Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas

My all-time favorite Mexican Pork Carnitas recipe…made extra easy in the slow cooker!  They’re nice and crispy, totally tender and juicy, full of great flavor, and irresistibly delicious.  (This post contains affiliate links.)

The BEST Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas! They're easy to make in the crock pot, made with my favorite Mexican seasonings, and so crispy and delicious! Perfect for tacos, enchiladas, salads, burritos, quesadillas and more. | gimmesomeoven.com

Happy Monday, friends!!

I hope that you all had a lovely Easter weekend, and that it filled your spirits with some extra hope and joy, and that you got to share some good time around the table with those you love.  I ended up making a last-minute decision to drive home to Wichita to see my family for the weekend, with a fun little detour tucked in there to go see Patty Griffin, Sara Watkins and Anais Mitchell all share the stage on Saturday evening in Hutchinson (of all places), which was absolutely delightful.  Then Sunday morning we celebrated a snowy Easter at the church where I grew up, followed by a big traditional brunch afterwards, where my mom surprised me by making this spring veggie egg casserole that I posted last week.  So fun!

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That said, though, it wouldn’t have been a trip to Wichita without a trip out for some of our favorite Mexican food for lunch on Saturday.  Which my friends and I promptly followed by another Mexican dinner in Hutch that evening.  Which I then followed up, upon returning home last night, by warming up some frozen leftovers of my favorite 5-Ingredient white chicken chili for dinner.  Because who doesn’t want to have Mexi food three times in 48 hours, right?!

Well.  To continue the Mexican streak, I thought I’d re-share an old recipe on the blog today that still continues to be one of my all-time favorites.  I made again for the hundredth time last week, and snapped some new photos along the way so that you could see the step-by-step process.  And yet again, I was blown away by how ridiculously easy and delicious it was.  And the thanks all goes to my magical slow cooker (and, oh, a few minutes under the broiler).

So guys, if you haven’t already tried these, it’s time.  It’s time to try my Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas.

Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe | 1-Minute Video

 

I first posted the recipe for these crispy carnitas when I first figured out how to make them in the crock pot back in 2012.  (Original photo below!)  And my initial post gushed and gushed about how easy they were to make in the slow cooker — because I couldn’t believe how easy they were to make in the slow cooker.

Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas -- This favorite Mexican pork recipe is surprisingly easy to make in the crock pot, and it's perfectly tender, juicy, crispy, and SO delicious! Perfect for tacos, burritos, salads and more. | gimmesomeoven.com

Years before, one of my friends from Mexico taught me how to make carnitas the authentic, traditional way.  And while I remember them being delicious, I mostly remember standing around for hours in the kitchen, babysitting the meat on the stove and then after turns upon turns upon turns in the oven.  Definitely gave me a new appreciation for the carnitas I’ve enjoyed at restaurants for so many years — and admittedly had me eating them “out” much more than taking the time to cook them myself.

But.

The BEST Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas! They're easy to make in the crock pot, made with my favorite Mexican seasonings, and so crispy and delicious! Perfect for tacos, enchiladas, salads, burritos, quesadillas and more. | gimmesomeoven.com

This slow cooker method became a total game changer.

Turns out that if you add the pork to your slow cooker with a handful of tasty seasonings, the meat is extra-juicy and tender and flavorful.  Then you just shred it up with a fork, and toss it in the juices.

The BEST Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas! They're easy to make in the crock pot, made with my favorite Mexican seasonings, and so crispy and delicious! Perfect for tacos, enchiladas, salads, burritos, quesadillas and more. | gimmesomeoven.com

And, well, you could just stop right there and eat it.  But this is where the “crispy” trick comes in.

To get all of those browned, crunchy, deliciously crispy burnt ends on your carnitas, simply spread them out in a single layer on a foil-covered baking sheet (or two, you want the pork in a single even layer).  Then pop it under the broiler for 5 minutes until the ends get nice and crispy, take it out, toss it with some of the leftover juices in the slow cooker.  Pop it back under the broiler for 5-ish more minutes, toss it with some more juices (and I added a handful of chopped cilantro)…and then voila.

This deliciousness is ready to serve.

The BEST Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas! They're easy to make in the crock pot, made with my favorite Mexican seasonings, and so crispy and delicious! Perfect for tacos, enchiladas, salads, burritos, quesadillas and more. | gimmesomeoven.com

It goes perfectly in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, salads, this freaking amazing soup

…or hey, no one’s stopping you if you want to just dive in with a fork and eat it plain.  ;)

The BEST Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas! They're easy to make in the crock pot, made with my favorite Mexican seasonings, and so crispy and delicious! Perfect for tacos, enchiladas, salads, burritos, quesadillas and more. | gimmesomeoven.com

However it’s served, I’m convinced that this shortcut method tastes just as delicious as the traditional method for making crispy carnitas.  And bonus — you get to know exactly what goes into it, you can customize the recipe to make it as spicy or mild as you’d like, and this recipe makes a good-sized batch for a party or for leftovers.  So you can stretch it out for many a delicious meal.  :)

The BEST Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas! They're easy to make in the crock pot, made with my favorite Mexican seasonings, and so crispy and delicious! Perfect for tacos, enchiladas, salads, burritos, quesadillas and more. | gimmesomeoven.com

So grab a big crock pot, and give it a try!

And if you end up eating this Mexican treat for three meals in a weekend, know that you’ve got my full support.  ;)

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Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas

A flavorful and easy way to make tender, juicy, and crispy carnitas using your slow cooker!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (4-5 pound) lean boneless pork roast, excess fat trimmed, cut into 3-inch chunks
  • 1 cup beer (or chicken stock)
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle powder (or 1 chipotle in adobo sauce, minced)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a large slow cooker, and give the mixture a stir to combine. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours until the pork is completely tender and shreds easily with a fork.
  2. Once the pork is cooked, preheat your broiler to high heat and prepare two baking sheets with aluminum foil. Use a fork to shred the meat into bite-sized pieces, and then use a slotted spoon to transfer it to the prepared baking sheets, spreading the pork in an even layer and leaving the juices behind in the slow cooker.  (Don’t discard the juices, we’re going to use them later!)
  3. Place one sheet under the broiler for about 5 minutes, or until the edges of the pork begin browning and crisping up. Remove the sheet from the oven, then ladle about 1/4 cup of the juices from the slow cooker evenly over the pork, and then give it a good toss with some tongs.  Broil for an additional 5 minutes to get the meat more crispy. Then remove and ladle an additional 1/4 cup of broth over the crispy pork.
  4. Repeat with the other baking sheet of pork.
  5. Serve immediately in tacos, burritos, salads, or whatever sounds good to you!  This pork can also be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 3 days, or frozen in a sealed container for up to 3 months.

*This recipe was edited in August 2017.  The initial version called for searing the pork before adding it to the slow cooker.  But I realized that step isn’t actually necessary, since the pork crisps up in the broiler after cooking.  :) Enjoy!

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If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

This post contains affiliate links.

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471 comments on “Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas”

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  2. I’d like to make this in my instant pot. Would you change the liquid amount? And any idea how long under high pressure? This is one of my favorite recipes!

    Rating: 5
  3. Haven’t made it yet. But do have a question, you see-I am one of those people that really hate the flavor of beer. Cant’t drink it, cannot cook with it because I always end up tasting it which ruins it for me. I was hoping you may have a substitute for the beer? A mixture of chicken stock and apple cider vinegar? Any Ideas would be great really want to try those out. Thanks!

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  6. Yessss!!! We love this recipe but haven’t made it in forever bc of all the prep before leaving for work (searing the sides). I’m so thrilled to see that update! Carnitas will be a staple now! 🙌🏻🙌🏻

    Rating: 5
  7. What kind of beer would you recommend using for this recipe? I live in Oregon where there is no shortage of options so when a recipe calls for beer, I always feel a little lost with what to use. Thank you!

  8. I made this recipe and I guess my pork roast was too lean (boneless pork loin) because it was very dry. And broiling it made it even dryer so I didn’t do it for long. We loved the flavor but it was not as good as expected. I’m making it again tonight but using a shoulder cut. I assume it is the fat that makes it crispy. Cross your fingers.

    Rating: 4
    • Gale, you want to look for a cut of pork that says shoulder or butt to make carnitas. Loin is much leaner, so not surprising it turned out dry with this method. Definitely try it again with a different cut and you will not be disappointed. My family loves this recipe!

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  11. LOVE this recipe. Quick, easy and amazingly delish!

    Rating: 5
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  13. Best carnitas ever!!!!

    Rating: 5
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  15. This is my favorite recipe!!! But this time I bought a bone in pork shoulder. Is it ok to use this and just shred after? Or should I cut it off the bone first? Will the cooking time change? Thank you!!

    Rating: 5
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  20. I made these before and they are delicious. My question is, if I need to leave it in the crock pot for a pot luck, would I just not crisp it up in the oven?

  21. can i subtitute pork with beef?

  22. this recipe was amazing – even my very picky 4 yr old was all over it (he thought it was chicken and we let him think that lol). the first time i made this i used regular cumin, but the second time i used mexican cumin, and that made a huge difference. mine hasnt been dry – but i just dump a whole can of beer in; i dont even know if that’s a cup or not (lol). so far i’ve used the meat for burritos, tacos & tortas. im definitely keeping this in our regular dinner rotation. thank you!

  23. How could I make this with a bone in pork roast?

  24. These are the BEST!!! So flavorful!

    Rating: 5
  25. Oh my goodness, delicious! Easy to make

    Rating: 4
  26. Is there a certain kind of beer you recommend?

  27. very simple and delicious recipe. has become a go-to for busy weeknights. my favorite is just throwing it on top of tortilla chips with salsa/guac! so good.

    Rating: 5
  28. Amazingly easy midweek dinner. When my son comes home from university, it’s the first meal he asks for. I serve it in hard taco sheets and corn tortillas with guacamole, sour cream and salsa. Thanks for sharing

    Rating: 5
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  30. I’ve got this in my crockpot..cant wait for dinner!- i tweaked it some to make it my own. Even though yours is sure to be great too!💜 I added all of your ingredients plus a small can of Mexican hot tomatoes, a dash of cinnamon, and put some orange sluces in there..im hoping its good..im using the leftove meat for tamales this weekend!!

  31. Made this last night—it was amazing!! I mistakenly used a boneless pork loin because I didn’t look at the ingredients closely enough but after cutting into 3 inch chunks and cooking for 10 hours on low, the chunks just fell apart. Broiled as directed and didn’t find them dry at all, but crispy and delicious. Used for “burrito bowls.” Definitely in the dinner rotation now!

    Rating: 5
  32. Another amazing recipe! I had to comment to say that I couldn’t believe the transformation that takes place under the broiler – the crispy ends takes the flavor up a notch, and I think the actual flavor transforms into something deeper, I guess the browning from the broiler! Definitely not a step to be skipped – I was so tempted to just eat it out of the slow cooker but I am SO happy we broiled it. I used about 4 pounds of pork total from 2 smaller roasts from Trader Joe’s and just dumped in a whole bottle of Red Stripe. I also added a few shakes of cayenne. I have a massive baker’s half sheet and all the pork fit on the single pan, and I did 3 rounds of the 5 minute broiler time, tossing the pork around between each.

    Rating: 5
  33. Love this recipe! Still delicious and much healthier than frying up the pork the traditional way.

    Rating: 5
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  37. It was amazing! And the next day we made carnita nachos with feta cheese. They were amazing! Would make over and over again! Such an easy and fun recipe!

    Rating: 5
  38. Excellent (healthier) way to get the crispy carnitas we crave! Love the flavor. One of the repeat dishes on my list of favorite weeknight dinners!

    Rating: 5
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