could sub here, versus using another recipe?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      We think chicken would be a great substitute, especially chicken thighs! If you give it a try, we’d love to hear back!

        1. Pinch of Yum Logo
          Krista @ Pinch of Yum

          We haven’t tested this recipe with pork tenderloin, but I think it’d work out fine!

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Sheena

        My family prefers chicken to pork, so I used chicken thighs and it was AMAZING! Broiling at the end just added to the perfection. Thank you for this recipe! We will make this regularly.