Slow Cooker Carnitas ~ Mexican pulled pork tenderloin. Crispy, caramelized outside, juicy pork inside. Easy authentic recipe for delicious tacos, burritos, enchiladas and more.

carnitas taco in flour tortilla with bowl of carnitas also shown

I was first introduced to Carnitas when our youngest daughter spent a month in Los Angeles, where I’m told you can find some of the best Mexican food other than well, Mexico.

She raved about the Carnitas Tacos she had there. I wanted to try them too – but an easy, everyday version we can all get behind. This Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas recipe checks all the boxes.

black plate piled high with Mexican pulled pork

Carnitas is the Mexican version of pulled pork. Loaded with rich Mexican seasonings, it’s crispy, caramelized meat outside and juicy inside – perfect for tacos, burritos and enchiladas. 

If you want to lighten things up (which we’re already doing using tenderloin, a leaner cut of meat), ramp up the vegetables and try a carnitas bowl with some brown rice. There’s no wrong way to enjoy this tasty dish.

what’s in Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas?

The rub:

The rest of the ingredients:

  • beer OR chicken stock
  • lime juice
  • whole oranges juiced (can sub fresh orange juice)
  • onion
  • jalapeno
  • garlic cloves
  • cilantro

how to make pork carnitas in a slow cooker:

In a medium size bowl, blend the cumin, chili powder, brown sugar, salt, pepper and 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil,. Cut the pork into 2” cubes then add to the bowl and toss to thoroughly coat the meat.

Pour the beer OR stock into the slow cooker along with the lime juice, juice from the oranges and their rinds, garlic, onion and jalapeno then add the seasoned pork cubes.

Sprinkle the cilantro over the top then cover and cook on high 3-4 hours (or 6-7 on low) or until the pork is fork tender and shreddable but before it gets mushy.

Remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred using two forks. I prefer a more coarse shred – almost chunky, but shred as fine you like.

how to make crisp the carnitas:

You now have juicy carnitas, but you’ll also want to caramelize and crisp up the outside. It adds so much flavor so don’t skip this step.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Working in batches add some of the pork to the skillet in a single layer then add a little of the juices (a couple of tablespoons) from the slow cooker. 

Let the juices evaporate and the pork caramelize on one side then remove from the skillet (don’t sear both sides or the meat may become dry). Repeat until all the pork is seared then serve with your favorite toppings.

overhead view of bowl of carnitas, guacamole, salsa and pickled red onions

how to serve pork carnitas:

We prefer the carnitas as tacos in lightly charred flour tortillas. Here are a few topping suggestions:

  • cotija cheese
  • sliced jalapeno
  • pickled red onions
  • shredded slaw
  • sour cream
  • salsa
  • sliced avocado or guacamole
  • diced tomatoes
  • lime wedges
  • chipotle crema

This is how I char my tortillas on the stove, but watch closely so they don’t catch on fire. I’ve sacrificed more than a few.

Looking for more Mexican themed recipes?

Grapefruit Margaritas – light, refreshing tropical twist on the classic cocktail.

Spinach Queso – warm, gooey cheese dip with fresh spinach and loaded with plenty of spicy flavor. 

Cowboy Queso – two kinds of cheese, chorizo sausage, black beans, corn, tomatoes, lime juice and fresh cilantro. One of the most popular recipes on the blog.

Spanish Rice – just 5 ingredients for delicious, fluffy perfectly cooked Mexican rice.

Guacamole – fresh avocado, lime juice, cilantro, red onion and jalapeno blended together. Delicious appetizer or on top of the tacos.

Enjoy!

pinterest pin showing carnitas tacos with bowl filled with carnitas

If you tried this Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas recipe or any other on the blog, then I’d love to hear from you with a comment or a bunch of stars!

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carnitas taco in flour tortilla with bowl of carnitas also shown

Slow Cooker Carnitas - Mexican Pulled Pork

A Gouda Life
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas ~ authentic flavored Mexican pork carnitas. Delicious as tacos or nachos. 
4.39 from 13 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Searing the meat: 10 minutes
Total Time 4 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 6
Calories

Equipment

  • slow cooker/crockpot

Ingredients
  

The Rub:

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds pork tenderloin
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

The Rest:

  • 1/4 cup beer OR chicken stock
  • 1/2 lime juiced
  • 2 whole oranges juiced OR 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 medium onion peeled and quartered
  • 1 whole jalapeno seeds/stems removed-rough chopped
  • 2 whole garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro diced

Instructions
 

  •  In a medium size bowl, blend the cumin, chili powder, brown sugar, salt, pepper and 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cut the pork into 2” cubes then add to the bowl and toss to thoroughly coat the meat.
  • Pour the beer OR stock into the slow cooker along with the lime juice, juice from the oranges and their rinds, onion, garlic and jalapeno then add the seasoned pork cubes.
  • Sprinkle the cilantro over the top then cover and cook on high 3-4 hours (or 6-7 on low) or until the pork is fork tender and shreddable but before it gets mushy.
  • Remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred using two forks. I prefer a more coarse shred – almost chunky, but shred as fine you like.

To Crisp the Carnitas:

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Working in batches add some of the pork to the skillet in a single layer then add a couple of tablespoons of the juices from the slow cooker. 
  • Let the juices evaporate and the pork caramelize on one side then remove from the skillet (don’t sear both sides or the meat may become dry). Repeat until all the pork is seared. 
Keyword slow cooker carnitas, carnitas, slow cooker pork carnitas, slow cooker recipes
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Leave a Reply

5 Comments

  1. Good Gracious Gert – what a delicious looking recipe, and all the ways you can serve up this pork! I’ll take all the topping….thank you very much. Pinned. Gotta buy a pork roast and we’ll be good to go. Thanks for sharing. Have a good weekend. Chat soon!

    1. Hey there Mary – happy Monday! Ha! All the toppings 🙂 – a gal after my own heart. Thanks so much. Please enjoy the Carnitas and the week ahead. I’ll get the Enchiladas up soon (for any leftover Carnitas).

  2. Hi Bernie!

    I made this recipe Sunday- It was delicious! We will be enjoying it today and tomorrow as well …Unless my refrigerator is raided by a hungry college student home for the summer. At least it will be enjoyed!

    1. Hi Stacey – thank you so much! I appreciate you making the recipe and taking the time to comment. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much! Hopefully your hungry college student saved you a little for lunch the next day 🙂 ~ take care ~ Bernie