These authentic carnitas tacos are made with juicy, tender, well-seasoned pork that is slow-cooked to perfection, then broiled until crispy edges form. After one bite, you will be transported to Mexico; this is one of their most popular street foods. So the next time you feel like serving up some Mexican food, give carnitas tacos a try; you won't be disappointed!
These carnitas tacos are one of our favorite meals to make, especially when we have friends over for dinner. They are so, so good.
I like to make a self-serve taco bar with various ingredients laid out so everyone can add what they like!
What is a carnitas taco?
Carnitas is a Mexican dish that means "little meats." This is the Mexican version of pulled pork, cooked until it can be shredded with a fork and served in taco shells. In Mexico, they make carnitas by simmering pork in lard until tender. While it is delicious, my recipe involves a cut of pork that contains some fat so the meat does not dry out. A little healthier than cooking it in lard all day. 😉
Why You Will Love Carnitas Tacos
EASY: The slow cooker does all the work. Dump all the ingredients in the crockpot, set it, and forget it.
TONS OF FLAVOR: You will be surprised by how flavorful these carnitas tacos are. All of the ingredients meld together to make one tasty dish!
JUICY AND TENDER: If you get the right cut of meat, it has just the right amount of fat in it to keep the meat moist, and it will not dry out.
GREAT FOR SERVING TO GUESTS: This is the perfect recipe for feeding a crowd. Set up a taco bar and let them add their favorite carnitas tacos toppings.
GREAT FOR MEAL PREP: This makes tasty leftovers. Keep it in the fridge and reheat it throughout the week!
- Pork Shoulder (or pork butt). This has a higher fat content and makes the meat super juicy and tender.
- Brown sugar. You can also use raw cane sugar as well.
- Spices. To get the delicious Mexican flavor, I used ground cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika.
- Tortilla shells. I make my own, but feel free to buy pre-made for an even easier meal.
- Jalapeno pepper, optional
See the recipe card for quantities.
How to make carnitas tacos
This is a straightforward recipe. All you have to do is place the pork roast in the slow cooker, add all of the ingredients, and let it cook low and slow.
Then, remove the pork, shred it with 2 forks, and return it to the crockpot to soak up all the delicious juices.
Remove the juicy shredded meat from the slow cooker and place it on an oven-safe pan. Broil for a few minutes until it starts to crisp up. That's it!
Place on a tortilla shell and serve with your favorite taco toppings! Enjoy!
Some of my favorite toppings
To make this easy carnitas tacos recipe, you will need a slow cooker (or crockpot). I couldn't live without mine!
Leftover carnitas can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
Carnitas can also freeze for up to 3 months in a Ziploc bag or an airtight container.
The cut of meat you use does matter. For example, use a pork shoulder or pork butt. I tried making it with pork tenderloin instead, but the result was very dry meat and not anywhere close to being as good as the pork shoulder.
You can also cut the roast into smaller chunks before cooking to make sure it cooks evenly throughout, and all bits get covered in the delicious seasoning.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Yes, it is also known as Mexican pulled pork. It is slow-cooked with Mexican spices until the carnitas can be easily shredded.
Burritos, tacos, quesadilla, or as a topping for nachos. Add it to a salad and top it with onions and cilantro or guacamole or pico de gallo.
How to serve carnitas tacos
I like to set up a mini taco bar and place out a variety of toppings so everyone can use what they like. Some fun toppings to try are:
- Chopped lettuce.
- Chopped cilantro.
- Sour cream.
- Pico de gallo.
- Shredded cheese
- Chopped onion
- Sliced jalapeno pepper
- Shredded cabbage
- Lime wedges
- Lime Crema
If you’ve tried Carnitas Tacos or any other recipe, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment letting me know how you liked it. I love hearing from you!
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- 4 pound pork shoulder or pork butt
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoon oregano
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
- 1 onion, chopped fine
- 2 oranges, juiced
- 2 limes, juiced
- 1 jalapeno pepper optional
- Mix spices together. Season the pork on all sides with the spice rub. Place the pork in the crockpot and add the garlic, onions, and juice from the oranges and limes. Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours.
- Preheat oven to broil on high. Remove the pork carnitas to a platter and shred with 2 forks into bite-size pieces. Place the meat back into the slow cooker to let it soak up the juices.
- Place shredded pork carnitas on a baking sheet or baking pan and pour 1 cup of juice over the meat. Broil for 5-10 minutes until the carnitas takes on a crispy texture.
- To serve, place pork carnitas on a warm tortilla shell and add your favorite toppings. Enjoy!
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove