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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
- Rice and Beans: You can serve these carnitas as a burrito bowl with Mexican rice or cilantro lime rice. For bean recipes, try our frijoles de la olla or refried beans.
- Toppings: Try guacamole, corn salsa, cilantro, pico de gallo, chopped onion, sour cream or Mexican crema!
- Dessert: Try our arroz con leche or this easy tres leches cake to stay on theme.
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!
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
- 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.)
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