Slow Cooker Carnitas
This slow cooker carnitas recipe is super easy to prepare and yields wildly delicious, super succulent results every time. Serve the carnitas warm as a filling for tacos, burritos or in bowls for an easy weeknight dinner win!
This post was previously published with the title Crispy Caramelized Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas, we’ve changed the name and updated it to improve the post but it’s the same great recipe!
About this Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe
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 looking to try something a little different in the kitchen this week, you’re going to love this simple slow cooker carnitas recipe.
Cooking the pork loin low and slow is the secret to yielding succulent, juicy results without the fat of pork butt or shoulder.
Of course, you’re welcome to substitute a pork shoulder or pork butt for a more traditional version of carnitas, just know the nutrition information will very depending on the cut of meat you choose to use.
Everything for this dump-and-go recipe comes together in your crockpot, without any searing or pre-cooking required.
But by far the best part is the flavor…cooking it low & slow gives you consistent, craveworthy results every single time.
When I served this tender, crispy pork to my family they hardly even said a word during dinner – they were too busy digging in!
Process & Tips
This recipe is no exception – it has only 6-ingredients and takes just 5-10 minutes to throw together in your crockpot.
All you have to do is add everything into your slow cooker and let it work its magic, before you know it you’ll have a delicious dinner ready.
Trust me, you can’t mess this one up!
Plus it makes a lot at one time so you’ll have plenty of pulled pork carnitas leftover to enjoy all week long.
I personally love giving it a quick run under the broiler to create those drool-worthy crispy edges, but if you want to keep things super simple, just serve shredded right from the slow cooker.
PS – You’ll find cook times in the recipe card for high vs. low. It’s so well-seasoned you can rest assured it’ll come out great either way you choose to make it!
How to Get Crispy Crockpot Carnitas
Wanna know my secret to getting those delightful crispy edges?
Instead of spending time searing the pork before adding it to your slow cooker, you can add that extra caramelized flavor with this easy trick.
The pork loin 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.
Doing this on a sheet pan helps you crisp up a lot at once, another great time saver.
Again, you can skip this step if you want to keep things ultra simple, just know the pork will be a softer texture, without the crispy edges.
For those crispy edges, don’t skip the broiling step! Seriously, it’s worth the extra few minutes. It’s how you get that nice crispy texture & extra flavor.
How to Serve Slow Cooker Carnitas
This is such a tasty recipe, there’s pretty much endless options for how you can serve it.
Make slow cooker carnitas tacos by adding your broiled shredded meat to warm corn or flour tortillas and add your favorite toppings.
For a paleo & whole30 option, try them in lettuce wraps instead or serve them over some cauliflower rice.
You can even create your own carnitas burrito bowl by serving it alongside cooked rice, black or pinto beans, 4-ingredient guacamole or sliced avocado.
Or enjoy it on top of cold salads or crunchy cabbage slaw for a light & quick dinner idea!
To make a carnitas taco salad, serve your shredded pork loin with shredded romaine, crushed corn chips, corn, tomatoes, shredded cheese, beans and this chipotle honey vinaigrette.
Ingredients & Modifications
Pork loin roast: Use pork loin roast if you prefer a leaner option, or use pork shoulder or pork butt for a more traditional version.
Lime juice: I used fresh lime juice for this recipe, but you could also use lemon juice in its place.
Orange juice: I used fresh orange juice for this recipe, but you could also use unsweetened orange juice from the store.
Ground cumin: The cumin, together with the garlic powder and chili powder, adds so much delicious, savory flavor to this dish.
Mild chili powder: Mild chili powder doesn’t add much heat to your recipe but does add lots of flavor and depth to the dish, I use it a lot with chicken & turkey but it goes great with pork too, but if you like things spicy, go for hot chili powder.
Garlic powder: I like the convenience and ease of using granulated garlic powder in this recipe, especially if you’re looking to keep your prep steps to a minimum. But you can also use fresh garlic in its place if you like!
Kosher salt: Look for kosher salt with the regular iodized salt at the grocery store (it has a subtler flavor). Use less iodized salt if that’s what you have on hand.
To make spicy slow cooker carnitas use a spicier chili powder or add a bit of cayenne pepper to your spice mix. You can also add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce on top just before serving to add some extra heat!
This Recipe Is…
Slow Cooker Carnitas
- 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
- tortillas, avocado, queso fresco, pickled jalapeno, lime wedges, thinly sliced cabbage, salsa
- 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.