This slow cooker carnitas recipe is so delicious! Tender, perfectly seasoned pork butt cooks slowly in a delicious citrusy beer sauce before finishing off under the broiler or on the grill to get those classic crispy edges. Serve on corn or flour tortillas with your favorite toppings for the whole family to enjoy!
You'll Love These Crockpot Carnitas
Easy to make. Set it in the morning and come home 8 hours later to a perfectly moist, fall-apart tender roast. From there, you just have to reduce the sauce, smother your pork piece with it, then crisp up the edges of the meat under the broil or on the grill. (Tip: the roast and sauce can be made several days ahead of time!)
Family favorite! Pork carnitas is a fun way to change up your traditional taco night with the family. Add your favorite toppings and enjoy on corn or flour tortillas.
Pork Carnitas Recipe Slow Cooker Ingredients
Here are the ingredients you will need to make slow cooker carnitas:
- Bone-in Pork Butt: I use pork butt because it has a higher fat content which makes for more tender and juicy carnitas. You can use pork shoulder. However, it may end up being a little drier due to the lower fat content.
- Onion: you can use any onion variety you choose, such as white, yellow, or sweet.
- Beer: I suggest a lighter, mild domestic beer. I honestly grab one that I have on hand and use it in this recipe. You can substitute for water or vegetable broth in its place.
- Orange Juice: any orange juice variety you choose will work in this recipe.
- Lime Juice: freshly squeezed lime juice is preferred for best flavor. One lime will equal about 2 tablespoons of juice.
- Smoked Paprika: this gives a great smoky, slightly sweet flavor to the carnitas.
- Kosher Salt
- For Serving: warmed 6-inch corn tortillas, lime wedges, fresh cilantro, and pickled red onions.
For exact ingredient quantities, please see the recipe card below!
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Substitutions and Variations
Here are some suggestions for customizing your slow cooker carnitas:
- Use water or chicken broth in place of beer if preferred.
- Make it spicier by adding crushed red pepper flakes, chipotle pepper, or cayenne pepper. You can also add diced jalapeno to your roast when cooking to infuse the most flavor.
- Use a boneless pork butt or boneless pork shoulder roast--this may decrease your cooking time. The bone adds great flavor and makes a more tender roast.
- Use a pork shoulder roast instead of the pork butt. Pork shoulder has less marbled fat, so the roast is leaner and may produce a drier end product.
- Use flour tortillas in place of corn tortillas if preferred.
- Make crispy corn tostadas instead of tacos.
- Adjust any seasonings to taste.
How To Cook Pork Carnitas in Slow Cooker
Here's how to make this tender slow cooker carnitas recipe:
- Place onions on the bottom of the slow cooker and place roast on top.
2. Pour in beer, orange juice, and liquid smoke. Sprinkle on cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook on low until done.
3. Remove pork. Pull pork into thick pieces and remove extra fat and bones. (keep your pieces thicker to prevent overcooking). Remove from heat.
4. Transfer all pot juices to a saucepan to reduce until thick and syrupy. Toss pork pieces in thickened sauce.
5. Crisp up the pork edges in one of the following ways:
- Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat to boil. Transfer the pork pieces to a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet in an even laver. Broil until the edges of the pork pieces are browning, and the edges are crisp.
- Preheat to 500 degrees F. Place meat on a greased grill grid or perforated pizza pan that will allow juices to drain but keep them from falling through. Grill pork until the pieces are browning and the edges get slightly crisp.
TIP: Be sure only to crisp the outside of the pieces so you don't overcook and dry them out.
How to Serve Crock Pot Pork Carnitas
Here are several ways you can serve this dish!
Serve with warmed corn or flour tortillas or over rice with beans, salsa, cheese, and veggies.
Top with your favorite toppings such as diced onion, fresh cilantro, salsa, cotija cheese or fresh diced jalapeno or sliced radishes.
Serve with fresh lime wedges.
Meal idea! Serve on a corn tortilla topped with coleslaw or pickled red onions for the perfect bite each time! Pair with refried beans and Spanish rice for a full meal!
Mexican Pulled Pork Recipe Slow Cooker Tips
- When pulling the pork apart, try and leave the pieces on the bigger side. This will help them retain their moisture when you broil or grill them to get the outside crispy.
- Ensure your oven or grill is fully heated before crisping the pork pieces. The meat is already cooked, you only want to make the edges brown and crispy.
- Keep a close eye on your pork pieces! They will burn quickly, so pull from the oven or grill as soon as your edges are brown and crispy. Turn the pieces if you would like to for even crisping.
Mexican Slow Cooker Pulled Pork FAQ's
Once cooled, store your leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Freeze them in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
You can either reheat your leftovers in the microwave in a microwave-safe dish, or you can reheat in a saucepan on the stove until your desired temperature is reached.
Transfer your crockpot juices to a saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Cook to reduce the juices so they are thick. Smother your pork pieces in the juice before broiling or grilling.
Cook with the fat side up in the slow cooker so that the juices absorb back into the roast for a tender and juicy pulled pork.
This could be related to the type of roast used for your carnitas or the cooking time is the most common reason for a dry roast. The pork shoulder roast is a leaner roast with less fat, so it can dry out quicker. If you cook a boneless roast for too long in the crockpot, it can end up getting dry as well.
Pork butt roast is the most typical roast used for carnitas in the slow cooker. Due to it having a higher fat content, it is more flavorful, more tender, and juicy. This gives the best meat for carnitas.
Best Crockpot Carnitas (Mexican Slow Cooker Pulled Pork)
- 1 (3 to 4-pound) bone-in pork butt
- 1 large onion (chopped)
- 12 ounces beer (water can be used if preferred)
- ½ cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- for serving: warmed 6-inch corn tortillas, lime wedges, fresh cilantro, pickled red onions
- Place onions on the bottom of the slow cooker then pork on top.
- Pour in the beer, orange juice, and liquid smoke. Sprinkle on the cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook on low until pork easily pulls apart with two forks, about 8 to 10 hours.
- Remove pork. Transfer all pot juices to a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and let reduce until thickened and syrupy. Remove from heat once thickened.
- In the meantime, pull the pork apart into pieces, removing any fat and bones as you go.
- Place pulled pork in a large bowl with the thickened sauce. Toss to coat evenly.
- Crisp up the edges of the pork pieces in one of the following ways. (Be sure to have the oven or grill fully preheated and watch the pork carefully so it does not overcook or burn.)OVEN BROIL:Place oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to broil. Transfer the pork pieces to a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer. Broil until the edges of the pork pieces are browning and the edges are slightly crisp.GRILL:Preheat to 500℉, place meat on a greased grill grid or perforated pizza pan that will allow the juices to drain but keep the meat pieces from falling through. Grill pork until the edges are browning and the edges are slightly crisp.
- Don't miss all of our helpful hints, substitution ideas, cooking tips, and other delicious recipes that can be found in our post. Check it out!
- TOP TIPS: When pulling the pork apart, don't pull it too fine, you want some chunkier bits so they maintain moisture while broiling or grilling; When crisping the pork pieces, they don't need to be crisp all the way through; Make sure your oven and grill or fully heated before adding pork; Strive for mostly crispy edges (with the inside still juicy). Turn the pieces if you want to. They will burn quickly so watch them carefully!
- VARIATIONS: Water or chicken broth can replace beer. Make it spicy by adding red pepper flakes.
- SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Serve with warmed corn tortillas, chopped onion, lime wedges, and fresh cilantro. Other toppings may be used - a favorite salsa, cotija cheese, pickled red onions, sliced radishes, jalapeno.
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