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Pork Carnitas Recipe (Mexican Pulled Pork)

Braised and broiled to crispy and tender perfection, this Mexican Pulled Pork will quickly become a family favorite dinner. These pork carnitas are a hands-down winner.

pork carnitas tacos

The Most Tender Pork Carnitas

If you’ve landed here today, you’re in for an insanely mouthwatering treat. We’re talking about a game-changing, epic, foolproof deal. And it doesn’t even involve sugar 😇

It’s healthy, clean eating that will make your mouth and tummy so, so happy. Your people will think you’re a genius in the kitchen and you’ll graciously accept that title.

This Pork Carnitas Recipe is by far the very best, tender pork carnitas we’ve ever devoured. We’ve had more than our share of pork carnitas at restaurants everywhere, and we’ve trialed many a carnitas recipe.

There’s good reason we keep coming back to this particular pork carnitas recipe: it consistently makes the best, most crispy + tender carnitas tacos ever.

If you’ve never made your own carnitas, this recipe will change your pulled-pork game forever. If you have made carnitas before but are still searching for the perfect version, let this take your meals to the next level…

pork carnitas recipe

Dutch Oven = Amazing Braising And More

A good Dutch oven is your friend here. A nice sized, heavy Dutch oven is super effective at slow braising a large pork roast, as well as cooking up a super tender and affordable chuck roast for Indian Rogan Josh. 

Dutch ovens are perfect for going from stovetop to oven. They’re able to withstand high heat, they cook foods evenly, and are one of the hardiest and hardest working pots you’ll ever own.

Use the Right Cut of Pork

Pork shoulder/butt is best; it’s an affordable cut that really likes to be slow braised in flavorful juices. Once the pork is immersed in all the seasonings in your Dutch oven, it’s given a couple of hours to slow cook until every bite is triumphantly tender.

Truly authentic carnitas may have incorporated the use of lard. Though we’re not using lard here, we are most definitely slow cooking this beautiful pork to crispy, tender perfection.

All the usual carnitas recipe suspects are invited: onions, bay leaves, orange, lime, and simple aromatic spices…they all come together in a slow dance that results in fork-tender pork carnitas.

pork carnitas tacos

How Do I Make My Carnitas Crispy?

We don’t deep fry, nor do we bother with a skillet at all here.

The secret is in the broiler. Once the pork carnitas have been slow-braised in savory juices in the Dutch oven, we transfer the pork to a large rimmed baking sheet and put it under the broiler for a few minutes. That’s it. Simple yet totally effective.

You do want to serve your pork carnitas immediately after broiling, to keep the exterior crispy. It’s easy enough to do this if you’re at home. When people are gathered ’round and ready to eat, just give the carnitas a few minutes under the broiler and serve.

Tip: When I bring carnitas tacos to a dinner party that’s not at my home, I prepare the entire recipe up to the point of broiling. Once I arrive at my destination, I give the braised/shredded pork a quick broil on my baking sheet and serve it up with all the fixings.

P.S. You can make these carnitas a day or two before and just broil when ready to eat.

mexican pulled pork tacos

What goes well with carnitas tacos?

This is the easiest and best part. Our favorite popular toppings include: chunky salsa, fresh lime wedges, homemade guacamole, chopped cilantro, thinly sliced radishes, and traditional Tapatio, of course. There’s really no other hot sauce that will do when it comes to authentic pork carnitas.

We’re addicted to this Easy Mexican Rice as well as Cuban Rice and Beans for serving alongside of this pork carnitas recipe. Mexican Rice Salad and Cheesy Mexican Bean Dip are jackpots, too.

Want to watch us make carnitas?

Print

Pork Carnitas Recipe (Mexican Pulled Pork)

5 from 17 reviews

Braised and broiled to crispy and tender perfection, this Mexican Pulled Pork will quickly become a family favorite dinner. These pork carnitas are a hands-down winner.

  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 45 mins
  • Total Time: 3 hours 5 mins

Yield: 8

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 (3.5 to 4 lb) boneless pork butt, fat trimmed to 1/8 inch thick, and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • table salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 TB juice from 1 fresh lime
  • 1 medium orange, quartered
  • 1820 (6 inch) corn tortillas, warmed
  • Optional garnishes: lime wedges, minced red onion, fresh chopped cilantro, salsa, thinly sliced radish, diced avocado, Tapatio hot sauce

Instructions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position. Preheat oven to 300F.
  2. Combine pork, onion, bay leaves, oregano, cumin, garlic, 1 1/2 tsp table salt, 1 tsp pepper, water, and lime juice in a large Dutch oven Liquid should barely be covering the meat. Juice the orange in a bowl and add both the juice and orange remnants to the pot. Bring mixture to simmer over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Cook until meat is soft and is fork tender, about 2 1/2 hours, stirring meat around once during cooking.
  3. Remove the pot from oven. Transfer pork to a bowl with slotted spoon. Remove orange halves, onion, and bay leaves from the liquid and discard. Do not skim fat from liquid. Place pot over high heat and simmer liquid, stirring often, about 10-12 min. You should end up with 1 cup of reduced liquid. Turn oven to broil.
  4. Shred pork roughly; not too finely. Fold in the reduced liquid, season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread pork in even layer on rimmed baking sheet. Place sheet on an upper rack and broil until top of meat is well browned but not charred. Edges should be slightly crisp. 5-7 in. Serve immediately with your choice of garnishes and warm corn tortillas.

Notes

If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating 🙂 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 183
  • Sugar: 4.3 g
  • Sodium: 218 mg
  • Fat: 4.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 9.5 g
  • Protein: 25.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 75.4 mg
  • Author: Chew Out Loud
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Braise
  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Keywords: Mexican Pulled Pork, Pork Carnitas, Carnitas Tacos

Kitchen Stuff We Love:

Mexican Style Eats:

Mexican Cheeseburgers

Mexican Rice Salad

Best Easy Mexican Rice

7-Layer Mexican Dip

Did you make this?

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Recipe rating

59 comments

    • Loreto and Nicoletta Nardelli

    That’s a wonderful, tasty meal! We love to have Mexican night once a week and these delectable pork carnitas would be a perfect addition to our table.

    • Jess

    I am OBSESSED with this recipe. It is my favorite for Taco Tuesdays!

    • Marta

    I absolutely love this recipe! The bark on the carnitas is to die for and the meat goes with so many other dishes perfectly!

    • Eva

    I didn’t have a Dutch oven until earlier this year because I couldn’t fit one in my previous kitchen and I got myself one as soon as we moved to a house with more storage. Apart from being essential in bread making, I am plased to read that it’s what you need to make something like these delicious carnitas!

    • veenaazmanov

    Super delicious and flavorful recipe. The pork looks mouth melting soft and yummy. The Tacos are surely a treat for my loved ones.

    • Ben

    Booyah! Those are some next level tacos. Om nom nom.

    • Bernice Hill

    These carnitas look pretty amazing..and I’m thinking they’ll be great for our next potluck. Completely agree that the broiler is the way to go to get those nice crispy bits!

    • Natalie

    I made these last night – DELICIOUS!!! Definitely a KEEPER!

    How long would you cook it in the pressure cooker, 60 min? Natural or instant release?

    (I shared this recipe with many people!!)

    Thank you!!

    • Natalie

    Can these be made in an Instant Pot?

      • chewoutloud

      Yes, pressure cookers are great for this type of dish!

        • Natalie

        I made these last night in the oven and they were DELICIOUS!!! I did discover today that the better way to heat the leftover meat up was in the oven (covered); I tried the microwave at lunchtime and the meat was a little dry (but still great).

        If the carnitas were cooked in the pressure cooker, how long would you do it for, and what release?

        Thank you for sharing the recipe!! So great!

          • chewoutloud

          Awesome, Natalie! So glad you all loved this dish! As for pressure cooker: I would do 30 minutes high pressure, followed by about 15 min natural release. Then follow instructions for broiling for browning the top (be sure to drizzle juices over pork in pan prior to broiling.) Happy continued cooking!

    • Shay

    I misread the directions and didn’t cube the meat, so instead I pan seared the whole hunk of meat fat side down. Then flipped it and added in all of the liquid and other ingredients. I followed all of the other directions and it’s currently in the oven.

    Is this going to work? I imagine it just needs to cook longer? It’s still at 300 degrees…

      • chewoutloud

      Shay, this will still work, but may need longer cook time to ensure tender results. You can break up the carnitas to desired bite-sized pieces after. Hope you loved it!

    • LUIGI

    Everybody absolutely loved it. I had leftovers on top of a cilantro lime rice and it was incredible. Would have been good in plain rice as well.

    • Paul

    Amazing. Had these with Guerrilla Tacos burnt tomato salsa & a quick red onion & cucumber pickle.

      • chewoutloud

      Paul, we’re so happy you enjoyed this recipe! Thanks for letting us know 🙂 Happy continued cooking!

    • Carol Melendez

    Just made these and they were delicious!!! Carnitas are usually fried but if you want to cut down this is the way to go, thank you for the delicious recipe

      • chewoutloud

      Yay, Carol!! So happy you liked this dish! Happy new year and keep on cooking

    • mark rothschild

    PICO PICA Hot Sauce..you’ll never go back the any other

      • chewoutloud

      Sounds awesome, Mark!

    • Amy Rosenberg

    It is HOT but I want carnitas!! To keep my house cool, could I do the first part of the cooking in my slow cooker? Any recommendation on how to adjust the liquid measurements? Thank you!! This really does look so mouthwatering and we’re having people over for dinner so I’m excited to try it!

    • Angalee

    Made this tonight. It was so amazing. We are keeping this recipe in rotation.

    • Alina

    This recipe brings me the memories of the flavours of Mexico, one of the delicious cuisine sin the world! Thanks for sharing!

    • Meghan

    This looks super tasty! I have got to make some of these sometime this week. My fiance is a huge mexican food fan

    • Agnes Vazhure

    Wow!! This looks so delicious. It makes me feel so hungry and I can”t wait to try this recipe soon. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Nelly

    Everyone who knows me, can tell you how much I love pork, and this I have not tasted yet. Thanks so much for the recipe I will make it this weekend for sure

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