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Crockpot carnitas in a bowl with lime.

Easy Crockpot Carnitas

116 reviews / 4.8 average

Favorite things in life, in order:

  • tacos
  • tacos
  • tacos.

And one thing that has been known to elevate 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.

Crockpot carnitas in tacos with avocado.

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.

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.

Crockpot carnitas in a bowl with tortillas.

WATCH HOW TO MAKE OUR CROCKPOT CARNITAS (1 MIN):

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Crockpot carnitas in a bowl with lime.

Easy Crockpot Carnitas


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

Description

These easy crockpot carnitas are simple enough for anyone to make! Broiling them just before serving gives a browned, crispy crust to the meat. SO good!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 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.

Notes

The equipment section above contains affiliate links to products we use and love!

  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: crockpot carnitas, easy carnitas recipe, carnitas recipe

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Want to make these in the Instant Pot? Follow the video below!

WATCH How To Make Our Instant Pot Carnitas (1 MIN):

One More Thing!

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

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Recipe rating

484 Comments

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Holey moley this was insanely easy and soooooo good. I got the best compliment of my life from my hubby after making this, and I cook all the time. Broiling after it made it magic. Seriously. Thank you.






  1. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This looks amazing! I love carnitas. And the spices here look like a nice combination! When I make them I don’t even bother eating them with anything. No tortillas or anything like that. Just a big ol’ plate of meat.

    And I had no idea that pork belly wasn’t a mainstream cut of pork. So no, I don’t mind. 🙂

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Kenna

      It is excellent and better each day. Next day I put a small amount in a cast iron pan and heated on high till I had crispy pieces

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Yum. I have a pork shoulder in the freezer right now that I wanted to do something different with, and thanks to you it looks like I found it! Carnitas! Wonderful! Oh, and about the pork belly, I am willing to try anything at least twice, so go for it. Hopefully, I am able to get my hands on one.

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I’ve been considering giving carnitas a shot, and these pictures have definitely made my decision for me. And I’m even more excited about pork belly. I would LOVE to know something fantastic to do with it. 🙂

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Is pork belly considered weird then? It’s probably the cut of pork that most often appears on restaurant menus here (& it’s amazing) so I’m all for it.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Beth Murray Dunnavant

      I keep seeing people say no way to pork belly, Y’all, pork belly is the cut of meat that bacon is made from it’s bacon before it is made into bacon. It is also amazing.

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I don’t know which I want to chew on first – the pork or the baby cheeks!

    You can share the pork belly recipe, but I will in no way partake. Pork belly? No. 🙂

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Kari

        I’m sure it would, but if you are in doubt just use a N/A beer (they make a lot of different flavors now- everything from a light IPA to a dark stout)






    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      We had this tonight! Yum! The meat was a bit salty for us (and I’m down with salt!) but otherwise delish. Can’t wait to try it again, maybe with 2 tsp. of salt this time. I did substitute chicken broth for the beer….which probably explains the saltiness;-)






    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Nicole

      I’ve heard of using a can of coke or Pepsi as a substitute for beer. I’m actually making these today and using Miller Lite Lime. Will let you know how they turn out! Can’t wait!

        1. Pinch of Yum Logo
          Nicole

          These turned out AWESOME! And I thought I couldn’t cook! 😉 Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. Just came across it and your blog through Pinterest the other day. Can’t wait to try out more of your recipes! And if we have enough leftovers (I only made a 3 lb batch), I’ll definitely try out the Tamale Pie!






        2. Pinch of Yum Logo
          David Terwilliger

          Put this bad boy together this afternoon. I was kind of on a time crunch so I put in on high for 6 hours. It came out perfect. Thanks for this awesome recipe. Best tacos I’ve ever made.






  6. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Heather

    I’m so excited to try this since I too love Carnitas and the ones that I made last week were SO DRY! I love the chance to redeem myself with my family:)) Question though….What is the purpose of broiling/browning the meat before serving?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      It just gives it that nice brown crispy look on the edges. I think it tastes good that way, kind of browned a little bit. Otherwise, to me, it’s too mushy or something. I mean, it’s still good, I just like the color/texture that it gives.

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Nicole

        Quick question about this. I have seen on another recipe using beef they sear the outside of the meat before putting it in the crock pot. Do you think this might get the effect you are going for putting under the broiler afterwards? I do not cook often so was curious what your thoughts were. Thanks for any input!

        1. Pinch of Yum Logo

          Hi, Nicole. Searing the meat ahead of time does add nice flavor, but it won’t achieve the same effect that broiling the meat at the end does. Broiling it after it’s shredded gives it a nice little crisp texture that I’m pretty sure can only be achieved by broiling. 🙂

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo
    grama R .

    this dish looks very much like my pulled pork,everyonee loves it . Im game to try pork belly ,if its greasy fry it out good,give me the recipe .

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Madonna

    Thomas Keller cured me of pork belly fear. I think it is just the name. They really should find another name for it.

    Yummy recipe. Not to take away from your previous post, but this recipe is the best thing you have done.

    Oh my gosh, the babies. Over the top cuteness.

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Jakky

    I love the baby picture, the recipe, and the fact that this post is so “you” that I can practically hear you right through the screen. But, most of all, I love the twinkly-eyed moments during the day when your alumni sweetly call me Mrs. Ostrom, then sheepishly look away. You are still present at Edgerton, Lindsay, and we are eagerly awaiting your return.
    P.s. I have a new obsession with roasted chickpeas. If you haven’t tried them, it’s an absolute must!

  10. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Pete

    I’m definately a meat eater. Bring on the pork! Pork belly sure does sound weird but if you say it’s pretty good…I guess I can give it a try.

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo

    OMG! Salivating looking at that recipe and it’s still kind of morning here. Am at home from work with a sick child otherwise would be off to the market to buy me some pork! Oh and I love pork belly too so yes please share a recipe! love the crunchy skin and then the under-layers that just melt in your mouth! Living in Italy, we can’t ever find this here so I always indulge when I go back home to Australia!






  12. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Majorie Sander

    Learn something new everyday… Step #5.. browning under the broiler. Never thought about that. Great way to add additional edge to meat in crock pot!