Slow Cooker Carnitas

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 8 hours 35 minutes
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These juicy, shredded slow cooker carnitas are made easy with just 5 ingredients! Tender pork roast is slow cooked in tomatillo salsa and tangy mojo marinade, shredded and then crisped up to make the best carnitas tacos.

Why You’ll Love These Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe

These saucy carnitas are an easy crockpot recipe you can set and forget about all day until it’s time for dinner. Here’s why you will love this recipe:

  • Easy: This crock pot carnitas recipe is super beginner-friendly as the slow cooker does all the hard work for you!
  • So Flavorful: By using a combination of salsa verde, citrusy mojo marinade and a bunch of garlic, each bite of these carnitas are exploding with flavor.
  • Crowd Favorite: Carnitas are a great idea for a potluck or feeding a crowd as they make a lot and no one can resist juicy, garlicky pork.
  • Versatile: Serve them in tortillas, over a bowl of rice, in lettuce wraps or even in scrambled eggs, the options are limitless!

What Are Carnitas?

Carnitas are a traditional Mexican dish from the state of Michoacan. It’s tender, juicy, seasoned pork that’s slow-cooked in lard in large copper pots. It’s then chopped into little pieces and used for tacos or “tortas” (Mexican sandwiches).

The seasonings and sauces used range from smokey cumin and oregano to vinegar, orange juice, or salsa. They can be pan-fried for a bit of crispiness but it’s not necessary. Carnitas can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Ingredients for slow cooker carnitas arranged in bowls, from top to bottom: salsa verde, pork roast, oil, garlic and mojo marinade.

Recipe Ingredients

Mojo marinade will add hints of citrus and lots of garlic will create the perfect sauce for this juicy crockpot carnitas recipe. Scroll down to the recipe card for exact amounts.

  • Boneless Pork Roast: You can also use bone-in, but you’ll need to remove it before shredding.
  • Oil: Vegetable, canola or corn oil all work.
  • Salsa Verde: Use a salsa verde that isn’t avocado-based.
  • Mojo Marinade: I prefer to make my own fresh mojo marinade, but if using store-bought, I find the Badia mojo to have the best flavor.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic is best, but garlic powder works in a pinch.
Juicy and tender shredded crock pot carnitas placed in a serving bowl.

How to Make Slow Cooker Carnitas

The more cooking liquid you add, the more tangy, tomatillo goodness the carnitas will absorb as you crisp them up in the skillet. Scroll to the recipe card at bottom of the post for full detailed instructions. 

  • Sear: Place the pork in a large skillet and sear it on all sides. Transfer it to the crockpot. Add all of the ingredients to the crock pot. Stir to combine.
  • Cook: Add the lid and cook the pork on LOW for 8 hours. Low and slow is the best method to ensure your crock pot carnitas turn out extra juicy and tender.
  • Shred: Use a fork to carefully shred the pork. Set it aside and reserve the cooking liquid.
  • Season: Add garlic and oil to a large skillet and cook until fragrant. Add in the shredded pork and mix well. Add 1 cup of cooking liquid at a time and let it simmer until completely absorbed. Repeat until the pork is flavorful, to taste.
  • Crispy: Spread out the pork in the skillet and cook it until sizzling and crispy. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.
Bowl of slow cooker carnitas.

Tips & Variations

A few tips to ensure your slow cooker pork carnitas recipe turns out perfect every time:

  • Roughly Chop: Grab a large, sharp knife and chop the pork into little pieces for a more traditional style of carnitas.
  • Spicy: Finely chop up a couple of jalapeños or a couple of serrano peppers and add them to the slow cooker for some heat. You can also just use a spicy salsa.
  • Add Beer: Swap the mojo marinade completely for Lager beer. It’ll add subtle hints of barley and nuts.
  • Low and Slow: While you may feel urged to try cooking these carnitas at a higher temperature for a shorter amount of time, I highly recommend sticking with 8 hours on low. This will create extra juicy and tender carnitas!
  • Add Onion: Slice an onion in thin strips and sauté garlic and onion until tender before adding the shredded pork to a skillet.
  • Crisp In Oven: If you prefer to use the oven, spread your shredded carnitas onto a baking sheet and broil them for a few minutes, until crisp. Watch closely!
Tacos with slow cooker carnitas, corn salsa, and red onions.

What to Serve with Slow Cooker Carnitas

These slow cooker carnitas are a great base for lots of Mexican dishes. Use them to make carnitas tacos, burritos or quesadillas with my homemade corn tortillas or flour tortillas. Here are a few more ideas:

Juicy and crispy crock pot carnitas served in flour tortillas and topped with fresh corn salsa.

How to Store Leftover Crock Pot Carnitas

If you’re storing them for later, allow the leftover carnitas to cool to room temperature before placing them in a container.

  • Fridge: Place it in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Freezer: Transfer it to freezer-friendly bags or containers in serving-size portions. Freeze for up to 3 months. For best results, thaw overnight in the fridge.
  • Reheat: Microwave in 30-second intervals until warm. You can also reheat it in a pan with a little oil over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to re-crisp!
Landscape photo of slow cooker carnitas.
5 from 5 votes
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Yield: 12 servings

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

This slow cooker carnitas recipe with tangy salsa verde and citrus-y Cuban mojo marinade is a set-and-forget dinner that'll simplify your weeknights.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time8 hours
Additional Time20 minutes
Total Time8 hours 35 minutes

Ingredients

Optional, For Serving

Instructions 

Slow Cooker:

  • Heat a large heavy bottomed pot to medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Sear pork on all sides.
  • Add pork, salsa verde and mojo marinade to a 7+ quart crockpot. Stir to combine. Cover and cook for 8 hours on low.
  • Shred pork in a large bowl and reserve the liquid pork was cooked in.

Optional: Make The Carnitas Crispy

  • In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add pork to pot and toss to coat in olive oil and garlic.
  • Add 1.5 cups of liquid you saved that the pork cooked in. Cook, tossing often until liquid has cooked out. Repeat this step. (You can continue doing this as many times as you want until the meat has tons of flavor. I usually do this twice and taste to see.)
  • Once your meat is flavored to your taste, spread the pork out into an even layer. Cook over high heat, turning once or twice, until sizzling and crispy in spots. (Check below for oven directions.)

Notes

Store: Place it in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freeze: Transfer it to freezer-friendly bags or containers in serving-size portions. Freeze for up to 3 months. For best results, thaw overnight in the fridge.
Reheat: Microwave in 30-second intervals until warm. You can also reheat it in a pan with a little oil over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to re-crisp!
Spicy: Finely chop up a couple of jalapeños or a couple of serrano peppersand add them to the slow cooker for some heat. You can also just use a spicy salsa.
Add Beer: Swap the mojo marinade completely for Lager beer. It’ll add subtle hints of barley and nuts.
Add Onion: Slice an onion in thin strips and sauté garlic and onion until tender before adding the shredded pork to a skillet.
Crisp In Oven: If you prefer to use the oven, spread your shredded carnitas onto a baking sheet and broil them for a few minutes, until crisp. Watch closely!

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving of pork, Calories: 232kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 26g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 0.03g, Cholesterol: 71mg, Sodium: 328mg, Potassium: 603mg, Fiber: 0.1g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 331IU, Vitamin C: 26mg, Calcium: 14mg, Iron: 1mg

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[…] Crispy Pork Carnitas with Corn Salsa from The Novice Chef features pork cooked in Salsa Verde that can be served in a variety of ways and this can be made in the slow cooker or the Instant Pot. […]

Any suggestions for a substitute for mojo marinade?

Help!!! I want to make thus in the instant pot but I can’t find mojo marinade anywhere in town. What could I use as a substitute?

These look so colorful and delicious! I just love carnitas!

I absolutely LOVE carnitas. This recipe looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it out.

I have to get an instant pot…one hour versus 8 hours makes a huge difference! These carnitas look fantastic!!

These are absolutely gorgeous,

My family would eat this up right away — looks delicious!

I love that you have pressure cooker and slow cooker directions!  This looks fabulous!!

I just love that you crisp the pork in the pan before it goes into the tortillas! This is definitely a recipe my entire family can get behind!

Everything about this is perfect. That salsa!

Thank You For Being Here!

Jessica
For the past 15 years, Jorge & Jessica have loved getting to share their families' favorite recipes with all of you. They live in Florida with their 3 kids.