Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

Move over Chipotle! These shredded slow cooker pork carnitas simmers in your crockpot all day and makes burritos or salads with just the right amount of Mexican seasoning.

Before we go over this easy slow cooker dinner, have you tried my grandma’s slow cooker pork chops? They aren’t Mexican food (which I know we all love), but it is one of our favorite recipes to serve company. 

You already know of my extreme love for sweet desserts.  But there is really only one thing that I tend to crave.  And that is burritos.  I love Chipotle, Hot Head, Qdoba…it really doesn’t matter which place I get a burrito from, but a week doesn’t go by that I don’t wish I were eating a spicy burrito!

A plate of food with rice meat and vegetables, with Pork and Carnitas

Last summer we started making burritos at home.  Normally when we have homemade burritos, I use taco meat. And they are good.  But when I really feel like making something special, I slow cook pork, make some homemade pico de gallo and throw a burrito together.

It saves money, it saves time (by fixing and forgetting in the slow cooker) and your family can still enjoy dinner around the table on busy weeknights.

A special thanks to the Ohio Pork Council for sponsoring this recipe that we’re sharing with you today.

What is carnitas?

Carnitas literally means “little pieces of meat”. You’ll slow cook a large cut of meat (in this case, pork) and then shred it when it is tender. Then you’ll chop the meat into small pieces. It’s perfect for filling tacos, burritos and for topping salads.

What cut of pork is used for carnitas?

Pork carnitas are generally slow cooked pork shoulder (or pork butt). This is a higher fat cut of meat, but you’ll slow cook it for hours. All the fat will melt away, leaving you with fork tender pork, perfect for a burrito bowl.

We’ve also picked up pork roasts when they are on sale and used them in this recipe. Either pork cut works!

shredded pork

What does pork carnitas taste like?

Carnitas often have a milder flavor than other Mexican flavored meats such as barbacoa. If you don’t like super spicy, this is the meat you’ll want for your tacos and burritos.

Are carnitas healthy?

Pork carnitas are a great option for a high protein, low carb eating plan. This recipe fits in Keto, Paleo and Whole30 eating plans. Just watch the toppings you add to the burrito bowls to make sure they comply with your eating goals.

How to Make Carnitas

We make pork carnitas in the slow cooker to keep it easy. It will take all day to cook the pork to fork tender, but the result is worth it!

**Note..If you want the pork to cook more quickly, cut the shoulder or roast in 3-4 chunks. This will help the pork cook more quickly. Watch out for the bone if your pork shoulder has a bone. You’ll just discard the bone after cooking.

  • Place two bay leaves in the bottom of a slow cooker. 
  • Trim the fat from the outside of the pork shoulder. Discard the fat, then place the pork into the slow cooker. 
uncooked pork shoulder
  • In a small bowl, mix together the salt, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, and cinnamon. Sprinkle the spices on top of the pork. 
  • Pour the two cups of chicken stock around the sides of the pork, being careful not to wash off the spices that you’ve sprinkled on top of the pork.
  • Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. The pork should shred easily with a fork. Check the pork about half way through cooking and turn it to high if it looks like it needs it. Please note…it’s hard to say exactly how long this will take to cook. If you need it done at a certain time specifically (such as a dinner party), you can always cook it the day before and reheat so that you are certain it is done on time.
  • About an hour before serving, completely shred the pork and mix it in with the juices. 
shredded cooked pork

How to Reheat Carnitas

Carnitas make a great freezer meal and they are easy to reheat!

To reheat, place the pork in a skillet and saute lightly until heated through. The pork gets slightly crispy and is delicious!

You can also spread the pork in a layer on a baking sheet and bake it under the broiler for 3-5 minutes until it is heated through. Watch it closely so that it doesn’t burn!

A bowl filled with different types of food, with Pork and Carnitas

How to Make a Burrito Bowl

One of our favorite healthy meals are burrito bowls! Skip the tortilla shell and pile all of the good stuff in a bowl. Here’s how we layer:

  • lettuce
  • cauliflower rice (or regular rice)
  • black beans
  • carnitas
  • pico de gallo
  • corn
  • guacamole

Top with sour cream and cheese if you’d like.

What to Serve with Pork Carnitas

If you want to serve something with your pork carnitas, we recommend a fruit salad, corn casserole and homemade tortillas. Tres Leches Cake would be a great dessert idea!

A person holding a lime and sprinkling over salad

What to Do with Leftover Carnitas

Here are a few ways we like to use up leftover carnitas:

FOLLOW OHIO PORK ON FACEBOOKINSTAGRAMPINTEREST AND TWITTER FOR RECIPE INSPIRATION!

burrito bowls with beans and guacamole
burrito bowls with beans and guacamole

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

5 from 1 vote
These shredded pork carnitas simmers in your slow cooker all day and makes burritos or salads with just the right amount of Mexican seasoning.
Servings 20 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 hours
Total Time 8 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pork shoulder (7-8 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (or 2 garlic cloves, minced)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • dash ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups chicken stock

Instructions
 

  • Place two bay leaves in the bottom of a slow cooker. 
  • Trim the fat from the outside of the pork shoulder. Discard the fat, then place the pork into the slow cooker. 
  • In a small bowl, mix together the salt, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, and cinnamon. Sprinkle the spices on top of the pork. 
  • Pour the two cups of chicken stock around the sides of the pork, being careful not to wash off the spices that you've sprinkled on top of the pork.
  • Cover and cook on low for 10 hours. The pork should shred easily with a fork. Check the pork about half way through cooking and turn it to high if it looks like it needs it. **We sometimes start the slow cooker on high in order to make the cooking process faster.**
  • About an hour before serving, completely shred the pork and mix it in with the juices. 
  • Serve on burritos, salads or sandwich buns.

Notes

Please note…it’s hard to say exactly how long this will take to cook. It varies based on the size of your pork cut, the type of slow cooker you have, etc. If you need it done at a certain time specifically (such as a dinner party), you can always cook it the day before and reheat so that you are certain it is done on time.

Nutrition

Serving: 116g | Calories: 132kcal | Protein: 23g | Fat: 3g
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Calories 132
Keyword easy mexican dinner, easy pork recipe, pulled pork in the slow cooker, slow cooker meal

Recipe Source: AllRecipes.com

A plate of food with rice meat and vegetables, with Pork and Carnitas

About Lizzy T

Get 5 Classic Recipes with a Deliciously Secret Twist

You might also like

Join the Discussion

Subscribe
Notify of

6 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments