Crispy, Caramelized Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas | Real Food Whole Life

Crispy, Caramelized Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

tacos on a wood board and white table with carnitas and toppings

The secret to perfect, juicy pork carnitas is to broil the shredded pork for 10-15 minutes after it has been tenderized in the slow cooker for several hours. Serve the carnitas warm as a filling for tacos, burritos or in bowls for an easy weeknight dinner win!

tacos on a wood board and white table with carnitas and toppings

Chicken is usually our go-to when it comes to easy slower cooker recipes, but sometimes it’s fun to shake things up.

If you’re feeling the same way, you’re going to love this simple Crispy, Caramelized Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas recipe.

When I served this tender, flavorful, crispy pork to my family they hardly even said a word during dinner, as they were too busy digging in!

this recipe is made for weeknight dinners

You know I’m all about recipes that have short ingredient lists, simple prep steps, and big flavor.

This recipe is no exception – it has only 6-ingredients and takes just 5-10 minutes to throw together in your crockpot.

It makes a lot at one time so you’ll have plenty of pulled pork carnitas leftover to enjoy throughout the week!

You’ll find cook times in the recipe card for high vs. low, it’s so well-seasoned it’ll come out great either way you choose.

the secret to getting crispy crockpot carnitas

Instead of spending time searing the pork before adding to your slow cooker, you’ll can add that extra caramelized flavor with this easy trick.

The pork gets braised in the slow cooker until tender enough to shred easily between two forks.

Then you can run your shredded pork under a hot broiler to crisp it up. This is how you get that nice crispy texture & extra flavor!

Doing this on a sheet pan helps you crisp up a lot at once, another great time saver.

Whatever you do, do not skip the broiling step! Trust me, it’s worth the extra few minutes.

uses for shredded pork

Use the carnitas however you like (they’re so tasty, you really can’t go wrong), but here’s some of my favorite ways to enjoy it:

I hope you’ll make these pork shoulder carnitas at home soon. If you do, be sure to share it on Instagram and tag me at @realfoodwholelife so I can see!

pork shoulder in black slow cooker with orange juice and spices
crispy shredded pork carnitas on foil lined baking sheet
corn carnitas tacos on wood board with tortillas chips on white table

recipe & kid-friendly adaptations

1 | Use pork loin roast if you prefer a leaner option, or pork shoulder for a more traditional version.

2 | Serve your shredded carnitas separately on a plate with toppings on the side for resistant eaters.

3 | All slow cookers are different, so you may need to adjust the time up or down depending on your particular model.


this recipe is…

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tacos and slow cooker with pink background with white text
Image of 6-Ingredient Slow Cooker Carnitas

5 from 2 votes

Crispy, Caramelized Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

Yield 6 -10
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 6 hrs
Broiling Time 15 mins
Total Time 6 hrs 25 mins

The secret to perfect, juicy pork carnitas is to broil the shredded pork for 10-15 minutes after it has been tenderized in the slow cooker for several hours. Serve the carnitas warm as a filling for tacos, burritos or in bowls for an easy weeknight dinner win!

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon mild chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 pounds pork loin roast or pork shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • Optional accompaniments: Tortillas avocado, queso fresco, pickled jalapeno, lime wedges, thinly sliced cabbage, salsa.

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, stir together the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and salt.
  • Rub the spice mixture on all sides of the pork. Place the pork in a 6-quart slow cooker, then pour in the lime and orange juice, turning the pork to coat.
  • Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours, or low for 8-9 hours, or until the pork shreds very easily with a fork.
  • Remove the pork from the slow cooker. Shred with two forks, then add back to the slow cooker, stirring to combine with any remaining juices.
  • Place the shredded pork on a foil lined, rimmed baking sheet. Broil on high for 10-15 minutes, stirring once, or until the edges of the pork begin to crisp and brown. Keep a close eye to avoid burning.
  • Serve warm as a filling for tacos, burritos or in bowls.

Notes

All slow cookers are different, so you may need to adjust the time up or down depending on your particular model.

Use pork loin roast if you prefer a leaner option, or pork shoulder for a more traditional version.

Use the carnitas however you like. It’s a great filling for tacos, burritos, bowls, or with roasted veggies. Serve it separately on a plate with toppings on the side for resistant eaters.


did you make this recipe?Mention @realfoodwholelife or tag #realfoodwholelife!

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10 comments to " Crispy, Caramelized Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas "

  • Kelly Sparrer

    This was delicious and hubby approved!

  • Paige

    These were amazing. My family loved them. Placing the meat under the broiler took it over the top!

  • Laura

    Hi I’ve made this before and it was great. I need to cook for a larger group this weekend. If I double the recipe should I adjust the cooking time?

    • Robyn Downs

      Laura, yes, you may need to add a bit more time. Start with an extra hour, and allow time in case you need to a more. Hope it’s a hit!

  • Meredith

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this simple but amazing recipe! My daughter and husband request it frequently. The broiling you mention makes a huge difference! We find it tastes great without it (sometimes we’re in a hurry), but the broiling is worth the extra few minutes.

    • Robyn Downs

      Meredith, so happy to hear you and your crew are enjoying this simple recipe! My daughter is the exact same about the broiling. It’s an extra step (and an extra dirty pan) but makes a pretty yummy difference!

  • Jill L.

    5 stars
    We make this recipe monthly because it is so flavorful and comes together so easily!

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