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!
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.
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.
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
- Prepare pork roast: Combine rub ingredients and coat the pork roast. Place the roast in the slow cooker. Top with onion and citrus.
- Slow cook: Cover the prepared roast and cook on low for 8 hours.
Step 2: Shred and Crisp the Pork
- 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.
- 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.
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!
Slow Cooker Carnitas
- 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
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- Cook: Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
- 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.
- 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 ½ 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.
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!