Sunday, March 13, 2022

Easy Carnitas Recipe + Video

This easy carnitas recipe is ready in about 4 hours with the help of a slow cooker. Enjoy tender Mexican pulled pork for dinner tonight!

When you love Mexican food, there are so many delicious options for easy dinners, it can be tough to pick a favorite. Mexican pork dishes like this one a favorite of ours because they can be frozen, then used to make dinner on busy nights!!

Easy Carnitas Recipe

Tender and flavorful bites of spice-rubbed pork are slow cooked, then finished under the broiler to obtain the most magnificent crisp around the edges.

This recipe is one to keep, and it’s certainly one that we enjoy serving at parties and celebrations!

Looking for more slow cooker recipes to feed a crowd? Try these chicken tacos or my incredible barbacoa that tastes just like the one from Chipotle.

Watch the video in this post to see us make carnitas from start to finish!

mexican pulled pork tacos

Ingredients Needed For Mexican Pulled Pork

  • Sirloin Tip Roast - Leaner than the typical shoulder cut, but just as delicious, this becomes incredibly tender when cooked in a crockpot. Be sure that it’s boneless so you get the most meat for your money.
  • Chicken Stock - Instead of buying a carton from the store, mix 1 tablespoon low sodium chicken base into 2 cups of water.
  • Spices - A delicious blend of garlic powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and dried oregano. I also add a healthy dose of New Mexico chili powder, which has earthy and fruity undertones and a medium level of heat.
  • Limes - Squeeze a couple of fresh limes over the cooked meat before serving. The bright citrus cuts through the fat and enhances the flavor of the spices.
easy carnitas recipe ingredients

Storage and Reheating

Unless you prepare this easy carnitas recipe for a large group, you’re bound to have leftovers!

Allow the meat to cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container. Mexican pulled pork can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days, or you can freeze it for up to 3 months.

Reheat in the microwave or oven until warmed through, adding a splash of broth as needed for moisture. If frozen, thaw in the refrigerator overnight first.

easy carnitas recipe tossed in seasoning

Kitchen Tools You Will Need
  • Slow Cooker - Great for soups, roasts, shredded meat, and more! I love it in the cooler months, but it’s also great in the summer when you don’t want to heat up the whole house with the oven.
  • Baking Sheet lined with Aluminum Foil
  • 4 Quart Stock Pot - A staple in my kitchen! Use this to reduce the cooking liquid to pour over the meat.
  • Citrus Juicer - This gets every last drop out, which makes juicing limes so much easier.
mexican pulled pork cooked in crockpot

Easy Carnitas Recipe FAQ

What cut of meat is best for carnitas?

A shoulder roast (also known as pork butt) is the top choice for a number of reasons. It’s easy to shred, especially when slow cooked for hours, and the fat provides plenty of flavor and moisture.

It’s also one of the most inexpensive cuts, making it a budget-friendly option for many families.

I personally like to use a boneless sirloin roast - it’s not as fatty as the shoulder, but it’s not as lean as tenderloin. It has just the right balance of texture and flavor!

easy carnitas recipe scredded on a cutting board

Are carnitas and Mexican pulled pork the same?

Essentially, yes. Both are slow cooked for hours until the meat is falling apart and extra tender.

The difference is one small step at the end - carnitas are broiled before serving so the ends become brown and crispy.

mexican pulled pork on baking sheet

What goes well with pork carnitas?

Just about everything! We love to spoon some of the meat into flour tortillas with all of our favorite toppings.

It’s also incredible over cilantro lime rice with beans, salsa, and guacamole or stuffed into a cheesy quesadilla. You could even add some to homemade nachos!

easy carnitas recipe in a bowl


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carnitas tacos close up

Yield: 12
Author: Donna Elick
Easy Carnitas Recipe

Easy Carnitas Recipe

This easy carnitas recipe is ready in about 4 hours with the help of a slow cooker. Enjoy tender Mexican pulled pork for dinner tonight!

Prep time: 20 Min  Cook time: 4 Hours  Total time: 4 Hours 20 Min


  • 4 pounds boneless pork sirloin tip roast
  • 1 tablespoon New Mexico chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken stock (or 2 cups water and 1 tablespoon low sodium chicken base)
  • 2 limes
  • salt to taste


  1. Cut pork into 8 cubes. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl combine chili powder, garlic, cumin, paprika, and oregano. Mix to combine. Coat pork with the spice mixture on all sides of pork pieces. Place into a slow cooker (I used a 6 quart). Pour chicken stock around the sides of the pot. Avoid pouring directly on top of pork or seasoning will come off.
  3. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours (alternately cook on low for 10 hours). Meanwhile prepare a baking sheet with aluminum foil. When the pork is tender, use 2 forks to shred meat into large pieces. Taste for seasoning, if necessary add salt to taste (mine did not need salt). Use a slotted spoon to remove pork from slow cooker and place on a cookie sheet.
  4. Pour cooking liquid into a pot and boil until thickened (spoon leaves a trail when swirled through) and pour over pork. Preheat oven to broil. Place pork until broiler until edges are nice and crisp, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven and squeeze 2 limes over top.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

titled: carnitas

Originally published October 2014, updated and republished March 2022

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  1. I love slow cooking pork with Himalayan salt and liquid smoke then shredding it. I serve it with pineapple rice.

    1. The pineapple rice intrigues me...sounds like a great combo with the pork...could you publish the recipe?? thanks in advance

    2. The pineapple rice intrigues me....sounds great with pork...can you publish your recipe...thanks in advance Ruth

  2. We just filled the freezer with a side of pig. I can't wait to try this recipe!

  3. Tony Chacheres is my "go to" seasoning. I lightly sprinkle my pork loins, ribs, ect with it at least 24 hours in advance then slow cook on the grill till my meat thermometer says it's done. Let the meat rest 10 minutes then enjoy some goodness. Angela

  4. This looks wonderful! Cant wait to try this. I see a trip to Costco coming up!

  5. Pork Carnitas is our family favorite, I make it at least 2-3 times a month because it's so easy and tasty....I usually use the pork loin in Costco because it comes in 6-7lbs and I can make 2-3 meals out of it, I will look next time for the sirloin tip roast packages you mention and try your recipe version, it looks delicious, I love Costco.

  6. I would LOVE to try this recipe, and I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to Win this Contest!

  7. My favorite Mexican meal. Try it with corn tortillas. A little more "tooth" and they don't get soaked through as fast.

  8. What is your favorite way to cook pork? I love making Kaluha pork with real Hawaiian Salt.

  9. If we are making ribs we use the smoker, chops are grilled, and we do BBQ pulled pork in the crock pot.

  10. We love pork slow roasted and made into pulled pork sandwiches.

  11. As aaaalways, this looks amazing!

  12. Can a pork shoulder roast be used?

  13. What is NM chili powder & where can you buy it? Is it the same as "Chipotle Chili Powder"?

    1. New Mexico chile powder is made up entirely of ground chiles (unlike chili powder, which has other spices added) but it has a smokiness and a touch of heat to it. It is pretty readily available and you should find it in the international aisle in your grocery store (or super center).

      Enjoy and let us know how it goes.

  14. Just made this for dinner tonight using the exact cut of pork pictured on this page. I had no idea what to do with this "4 pack" of roasts and this was the perfect recipe. My whole family loved it. We sauteed onions and peppers to serve along side the Carnitas.

    1. I am so happy to hear that y'all loved them! Onions and peppers are the perfect side.

  15. plan to try this this weekend, it looks/sounds wonderful! quick question; what is the purpose of the lime at the end? does it enhance the flavor of the pork?

  16. I couldn't find New Mexico chili powder so I bought the whole dried New Mexico Chili and put it on the blender and made my own powder!! The house smells so good, I just had a little of the pork and it tastes amazing!

  17. I followed this recipe to the letter and it was terrible, too dry. I feel that this is the wrong cut of meat, not enough fat. Traditionally the head of the pig is used to make carnitas, I live in TX and I have had carnitas a time or two.

  18. I made this for a Saturday lunch, and it turned out fantastic. I didn't have New Mexico chili powder, so I used regular chili powder and a dash of pepper flakes which turned out great. I am going to go find some at the grocery store though, because my family wants me to make it again next Saturday.

  19. Could I try this recipe with Sirloin Tip Roast?

  20. This is our favorite carnitas recipe, and I love picking up these sirloin tip roasts at Costco. However, my crockpot is currently non-functional--that's what happens when you forget to add liquid at the start (to a different recipe), and try adding it part of the way through--snap, crackle, pop! So, has anyone tried this recipe in the oven?

  21. I buy these pork roast at Costco and love your way of cooking them. Just hubby and me so I halve the recipe and it turns out great every time! Thanks for an easy great dinner recipe!

  22. In the slow cooker now! I didn't have chili and we're not spicy folks - plus need the 4yo to love this. He likes strong robust flavor and pork so I suspect this will be a winner! Thanks for the recipe.

  23. I have made this many times, always amazing. I make up large batches of the spice mix and keep it in a sealed container so that it is always ready to go. Works great as a grilling seasoning. Just made a huge batch using two large fresh hams I had from buying a pig. Now I have plenty to put in the freezer for another day. Thanks for the recipe! Julie

  24. Just made this tonight and loved the flavors! Didn't have NM chilli powder so used regular chilli powder and added a pinch of cayenne. I did slice some onions before placing roast in crock pot and a couple smashed garlic cloves & pickled jalapeno slices in the mix since like an extra kick. I skipped the broil at the end bc didn't want to dry out we were hungry and couldn't wait��. Served over a bed of cheesy polenta and topped with finely chopped cilantro.
    Delicious! Thank you!

  25. Made this for dinner tonight! They came out perfectly and my family loved them! Thanks for posting this!

  26. I know limes are essential in pulling the flavor together... My 4 year old is allergic to citrus (lime/lemon/pineapple), but I'd love to make this pork. Is there a good substitute that pairs well? or is omitting limes all together the better bet?

  27. Pretty good stuff! It doesn't get the crisp that cooking it in a pot does but the flavor is right and I didn't even need 2 forks to shred it - just pushed the back of the serving spoon on it and it separated. Poured all of the juice back on it and mixed it up - delish!

  28. Ha! Just noticed to put it in the oven to crisp!

  29. I make this in the slow cooker using pork butt. I just pull the fat out as I spread it out on the sheet to finish the carnitas under the broiler.

  30. Can I use a sirloin pork loin roast ?


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