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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

423 comments on “Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas”

  1. These look great! But I do have a question, what cut of pork do you recommend? I have a sirloin tip pork roast in my freezer but I wasn’t sure if this was too lean of a meat for the slow cooker? Thanks!

  2. This recipe was the truth!  I loved using the beer, and the meat came out super tender. I also added a jar of salsa, left out the chipotle (didn’t have any) and added lime juice. But what I took away most from this recipe was the broiling at the end. That was magic. Nice, crispy texture. Even added a bit of smoky flavor, I thought. I will definitely be using this recipe again!

  3. Thanks for giving the recipe a try Christina, we’re glad it was a hit with your husband!

  4. I made these and used a pork tenderloin–perhaps the pork shoulder would provide more liquid? Cooked for 8 hours on low and there is barely any liquid at the bottom, so I added beef broth. Tastes great though and since we’re in a rush, I think we’ll just eat from the crock pot without broiling (also, since there isn’t liquid left for that step) since the meat has so much flavor! 

  5. I’ve made this recipe several times for my family and we absolutely love it! Thanks for sharing!

  6. I just made this and served with tortillas, pickled red onion and peach salsa. It was delish! (I did not use the beer simply because i forgot and it was still good).

    • Awesome Jess, we’re happy you liked it (and we think that peach salsa sounds amazing)! :)

  7. I made this recipe for dinner tonight. It was very good.  I followed the recipe exactly the way it was. I used Chipotle peppers adobe sauce the flavor was excellent. My picky 13 year old even liked it. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  8. I made this tonight almost exactly to the recipe. The only thing I changed is that I added 8oz of chicken broth in addition to the 8oz of beer only because I bought lean pork tenderloin and later read comments that said shoulder was better due to the fat content and would produce more liquid, and tenderloin wouln’t yeild enough liquid to drizzle over the pork at the end. It came out absolutely perfectly. I don’t know what other commenters are talking about when they said there was no flavor. I have never been more excited about eating anything I’ve made before. Easy and delicious. This will be in regular rotation from now on.

  9. Made this tonight and it was a hit. This even impressed my mexican firefighter husband and family. Instead of beer i used chicken broth and once i shredded the pork, i squeezed half of a lime into the crockpot. Also, instead of chipolte powder, i used half of a can of chipolte peppers in adobo sauce. Using the whole can would have been too spicy. My husband likes this recipe enough to make it for the guys at the firestation. 

  10. Just made last night – I have had the cut up Boston Butt in the freezer pre-seasoned with the sauce spices for a while. Freezing the meat helps me chop the recipe into more “me-manageable” chunks of time. I may have had carnitas once or twice in a restaurant that were better, but not often. I am a carnitas NUT, and these were just amazing. We didn’t want to add them to anything, they were awesome straight up. I’m going to make a little pickled onion for them tonight. I would say absolutely to use a Boston Butt though with this. The whole point of carnitas is their rich yumminess. Pork tenderloin is another animal – good, but just not made for this recipe. Oh, and if folks want to make smaller quantities of this, there is a cut of meat at the stores around here they like to call “boneless country style ribs.” They usually run whatever the butts are running (or close to it) and you can get the amount you want that way. A butt is always going to be 3 pounds, and sometimes the smalles you’ll see if 5 to 7. 
    So many recipes flooding us now with “quick and easy” and pretty pictures are nothing but promises to get a “click.” This is the real deal, and because of it I will be trying more of your recipes. Thank you very much already though for this one. A keeper all day long!!!!!

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to share Ellen – we’re thrilled that you enjoyed this! :D

  11. Looks yummy!  Cannot wait to try.

  12. Could tacos possibly get better…..um no way! These look crazy delish!

  13. The crispy carnitas trick is gold! Love it! This dish is happening in my kitchen soon! 

  14. This sounds like the perfect filling for a multitude of things.. gotta save this one for later!

  15. A great filling for tacos. It cant get better than this.

  16. I love carnitas tacos. These look so delicious!
    Kari

  17. This looks so awesome! Even better it’s a slow cooker meal. I definitely have to try it! 

  18. Yum, I love carnitas and your recipe looks easy enough for even ME!

  19. I’ve been craving pulled pork tacos for the past week for some reason. I’m definitely doing this tomorrow. This craving can’t go on any longer.

  20. What kind of pork roast do you use ? A boneless pork loin? Do you think a bone in would work?

    • Hi Stephanie — 1 (4-5 pound) lean boneless pork roast, excess fat trimmed, cut into 3-inch chunks. We wouldn’t recommend bone-in. We hope you enjoy!

  21. I have to ask – what’s your fav mexican place in Wichita? We moved here last summer and I have yet to find one that we really love!

  22. This looks so yummy and fresh!! I need to have friends over to offer this kind of dinner :)

  23. So delicious! I really like the crispy, caramelization on the meat!

  24. I got to say, that is one spectacular dish. What is the main difference between carnitas and tacos?

  25. This is amazing! I’m trying it straight away. I can already imagine the mouthwatering smell in the kitchen after work tomorrow :)) Thank you for sharing! :)

  26. Made this last night and it was soooooo good! We had hard tacos last night and for lunch today I used leftover cilantro lime rice, this pork, and the taco toppings to make the most delicious rice bowl. Will be making this again for sure!

  27. Really really love the blog. I’m going to punch one of these tacos into my face sooooooooo hard that I knock a tonsil loose. 

  28. To Stephanie, you asked if you could use a bone-in roast to make the carnitas. I have made a pork roast with the bone-in and not cut up and when done, just take the bone out ( it is not attached to the meat) then just  shred the meat.

  29. Have made these before and love them!  How would you suggest doing them ahead for a large group?  I don’t want to have to do the crisping part last minute.

    • Hi Karen! We’re so glad you like these! We think you should be able to do the crisping step early (they should still be crispy) by the time you serve them to your guests. We hope this helps!

  30. Wow, can’t wait to make these this week! Your blog is so inspiring :) Just wondering, how do you cook the pork initially in step one…cut up in large chunks? Thanks!

    • Thanks for your sweet words Victoria! We just cut the pork into 3-inch chunks. We hope you enjoy!

  31. That meat looks amazing! So juicy, yum :)

  32.  is chipotle pepper the same as chipotle powder?   I could not find chipotle powder, I could only find chipotle pepper.  Can I use that?

    • Hi Kathryn! You can either use chipotle powder or a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (those are sold in cans, in the Hispanic section of your grocery’s International aisle). We hope you enjoy!

  33. Looks great! How spicy is it though? And how could I increase or decrease the spiciness if I need to?

    • Thanks Lulu, we hope you like it! We don’t feel it’s that spicy, but if you don’t care for much spice, you can start with 1/2 TBS of chipotle powder and go from there. We hope that helps!

  34. This looks so delicious! Thanks for sharing. Continue the great work!
    Best, MODENOVA

  35. What a lovely way to prepare tacos, I love the crispiness of this dish, this is seriously good. It really makes me hungry!

  36. I was wondering since I don’t want pork can I do chicken and if so would it still be the same points

    • Hi Martina! We’ve had a few readers try this with success, but we haven’t tested it ourselves. We would imagine that chicken might be a little drier, but if you are sure to baste it with lots of juices, we think it would be ok — we hope you enjoy!

  37. I  just saw you recipes  today and jion ypur group.  I  love these Slow  Cooker  Recipes.  Especially the Pork Carnitas. I  love  Mexican  Food.  It’s  funny you mention  Hutchinson in Wichita Kansas I’m from Hutchinson but living in Tampa Bay Florida now. In 2008 I  was in Wichita  and went to eat Mexican  food  at South of the Border. It was cook Mexican food.  In Hutchison  we ate Mexican  next day at restaurant  on Main Street. Can’t  remember  it name we eaten there  quite a bit was I was in Hutch.  It’s  by Fair Grounds.  I  love your blog. God Bless you and your family. 

  38. I made these carnitas this weekend and they were so good! The only change that I made was adding a small can of diced green chilis to the crock pot. I served it with avocado, black beans, and the usual Mexican fixings. Delish! And I didn’t have to heat up the house with the oven like I did with the other carnitas recipe I’ve used!

  39. Made these for a Game of Thrones premier party last night.  5 lb roast fed 11 people 2-3 tacos each with almost 1/2 of it leftover!  I would definitely recommend doubling or tripling up on the chipotles in adobo sauce because that is a LOT of meat to season, and you really need a lot to notice the taste & spiciness.  Also – I used the beer to deglaze the pan that I seared the pork in & poured in all of the yummy crispy bits & liquid into the slowcooker.  Overall came out delicious!  Served with crumbled queso fresco, warmed corn tortillas, and a really yummy pico de gallo that I made the night before so it had time to marinate in the lime juice.  Everyone went nuts for these!

    • Thanks for sharing with us Lauren — we’re glad these were a hit! Awesome call deglazing the pan with some beer — we’ll totally have to try that next time! :)

  40. It’s look very tasty! I have to try it!

  41. Would’ve added more chipotle. Meh.

  42. It’s been too long since I’ve had some real carnitas.  Your mouth-watering photos are the next best thing to having some in hand.  Cheers……

  43. Can you recommend me some kind of sauce for this amazing recipe?

    • Hi Gabriele! You could try some of the sauce from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo, and whisk it with a little sour cream and lime juice — we think that’s super yummy! Or, you could top it with regular sour cream/salsa/Mexican hot sauce/whatever fixings you like. We love being able to taste the meat though, so you might not want a sauce that’s overpowering. We hope this helps! :)

  44. Hi there! We LOVED your Carnitas and they will forever be on our favorite recipe list. We had a ton of meat leftover after our Cinco De Mayo fiesta and were hoping to make enchiladas with it. Do you have a Carnitas Enchiladas recipe?

    Thank you,
    Natalie
    Seattle

    • Thanks Natalie, we’re so glad to hear that! We don’t have a carnitas enchiladas recipe, but you could just use the carnitas instead of chicken in this recipe! :)

  45. Yummy recipe! Can you clarify whether you use a pork loin (basically no fat) or a pork shoulder (marbled with fat)?  Thanks!

    • I’ve actually made this recipe with both before, and they were both great! The more fat, the more flavorful and juicy these will be. But that said, I generally go with the lower-fat option, and the recipe still turns out delicious and juicy!

  46. Thanks for sharing such a nice recipe I really like your blog :) 

  47. Looks tasty! Cannot wait to try it out! Just the name ‘The Crispy Carnitas’ makes me hungry lol! 

  48. Do you post calorie count anywhere for your recipes? I recently made this recipe, which was a hit, but I was curious about the calorie content. Thanks!

    • Hi Rachael! We’re sorry but we are unsure of the nutrition facts/amount of calories in this recipe. We currently are not publishing nutrition facts on the site, as the nutrition calculators available are not 100% accurate, and we never want to publish anything that might be misleading. However, a lot of our readers love the My Fitness Pal nutrition calculator, so feel free to try that for an estimate. We hope that helps!

  49. In Bourdain-speak, I’m all over that! This recipe for carnitas looks awesome!

  50. I have not made your recipe yet for carnitas. I recently made another one. My husband heavily seasoned a pork roast before grilling it. The flavor was fabulous. I then cooked it in the slow cooker until it was fork tender. After having tacos, I added seasoned black beans and made empenadas. Some I baked right away, others I froze before baking and we are having them for dinner tonight. The rest of the mixture I froze and am contiplating making an enchilada pie.

    • That sounds delicious! We hope you can give this recipe a try sometime!