Crock Pot Carnitas: Simple Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Pulled pork
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 8 hrs
Total: 8 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 6 servings

Carnitas are a Mexican specialty of seasoned pulled pork, traditionally fried in lard, with a pleasing mixture of tender and crispy browned parts. They are great in sandwiches, tacos or as a filling for ​arepas or tamales.

Traditionally, carnitas from Michoacán in central Mexico are delicately flavored with a hint of orange, onion, and occasionally some warm herbs or spices like cumin, cinnamon, oregano or cloves.

Slow Cooker Carnitas Made Easy

This simplified recipe avoids the deep-frying step and takes advantage of the slow cooker's ability to produce very tender meat. With this recipe, you can prepare everything the night before and place in the slow cooker before leaving for work. Once you get home, the delicious aroma of the most tender pork will have you patting yourself on the back. Before you dig in, shred the meat and give it a quick trip under the broiler at the end to produce the caramelized, browned meat that typifies excellent carnitas.

Serve with a squeeze of lime and cilantro. You can also choose to serve with a bed of rice and side of beans instead of serving in a tortilla as a taco or in a sandwich. Don't forget the fresh salsa and next time consider making a double batch as this dish tends to go fast. 


  • 3 to 4 pound pork shoulder roast (Boston butt)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Remove excess fat from the pork. No need to remove all of the fat — just the really big pieces. Cut the pork into 3 or 4 pieces and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper.

  2. Place all the ingredients in the crock pot and cook on low for about 7 to 8 hours, or until pork is very tender and can be pulled apart easily with a fork. Alternatively, you can cook on high for 4 to 5 hours. 

  3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Preheat the broiler.

  4. Shred the pork, and place in on the baking sheet. Pour the sauce from the crock pot over the pork and mix gently.

  5. Broil meat, turning once, until brown and caramelized around the edges, or desired amount (about 5 minutes). Be sure to watch the oven and pull the tray out quickly after caramelizing to prevent it from drying out.

  6. Serve immediately with warm with rice, beans, and tortillas. Garnish plate with a squeeze of lime and chopped cilantro if you have on hand.

Glass Bakeware Warning

Do not use glass bakeware when broiling or when a recipe calls to add liquid to a hot pan, as glass may explode. Even if it states oven-safe or heat resistant, tempered glass products can, and do, break occasionally.