This post is sponsored by my friends at Iowa Pork, but the thoughts and opinions expressed here are all my own – just as always. Thanks for supporting the brands and businesses that support me.
This recipe for my Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas is perfect for your next Taco Tuesday! A pork shoulder is seasoned with a variety of flavorful spices and slow cooked until fall-apart tender. The meat is then shredded and crisped up under the broiler and used on tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, quesadillas, or even eaten just by itself!
Now, traditional carnitas are made by slow cooking pork in spices and fat (normally lard). Then when it’s super tender, it gets fried in the rendered fat and lard to crispy perfection. And while this version isn’t authentic, it sure is delicious!
We start by making a super flavorful spice rub with salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, and oregano. If you’ve got Mexican oregano on hand, you can use that, but it’s not super important to go buy it just for this recipe. The flavor is a little different, but I do hate having to buy something like that which I end up only using once or twice.
Now, I use a pork shoulder, sometimes called a pork butt or Boston butt, for this but other cuts of pork will work. A pork loin filet or loin roast should work, too. They’ll just have slightly different cook times.
Coat the pork shoulder with the rub and then place it in the slow cooker with some onion, a ton of garlic, some fresh orange and lime juices and let the slow cooker do its thing.
Once it’s super tender, we shred the pork, and return it to the drippings in the bottom of the slow cooker. There’s tons of flavor there and it’s super important to get it on the meat.
Now to get that crispy exterior that carnitas is known for, I spread it on a large rimmed baking sheet and pop it under the broiler until it gets crispy. You could go the traditional method and fry it in some lard, but I really love this method.
This pork is great served in tacos (my favorite way) or in burritos, burrito bowls, quesadillas, or even all by itself. It’s so delicious!
For more delicious pork recipes, visit my friends over at Iowa Pork. And remember, whether you buy meat from a local butcher shop or the grocery store, you are still supporting farm families! About one third of the pork raised here in the United States comes from Iowa, so when you shop at any grocery store you are supporting family farms in Iowa and the United States.
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 4-pound pork shoulder
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 orange, juiced
- 3 limes, juiced
- Make the rub by combining the salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, chili powder, and oregano. Coat the pork shoulder (also sometimes called a pork butt or Boston butt) with the rub.
- Spray the crock of a large slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Add the onion, garlic, orange juice, and lime juice to the bottom. Add the pork shoulder. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours (or high for 4 to 5).
- Remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred the meat with two forks. Return the meat to the slow cooker with the juices and mix to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.
- When ready to serve, preheat the oven to broil. Put about half of the shredded pork on a large rimmed baking sheet and place under the broiler, watching it closely, for 3 to 4 minutes or until the meats starts to get crispy. Repeat with the other half of the meat. Serve in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, burrito bowls, etc.