Crockpot Carnitas aka Mexican Pulled Pork is the best pulled pork recipe because of one secret ingredient! They’re best enjoyed wrapped inside of a tortilla, in a burrito bowl, or right off the pan.
If you love this Carnitas Recipe, you’ll love these Carnitas Tacos!
Best Pork Carnitas Recipe
I wasn’t planning to do a separate post for these pork carnitas, but after hearing how much you all loved the Slow Cooker Carnitas Tater Tot Nachos, I decided I had to!
These pulled pork carnitas are seriously the BEST. I mean, my mouth waters just thinking about them. They’re tender, crispy, salty, sweet…literally all of the best things.
So I’m excited to have a blog post specifically dedicated to them because they freaking deserve it!
What Are Carnitas?
Carnitas are the Mexican version (aka the best version) of pulled pork.
They’re similar to pulled pork in the way that they both come from the same cut of meat (pork shoulder or pork butt) and then cooked slowly for several hours. They’re great to make in the slow cooker or the instant pot!
Pulled pork can be enjoyed right out of the slow cooker, but carnitas are finished by broiling them in the oven until they are charred and crispy (not burnt).
What To Eat With Carnitas
I love serving carnitas in tacos with corn tortillas in place of regular pulled pork, but recently I’ve been really into making these Carnitas Tater Tot Nachos! You can also serve them alone with a side of Cilantro Lime Farro or rice.
Pickled red onions are delicious with these Crispy Carnitas. The tangy and sweet flavors play off of each other perfectly. So if you’re adding them to a taco or a burrito, make sure you’ve got a batch of those ready to go!
How To Make Pork Carnitas
1. Season the pork. Combine all of the spices and brown sugar in a small bowl and rub it evenly over the pork.
2. Slow cook the pork. The key to making tender carnitas with lots of flavor is cooking the pork low and slow. Line the bottom of the slow cooker with a sliced yellow onion, then add the orange juice, lime juice, and pork. Cook for 7-8 hours on low. When it’s finished, remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred the meat with two forks.
3. Broil the pork. To get my carnitas extra crispy and flavorful, I sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar and paprika on top before putting them on a baking sheet in the oven and broiling them on high for 5-6 minutes until they are charred and crispy (not burnt). You shouldn’t need to toss them at all.
When they’re finished, they’ll be crispy with just a touch of sweetness. Pure perfection!
Questions You Might Have
What cut of meat is best for carnitas?
Pork shoulder (also known as pork butt) is ideal for making carnitas because of its high fat content. Carnitas are the Mexican version of pulled pork, so it’s important to choose a cut of meat with high fat content so it doesn’t dry out while cooking.
Can I put raw pork in a slow cooker?
You can put raw pork directly in the slow cooker, or you can brown it in a hot pan with a little olive oil first for a deeper, richer flavor.
What can I make with pork carnitas?
I love making tacos with pork carnitas, but you can also make enchiladas, burritos, or quesadillas.
Why are my carnitas tough?
If you don’t cook them long enough in the slow cooker, the connective tissue will make them rubbery. If your carnitas are tough, it could also be from broiling them too long after pulling apart the meat so just be sure to keep an eye on them.
Sometimes I will drizzle some of the juices from the slow cooker over them before placing under the broiler.
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Crispy Crockpot Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)
- 1 3-4 pound pork shoulder boneless or bone-in
- 1 large white onion sliced into 1.5 inch rounds
- 1 large orange juice
- 1 lime juice
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 3 teaspoons paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- In a small bowl, combine 2 tbsps light brown sugar, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 2 tsps paprika, and 2 tsps cumin. Rinse the pork under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Rub the spice mixture over all sides of the pork.
- Line the bottom of the slow cooker with the sliced white onion, orange juice, and lime juice. Add the pork and cook on low for 7-8 hours.
- When the pork is finished cooking, preheat the broiler to high and remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred the meat with two forks. Arrange the pulled pork in a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle one tbsp of brown sugar and 1 tsp of paprika over the meat. Place the baking sheet on the top rack of the oven and broil for 5-6 minutes until the pork is charred and crispy (not burnt).
I love Mexican pulled pork. It is the best way to cook pork if you ask me 🙂 Definitely the recipe to keep handy!
Wow – this pork was so amazing – Im loving all the spices you used on it – and finishing it off under the broiler to get it crispy! So tasty!
OMG these were so crispy. Loved all the flavors!
This is wonderful! Crispy Crockpot Carnitas, wanting to try making the carnitas but seeing it takes a long time I decided I won’t try it anymore. Then I see this! Oh my! Grabbed my crockpot and made it over the weekend!
This carnitas was crispy and yet juicy at the same time. I bet the magic happened in the slow cooker before getting under the broiler. Can’t wait to make again. Yum!
Thank you!! This looks amazing. I love the broiling step to crisp up the pork. I have tried a similar style recipe but the meat was mushy. Thank you for sharing! (I’ve already printed this)
Let me know what you think once you’ve made it!
THis was great for taco night! It’s so easy to make and flavorful! My whole family loved it! Thank you.
Love how flavorful this recipe turned out to be!! All the spices made it taste great!
These were so perfectly crispy. I will definitely be adding these to tacos next time! Used them in a burrito this time.
I had no idea you could use orange juice. These was fab I love anything Tex-Mex/Mexican. Thanks for the recipe
This looks gorgeous and I love all your hints and tips to get that crispy pork too.