Carnitas? Made with chicken??
Yep, they’re a thing. And a few weeks ago, I decided to make them my new thing.
To be sure, carnitas are traditionally made with pork, which I’ve enjoyed cooking for years and years with my little “shortcut” method by simmering pork in the crock pot and then crisping it them up the broiler before serving. And it’s always delicious! But recently, I’ve randomly been wondering (as my little food blogger’s mind tends to wander) about what carnitas would taste like when made with different meats, since the word carnitas does literally translate to mean “little meats”, and not just pork. ;)
So a few weeks ago, I decided to try out a carnitas recipe using some boneless skinless chicken breasts that I had in the freezer, and bring it along to a taco night with friends for taste-testing. I was a little worried that the lean chicken wouldn’t end up being quite as flavorful as less-lean pork tends to be. But sure enough, after hours of simmering in that yummy broth, then spending a few minutes under the broiler and getting a good toss in the leftover juices from the slow cooker, the results were in.
Chicken can be made into some seriously good carnitas!
The other good news about this recipe? It’s seriously easy to make.
Just toss all of your ingredients in a slow cooker. (And if you happen to not drink alcohol, as some commenters asked about in my pork carnitas recipe, hakuna matata — you can just sub in some chicken broth with maybe an extra squeeze of fresh orange juice.) Give them a little toss to mix everything up. And then let the chicken cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours, until it’s nice and tender and shreds easily with a fork.
Shred it to the size you would like. (And don’t worry about all of those extra juices — we’ll use them later!) Then use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a large baking sheet (or two smaller baking sheets).
Spread the chicken out in an even layer, then pop it under the broiler for about 5 minutes, or until the tops of the chicken are nice and browned and crispy. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, drizzle the chicken evenly with about 1/2 cup of the remaining broth, and then turn it with a pair of tongs so that some of the less-crispy bits are on top. Repeat by broiling again, then drizzling/tossing again, then one more broil, one more drizzle/toss…
…and a big sheet of delicious carnitas will be yours to enjoy. Oh, and also be sure to drizzle these with however much fresh lime juice you’d like. I recommend going big on the lime juice (as in, I think I used the juice from 2-3 large limes for this one), but go with however much of that tart flavor you like. :)
Feel free to serve them up in tacos, burritos, enchiladas, soups, salads…whatever sounds good to you!
Or if you aren’t going to serve it right away, this recipe also makes great leftovers and freezes for up to 3 months.
So if you happen to not eat pork, or are just looking for a way to use up some leftover chicken, I highly recommend giving them a try. Carnitas of all kinds FTW! :)
These Slow Cooker Crispy Chicken Carnitas are made easy by simmering for hours in the slow cooker, then they are briefly crisped up in the broiler, resulting in tender, crispy, juicy, and absolutely DELICIOUS carnitas. Serve them in your favorite tacos, burritos, salads, or whatever sounds good!
*Or, instead of chicken breasts, you are welcome to use other cuts of chicken, such as thighs. I just recommend buying skinless and boneless chicken, so that you do not have to remove any bones or skin afterwards.
If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!
This post contains affiliate links.