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Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas

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My all-time favorite Mexican-inspired pork carnitas recipe…made extra easy in the slow cooker! They’re crispy, 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 on the way home, 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 Mexican 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 incredibly 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!)

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 also 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

  • 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!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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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Recipe rating

420 comments on “Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas”

1 2 3 6
  1. I adore pork carnitas… and awesome pics here!

  2. Such a great idea to use the slow cooker; the meat looks like it’s falling apart. Love the pictures too!

  3. Oh heck yes, I will be trying these. They look absolutely amazing. Pork carnitas rock!

  4. Delicious! I do slow cooker carnitas, but I don’t crisp them up. Nice twist!

  5. Can’t wait to try this! They look delicious and beautiful photos!

    • So yummy, not a sliver of the 4 pounds of meat was left on the tray! My 3 big guys loved it!

  6. Look at all that cilantro + onion goodness! I neeed.

  7. Ali – what beer did you use for this recipe? I think Jeremy would love this!

  8. The slow cooker truly is a dream! Love these… now where are mine? I’m hungry.

  9. it looks amazing! I cna’t wait to try making it!

  10. oh, this looks delicious! will have to try this one!

  11. I’d love to have some of this right now, love the method!!

  12. I was just craving tacos! I was in search of the perfect recipe and I think I’ve found it!

  13. Ugh ok, now you’ve convinced me Ali. I need a slow cooker! I don’t have one. I feel so unladylike. :(

    These look divine! And I have a mexican night on Friday… I already know I’m making guacamole but I needed a main dish. Perhaps this is my excuse to get that slow cooker!!!

  14. Oh, girl… these are SOOOOO up my alley!!!!!!! :)

  15. mmmmm I wish this had been my dinner tonight ;)

  16. This IS brilliant! I love slow cooker season :)

  17. Love a simpler way to make delicious carnitas! These are beautiful.

  18. Love these pictures! They look really good but wow, the pictures. I think dishes with tortillas are always difficult to photograph but you did an awesome job. :)

  19. You are a genius!!! The slow cooker is my BFF this time of year and you just gave me a new recipe to through in the rotation. We eat tacos at least once a week! ps- I always cook my pork in beer- love that you are on the same page!!

  20. Wow! I’ve loved every recipe I’ve looked at so far. New to your site and about to be a frequent stalker .. I mean visitor to your site. Good grief don’t give out your address lmao or you’ll have guests for supper frequently! <3

  21. Oh my dear god. I made these last night and they were way better than the carnitas I normally make. Thank you!

  22. I want these so badly it makes me cry.

  23. THIS is exactly what I was searching for… assembling my spices right away! Thanks!

  24. About to make these a reality… thanks for the recipe… tell you how they taste soon!

  25. Made this last night–it was great! Much better than what I’ve made before. I will reduce the salt next time.

  26. Where can I get chipotle powder?

  27. My family made this for Superbowl Sunday and now I’m trying to make it again but, I can’t find the recipe. Just the pictures and blog entry no recipe. Please help.

  28. Omg…made these for dinner tonight and they are fantastic!!! Super easy to make and totally crave inducing! Hubby’s on a diet and he’s mad mad mad. Thanks so much for this great recipe!

  29. Can you cook on high for a shorter time and still get the same results?

    • YOU DEF. WANT TO ”SLOW COOK PORK”, IT JUST TASTES BETTER AND SHREDDS ,MUCH BETTER….YA CANT RUSH A GOOD THING..LOL….

  30. I found Chipotle bullion type cubes… haven’t been able to find the powder. Do you think those will work?

  31. I have got to learn how to use a slow cooker…those look amazing!!!

  32. Can’t wait to make these! One question: cut into 3 inch cubes before the crockpot? I can’t tell if you cook the roast whole or in little chunks? Please help! Thanks!!

  33. This recipe is fantastic! I followed the cooking directions but seasoned with Badia Complete Seasoning (a mixture of most of the ones listed) and added lime juice. I used half the meat one day for carnita tacos and the rest the next day for Pulled Pork Sandwiches with BBQ sauce. This will probably become a biweekly recipe in our house :)

  34. Hi Ali!

    What can I substitute for beer?

    • Hi! I substitute organic vegetable broth or free range organic chicken broth for the beer! Both work great and give it great flavor!

    • try orange juice or a bottle of mexican coca cola (should be able to find at your local mexican store, comes in glass bottles instead of plastic. If not use a can of regular coke)

    • Dr. Pepper is good too.

  35. I made these today for a birthday party and they were a big hit!

  36. This was amazing! Almost as good as my local Mexican estaurant. ,The only change/addition I made was adding the juice of one lime. Bookmarked for future use. Thanks!

  37. I’ll be trying this later on today. I’m going to add serrano peppers, bay leaves, and a bit cinnamon, in addition to what you have added. Also, this is the only recipe I’ve found thus far that uses the oven for the crisping at the end. Kudos! I’ll let ya know how it goes.

  38. Just wanted to say that I made these last night. I came home from work to find my husband standing over the crock-pot with a fork! Not sure how much he ate before I caught him! Needless to say, these were a big hit and I will be making them again.

  39. These are absolutely bloody delicious. We eat the meat in small corn tortillas with cheese, salsa, tomatoes, greens, chopped onions — all the usual suspects. The meat is so good. I’ve made this twice now and I think next time I might double the liquid; my slow cooker cooks a little hot and I find there’s barely any broth left at the end. But they’re so good I don’t care.

  40. Just ran to the grocery store and home over lunch so I could get this in the crockpot for dinner tonight. Can’t wait!!

  41. Cut the ingredients in half, except for the beer. Turned out great! 

  42. Making this for the 2nd time as we speak. I didn’t broil the meat after slow cooking, rather I pan seared in small batches throughout the week as needed, also adding back the reserved broth from the crock pot. I also slow cooked for 10hrs on low. I found a great white sauce and served topped with that and some extra hot Valentina as well as the diced onion and cilantro, with white corn tortillas. They are fantastic. I can’t wait till tomorrow when my next batch will be ready. You can have all the toppings in the fridge ready to go and make up quick batches of tacos in minutes.

  43. This looks fantastic!  But I don’t need to make that much food.  Anyway you could make another version with smaller portions?

  44. I was so excited to try this. I wish I didn’t cube the meat and cook it on each side before I put it in the crock. It’s only been on low for 4 hours and my meat is tough. I didn’t overcook it either. Hoping I can somehow ressurect my meat. 

  45. I came back to apologize for my earlier comment. If I would have just been patient then I would have realized that my pork would turn tender in the crock. This was a great recipe
     Thank you! 

  46. I’ve made these a few times and they are fantastic, even with some slight modifications. I don’t drink beer or ever have any in the house, and my Zevia is too expensive to use (Ha Ha!) so I just used water and they taste fine. Also, I don’t stock Chipotle powder and wanted to make them immediately after first finding this recipe, so I left it out the first time and didn’t have a complaint about their taste. I’ve continued to make them in my limited ingredient way and they have been fabulous, so I encourage anyone who loves carnitas, but may not have all the ingredients not to be discouraged. This is a great dish and can withstand some modifications. Thanks Gimme Some Oven, for such a great recipe!! Love it!

  47. Hi Ali! 

    Could I substitute chicken broth in place of the beer? 

    Thank you!

    Olivia 

  48. Just made these and they were amazing! Do you think the leftover meat would freeze well?