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The best crockpot carnitas you’ll ever have! Killer Crockpot Pork Carnitas are made in your slow cooker, so it couldn’t be easier!

Crockpot carnitas in tacos

Do you remember the show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives? They showed a Mexican restaurant that people lined up out the door for. Apparently they had killer carnitas which they then “showed you how to make.” If you’ve ever seen the show you know that means they just listed off the ingredients and showed it start to finish in about 10 seconds. They made theirs in huge batches, but after watching it over and over again, we figured out the proportions of ingredients. After a few experimental tries, and several years of making them, we consider these pork carnitas mastered! This meat is as good as it comes and makes one killer taco. If you are still making ground beef tacos, they will quickly become a thing of the past once you try this recipe. Bonus: they’re even made in the slow cooker! What’s not to love?! Get ready for taco cravings, everybody!

We think there’s a little bit of magic that happens when taking such an ordinary, cheap cut of meat and turning it into this culinary masterpiece. Especially considering how little effort is required to get this going! Once your meat is chopped, all you have to do is throw everything in the crockpot, mix ingredients by hand really quick, and then go about your day. It is the perfect meal for a busy weeknight!

The best crockpot carnitas you'll ever have! Killer Crockpot Pork Carnitas made in your slow cooker so it couldn't be easier!
  • How do you eat carnitas?

    Carnitas belong in all Mexican food: burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, you can even eat it by itself! 

  • My pork is really fatty. Do I need to trim a bunch of fat off? 

    Trimming isn’t necessary, but it all depends on your personal tastes. If you’re not a fan of gristly meat, you’ll want to trim off some of the larger pieces of fat. Don’t worry about trimming it all though, because you want to keep a good amount of fat for flavor. 

  • Why do you call for so much oil? 

    We are essentially slow frying the pork, which requires a lot of oil. The secret to the most amazing carnitas is a crisp exterior and tender interior, and you can’t do that without a good amount of oil. At the end, there will be a good amount of oil remaining to drain out, so you’re not actually eating all of that oil. Also keep in mind, this recipe makes a lot of meat. This is much more than just a couple of servings. 

If you like this recipe, you may be interested in these other delicious Mexican inspired recipes:

Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.

Crockpot carnitas in a white bowl
The best crockpot carnitas you'll ever have! Killer Crockpot Pork Carnitas made in your slow cooker so it couldn't be easier!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 5 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 3 to 5 pound pork butt or shoulder roast
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
Instructions
  • Trim roast and slice into 1/4 inch thick pieces. Put directly into crock pot (or baking pan).
  • Combine spices and toss into crockpot.
  • Add in the vegetable oil. Yes, it is a lot of oil, but fear not. If you skimp you won't get the same results.
  • Toss together using hands until evenly coated with spice and oil goodness.
  • Cook on low setting for 6-8 hours until the meat can easily be shredded with a fork.
Notes
TO CRISP ON THE STOVE: Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Work in batches and use tongs to place the shredded meat into the pan and saute until crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes. The meat should still have oil on it from the slow cooker. 
TO CRISP IN THE OVEN: Spread shredded carnitas out onto a baking sheet in an even layer. Place under the broiler setting in your oven for 3 - 5 minutes until crisp. 

Nutrition

Calories: 352kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 51g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 142mg | Sodium: 555mg | Potassium: 878mg | Vitamin A: 225IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 1.8mg
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Slow Cooker Carnitas

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Jessica

4 stars
Use the oil! Don’t be afraid, ever heard of confit? The meat came out so moist and flavorful and not soggy at all. I decided to crisp up in the oven for a bit. Excellent recipe! Thanks for sharing.

Betsy

Thank you I was worried about that much oil?

L

I married a VERY picky guy that happens to be Mexican-American and this is the only crockpot carnitas recipe that he not only eats but requests. Frequently. HUGE culinary win for me Lol
Sometimes I crisp them a little in a skillet or with the broiler, usually I don’t bother.
THANK YOU for figuring this one out!

Andy

These are those closet thing to the carnitas that I love. Living all over the west, southwest, these are almost like the Carnitas from my favorite little cantina that Pablo whipped up.

The only thing I did to these was let them sit in the crockpot marinating in the oil and spices for 3 or 4 hours before cooking. (Don’t know if that helped) I also throw a hand full of garlic cloves (peeled of course) in there an hour before being done.

One of my fav recipes, made them a few times, thanks for sharing.

Robbie

Tried and true, best texture, best flavor.!
Thank you for the recipe.

Mary Lou Isaacson

I’ve made this recipe multiple times over the last couple years. I find it to be full of flavor and very tender. It’s always a huge hit with my husband and boys. I stay pretty true to the original recipe with only a couple of tweaks. I add a bit of onion powder and double up on the garlic powder since I love garlic so much. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful recipe!

Sara

More garlic and more onion powder sounds like something I would add as well…. it just brings so much flavor to any dish. Can’t wait to try it. Thank you

D

5 stars
I made it as the recipe states and it was delicious!

Jackie

I’ve lived my entire life in Los Angeles, so maybe I’m just a Mexican food snob, but I felt there were two things this recipe was missing. This was good, but as I expected, the lack of an acid/citrus flavor made the meat taste less well-rounded. Adding a squeeze of lime afterward made it better. But next time I will add some orange or lime juice to the slow cooker and cut back on so much oil. The other thing: true carnitas should be somewhat crispy. The best way to get that crunchiness at home is to put some oil… Read more »

Tammie

5 stars
I use this recipe for bbq. I normally make about twice a month. The flavors are awesome.

Nancy

5 stars
These were a huge hit with my family! Delicious!

Debra

5 stars
Delicious! I did use the bay leaves instead of the cloves. I did do the to cups of oil and I did fry the meat after I took it out the slow cooker. Thanks it will be my for ever recipe to make!

Yolanda Dutton

5 stars
absolutely out of this world

Lynn Ferrone

I’m always amazed when people want to radically change a recipe! The writer created this recipe and wrote it the way she liked it; folks can write their own version and call it something else! A few minor changes are one thing; changing most of the ingredients and the method of cooking would be another recipe! I’m gonna try it the way it was originally written and I’m sure it will be wonderful.

I hope the sound of anger in your note was not how you really felt. We’re all just doing what we like to do and everyone is different. I always follow a recipe exactly as it is the first time through. Then if I feel I need to change something, I do it next time. I was married to a woman for many years though, who always changed whatever she was cooking because she was a super taster and couldn’t handle the taste of certain things. So I see both side of it. We all have different tastes. Oh, except… Read more »

Anita

5 stars
Made Carnitas over the weekend, using this recipe , minus the cloves. The meat was very tender and tasty. I placed it in a colander to drain the excess oil. My family loved them!

We layered with refried beans (doctored up canned with butter, Adobo seasoning, and cumin), cheddar jack cheese, shredded lettuce, guacamole, and Newman’s peach salsa.

They were excellent and very easy. Great recipe! Thanks for sharing!

Michelle Teramo Lamson

5 stars
This recipe is amazing!! I use the leftovers and make homemade enchiladas with the carnita meat also.
Great to make for large crowds.

Mac Atito

I made this recipe the way I start all my carnitas,, by searing my pork cubes in a light coating of olive oil, and then put NO oil in the crockpot, instead putting in a half can of chopped tomatoes, some chopped tomatillo and extra spice, including two “cook but don’t eat) hot peppers I grow. It makes this more of a stew, with a lot less oil. Also used dried cilantro instead of oregano. I love the idea of the oranges (I used mandarins) and cinnamon sticks in this recipe, It was a winner.

Christine

Mac, That way sounds really good. That is a lot of oil to add. I want to try this recipe. I think I’ll do it that way.

Andrew

The idea of this recipe, and traditional carnitas, is that the meat is slow cooked in fat, giving it incredible texture, and keeping the moisture in – similar to the results you’d get from oil-poaching, or a confit technique. Stewing/braising in another liquid will still give you tender meat but it won’t be the same. It is a lot of oil, but the oil is needed to submerge the meat and keep it poaching away in this moist-heat method and to, preventing it from steaming -which is a different cooking technique all together. When the meat is done cooking, you… Read more »

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