Slow cooker beef carnitas marinate all day long in a flavorful mixture of Mexican spices, citrus, and onions, then are shredded and broiled till slightly crispy.
Hello, friends! Today I’m popping in to share with you how to make beef carnitas in the slow cooker. This recipe has been on the blog a long time as instant pot beef carnitas, but I recently made it in the slow cooker, so I wanted to share this version with you!
It’s a pretty amusing story. Thanks to “q” life, I wanted to avoid going to the store unnecessarily, BUT I needed orange juice. The thing is, in Arizona, citrus is abundant, especially in my neighborhood, and practically rotting off people’s trees in May.
I didn’t think I should have to go to the store when there was so much fruit around me, all I had to do was trade a neighbor oranges for lemons, or politely ask for some off someone’s tree.
Do you think that’s what I did? No, I stole them from trees hanging over alleyways on walks and from the house down the street that just sold, cause their moving anyway, right?
I’d like to say it was because I was a good quarantine citizen trying to avoid contact with others, but the truth is I’m too scurred to ask some nice old lady for oranges she probably wants to pay someone to pick off her tree, so the roof rats don’t get them anyway.
Luckily, I did get enough from alleyways and empty houses to make this recipe, though! And that’s important because a key difference between beef carnitas and pork carnitas is the traditional use of orange juice over the lime juice. It adds a particular orangy flavor that I don’t love but is hands-down one of Mr. Hungry’s favorite recipes ever.
Nope, not everyone has to love the same foods all the time. That’s okay. Everybody perceives taste differently. Mr. Hungry loves this recipe and asks me to make it ALL THE TIME.
I’m sharing it with you again in the slow cooker form because he requested it for Cinco De Mayo this year, but at the time, I was using my Instant Pot for my Paleo Chipotle Chicken Tacos, which are too spicy for him. So, I figure I’d make a few tweaks and test out the slow cooker version of this recipe for y’all. And yes, sometimes I make us two separate meals, and then we have a ton of leftovers!
How To Make Slow Cooker Beef Carnitas
The first thing you want it a seasoning blend. I don’t do this for my Instant Pot version, and it comes out delicious. So, you can skip this step if you want, but I think it just helps lock in the flavor when the meat is cooking for so long.
Rub the spices all over the meat and pan-fry each side for 1-2 minutes. What kinds of meat can you use for beef carnitas? I’ve used both steak and roast. This last time, I used roast, so that’s what you’ll see in the photos. Either will come out delicious, but if you use a roast, I definitely recommend using the seasoning blend, since it’s a tougher cut of meat it will help lock in the flavor a bit more.
Cut slits in your meat and shove some of the garlic down in the meat. Then blend up your sauce and add at it to the slow cooker with the rest of the onion and salsa.
Then you cook it on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours, until super tender! Once it’s nice and fork-tender, you’ll shred the meat and broil it for 3-5 minutes until crispy! Then use it in tacos, burritos, nachos, on salads, whatever you want! I recommend serving with fresh homemade salsa and spicy guacamole.
And if you want to freeze it. Follow the same instructions for my make ahead freezer pork carnitas. Skil the broiling step and freeze the meat and liquid separately. Then when you are ready to eat defrost, both broil the meat and combine it again with the broth!
Easy Slow Cooker Beef Carnitas
- 2 lb steak or roast
- 2 cups orange juice fresh, not from concentrate
- 1 jalapeno stem removed
- 1 medium yellow onion skin removed, ends removed
- lime juice 1/4 cup
- 1/2 cup vegetable or beef broth may need more
- 1/2 cup salsa
- 5 clove garlic
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 -2 tsp chipotle chili pepper
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp salt
- Mix the cumin, chili powder, oregano, black pepper, and salt in a small bowl.
- Rub the seasoning mixture all over the meat. In a large non-stick skillet, brown the meat on every side for 1-2 minutes to lock in the flavor.
- Cut four slits in the meat and shove four pieces of garlic down in each slit.
- Combine orange juice, jalapeno, 1/2 onion, broth, and one clove garlic in a high-powered blender. Set aside remaining onion and chop up.
- Pour half of the mix in the slow cooker and then place steak inside surrounded by remaining onion. Then, cover the steak with the rest of the orange juice mixture. If the steak isn't covered all the way, add more broth.
- Slow cook meat on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.
- Use two forks to shred the meat. Optional: Spread the shredded beef across a large baking pan and broil it for 5-7 minutes until the top of the meat gets crispy.
- To make the lazy guacamole combine one avocado with your favorite salsa, that's it!
- Assemble tacos with lazy guac and desired amount of meat.