Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas

 Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas | Incredily easy and delicious--perfect for tacos! Via Club Narwhal
Like any self respecting carnivore I have a serious thing for carnitas–I mean, what’s not to love about crackling hot, crispy pork enveloped in a corn tortilla hug and loaded with all the salsas?

Unless you don’t eat meat–which is totally fine by me–but also I defer to Ron Swanson on all meat-related matters. And all matters, generally speaking.

But let’s get back to crispy fried pork carnitas, shall we?

Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas | Incredily easy and delicious--perfect for tacos! Via Club Narwhal
For many years, Warren and I have made this version of Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas. It’s a standard in our house because it is easy (hence, the title of the recipe), dependable, and just all around great.

But sometimes I get the urge to go cattin’ around on my old recipe favorites (which is what brought me to my taco love affairs known as Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos and Blackened Shrimp Tacos). Because I’m afflicted with Food FOMO, which is a real thing (at least in my head), and there are so many carnitas recipes in the world.

And I just want to try them all. It’s a disorder, probably.

Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas | Via Club Narwhal
This version of Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas takes everything I love about our original carnitas recipe and marries it with frying meat.

See those golden, crisp chunks of awesome? Frying is the answer. To keep it a little healthier (though you’re using fatty pork shoulder so there is only so much you can do) or if you are short on time you technically can skip the frying step. But just know that I don’t recommend it.

Because melt in your mouth pork + frying pan = game changing carnitas.

And let’s be real: that is the only math equation I can comfortably commit to memory.

Carnitas Spread | Via Club Narwhal
And here’s a teeny sneak peek into next week’s recipe, which is how we used this batch of carnitas. Any guesses?

P.S. Thanks for all your super kind comments on last week’s post–this new site is making me so happy, as does our little Felix baby!

Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Melt in your mouth carnitas simmer in your slow cooker so you barely have to lift a finger to whip together a fantastic taco night at home!
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 6-8 servings
  • 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice (I use Simply Orange or squeeze an orange)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive or peanut oil for frying cooked carnitas
  1. Sprinkle pork with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, garlic powder, and cumin. Toss in the slow cooker along with the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, until pork shreds easily, or on high for 4 hours.
  2. Remove cooked carnitas from slow cooker with a slotted spoon and use two forks to pull the cubes apart into smaller, bite-sized pieces. (Discard cooking liquid. Though we use the remaining liquid to make posole with any leftover carnitas).
  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet (I like to use peanut oil but olive or vegetable would work fine too--if you want to impart an even deeper flavor, use shortening!). Fry shredded carnitas in 1-2 cup batches until golden grown and crispy. Devour in tacos, burritos, arepas, or quesadillas!
This makes a rather large batch. We like to freeze half of the carnitas straight out of the slow cooker. We portion the half into two quart-sized freezer bags. Thaw in the fridge overnight and fry in oil before dinner to make them crispy and delicious!

Adapted from My Kitchen Escapades

Love tacos? Check out my Taco Tuesday Pinterest board for more ideas!

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos
Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos

Blackened Shrimp Tacos
Blackened Shrimp Tacos | Club Narwhal

Huevos Rancheros Breakfasts Hash
Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Hash

Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas
Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas | Club Narwhal

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  1. says

    I’ve been looking for the perfect carnitas recipe all week long and thanks for sharing this one. I cant wait to serve this for our next gathering and I’m sure it will be a hit. Coz it’s totally a game changing carnitas.

    • amyleescott says

      Linda, you will love this recipe! I have a longstanding obsession with my slow cooker and I love how it makes these carnitas no fuss to prepare.

  2. says

    Mmm, like any respectable Californian, I adore Mexican food, and carnitas are no exception! I’ve always wanted a great recipe I can use to make them at home and you have just provided me with one! Thanks so much Amy, these look incredible! I love the crispy edges – this gal won’t skipping the frying step!

    • amyleescott says

      Ah yes, so glad a fellow Californian understands my deep and abiding love for Mexican food 🙂 This is a great at-home carnitas recipe. And bravo for not skipping the frying step if you get a chance to make these. It totally makes these taco shack quality!

  3. says

    I tried a slowcooker Carnita recipe for the first time last week and we LOVED it, but there was no toppings… just meat. On wraps (which I didn’t mind). I can’t wait to try yours out with all the suggested add ins!

    • amyleescott says

      Yeay–nothing beats slow cooker carnitas (I love anything that lets me be lazy in the kitchen and still sit down to a fab dinner). Carnitas are good no matter what. Plain jane sounds good to me, especially when I’m starving!

  4. says

    Amy today itself I was thinking of going & buying a slow cooker!! With weather cooling down and how much easier cooking gets using a slow cooker, I think I seriously need to buy one and then make this!! Looks so so delicious!

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