Beautifully spiced slow-cooked shredded pork, fried up to crisp perfection. You can use these pork carnitas in lots of ways, but I love to load them into soft tacos with onion and coriander (cilantro) and serve it up with a bowl of the most amazing cooking liqueur for dipping.

Close up image of pork carnitas frying in a pan.

Even though these Mexican-style pulled pork carnitas are made in the slow-cooker AND fried, I still feel like this is more of a summer recipe.
I think it’s the simplicity and the fresh, easy toppings that we use when we’re stuffing that addictive carnitas meat into soft, warm tacos.

Of course you don’t need to stuff the meat into tacos, there are lots of ways to use it.

  • On top of nachos, served with guacamole, salsa and shredded cheese
  • On top of pizza, salads and rice bowls
  • Stuffed into burritos and quesadillas
  • Added to fried rice
  • Stuffed into potato skins and topped with crumbled cheese – Cojita if you can find it, in the UK, if not crumbled Wensleydale works well. Even better if you can find an aged Wensleydale (I like Hawes special reserve Wensleydale).

📋 What do we need?

Ingredients for pork carnitas on a wooden board.

I use a rolled, boneless pork shoulder that I cut the skin off (but I leave the fat on).
The fat can be cooked on its own to make crackling (I’ve included some instructions in the notes section of the recipe card at the bottom of this post).

📺 Watch how to make it

Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.

👩‍🍳PRO TIP All of the shredded pork can be fried in one batch, in a large frying pan (skillet) – just be sure let it crisp before moving it around the pan.

The simplest and most traditional way to serve these carnitas tacos is topped with finely diced onion and fresh coriander (cilantro). I like to add a little avocado to mine too.

It really doesn’t need more that that as there is SO MUCH flavour in the juicy meat!

Tall close-up image of pork carnitas tacos on a tray, topped with chopped onion and coriander.

🍽️ How to serve the carnitas in tacos

  • Warm up some soft flour tortillas and add the fried shredded pork, then load up with extra toppings:
    • Finely diced onion
    • Chopped coriander (cilantro)
    • Diced avocado
    • Extra cooking liqueur from the slow cooker – to dip those tacos into!

I use a bamboo taco holder (<<-Amazon affiliate link) to serve my tacos. Check out the recipe video (video is in this post and also on You Tube).

Tall image of a frying pan filled with pork carnitas.

🍲 More ways to fill tacos, wraps and flatbreads

Close up of a soft taco stuffed with pork carnitas and topped with diced onion and coriander (cilantro).

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5 from 1 vote

Pork Carnitas

Beautifully spiced slow-cooked shredded pork, fried up to crisp perfection and served up in soft tacos with the most amazing cooking liqueur for dipping!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 12 tacos
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican

Ingredients

The pork:

  • 2-2.25 kg (4.4 lbs – 5 lbs) rolled, boneless, shoulder of pork skin removed, but fat left on
  • 1 medium onion peeled and diced
  • 5 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) fresh orange juice this is approx. the juice from 2 oranges
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes optional – leave out if you don’t like it spicy
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp cumin

For frying:

  • 2 tbsp oil

For the tacos: (see more ideas for toppings in the notes section)

  • 12 soft flour tortillas warmed (I use medium sized – about the size of a side plate)
  • 2 avocados des-toned and chopped into small chunks
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander (cilantro) roughly chopped/torn
  • 1-2 mild onions peeled and diced

Instructions 

  • Place the pork in the slow cooker, fat side up.
    2-2.25 kg (4.4 lbs – 5 lbs) rolled, boneless, shoulder of pork
  • Add the onion and garlic around the sides of the pork, then pour over the orange juice. It doesn’t seem like a lot of liquid, but the pork will release liquid as it’s cooking.
    1 medium onion, 5 cloves garlic, 120 ml (1/2 cup) fresh orange juice
  • Sprinkle on the salt, pepper, chilli flakes, oregano, and cumin.
    2 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp chilli flakes, 1 tbsp dried oregano, 2 tbsp cumin
  • Cook on low for 9-10 hours or high for 7-8 hours.
  • Remove the pork from the slow cooker and place on a chopping board (I use two sets of tongs).
  • Shred the pork into pieces, discarding any large chunks of fat.

To fry the carnitas:

  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan, over a medium-high heat.
    2 tbsp oil
  • Add the shredded pork (use tongs and try to leave as much liquid behind as possible).
  • Fry for 8-10 minutes, moving around the pan occasionally, until you get some nice crispy bits (don’t move it around too much or it won’t crisp).
  • Once the pork is browned and crispy, add in a good ladleful (about 240ml/1 cup) of pork cooking juices to the pan and allow it to bubble for a few minutes. This adds extra flavour and juiciness to the pork.
  • Turn off the heat and serve the pork alongside a jug of the remaining liquid from the slow cooker for drizzling. Go easy at first, as it’s quite salty.
  • If you’re making carnitas tacos, then load them up with the pork, coriander (cilantro), avocado, and chopped onion (see notes for more topping ideas).
    12 soft flour tortillas, 2 avocados, 1 bunch fresh coriander (cilantro), 1-2 mild onions

Video

Notes

Taco Holder:
Here a link (it’s an Amazon affiliate link) to the bamboo taco holder I use in the video.
More topping ideas:
  • Sauces: Salsa, guacamole, soured cream, sweet chilli sauce, hot pepper sauce, salsa verde, BBQ sauce
  • Cheese: Grated cheddar or crumbled feta. If you can get hold Cotija (a salty, crumbly Mexican cheese), that works really well, it’s almost impossible to find in the UK though.
  • Vegetables: Crunchy sliced lettuce – such as romaine or baby gem, chopped spring onions (scallions), finely diced cucumber, chopped cherry tomatoes
  • Chillies/pickles: sliced fresh or pickled jalapenos, sliced gherkin or cornichons, pickled red onion slices. Kimchi actually works really well too.
Making ahead
  • Make the pork carnitas ahead by cooking the pork in the slow cooker, then shredding.
  • Cool quickly and place the shredded meat in a sealed container and the leftover cooking juices in a separate sealed container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • When ready to heat up, fry the shredded carnitas in 2 tablespoons of oil to heat through – until piping hot (and lovely and crispy).
  • Warm the cooking liqueur through in a pan or in the microwave and spoon some or all of it onto the carnitas once they crisped up.
Freezing
  • Make the pork carnitas ahead by cooking the pork in the slow cooker, then shredding.
  • Cool quickly and freeze the shredded meat in a sealed container and the leftover cooking juices in a separate sealed container.
  • Defrost overnight at room temperature, then fry the shredded carnitas in 2 tablespoons of oil to heat through – until piping hot (and lovely and crispy).
  • Warm the cooking liqueur through in a pan or in the microwave and spoon some or all of it onto the carnitas once they crisped up.
Don’t throw away the pork skin! Use it for pork crackling.
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F (fan).
  2. Lay the skin on a chopping board and score skin-side of the pork skin in a criss-cross/diamond pattern.
  3. Sprinkle over 1 tablespoon of table salt, then rub it into the skin.
  4. Transfer the skin to a rimmed baking tray (you can place on a rack on top of the baking tray if you like, but I generally don’t, as it means more washing up!)
  5. Place in the oven and roast for 40-50 minute, until the skin is golden brown and has little bubbles all over (the bubbly bits are where it is most crispy)
  6. Carefully remove from the oven (there will be a lot of hot liquid fat in the tray – you can save this and use for roasting potatoes).
  7. Use a set of tongs to move the skin to a chopping board.
  8. Carefully chop into bite-size pieces and serve.
If not serving right away, then cool the crackling pieces, transfer to a container and place a lid on. Place in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Reheat in the oven on a baking tray at 200C/400F (fan) for 8-10 minutes, until re-crisped and piping hot.
Recipe source:
This recipe is based on Nagi’s version from RecipeTin Eats (I think her recipe came from another source too). I make a small few changes in ingredients and cooking method.
Nutritional information is approximate, per filled taco (this recipes makes 12), including the soft tortilla, coriander (cilantro), avocado and onion.
  • The approximate calorie content of the pork carnitas meat after frying in oil is 3000 calories ALTOGETHER.
  • Before frying (without the oil) it is approximately 2750 calories altogether.

Nutrition

Calories: 399kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 100mg | Sodium: 706mg | Potassium: 917mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 188IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 81mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links – which means if you buy the product I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). If you do buy, then thank you! That’s what helps us to keep Kitchen Sanctuary running. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors. For more information please see our Terms & Conditions.

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Hi, I'm Nicky and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Definitely a keeper, tried this over the weekend and everyone said how tasty the pork was. Thank you for this delicious recipe😋

  2. Hi
    I love all your recipes. How can I cook the slow cooker recipes without a slow cooker. I feel I wont use it very often and will just be another gadget in my kitchen.

    1. Hi Sandra, as a general rule, when not using a slow cooker, I would cook in the oven in a lidded casserole pan, at about 160C/325F. I would usually add an extra 1.5-2 cups of liquid (usually stock, but sometimes passata/tinned tomatoes, coconut milk etc, depending on the recipe), and I would usually cook it for half the time it says to cook it in the slow cooker, and would check it two or three times during cooking.
      That’s the general rule I use for myself, but of course, I can’t say that will work for every recipe.
      If I’ve tested a recipe in the oven too, I will usually try to include the instructions in the notes section of the recipe card.

  3. Hi Nicky! Could I use a piece of boneless pork loin instead? It’s usually less than half the price of the boneless shoulder roast, when on sale.
    And an overdue “THANKS” for adding the ingredients, again, below each step in the directions. It’s a great way to ensure you don’t miss something!