This carnitas recipe is made in the slow cooker for a juicy and flavorful Mexican pulled pork perfect for tacos, tostadas, salads and more! (gluten free, paleo)
Seasoned with oregano, cumin, chili powder, lime juice and other spices, this Mexican Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Recipe is juicy, tender and absolutely mouthwatering! I’ve never met a person who didn’t fall in love with this recipe, plus it’ll make your house smell amazing while you’re cooking it!
Growing up in a Mexican household, I ate my fair share of pork. It’s kind of in my blood. And since I’ve moved hundreds of miles away from home and am only able to visit the family a handful of times a year, learning to cook a variety of Mexican meals has been one of my goals.
Mexican pork carnitas is now one of those meals that I can cross off my list.
What are carnitas?
Carnitas is the Mexican version of pulled pork. It’s traditionally made with pork shoulder (also known as pork butt) because of the higher fat content, which helps the meat stay super tender and juicy while it’s cooked.
It can be used to make tacos (as pictured in the photos in this post), tostadas, salads, nachos, burritos, burrito bowls, quesadillas, basically everything!
This recipe is extremely easy to make and comes out perfect. Every. Single. Time. It’s literally fail proof! Here’s what you need to get started.
Ingredients you’ll need
- pork shoulder (also known as pork butt)
- lime juice
- salt, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, onion powder, black pepper
How to make carnitas
Cut pork shoulder into large 4-inch chunks, removing any excess fat. Place in the slow cooker.
Add all the other ingredients to the slow cooker and mix thoroughly to coat the meat with all the herbs and spices.
Cover and cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours. When tender, shred the meat by pulling it apart with a fork.
Serve pork carnitas on warm corn tortillas for tacos or on salads, tostadas and more!
Slow Cooker Carnitas
One of my favorite things about this carnitas recipe is that it’s made in the slow cooker! I usually use the high setting and slow cook it for 4 hours. It’s fall-apart tender and juicy every time!
If you have a little more time and want to use the low setting, I recommend slow cooking it on low for 6-8 hours.
You don’t need anything fancy to make this delicious Mexican dish. Here’s the exact slow cooker I have – it’s one of the cheapest and smallest ones you can find! So if that’s all you have, that’s perfectly okay.
However, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have my eye on this bad boy – it’s programmable, much larger than what I have now AND even has a locking lid! Yeah, that’s going on my wish list this year.
Since posting this recipe back in 2015, I’ve received so many great questions from readers like you, so I want to make sure to make this recipe as easy to make as possible. So here we go.
Can slow cooker carnitas be frozen?
Yes. To freeze, cool the pulled pork carnitas to room temperature. Place it in an air tight freezer bag, leaving about 2 inches of room at the top to allow for expansion, and freeze. It can be kept frozen for 4-6 months. To reheat, heat it up in medium pot on the stove or a large bowl in the microwave.
Are you sure there’s enough liquid in this carnitas recipe?
This recipe doesn’t require any extra liquid because pork shoulder is a pretty marbled cut of meat. As the meat cooks in the slow cooker, the fat starts to render and provides enough liquid (and flavor!) for the recipe.
All I have is pork loin. Can I still make this recipe?
Yes, but I would add a tablespoon or two of fat – either olive oil, coconut oil or whatever you prefer. Since the loin is a much leaner cut than pork shoulder, I’d also add 1/4 cup of liquid – either broth or orange juice.
My personal favorite way to eat carnitas is in tacos. And let me tell you, these tacos will make you feel like you’re in an outdoor market in Mexico with a taco in one hand and an ice cold beer in the other. What’s not to love about that?!
I like topping mine with a few simple ingredients like cilantro, diced onions, freshly squeezed lime juice and some jalapeños. Pure Mexican heaven.
More Mexican recipes you’ll love
- 3-Ingredient Authentic Mexican Corn Tortillas
- Chicken Pozole Verde
- Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe
- Mexican Pork Chile Verde
- The BEST Easy Chicken Tacos
- Baja Fish Tacos
The BEST Mexican Carnitas RecipePrint Pin Rate
For pork carnitas
- 2 1/2 pounds pork shoulder (also known as 'pork butt')
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
For tacos and toppings
- corn tortillas
- cilantro, diced onions, lime wedges, avocados
- Cut pork shoulder into large 4-inch chunks, removing any excess fat. Place in the slow cooker.
- Add all the other ingredients to the slow cooker and mix thoroughly to coat the meat with all the herbs and spices.
- Cover and cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours. When tender, shred the meat by pulling it apart with a fork.
- Serve pork carnitas on warm corn tortillas and top with onions, cilantro, lime juice and any other toppings you desire.
Nutritional information is only for the meat and seasonings and does not include the tortillas or toppings.
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