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slow cooker pork carnitas

The Best Slow Cooker Mexican Pork Carnitas

Use your slow cooker to make the best Slow Cooker Mexican Pork Carnitas. Pork carnitas are great meal idea for pork.

Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword Carnitas, Pork, slow cooker
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Servings 20 People
Author Amy


  • 5 lbs pork shoulder/pork butt - trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin or paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 med onion chopped
  • 1 jalapeno chopped, deveined and seeded

Wet Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, salt
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon each chili powder, garlic powder, and onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon each smoked paprika, pepper
  • 1+ pepper chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (add as much as you like for optional heat)


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat in a large nonstick skillet. Using tongs or 2 forks, sear pork on all sides until lightly browned. Transfer pork to cutting board until cool enough to handle. (This is optional. I find if I sear the meat before it gives it a little more flavor. However, if you don't have time you may skip this step. I have made this both ways and it comes out fine.)

  2. Then whisk together all of the ingredients for the Wet Spice Rub in a medium bowl. Once the pork is cool, massage the Wet Spice Rub evenly all over the pork. Then transfer the pork to the slow cooker. Add lemon juice, lime juice, cumin or paprika, and 2 bay leaves to slow cooker. Top pork with chopped onions and jalapeno. Cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 5-6 hours OR until pork is falls apart and is tender and easily shreds with a fork.

  3. Remove pork from slow cooker and transfer to a cutting board, shred with two forks, and add back to slow cooker and toss with all the juices form the pork. Cook on low for an additional 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat a cast iron skillet.

  4. After 20 minutes, remove pork from slow cooker (do NOT discard the juices) and add shredded pork to skillet in an even layer. Drizzle with some of the remaining juices (about 1/4 cup) and cook stirring frequently for about 5-10 minutes to desired crispiness, watching closely so meat doesn’t burn (about 5-10 minutes). Drizzle with additional juices and toss.

  5. Serve warm with favorite toppings.

Recipe Notes

You can make pork carnitas with corn tortillas or try mini corn tortillas for street tacos.

Make rice and beans and have a pork carnita bowl with your favorite toppings.

Topping suggestions are sour cream, greek yogurt, cheese, cilantro, avocado, tomatoes.

Freeze the leftovers and reheat to plan for meals for the rest of the month.