Carnitas is a classic dish in Mexican cuisine; its crisped, browned exterior conceals a moist, juicy interior, wonderful aroma and taste. Carnitas is truly delicious.  While many have had carnitas at Mexican restaurants, few realize that carnitas’ complex mix of flavors belies its fairly simple ingredients and preparation.

I developed this recipe with input from the mothers of two friends, both brilliant home cooks, and was really surprised by how uncomplicated the ingredient list is and how simple carnitas is to make, in terms of active cooking time.  Aside from the prep work and the final browning of the pork, carnitas is not a labor-intensive dish.  This recipe makes use of a slow cooker versus long-simmering on a stove top.  Use the time to make the salsas, Onion Cilantro Salsa and Pico de Gallo, and gather the sides necessary to be served with the main event.  Carnitas is so simple and so good!


Prep Time: 30 minutes, Total Time: 6 hours, 45 minutes Serves: 6

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  • 3 lbs boneless Pork Cushion Meat, Pork Shoulder or Boston Butt, cut into large chunks
  • 5 cloves Garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 Tb ground Cumin
  • 1 bunch of Cilantro, stems only, rinsed (use the leaves for the salsas)
  • 1 tsp ground Allspice
  • 1 tsp Black Peppercorns
  • 1 Tb dried Oregano, crushed
  • 3 Bay Leaves, dried or fresh
  • 1 teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt
  • Juice of 1 Orange
  • Juice of 2 Limes
  • Water at room temperature
  • 3 Tb Cooking Oil (Olive/Canola Oil blend recommended)


  1. Sprinkle half the seasonings (garlic through sea salt) in the bottom of a slow cooker.
  2. Place the pork in the slow cooker.
  3. Add the orange and lime juices and enough water to just cover the pork to the slow cooker.
  4. Sprinkle the remaining seasonings over the pork.
  5. Set the slow cooker to the High setting and its timer to 6 hours.
  6. After 6 hours, use tongs to carefully remove the pork from the slow cooker to a large bowl
  7. Add the cooking oil to a large, deep frying pan over a high heat.
  8. Once the oil is hot, carefully place the pork in the frying pan and brown the pork on all sides until crisp, turning the pieces gently with tongs as they will fall apart.
  9. Once the pork has a crispy, browned exterior, use the tongs to place the pork pieces in a large serving bowl or platter and serve immediately.


Serve with:

  • Fresh, Warm Corn and Flour Tortillas
  • Pico de Gallo
  • Onion Cilantro Salsa
  • Lime Wedges

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