Pork butt or shoulder rubbed with a delicious homemade blend of spices, stuffed with garlic, and drizzled with lime juice, then slow-cooked until tender and juicy. Pork is pulled then broiled to crispy perfection for the perfect tacos, burritos, salad, nachos, or to eat straight off the pan!
Serve these pork carnitas with super spicy guacamole, the best EVER refried beans, tortillas, chips, fresh homemade salsa, for the perfect fiesta dinner! They are freezer friendly and make great meal prep bowls as well!
I’ve made this recipe more times than any other recipe on the blog. It’s one of those recipes that feeds a crowd, always sounds delicious, and is easy to make. So, I make it again, and again, and again.
I originally posted the Instant Pot version last year, and since then, I’ve made it dozens of times for dinner, maternity leave, potlucks, and meal prep carnitas bowls. I’ll take any excuse to make this recipe, and my most recent excuse was to film an IGTV video (see below.)
I’ve learned a little bit about the process of making Mexican pork carnitas in the slow cooker this last year, so I’m also sharing a step by step below!
What is the Best Cut of Meat For Pork Carnitas?
To make slow cooker pork carnitas, you’ll need a 3-4 pound boneless bork putt or pork shoulder. BTW bork butt and pork shoulder both come from the foreleg (not the butt or shoulder), but the shoulder is higher up. So they aren’t quite the same thing, but almost.
You can use also use bone-in pork butt or shoulder, but you’ll need 5-6lbs, and it will likely take longer to cook. I would ask the butcher to cut it in chunks or cut it off the bone for you.
I get the majority of my meat from an organic online meat delivery service called Butcher Box. They provide humanely raised heritage breed pork with pasture access, bedding in open barns, and a nutritious diet, which includes vegetarian feed and foraging while out on the pasture.
How to Make Crockpot Mexican Pork Carnitas
The first step is to rub your pork with a unique seasoning blend of oregano, sugar, basil, paprika, chipotle chili powder, salt, and black pepper.
Next, you’ll brown it in a pan. Do you have to do this step?!?!
No. The short answer is no. I hate dishes as much as the next person, so I’ll tell you that this recipe will still taste delicious if you skip the brown step. But, it does lock in the flavor and juices giving you a bit of extra depth to the flavor if you suck it up and do it.
Either way, browned or not, next, you’ll stuff it with garlic!
Then, it went in the slow cooker topped with sliced onion and drizzled with lime juice.
4-6 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low later, you have delicious juicy meat ready to meet its destiny dish (tamales, salads, tacos, burritos, whatever!)
Just shred it and pop under the broiler for a few minutes so that it gets crispy, and that’s all she wrote!
Like I said, ready to meet its destiny or to eat straight off the pan!
Tacos. Tacos. Tacos.
Here. I. Come!
Let me know if you try it! And if you are looking for recipes for Cinco De Mayo – check out these 30 delicious healthier Mexican food recipes.(Don’t worry still plenty of spice and cheese!)
Easy Crock Pot Mexican Pork Carnitas
- 4 lbs pork shoulder or pork butt
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp coconut sugar
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chipotle chile powder
- 1 tbsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 12 garlic cloves
- 1 onion sliced
- 1 cup water
- 1-2 limes
- Combine all ingredients for the rub (oregano, coconut sugar, basil, chipotle chile, smoked paprika, sea salt, and black pepper) in a jar or ziplock bag (really whatever you want).
- Rub the seasonings all over the pork shoulder. Make sure to get every crevice!
- Add avocado oil to a large nonstick pan on medium-high and brown all sides of the pork shoulder. 1-2 minutes on each side should be plenty!
- Once the pork is browned, place 12 small slits all over the pork shoulder, then stuff garlic chunks down in each slit.
- Add 1 cup water, followed by the pork and onion slices to the slow cooker. Squeeze the juice of 1-2 limes over the top. (PS if your limes are big, stick with one or it will be VERY limey.)
- Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 6-8 hours. You can check doneness by trying to shred it. It should be EXTREMELY easy to shred when done.
- Shred the pork. You can do this in the slow cooker and then drain or just pull out the pork shoulder and do it on your cooking board. Keep the broth if you plan to freeze the meat!
- Crank the oven to broil and spread the pork accross a foil-lined sheet pan for 3-6 minutes.
- Shred the meat but do not brown it. Shredded meat tends to lose it's moisture when frozen or stored. To my hubby this is UNACCEPTABLE. If it was up to him we wouldn't brown the meat at all because he likes it' really juicy, but I NEED the crispiness. So, freeze the meat and juice in separate containers. You can freeze for up to 3 months. Let defrost under refrigeration then follow the steps to saute or broil the meat for crispiness. Add back in broth as needed!
I used chicken stock instead of water is that okay?
Kelli Shallal MPH RD says
Absolutely! It just might taste a little less spicy and more herby! But, more than likely, it won’t taste much different at all!
When do we use the other 1/2c of water? The ingredient list says 1c, but the instructions only mention 1/2c.
Kelli Shallal MPH RD says
Thank you for bringing this to my attention! I used to have the instant pot and slow cooker directions on the same post before I split them up. Please use the full cup when making this in the slow cooker! (Although it will likely work and be fine with anywhere from 1/2cup water to 1 1/2 cup water, it’s just how much broth you want.)
Annmarie Manning says
I bought pork loin by mistake, hoping it comes out tasty even if it doesn’t shred.
Kelli Shallal MPH RD says
I honestly think it will be fine! Let me know how it goes!