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Easy Carnitas (Slow Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork) Recipe Card

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 3 reviews
  • Author: Juyali (ju-ja-lee)
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4-5 hours
  • Total Time: 4-5 hours
  • Yield: 3 cups 1x
  • Category: Main course
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: Mexican


This Easy Carnitas (slow cooker Mexican Pulled Pork) is full of flavor and perfect for tacos, fajitas, burrito bowls, arepas, and more. Great for make-ahead and entertaining!



Carnitas seasoning ingredients (dry-rub)

  • 1 teaspoon of Dried Oregano (double the amount if you use fresh oregano)
  • 2 teaspoons of Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of Chili Powder
  • 2.5 teaspoons of coarse Salt (like Kosher), plus more for taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Black Pepper
  • 3-pound Pork butt (or pork shoulder)

The additional carnitas marinade ingredients

  • 1 large Onion - peeled and quartered (any variety will work)
  • 8 Garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup of Lime juice - adds a tangy flavor and aids in tenderizing the meat
  • 1/2 cup of Orange Juice - freshly squeezed orange juice is better; otherwise, get good quality bottled juice.
  • 1 cup of Chicken or vegetable broth - helps boost the flavors (see notes under oven-baked method)
  • 1 large Orange cut into quarters
  • 3 Bay leaves (Adds a great herby flavor to pork)


     Seasoning the meat

  • Trim off any excess fat from the meat.  For quicker cooking, cut the meat into 4-6 chunks and place it in the slow cooker.  Mix all dry rub ingredients and massage the meat with the seasoning to infuse.
  • Coarsely chop the onion and garlic and add on top.  Add the lime and orange juices, broth, bay leaves, plus the orange cut into quarters.
  • This ingredient blend plus the slow cooking makes this Carnitas so flavorful. It makes up for the absence of the lard common in the traditional Mexican method.

    Slow cooking the meat 

  • Cover and cook the pork for 4-5 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low.  
  • Remove the meat from the crock-pot and place it on a platter. Drain the pan drippings through a fine-mesh strainer, and discard the solids.
  • Reserve the juices and skim off any excess fat that has risen to the top with a spoon.
  • Shred the meat by pulling it apart with two forks.

     Make them crispy 

  • This step is KEY! You want those edges brown and crispy for a true Carnitas. I use a broiler method rather than a skillet because I can crisp up a large quantity on a sheet pan. However, browning the meat in a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop works fantastic too).
  • When it is time to serve, turn the oven to the “high” broil setting. Spread the shredded pork onto a sheet pan lined with foil. Drizzle some of the crockpot juices onto the meat.
  • Place the sheet pan under the broiler and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir with a spatula and cook for another 3-5 minutes or until crispy on the edges.


  1.      Alternate oven-baked braising method:  Use a large oven-safe pot with a lid, such as a Dutch oven or a roasting pan. Follow steps 1 and 2 and add 2 cups of broth or water to the pan (this ensures the meat stays moist). Cover tightly with foil or the lid.  Bake at 325 F / 160 C for 2 hours. Remove the cover and bake for an additional 1 - 1.5 hours.  Add more water if it dries out. You should end up with about 2 cups of liquid. You will not need to broil the meat as it already has nicely brown and crisp edges, so skip step 3 below. Drizzle the pan juices over the pork for serving.
  2.      Do not discard leftover pan juices. Reserve them when you need to reheat your Carnitas, as meat naturally dries up after refrigeration.
  3.      Check out my Venezuelan Carne Mechada (shredded beef).