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Flavorful Slow Cooker Carnitas made with a pork shoulder or pork butt roast in the crockpot with fresh citrus and seasonings are delicious! Tender shredded pork gets crispy under the broiler when cooked in it’s own juices and seasonings.

Scroll down to see tons of ingredient and step-by-step photos with details instructions. At the bottom you will find the full printable recipe. Enjoy!

crockpot carnitas
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Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • Set it and forget it: This recipe literally takes a few minutes to assemble in the morning and it cooks all day while you’re at work. Never underestimate how wonderful it is to come home to the smell of a wonderful dinner!
  • Make ahead and meal planning: Carnitas are a fantastic recipe to prepare at the beginning of the week and enjoy in burritos or on salads.
  • Great flavor: The citrus really helps tenderize the meat while it braises slowly in the juices from the onions and the rendered fat. The abundant amount of garlic along with some heat from peppers also makes them delicious.

Ingredients needed:

Exact quantities are listed in the recipe card below, but here is a summary.

  • Pork Roast – look for a pork shoulder or pork butt. Country style pork ribs can also be used. These are usually boneless cuts from the shoulder area and can be less expensive than a roast despite being from the same part of the pig.
  • Onion – This creates flavor and liquid during the cooking process.
  • Flavor – Green chile or jalapeno add some heat, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper are used for the spice blend, and an entire head of garlic creates the best tasting carnitas.
  • Citrus – Both oranges and a lime are cooked with the roast to tenderize and add flavor to the meat.
ingredients to make carnitas

How to make Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas:

Detailed step by step instructions are listed in the recipe card below, but here is a summary.

Step 1: Slow cook the roast

  1. Prepare pork roast: Combine rub ingredients and coat the pork roast. Place the roast in the slow cooker. Top with onion and citrus.
  2. Slow cook: Cover the prepared roast and cook on low for 8 hours.

Step 2: Shred and Crisp the Pork

  1. Shred the meat: Transfer the cooked roast to a separate dish and when it is cool enough to handle, shred the meat. Strain the cooking liquid and discard the solids.
  2. Crisp the meat: When you’re ready to serve, toss the shredded pork carnitas with some of the cooking liquid and broil until you see golden down crispy edges.

Cooking tips for best results:

  • Modifications: Pork roast is easiest to shred if it is cooked whole, however it will cook faster if cut into 2-inch chunks before adding to slow cooker. For added flavor, pork roast can be browned in hot skillet before getting braised in the slow cooker. These carnitas can also be made in the slow cooker using the high setting in 2-4 hours, however the longer braise on the low setting is recommended.
  • Make ahead option: The pork roast can be cooked as recommended, shredded, and then stored in the refrigerator or freezer with the cooking liquid. Broil just before serving. This option works great for meal planning throughout the week.
crispy carnitas on plate

Serving suggestions:

We love to serve carnitas in burritos or when making quesadillas. Our favorite sides include Mexican Street Corn or Purple Cabbage Slaw.

All you really need in order to make these crockpot pork carnitas a meal are some corn tortillas, a squeeze of lime, and perhaps some shredded cabbage.

If you’ve made this or any other recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out. I love hearing from my readers!

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Slow Cooker Carnitas

Prep30 minutes
Cook8 hours 30 minutes
Total9 hours
Servings 8 servings
Flavorful Slow Cooker Carnitas made with a pork shoulder or pork butt roast in the crockpot with fresh citrus and seasonings are delicious!

Ingredients 

  • 4 pound pork roast pork shoulder or butt, excess fat trimmed and removed
  • 1 head garlic cloves removed and minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons green chile minced; may substitute with chipotle in adobo or fresh jalapeno
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 2 oranges washed clean
  • 1 lime washed clean

Instructions 

  • Prepare roast: Combine garlic, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and green chile (or jalapenos) in small bowl. Coat pork roast with spice rub and place in slow cooker.
    pork shoulder in crockpot
  • Add citrus: Top prepared roast with the sliced onion. Slice the oranges and lime in half and squeeze all of the juices onto the pork. When you're done, add the remaining orange and lime halves to the slow cooker.
    orange and onion on pork butt
  • Cook: Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
    slow cooker carnitas with citrus
  • Shred and strain: Remove the pork roast from the slow cooker and set aside. Once the meat is cool enough to handle, shred the meat and discard any large chunks of fat. Strain and reserve the liquid from the slow cooker and discard any remaining solids.
    shredded pork carnitas
  • Crisp the carnitas: To serve, set the oven to a low broil and spread the shredded meat in a thin layer on a large foil-covered or parchment-covered baking sheet. Measure 1/2 cup of the reserved liquid and pour over the meat. Broil until the meat starts to crisp and brown, stirring every few minutes. Add additional reserved liquid and/or additional seasonings prior to serving, if desired.
    pouring liquid on shredded pork

Notes

Nutritional information is based on a single serving where 4-pound pork roast is used with a total of 8 servings of carnitas.
Make-ahead directions: Cook as directed up until the point where pork is shredded. Store the shredded meat in 1/2 cup of the reserved liquid and also save the remaining liquid just in case you want to add it later. To serve, add the shredded pork to a baking sheet and broil until crispy.

Nutrition

Calories: 327kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 51g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 142mg, Sodium: 343mg, Potassium: 945mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 80IU, Vitamin C: 21.5mg, Calcium: 39mg, Iron: 1.8mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Did you make this? Leave me a comment below

This recipe was originally published in April 2015 and has been updated with helpful information, ingredient and process photos, as well as recipe tips. Don’t worry – the recipe hasn’t changed!

Hi! I’m Krissy.

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23 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Don’t know yet as I haven’t made it because I am wondering how to cook this in an instant pot, if possible?

    1. The way I make shredded pork shoulder of any kind (BBQ pulled pork or carnitas) in the Instant Pot is this: First either smoke the pork roast or sear it in the the Instant Pot. Then add at least a cup of liquid (I start with water or chicken broth, then freeze the cooking liquid when done and use it again next time I make them) and pressure cook on high for 60min minimum (but you can go 90 or 120). Shred and crisp per the recipe.

  2. oh, my gosh, this made me laugh so hard, lol.
    I am wondering why a couple people said it had a bitter taste… I know when you zest lemon, lime or orange and if you get some of the white, that can be bitter… overall, the ratings make this dish a hit, so I will definitely be making these next week.

  3. Can I use orange juice and lime juice? I have the juice (100%) but I don’t have the fruit I just have it in a bottle in the fridge.