(Recipe) Crockpot Mexican Pork Carnitas

By: Jessica Bentley

One of the most requested recipes I am asked for is my lightened-up version of Pork Carnitas.

They are super easy to cook and taste phenomenal. Everything can be prepared the night before and then you’ll just have to start the slow-cooker right before you leave in the morning for the office.

That night when you get home, you’ll be greeted with the sweet smells of Mexican goodness and a dinner that is ready in a snap!

Join me and give PORK a try! It certainly is THE OTHER (tastier) WHITE MEAT! (Remember those commercials?)

Carnitas, meaning “Little Meats” is Pork Shoulder that is braised in lard or fat until the meat is fork-tender. At restaurants, you’ll generally find it served in Tacos or on its own with Beans, Guacamole, Sour Cream and Tortillas. However, I’m not particularly a fan of extra lard or fat on my heinie, so I braise mine in Orange Juice.

The juice gives the meat a slight citrus essence, which couples nicely with Mexican fare.

Bust out your slow-cooker and get ready to put the SHOCK in CROCKPOT! The meat shreds easily with two forks and is (literally) fall-off-the-bone fantastic! I must warn you, this recipe makes enough to feed a small army… so be prepared to eat-your-little-heart out in all things Mexican for the next few days.

Mexican Pork carnita fall off the bone.jpg

Slow-Cooker Mexican Pork Carnitas


  • 4 pound (bone-in) Pork Shoulder
  • 1/3 cup Sweet Heat Dry Rub – recipe below (if you don’t have time to make this, just rub all the listed spices on the Pork Shoulder, to your preference)
  • 1 Onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup Orange Juice
  • 1/4 cup Lime Juice
  • Lime wedges for serving (optional)
  • Cilantro for serving (optional)


  1. Trim excess fat from Pork Shoulder and season with Dry Rub. (Make sure to cover all sides of the meat with spices!)

  2. Place Onion on the bottom of the crockpot and then place the spiced meat on top. Pour Orange and Lime Juice over meat.

  3. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 or 10 hours. You can also cook it on high heat for 4-6 hours if you need it done sooner.

  4. After the meat has cooked, remove it from the crockpot and shred with two forks. Discard most liquid from the crockpot, reserving about 1 cup. Now add the meat back into the pot and mix with reserved 1 cup liquid and onions.

  5. To achieve crispy, caramelized Carnitas you’ll need to either pan fry or broil the meat before serving. To pan fry, simply transfer the meat to a large sauté pan or wok and sauté on medium-high heat until the meat is crispy and browned, about 5-7 minutes.

    To broil, transfer the meat to a baking sheet and broil in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the meat develops a nice crust

  6. Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Or you can freeze individual portions in Ziploc freezer bags and thaw them, as needed. They will last in the freezer for up to 3 months. (Note: if you’re going to freeze the extras, I recommend freezing them after step 4. Then when you’re ready to eat the Carnitas, thaw the bag in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours and pan fry or broil before serving.)

Serving Suggestions:

Pork Carnita Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (see prior Sweet Potato recipe post), added to Omelets, Tacos, Burritos, stuffed Quesadillas, Nachos (or french-fry Nachos!), Salads, Chili or Quiche.

Sweet Heat Dry Rub:


  • ½ cup Brown Sugar
  • ¼ cup Smoked Paprika
  • 2 tbsp Chili Powder
  • 2 tbsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbsp Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper


  1. Mix all spices together in a large mason jar (or re-use a large empty spice container or pasta jar), keep air tight when storing. Use within 1 year (trust me, it won’t last that long).

Written by Jessica Bentley | @sliceofjess