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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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420 comments on “Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas”

  1. Do you think this can be made with pork tenderloin?  Or is that too lean of meat? I made it with pork butt and it was amazing!! I have 2x tenderloins and want to make it again for the second time this week!!

    • Hi Laura! We’re afraid pork tenderloin might be too lean, but we haven’t tried it. If you try it though, definitely let us know how it turns out!

  2. No, no, no. I made this and if you like the taste of Chipotle carnitas, then go for it. But I wanted to make authentic carnitas. There iis no need for cumin, chili pepper or chipotle pepper. Mexican food doesnt contain peppers. We use chilis. Peppers are usually eaten whole, not added ad a spice. What is missing is lime, orange, amd the FAT! Don’t cut it off. Just shred with a fork and boil as a last step. The fat adds the flavor you want.

  3. Just finished enjoying our freshly made carnitas tacos and they were excellent!  Thank you for the great recipe.  I live in Texas where carnitas is common, however it is frequently deep fried.  Your version of crisping in the oven makes it a bit healthier yet still very tasty.  Will be a recipe I keep and use over and over again.  I look forward to enjoying more of your wonderful and creative recipes!

  4. I previously wrote that this recipe produced the best carnitas I have ever had (and I lived in Mexico for almost two years). Here’s a tip to make this recipe even better, hard as it may be to believe. Throw your pork into the smoker for an hour before putting it into the crock pot (don’t worry about any rubs or marinades, just smoke it plain). The results can only be described as divine. I also doubled the chipotle, and was unaware of any of my ~40 guests that found it too spicy.

    • We’re so glad you enjoyed them, Robert, and we appreciate you sharing these tips with us! :)

  5. Just wanted to say that this recipe is great! I don’t know if it follows “traditional” methods of making carnitas, but I do know that the results are wonderful. Since my pork roast was so large, I cut it into two pieces and doubled the recipe. Once cooked, I froze the half of the batch and when ready to eat it later, thawed it and crisped it in the oven. We also strayed by trying some on onion buns with dill pickles on top….still great! We might also try it on baked potatoes. So many options…so little time! I will keep this recipe to use again and again. Thank you for sharing such wonderful recipes.

    • We’re glad you enjoy it, Jennifer,  and we bet the onion buns and dill pickles were yummy with this! 

  6. Hi! 

    I’ve made these carnitas a few times and they are SO GOOD each time I have them! Quick question- can I throw all of the ingredients in the crockpot and store in the fridge overnight? Just wanted to save some time in the morning if I could. :)

    Thanks so much! Your blog is my fav. 
    -Jessica 

    • Thanks for sharing, Jessica, we’re so happy you’re a fan of the recipe! And as for your question, we think that would be just fine, and we think it’ll give the carnitas a lot of extra flavor! We would recommend leaving the onion out and adding that the next day though, otherwise it may be way too oniony. 

  7. Thanks for published the crispy slow cooker carnitas recipe. I’m trying to making from chicken.

  8. Thank you for share a crispy recipy. Looking awsomet to make me hungry. I’m trying to make for my fimilay.

  9. I made these tonight. Really good! I probably used less pork (2-3lb, I didn’t check but it only took 1 sheet pan so I’d guess half what is called for), but kept the rest of the ingredients the same. The sauce/drippings were sooo spicy on its own that I was terrified of the meat, but it was excellent. I ended up using much more than the 2x 1/4 cup to ladle over it and it still wasn’t too spicy. Very flavorful, but a little bit dry – I guess from the broiling. I think possibly I shredded my pork too much (it was hard not to – so tender!), if I had kept the pieces larger it may have been more moist. Super yummy either way though!

    • Thanks for sharing with us, Jennifer — we’re glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  10. These are the best carnitas!!! I’ve made them a few times, and they are in my crock pot right now :)

  11. I made the and my whole family LOVED it. There was no whining or faces made and NO LEFTOVERS either!! I will definitely make this again and again! Thank you :)

  12. I want to make this ahead for a party. Should I crisp them under the broiler or do I have to wait until just before serving to do that?

    • Hi Kim! We would wait until just before serving to put them under the broiler. We hope everyone enjoys them!

  13. Ohhhh after seeing your recipe I am feeling so hungry. Yummy! Yummy!! Yummy!!! I will try it next weekend in my home.
    Thank you so much for the awesome recipe.

  14. Hi – I’m excited to try these this week for Cinco de Mayo! One question – if I wanted to make in advance could I do cooking in crock pot one day and then reheat by broiling (following recipe instructions) the next day. Or is it better to make, broil, refrigerate and then just reheat? Many thanks!

    • Hi Katie! We’re sorry for just now seeing your comment! But yes, if you wanted to do this in advance, you could definitely cook in the crock pot and then reheat in the broiler the next day (You will need to heat them up in the oven with some foil over them before you do them under the broiler though, just since they’ll need to be warmed up more). We hope you enjoy!

  15. Do you think this would turn out if I were to slow cook the day before and then crisp up under a broiler after bringing it back to room temp?

    • Hi Liz! Yes, we think that should probably work just fine. We hope you enjoy!

  16. I can’t wait to make this! Does it matter what type of beer you use?

  17. This was awesome!! Thank you for sharing it. I will be making it again and again. Going to have to try it in the soup next.

  18. I just have a question, is a boneless pork roast different than a pork shoulder or butt? I’m just trying to figure out what to buy at the store.
    Thank you!

    • Hi Becky! Pork butt or shoulder work great for this — we hope you enjoy! :)

  19. I cannot rave enough about this pork! It was delicious! We had it on/in carnitas sandwiches, tacos, and even quesadillas, and they were all so good. Thank you for sharing!

  20. I made this and it was a HUGE hit!!! Even my husband’s best friend who is very picky ate 3 helpings!. This is a keeper for sure. Oh, my kids loved it too!

  21. Add a cup of amber Dos Equis beer, 1 1/2 cups of fresh cilantro, 3 TBS of fresh ground coriander, 1 spoonful of rock salt, and Tina is one DELICIOUS roast! I basically took the recipe for lime cilantro eye of round roast and combined it with this one!! YUMMMMM!

    • Thanks for sharing, Suzanne, we’re so glad you enjoyed the recipe and that you made it your own — sounds so yummy! :)

  22. I’m wanting to make this today, but I have a pork loin (package doesn’t have the weight on it but I’m thinking its maybe 1-2 lbs). Would I cut the ingredients in half since your recipe calls for a 4-5 lb. roast? Thank you!

    • Hi Kendall! Yes, if you think it’s about 1-2 lbs, we would cut the recipe in half. Do you have a smaller crockpot you could use?

  23. Hi! Excited to make this. Do you think I could cook it in a Dutch oven the same way you would a crockpot?

    • Hi Kathleen! Yes, we think you would be absolutely fine to do that. We hope you enjoy! :)

  24. First off, congratulations on your recent wedding! Your husband married a very good cook!!!
    I’ve made these carnitas about 6 times now and everyone raves about the flavor. I’ve done the crispy part once, but normally I skip that process and everyone loves them that way. I use Pork Sirloin Tip Roasts from Costco and there’s VERY little fat, which I’m happy about.

    Over the holiday weekend, I did the carnitas following your recipe (except I used thick slices of onion instead of dicing) and made your Kansas City Barbecue Sauce and added it to the shredded pork for pulled pork sandwiches. My husband’s family LOVED them! The meat had a wonderful spicy kick and the thick sweet BBQ sauce complimented the dish perfectly!.

    Thanks so much for all your great recipes!

    • Thank you for sharing, Cynthia, we’re so happy you love the recipe! :)

  25. I made this and we ate it in tacos, with brown rice, and in a stir fry on different days. Making it again for this weekend! Fantastic, easy recipe. Thanks so much!

  26. I made this for my daughter’s second birthday party. It was a huge it. I added Orange juice and chicken broth in place of the beer. Amazing.

  27. Deeeelicious! Was looking for a recipe that rivaled our favorite street taco vender. Thank you for this recipe! Followed as directed with one exception- didn’t have chipotle powder, subbed 1/2tsp. of pico de gallo (chili peppers) powder instead (was on hand).
    Hate to bite into fat, loved that recipe called for lean cut of boneless pork. Wasn’t sure if would be tough, but was tender! Made part of meat crispy as directed (steps-3-4) after that just shredded in remaining juice and served as is. Both good. Served in pan heated soft corn tortillas with Cilantro Lime Slaw (other toppings available) Family & friends loved. Extras froze well. I will definately be making this again!

    • Thank you for sharing, Cheryl! We’re so glad you and your friends and family over this! :)

  28. These were a hit in our house! Definitely making these again! Can’t wait for the leftovers tomorrow. =)

  29. Can I use chipotle chili powder?

  30. Hi how did you prepare your corn tortillas for tacos? Do you do anything special?! Thanks so much!

  31. FABULOUS!!! I’ve made these with warm corn tortillas four times and it is requested every week! I love your recipes; thank you!

  32. Made this fantastic meal tonight. OMG, this was so easy and so very delicious. I love the crisping up the pork in the broiler. I can’t believe that never crossed my mind.

  33. These are the BEST!!!

  34. Can you substitute a pork tenderloin? Thanks!

  35. Oh. My. Goodness! This is delicious! I’ve made this several times now. The only thing I changed after the first time was omitting the minced chipotle pepper. It was too spicy for my family. However, I add 1/4 tsp of the sauce the peppers come in instead. That way we still get the smoky flavor without a ton of heat.

    I use 1-2 of the little pork sirloin tip roasts from the 4 pack that Costco carries (depending on how many I’m feeding). The pork requires little to no trimming, and turns out delicious each time. After cutting the roast(s) up into large chucks, I sear all sides of each chunk in a large pan with olive oil in the bottom., then toss in the crock pot with everything else. Enjoy!

  36. Oh my! I love carnitas and have tried several recipes before this one. I happened to have a pork loin in my freezer that I used for this particular instance. It was delicious! The best! I added more cumin and chili powder at the end because we like our Mexican food to have a lot of flavor. Definitely a keeper! Thank you for sharing.

  37. you added the onion with the pork to cook or is that just after for the tacos

  38. I have made this several times and it is a favorite in my home! I did want to share one little tidbit from my experience; use a hard cider (Angry Orchard or Red Apple Ale) in place of the beer. It adds so much flavor; 8ve tried the recipe both ways and when I made it with regular beer my husband asked me what I did different bc it didn’t taste as good as the first time. So try it with the cider I promise you won’t be disappointed :)

  39. Hi there – question for you. What’s the reason behind you cutting the roast into chunks vs. leaving it whole? Thanks! :)

  40. LOVE this recipe! So much flavor!

  41. The best tacos I have ever made. Incredibly easy if you follow the directions. I love anything with layers of texture & this definitely had that. I wish I would have cut off more of the fat.

  42. This was heaven! I’ve never rated an online recipe before but I had to after this…so easy and melt in your mouth delicious!

  43. Fixed this for the first time when we had house guests, and it was a hit! Definitely will make it again!

  44. 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!

    • Great question! I actually have a newer Instant Pot recipe here — enjoy! https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/instant-pot-crispy-carnitas/

  45. 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!

  46. 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! ????

  47. 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!

    • I’m guessing a standard lager is fine. Something with decent flavor, but not very hoppy, or dark.

  48. 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.

    • 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!

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

  50. Best carnitas ever!!!!