Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas

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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!

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.  ;)

Print

Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 360 minutes
  • Total Time: 370 minutes
  • Yield: 0 Serves 6-8 1x

Description

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


Scale

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 ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt

Instructions

  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.


Notes

*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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516 comments on “Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas”

1 6 7 8
  1. 4 stars
    Very good recipe!
    I messed it up a bit. Made only 2lb of pork but didn’t reduce any other ingredients, and there was too much liquid in the slow cooker, so I threw it out. The smart move would’ve been to reserve it for basting in the broiler. There wasn’t enough in the end.
    Texture was amazing; finishing off in the broiler is genius. Next time, I’ll add more seasonings, and maybe some fresh salsa if I’m planning ahead.

  2. 5 stars
    So yummy and easy.

  3. 5 stars
    Made these tonight. My youngest daughter, pickiest eater in the world, LOVED them and my husband said you could put the meat on a flip flop and it would be great. Hit in my house!

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  9. 5 stars
    Oh my goodness. I just made these tonight and WOW. It makes a ton of meat that I’m excited to use for leftovers! I topped mine with salsa and pineapple! This is my new favorite recipe for sure! Thank you for posting this.

  10. I like to add the juice of a couple oranges-some people put the rinds of the oranges in too, but would probably turn to unretrievable mush in a pressure cooker

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  13. Ali
    Thanks for this wonnerful new soon to try yet another wonnerful meal idea!
    How would this work if the roast was insta pot-ted? Yet another ‘timely saver’ I find most things I do in insta pot are as good.
    gracias

    • I made this recipe last night and WOW- so good! I used my Instapot instead of my crockpot. I had frozen pork roast that was already cut into 3 inch pieces. I put the liquid and spices in the bottom of the instant pot then placed the frozen meat on top. I pressure cooked for high for 25 mins, manual released the pressure then attempted to shred the meat. It was more tough than I had liked so I added 5 more minutes of high pressure and the meat was perfectly tender! . Next time, I would cook for 30 mins if I had frozen meat. I served this with cilantro lime rice- delicious combo!

      This meal was wonderful! My meat loving husband also enjoyed it and affirmed it was better than chipotle ;)

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  17. 5 stars
    This recipe is absolutely perfect! It’s so easy and delicious. I followed the recipe exactly and I did around 4.5 hours on high. My husband loved his tacos so much.

  18. 5 stars
    Yes!! These are super good! I love the addition of beer and the crisping in the broiler, which solves the problem of soggy meat from the slower cooker.

  19. I loved this recipe. I WAs a little lenient with my spices because my pork loin was a little big and this way I could add some extra beer too. Never a bad thing. I also add some lemon juice into the crock pot. I am making my third version of the carnitas today using an IPA instead of corona. I am excited to taste the difference

  20. This is an excellent recipe. I omitted the chipotle powder.. I’m not allowed to eat spicy food, and the pork I used was a mismash of pieces, since had been tired when I put it in the freezer. There were pork chops, and picnic shoulder strips, lol.

    I slow cooked it in my Instant Pot for 8 hours. It was warm here the day I made it, so I didn’t put it in the oven to crisp it up.

    On the third day after I’d made it, I went in the fridge to put whatever was left over in the freezer – but it was gone! I’d made about five lbs of it, so I wasn’t expecting that, since my 3 kids don’t ‘do’ leftovers.

    I’d say it was a hit. I’m making it again tonight.

  21. Wow…so easy and so delicious! I loved the nice deep flavors and the crispy edges. I used chicken stock instead of beer, and was probably a little generous with my spices…it was perfect. There was a lot of liquid in the crock pot, so I just used what I needed. Topped with a little cilantro, onion and a squirt of lime juice to go authentic Mexican. Froze a few servings to make another night’s cooking even easier. Next time I think I’ll try a pineapple salsa. Great recipe!

  22. Delish

  23. This came out so tender, thank you for sharing your recipe. My son likes the street tacos at our local Costco, and I’m putting together a platter for him with tortillas and coleslaw mix so he can have homemade takeout as we prepare to Hunker Down here in Anchorage, AK. 😊

  24. When you say 1 chipolte pepper in adobo sauce do you mean 1 can (i.e. 7oz La Costeña can)?.. or just one of the peppers from the can?

    • One chili from the can. If you use an entire can the flavor would most likely be too strong

  25. Made this tonight and my family loved it! My only change was to use less chipotle powder as mine is very hot. We did two sheet pans, one with the sauce and one dry since my husband doesn’t like onions. Both were very good. We served these on taco-size flour tortillas with homemade pico de gallo, crema and crumbled queso fresco. Thanks for the recipe! I loved the crispness that slow cooker versions usually lack.

  26. Can’t wait to try the crushing.

  27. This was delicious and super easy to put together!

  28. Amazing! I made this last night and it was a big hit! 9 of us ate and had half the meat left over. I did add 1 more tablespoon of the Chipotle Sauce for more flavor. Also only put in the broiler for 5 minutes 1 time they were crispy enough. Possibly because I was short on time and cooked them on high for 5 hours. Next time wanna do low for 8 hours and see if there is a difference. I served an avocado green sauce to go with them and it came together great! Thanks for the recipe.

  29. I tried this recipe for tostadas, and the broiling and crisping intensifies the already delicious flavor adding that crispy texture is the best! I will keep this recipe and pass it down.

  30. Could this be pressured cooked in an instant pot?