Slow cooker pork carnitas are Mexico’s version of the American Pulled Pork sandwich. Delicious! So flavorful and fresh tasting with tender meat all wrapped inside of a tortilla, corn shell, or just eat it in a bowl.
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The hardest part of this recipe is making the meat and that is done for you in the slow cooker. Everything else takes just minutes to prepare. The end result is so juicy and so flavorful complete with scrumptious, caramelized, and crispy burnt ends!
Making the Perfect Pork Carnitas
Sear the pork to seal in the juices and caramelize the sugars in the meat. Some people will cut the pork into pieces; that is fine, but I leave my roast whole when searing. I think it helps the moisture stay in the meat.
Pair a 3-4 pound pork butt or shoulder roast with salsa verde, jalapeno, and cilantro. After cooking on low for 8 hours, your taste buds will thank you.
Remove the Pork Roast from the slow cooker and once it is cool enough to handle, shred with a fork. I like to use a 9 X 13 cake pan. This keeps any juices from running all over your counter.
Fry the Pork to Crisp
In a large sauté pan, heat vegetable oil over high heat. Fry the pork a little at a time for a few minutes just until it starts to crisp on the edges.
Oven Method of Crisping the Pork
If you would prefer not to fry the pork to get the edges crispy, you can use your oven. Just line two baking sheets with foil and spread out the shredded pork so it is in a single layer. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. (I like to shower the meat with a bit of the sauce before baking. I think it keep the meat from drying out too much).
Using the Broiler
A bit faster method is putting the baking sheet under the broiler for approximately 10 minutes. This can go quickly though, so watch for burning.
The meat can be used like this right away and served in your favorite shell. However, I like to add the meat back to the juices on the slow cooker and use the meat that way. Either way, is amazing!
Once the pork is cooked, you can enjoy a bowl of Chile Verde on the first day. What is Chile Verde? It is a Mexican-American stew with melt-in-your-mouth tender chunks of pork. The slow cooking process paired with the spices creates a savory green sauce that pairs nicely with the tender pork.
Then, on day two, make these pork carnitas.
Or not! Have Pork Carnitas on day 1!
We love both! Okay, maybe pork carnitas just a bit more. Why? Because of all the fresh ingredients we add to our carnitas.
Need to feed a crowd?
No problem. This is a great option. Make the meat ahead of time and set out the fixings for people to make their own carnitas. Did you know that the pork can also be used for burritos, nachos, salads, and even pulled-pork sliders? Great meal option for game day too.
We are so lucky to have some local restaurants that serve amazing Mexican cuisine. There are so many favorites to choose from when we go out to eat. So hard to choose. However, if you know how to make these at home, it is easy to enjoy these any day of the week.
With that said though, it is also important to keep our local restaurants in business. They are the heartbeat of many communities.
The mild flavor of the pork pairs nicely with a fresh Pico de Gallo
Make the Pork Ahead of Time
This recipe lends itself well to making the meat a up to a few days ahead of time. Keep the cooked meat in a covered container in the refrigerator for a few days. Warm the meat and serve. You could even bake in the oven at this time to do the crisping of the edges or fry the bits of pork to crisp too.
Freeze the Pork
The cooked pork makes a great freezer meal to create magic any day of the week.
- Once the pork is prepared according to the recipe and cooled, add the meat and juices to a freezer container or large freezer bag. This can also be portioned into smaller sizes to feed just a few people.
- Once the meat is in the container, freeze for up to 3-6 months.
- Make sure that the container is labeled with what is inside and the date.
- Thaw in the refrigerator overnight – you can also thaw in the microwave on a low setting if needed. I prefer in the refrigerator overnight.
Once thawed, reheat in the oven or fry for those crispy edges if not already done. Enjoy!
Toppings for Pork Carnitas
For us, the toppings can take this to a whole other level. So fresh and scrumptious!
Here are a few ideas:
- Pico de Gallo
- Sour Cream
- Salsa Verde
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
Pork Chile Verde
- 4 Pounds Pork Shoulder or Butt Roast Can be 3-5 pounds
- 16 Ounces Salsa Verde 1 jar
- 1 Small Jalapeno Finely chopped
- 24 Flour or Corn Tortillas
- 1 tsp salsa
- 1 tsp sour cream
- 1 oz. avocado
- 1 tsp fresh cilantro
Pork Chile Verde
- Season the pork with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides on the stove top. This will take about 15 minutes.
- Transfer browned roast to a slow cooker. Pour Salsa Verde over the pork and add the jalapeno on top.
- Cook on low for 8 hours.
- Remove pork to a cake pan. I found this is the best way to shred the pork without loosing the juices all over your counter. Once the pork is shredded, add back into the juice in the slow cooker.
- Fry the Pork to CrispIn a large sauté pan, heatvegetable oil over high heat. Fry the pork a little at a time for a few minutesjust until it starts to crisp on the edges. Oven Method of Crisping the PorkIf you would prefer not to frythe pork to get the edges crispy, you can use your oven. Just line two bakingsheets with foil and spread out the shredded pork so it is in a single layer.Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. (I like to shower the meatwith a bit of the sauce before baking. I think it keep the meat from drying outtoo much).
- Warm the flour or corn tortillas. This can be done by heating in a pan 30 seconds on each side. Or over a burner. Being careful when turning not to burn your hands and the tortillas can also burn quick too.
- Add approximately 3-4 ounces of the pork and add your favorite toppings. Enjoy.
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I hope that you liked this recipe. If you are looking for more ideas on what to make, here are a few other recipes that you may enjoy.