Gimme Some Oven

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. This recipe is amazing, I used a peach ale for the liquid and it was incredible. I am super excited to try different variations of this as well. The crisp is the best part and you really do just need a little onion and cilantro to complete it. I will be making this recipe for my family when they visit!

  2. Would you say you have to brown the meat beforehand or will it be fine to throw in the slow cooker as is? I’m thinking one less pan to clean… :) Looks delicious though, can’t wait to try it!

    • We strongly recommend browning the meat beforehand, as it brings so much awesome flavor to the dish! :) We hope you enjoy!

  3. Thanks for made us a delicious recipe,i love this slow cooker recipes,its looks very tasty..

  4. I didn’t have enough juice to add at the end. Is there a way make more juice?

    • Oh no, we’re sorry about that Cheryl! We wonder if the meat just spent a little too long in the oven perhaps? There should be enough juices left over.

  5. I made these carnitas this weekend and they were so good! Thank you so much.

  6. This recipe is similar to Eastern recipes for kebabs. Great looks delicious!

  7. Delicious! It turned out great! :) I didn’t have the chipotle.. but I figured that would make it too spicy. my kids loved it! Everyone tore it up and I don’t have leftovers.. (But, I didn’t use a big piece of pork loin.. out of 2 pounds, I had chopped it into 3rds. My family isn’t very big..)

    • Thanks for sharing Kat — we’re so glad you and your family enjoyed the recipe! :)

  8. I used a 2-2.5 lb pork loin, everything else was the same! It was DEE-LICHOUS! Definitely using this recipe again, and again!

  9. Loooks really delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  10. If I am cutting the recipe in half, do I also cut the time it cooks in half? (I am doing the oven method)

    • Hi there! If you want to cut the recipe in half, we would suggest using a smaller slow cooker, so the heat is distributed evenly. Otherwise, you can freeze the leftovers! — we hope you enjoy!

  11. These look absolutely delicious and perfect for summer. I’m thinking these and some margaritas on the porch!

    • Thanks Morgan — we hope you enjoy, and they are KILLER with margaritas (especially on the porch)! :D

  12. My last comment sent before finishing what I was writing.. 
    I am making this again because it is amazing! I, added a little more spices, as well as, squeezing a quarter of a lime into the juice.. :)

  13. Could I sub chicken breast instead of pork?

    • Hi Kat! We haven’t tried that ourselves, but we think that would probably work okay. We hope you enjoy the recipe — let us know if you do try it with chicken instead!

  14. I made these for my husband tonight. We both love the Taquaria just up the street from us. Cilantro, onions, and lime are all that were put on these pork tacos. He said that this is THE best meal I have ever cooked. Thanks for the recipe! It’s my first to try of yours, but I have a feeling it won’t be the last.

    • Hi Katie! We’re so glad you and your husband enjoyed these — thanks for giving the recipe a try! :)

  15. Oh, to add to my comment, I made this in a Dutch oven instead of a crockpot. Kept it on low for about 3.5 hours. It was perfectly tender!

  16. do you know if this is a super spicy recipe? I would like to make it for my family but they aren’t big on anything to hot.

    • Hi Casey! We don’t find this that spicy, but if you’re concerned, you could scale back a little on the chipotle powder. We hope you enjoy!

  17. I’m making these now in a pressure cooker. I followed the recipe as written but used the beer to deglaze the pressure cooker. I used a tad more Chipotle sauce and added one cup of water. The house smells devine! I’m sure they’ll be delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

  18. Made these for my Mexican boyfriend. He said they rivaled that to his grandma’s! Delicious.

    • Wow, what a high compliment Victoria — thank you! We’re so happy these were a hit! :)

  19. I made this tonight for the family. It was AMAZING!! Thanks for sharing it!

  20. These turned out so awesome! 

  21. Ok now I’m getting really hungry. You had me at crispy pork…oh and lots of lovely fresh cilantro (or coriander as we call it down under ) x

  22. I am drooling looking at those carnitas! Your photos are exceptional. Can’t wait to make this recipe.

  23. I try to follow a diet, but when I come here and everything ends … Congratulations great recipes.

  24. What type of beer do you suggest that should be used? Lager/IPA? 

    Thanks 

    • Hi there! We’d use a lighter beer for this, so a lager works great! We hope you enjoy!

  25. I had to put down the carnita and leave a comment immediately! I just made these (yes, it is one of the hottest days on the East Coast and I am cooking pork carnitas) and WOW! This recipe is spot on yummy. I was a little worried that the pork tasted a little bland as I was shredding it – it had a nice heat but I thought maybe I missed something. The broiling really does bring out the flavor. Threw a couple of flour tortillas on the rack as the oven cooled, chopped up some onions, a little cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and a sprinkle of Monterrey jack cheese.

    These are definitely a keeper. Thanks again for the awesome recipe.

    • Hi Cat! This comment made our day — thank you so much! We’re happy to hear you loved the recipe and we appreciate you giving it a try! :)

  26. Love the colours and the images.
    It looks so delicious like all your recipes:-)
    I have added the recipe to my must try list.

    • Thank you Sofie — we hope you get a chance to make some stuff soon! :)

  27. I know you commented before that a lager would work best. Is there a specific one that you use for this? I never know which to use with so many brands to choose from out there.

  28. Where are the tomatoes in your pico de gallo? We also use scallions, just the green part to avoid an overly onion taste.
    Pork roast does not need that much liquid to cook. It makes its own. Some cooks don’t use any at all. Traditionally, we do not put spices for cooking the pork. We like the natural flavor of the pork with only pico de gallo and corn tortillas.
    After the pork is cooked. instead of putting it under the broiler, you can put it in a dry frying pan and crisp it up that way. Using this method allows you to easily turn the pork so all sides get brown and crisp. : )

  29. BTW, carnitas refers to pork only, not beef.

  30. I will be making these this week! I love making  carnitas and needed a new recipe to try. This one sounds and looks amazing! One question, where do you later use the juices? 

    • Hi Becky! It says in the third paragraph: 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.

      We hope you enjoy the recipe! :)

  31. I’ve made this- delicious!  Although this time I accidentally bought a bone in pork roast!!  I’m just cutting the bone out…Do you think it will be ok??? 

    • Hi Shannon! Yes, we think if you’re cutting the bone out it should be fine. We hope you enjoy!

  32. I’ve made these before and they were fabulous! I’m going to make several batches for a party this time and need to do some work ahead. Do you think the best way to do that would be make the crock pot part day before, store in fridge, and then broil right before serving? Or do all the steps day before and just warm up before serving?

    • Hey Brooke! We would definitely make these before, store in the fridge, then broil right before serving. We hope it’s a hit! :)

  33. Love your recipes and cannot wait to try this one!  You’re from Wichita?!  We just moved here.  Can you tell me the favorite Mexican restaurant you mention?  Or any other favorite local places?

  34. Do you freeze excess before or after browning and crisping? Made this once before but wanted to know best way to save the leftovers. Thanks for FANTASTIC recipes all of the time!

    • Hi Mardi! Hmmm, we would try freezing and then browning and crisping after you’ve thawed the meat and are reheating it. Otherwise we worry it won’t retain that crispness after been frozen. We hope that helps!

  35. Can I make this with boneless chicken, we don’t eat pork?

  36. Im excited to try this for a party. But I want to make it the day before to take to a party. Would I do still do the broiler day before? Will it heat up just as good?

    • Hi Elizabeth! You can definitely make this the day before. Just reheat in the oven at a low temp for a few minutes and then do the broiler (all right before serving). We hope you and your friends enjoy!

  37. My son adores carnitas and I will surely make this for him but I have one question—every recipe I have seen for carnitas has orange juice or the whole orange in it. Just curious as to why you do not use this —-the beer substitutes for orange? Can not wait to try this out!

    • Hi Doris! We love orange but we thought beer would be fun to try instead and we loved it! Feel free to use orange juice if you’d prefer (or a mix of the two). We hope you enjoy!

  38. Now I’m hungry! It looks so yummy, definitely on my list!

  39. This looks absolutely delicious. Can’t wait to try it.

  40. I’ve never made carnitas before.  This recipe is AMAZING!  I could hardly wait to try them, the house smells so good!  Meet turned out perfectly moist and crispy.  Used chicken stock instead of beer.  Followed directions as written, wouldn’t change a thing!  Thank you for a wonderful recipe!!!!

    • Thanks for your sweet compliment, Jamie! We’re so happy you e enjoyed these! :)

  41. This recipe was awesome! My mom loves carnitas, so I thought I would give it a try. SOOOO yummy, the meat was super tender and flavorful

  42. Looks amazing! The idea of putting the meat under the broiler is a clever trick!

  43. These were awesome! So flavorful! Will definitely be making this again!

  44. These pics are wonderful. It looks so delicious! I’m trying it next sunday, I bet the family will love it. And we’re totally going to eat it for three meals on the weekend, hahahah. Thank you so much for the post!

  45. Oh Lord,

    This looks good ! I organize a party within a few days. This beauties are going to be number one. I’ll add some more chili powder into it and it will definitely rock the crowd !

    Thank you,
    2pots2cook

  46. oh I have tried it before but it doesn’t taste as good as i hope. haha and thanks for your recipe i found that i didn’t use chipotle powder and beer. i’ll try it again with this help, it’s gonna be tasty for sure. ( and i suggest serving it with salads and a glass of lemonade, perfect combination for a powerful day)

    • Hi David! We hope you enjoy this recipe — definitely let us know how it turns out for you! :)

  47. seems like i can smell it while seeing your pictures haha carnitas is always the best for breakfast ( i think so) xD
    thanks for sharing, it makes me feel hungry.

  48. Yummy! Awesome post. Thanks for sharing.So informative and detail instruction. I will try to make these.

  49. Looking for a recipe that I can make at an all day tailgate in my slow cooker.  I came across your carnitas recipe and it made my mouth water!  Decided to make this on Saturday for our tailgate but didn’t read the directions until just now.  I will not have any way to broil this in an oven at the end.  Do you have any other ideas of how I can make this…or should I just find another recipe?  I’m using a generator for electricity.  Thanks for your help!  

    • Hi Leslie! Broiling at the end isn’t essential (it just helps add a nice crispiness to the edges of the meat). You should still be able to make this work. We hope you enjoy! :)

  50. This recipe is the best. Best carnitas I’ve ever had, and I lived in Mexico for two years!

    • Thank you so much, Robert — that’s certainly a high compliment! We’re happy you’re a fan! :)