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15 December 2016

A recipe for home cooked pulled pork carnitas made simple in the slow cooker, then lightly seared to crispy perfection and served cantina style with warmed tortillas, onion, cilantro and roasted jalapeno peppers.

I am a man in love with Mexican pork carnitas. There are worse things to love. We’re talking incredibly juicy pulled pork shoulder that is seasoned and seared, then slow cooked in juices until it is fork tender, shredded, and finally finished with a light sear in oil to make it crispy, all served on corn tortillas with your favorite toppings.

Can I get an AMEN? Oh yes! I do not recall where I was the first time I encountered slow cooker pulled pork, but I do remember the emotion.

PURE JOY.

What a discovery it was to try it for the first time. You have to make pulled pork in a slow cooker to fully grasp the ultimate juiciness of it, the captured flavor, in short, the perfection of it.

SO. FREAKING. GOOD.

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas (Crispy Mexican Pulled Pork Tacos) - Recipe

There aren’t any big secrets to making slow cooker pork carnitas. The process is fairly simple.

How to Make Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas – the Recipe Method

Cut your pork shoulder into smaller chunks and rub it down with your seasonings. I used Mexican oregan, cayenne, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Feel free to use your favorite blend, such as a simple taco seasoning.

Sear them up in a hot pan to brown the edges, then toss them into the slow cooker with some additional cooked veggies – onion, peppers, garlic – and some chicken broth.

Recipe Notes

First, YES, you CAN skip the first searing step. If you prefer, and would like to save time, just toss the seasoned pork into the slow cooker without searing it. However, I have found that you’ll get an extra dose of flavor by searing first.

See the steps below.

Second, you can vary up your liquid in the slow cooker. I used chicken broth, but feel free to sub in other liquids, like beer, orange juice, beef or pork stock.

You have choices!

Exercise them as you make this numerous times, takes notes, and settle on your personal favorite.

Once the pork is SO TENDER and JUICY that you can break it apart with a fork, go ahead and do just that – break it all apart with a couple forks, which is essentially “pulling” it, or shredding it.

This LAST STEP now is CRUCIAL

Heat a pan to medium-high heat and add a bit of oil. Sear a serving of your shredded pulled pork in the oil and press down with a spatula. Sear it until the pork is crispy and browned.

Spoon a bit of the reserved juice/liquid from the slow cooker and let it steam a moment.

Scoop it up with your spatula and serve it onto warmed corn tortillas.

Top it with awesomeness! OH BABY!

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas (Crispy Mexican Pulled Pork Tacos) - Recipe

Seriously, this pork is JUICY and massive on flavor. I’m reliving the meal as I type this up. WANT. MORE. NOW.

Quick NOTE about the slow cooker shredded pork

You can very easily freeze the pulled pork. I do this all the time. There are only 2 of us here, so we will enjoy it for dinner, then I can freeze the remainder in containers with some of the liquid.

When you’re ready for another meal, thaw it then reheat or sear it as you normally would. It is PERFECT this way. It is great to have some available in the freezer anytime you want it.

We served ours up “cantina” style, with some roasted jalapeno peppers, onion, cilantro and bit of homemade picante sauce, but feel free to serve fixings to your liking, like homemade guacamole, shredded cheese, hot sauce, tomatoes, you name it! Go nuts. I hope you enjoy them!

Patty’s Perspective

Gimme gimme! Need more!

Try My Other Popular Taco Recipes

If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

5 from 1 vote
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas (Crispy Mexican Pulled Pork Tacos) - Recipe
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas (Crispy Mexican Pulled Pork Tacos) - Recipe
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
6 hrs
Total Time
6 hrs 15 mins
 

A recipe for home cooked pulled pork carnitas made simple in the slow cooker, then lightly seared to crispy perfection and served cantina style with warmed tortillas, onion, cilantro and roasted jalapeno peppers.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 8
Calories: 206 kcal
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds pork shoulder pork butt
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • More Olive Oil as needed for making the carnitas
  • Roasted jalapeno peppers chopped
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Warmed corn tortillas for serving
Instructions
  1. Cut the pork shoulder into 4 large pieces. Combine the Mexican oregano, cayenne, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper and oil. Rub it into the pork.
  2. Heat a cast iron pan to medium heat and sear the pork shoulder on each side, about 3-4 minutes per side. Get it good and browned. Remove and add to a crock pot or slow cooker.
  3. To the pan, add onion and jalapeno pepper. Cook a couple minutes, stirring. Add a bit more oil if needed. Add garlic and cook another minute, stirring. Add to the slow cooker.
  4. Add the chicken broth to the hot pan and scrap up the browned bits from the bottom. Pour it all into the slow cooker.
  5. Cook on low for about 6-8 hours, or until the pork breaks apart easily with a fork. Remove from heat and shred it up with a couple forks.
  6. Skim the fat from the juices in the slow cooker. Save the pork with the juices until you are ready to use. You can freeze it at this point if you’d like, or refrigerate a few days.
TO ASSEMBLE THE CARNITAS – CANTINA STYLE
  1. Heat a pan to medium heat and add a bit of olive oil. Add the shredded pork to the pan and press with a spatula. Cook until the bottom of the pork become crusty, just a couple minutes. Spoon some of the reserved juices over the pork and serve it on warmed tortillas.
  2. Top with onion, cilantro and chopped jalapeno peppers.
Recipe Notes

I also like to serve with some hot sauce or picante. Bring in your favorite toppings!

Heat Factor: Medium.

Nutrition Facts
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas (Crispy Mexican Pulled Pork Tacos) - Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 206 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 14%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 46mg 15%
Sodium 410mg 17%
Potassium 346mg 10%
Total Carbohydrates 15g 5%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 1g
Protein 15g 30%
Vitamin A 4.9%
Vitamin C 7.4%
Calcium 4.2%
Iron 8.3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas (Crispy Mexican Pulled Pork Tacos) - Recipe

 

4 comments

  1. This recipe is DELICIOUS!!!! Question: would this recipe also work if I replace the pork by chicken breast or chicken thigh?

    REPLY: Angelique, absolutely. Give it a try and let me know how it turns out for you. Chicken breast might turn out a bit dryer, though, due to the lower fat content. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  2. I feel I wanted to add pico, what stage of the process would I do that? Slow cook it with the meat or add it when I pull the pork?

    REPLY: Jake, if you add the pico earlier, the salsa will break down into more of a sauce, adding some developed flavor. If you add it later, you will have a fresher taste from the salsa. Personally, I would probably add it early on, then also top the carnitas with pico to serve. Let me know how it turns out. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  3. Beyond outstanding, beyond totally awesome! Great recipe Mike.
    I didn’t use the recommened broth, but made one by throwing an orange, a healthy slice of lime, and a respectful shot of dark rum into the blender. Adds just a wee bit of character to the mix.

    Thanks for sharing Mike.
    Doug.

    REPLY: Doug! I love the addition of the orange, lime and rum. Great touch. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  4. These might be the best lookin’ tacos I’ve ever seen! Even the tortillas have style! Totally trying these soon!

    REPLY: Ha! Thanks, Karly! You ROCK. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

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