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These slow cooker pork carnitas require just 10 minutes of prep time and an afternoon in the crockpot to create a delicious home-cooked meal that your family will love! Tender shredded pork with crispy burnt ends stuffed inside soft flour tortillas and topped with diced onion and cilantro - this meal will quickly become a family favorite!
You Will Love This
- The best part about this shredded pork tacos recipe is that it takes just minutes to prep and then the crockpot does all the work for you! Simple spices and seasonings braise the pork roast in a delicious mixture of beer, broth, and orange juice giving it a perfectly tender, fall-off-the-bone texture and a classic Mexican-inspired flavor with just a hint of citrus. If you love easy crockpot meals be sure to check out my Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Tacos too!
- It’s the perfect make-ahead meal! Throw together these beer-braised carnitas on a Sunday afternoon and you’ve got easy lunches or dinners ready all week. Make the carnitas into classic tacos or add them to crispy Baked Flautas, Easy Enchiladas, or crunchy Sheet Pan Nachos. These carnitas reheat beautifully which makes them one of our family’s favorite leftovers.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Olive Oil - This is our family's favorite brand of olive oil. Try to find one that is cold-pressed and organic.
- Pork Shoulder - Also called pork butt, you can use a bone-in or boneless pork shoulder for this recipe.
- Cumin - The cumin is going to add a warm, earthy flavor these crispy pork carnitas.
- Dried Oregano - You could also use dried thyme in place of the dried oregano in this recipe as well.
- Chili Powder - The chili powder is going to add a bit of a kick and smokiness to these carnitas.
- Paprika - Feel free to omit the paprika if you don't have any on hand. This adds to the smoky flavor, but you can add a bit more chili powder in its place if you like.
- Cayenne Pepper - A pinch of cayenne pepper won't make these carnitas spicy, but it will elevate the other flavors of the dish. Feel free to omit if desired.
- White Onion - You could also use yellow onion or even red onion in place of the white onion.
- Garlic - I love to use fresh garlic for this recipe but if all you've got is garlic powder, feel free to add ½-1 teaspoon or so in place of the fresh.
- Orange Juice - This really is a key ingredient. Fresh squeezed or store-bought will work just fine.
- Beer - I like to use an IPA with citrus notes for these crispy slow cooker carnitas.
- Chicken Broth - You could also use beef broth or even veggie broth in place of the chicken broth.
Rub spice mixture all over the surface of the pork roast.
Sear the roast in oil, cooking each side for about 1-2 minutes or until the entire outside of the roast is seared nice and dark golden brown. Add to slow cooker insert.
Saute onion and garlic in the pan drippings.
Add to the slow cooker.
Add orange juice, beer, and chicken broth. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-10 hours.
Shred pork on a large sheet pan.
Drizzle with cooking liquid and spray with olive oil. Broil until crispy.
Serve with flour tortillas, diced onion, fresh cilantro, and queso fresco.
- Don't skip the sear on the pork! It might seem like a waste of time, but searing the pork roast is going to give it the maximum depth of flavor and really make those spices pop. Without the sear, the flavor of the shredded pork will be flat.
- Don't rush the carnitas! Low and slow is the name of the game for these slow-cooked pulled pork tacos. The shoulder roast will need to cook at a low temperature for a long duration to become tender, juicy, and oh so flavorful!
- Use a good, quality beer. This is a great excuse to head your local brewery and try some new beers! You're looking for a beer that you would enjoy drinking (that's not Bud Light). Beers with a hint of citrus work well in this recipe. My husband loves super hoppy IPAs so that is what we usually have on hand. I'd recommend not using a dark beer for this recipe as it will likely take over the flavor profile.
I find that pork shoulder or pork butt is the best cut of meat for these tasty slow-cooked pork carnitas. This cut of meat is relatively inexpensive and has a moderate amount of fat which helps to make it fall-off-the-bone tender when it's slow-cooked. The fat will also help keep the carnitas from drying out. Remember, fat equals flavor; so don't trim the fat off your pork shoulder! Just discard it while you're shredding the pork after it's cooked. You can use bone-in or boneless pork for this recipe and get great results with either!
If you find that your carnitas are tough, they likely need to cook for longer. You'll know the carnitas are done when they literally fall apart when gently shredded with two forks. If they aren't falling apart, they are not ready yet. Carnitas are not something you want to rush. Low and slow will give you the best results.
Yes! The signature texture of pork carnitas is juicy and tender, with crispy burnt ends. The best way to achieve this is to slow cook the pork carnitas, shred them, then drizzle them with the braising liquid and a spray of olive oil and broil them in the oven. This gives you the most tender, juicy pork carnitas with perfect crispy burnt ends.
Family Favorite Dinners
- Easy Cilantro Lime Chicken
- Simple Baked Fish Tacos
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
- Sheet Pan Chicken Quesadillas
- Easy Black Bean Enchiladas
- Crock Pot Chicken Tostadas
This recipe was originally published in August of 2017. It was updated in February of 2021 to include detailed instructions, process shots and tips for making the most delicious pork carnitas every single time!