Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

In this Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas recipe, pork shoulder gets rubbed down with an herb and oil mixture, then is cooked low and slow with onions, garlic, jalapeno and fresh orange until falling apart. I take it a step further and fry up the shredded pork in a skillet. So delicious. [this post contains affiliate links.]

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas l

It was round two.

Me vs. Pork Carnitas.

Thus far I’ve failed in the carnita making department. BUT I never give up, because one day… I just stumbled across a Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas recipe that made complete sense. It was destiny and as a bonus these pork carnitas are made in a slow cooker.

These are far from traditional carnitas… but in this day in age, unless you’re in a kitchen in Mexico, standing over a copper pot with someone who’s been turning out carnitas since they could hold a spoon… then how could carnitas be called authentic? But what I can call it is amazing.  This recipe makes a boat load and you’ll be eating carnitas for DAYS and I made it in my slow cooker!

Let’s review.

rinse and dry

Rinse and pat-dry a 4 pound pork shoulder roast. This is a shoulder blade… or something. But as long as it’s from the shoulder region of a pig, you’re golden.

s & p

Season it heavily with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper then scoot it off to the side for un momento por favor. Whoop… would you look at me… pulling out those high school years of Spanish classes!!

3 tbs olive oil

Then in a small bowl add three tablespoons of olive oil.


Add in two teaspoons of dried oregano…

tsp cumin

…And one teaspoon cumin and 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander.


Give it a good ol’ stir…


And then pour it all over that shoulder.


Rub your hands all over that piece of pork, massaging it into the meat. Hands… natures best tools, I couldn’t blog without ’em!

onions, jalapeno and garlic

Next roughly chop up an onion, jalapeno and 5 cloves of garlic.

add veg to crockpot

Place the pork into the slow cooker and add in those chopped goodies.


Slice and orange in half and squeeze both halves all over the pork. Update:  I also squeeze the juice of half a lime.

orange halves in

Throw those empty orange halves in as well.

cover and cook

Cover and let it do its thang. That’ll be 8-10 hours on low or 6 hours on high.



heat lard

Heat a large 12 inch skillet on medium-high heat with 4 tablespoons of lard in it.


Meanwhile, remove the pork and shred it with two forks. Remove any extra fatty pieces as you come along them. Unless you like that sort of thing.

Update: I also roughly chop up the onions, garlic and jalapeno and mix it into the shredded pork. If making it in advance, I add the shredded pork, onion/jalapeno mixture and 1 cup of the cooking liquids (with the fat skimmed off) back into the slow cooker and keep warm on low.

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas l

Once the lard is all hot and ready to go, work in batches by dropping the pork in a single layer and letting a deep golden crust form.

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas l

Scrape up the pork {don’t worry if it shreds even more} and continue to brown more of the pork. Remove to a paper towel line plate and cover with foil to keep warm before moving on to the next batch. Feel free to add a little bit of the cooking liquids {strained to catch the onions/jalapenos and any fatty pieces} to the pork after frying for more flavor-flave.

NOTE: (11/23/15) I LOVE this recipe, but I’ve since changed it a smidgen. In addition to the ingredients I also add in ground coriander and lime juice. The recipe below reflects these changes.

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas l

It’s nearly impossible to NOT snack as you go. My girls where all up in my face trying to steal more pieces. I did season the pork with a tad bit of salt afterwards… but you taste and see how you like it!

I can’t wait to show you what I made with these Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas.

Til next time…


Enjoy! And if you give this Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas recipe a try, let me know! Snap a photo and tag me on twitter or instagram!

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas l

My cookbook Simply Scratch : 120 Wholesome Homemade Recipes Made Easy is now available! CLICK HERE for details and THANK YOU in advance! 

Yield: 8+ servings

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
Pork is slowly cooked all day in a slow cooker before crispy in a little bit of lard. Use carnitas for tacos, burritos or stuff it in your face as is. So unbelievable good!
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 10 hours
Total Time 10 hours 25 minutes


  • 4 pounds pork shoulder roast (I used shoulder blade)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 whole orange
  • 1/2 a lime
  • 1 white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 whole jalapeno, seeded, ribs discarded and roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves fresh garlic, smashed, peeled and minced
  • 4 tablespoons lard


  1. Generously season a 4 pound pork shoulder with salt and pepper.
  2. In a small bowl combine the olive oil with the oregano, cumin and coriander. Rub the oil mixture all over the pork shoulder and pop it into your slow cooker. To that, add the chopped onion, jalapeno, garlic and squeeze in the juice of the entire orange and the lime half. Add the orange and lime halves into the slow cooker as well.
  3. Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8-10.
  4. Remove the pork shoulder to a large cutting board and use two forks to shred it. Pour the remaining cooking liquids from the slow cooker through the strainer of a fat separator (I love the brand Oxo). Then I collect the onion, garlic and jalapeno solids and give them a rough chop and toss along with the shredded pork back into the slow cooker. I set the slow cooker to warm and add in about 1 cup of the strained cooking liquids (leaving the fat in the separator) until ready to fry.
  5. Heat up a large skillet with 4 tablespoons of lard. Once hot, work in batches, browning the shredded pork. Remove to a paper towel-line plate.
  6. Feel free to drizzle some of the remaining cooking liquids from the crock pot over the pork for a little more moisture and season with salt if desired.
[this post contains affiliate links.]

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43 Responses to “Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas”

  1. #
    Tieghan Gerard — April 18, 2013 at 9:38 am

    To funny! I am taking photos are carnitas today!! Mine is different than yours, but OMG I cant believe you crisped them up in lard!! that is genius! Genius!

  2. #
    Meagan @ A Zesty Bite — April 18, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Well done on this recipe it looks moist and delicious!

  3. #
    Cassie | Bake Your Day — April 18, 2013 at 10:31 am

    We love pork carnitas! I always brown mine under the broiler, love the stovetop idea!

  4. #
    Steph (Poupette in the Kitchen) — April 18, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Laurie this looks absolutely delicious šŸ˜€
    That’s it, you’ve pushed me over the edge: I’m getting a crockpot! May I ask you what brand you have? And what capacity?
    Hope your day is as beautiful as it is here!

  5. #
    Kathy — April 18, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Wow! This sounds wonderful! We love Mexican in our house!

  6. #
    Samantha H. — April 18, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    That looks amazing and inexpensive to make. I don’t know about the lard though, haven’t used it in years. It doesn’t bother me a bit that we will be eating carnitas for days, I wonder if you can freeze some of it.

  7. #
    Maria @ Orchard Bloom — April 18, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    This looks incredible! The orange sounds like a delicious touch.

  8. #
    Julie @ Table for Two — April 18, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    yum!! i love making pork in the slow cooker – it makes so much and it also keeps it so tender and juicy! yours looks amazing! i love carnitas!!

  9. #
    Heather || Heather's Dish — April 19, 2013 at 9:22 am

    OK first of all, WANT THESE NOW. Second, I JUST realized that when I changed my reader options it didn’t copy your blog link!!!! SAD! I have a lot of catching up to do now šŸ™‚

  10. #
    Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts — April 19, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Love all that juicy pork goodness – I don’t need anything else, just the plate of pork!

  11. #
    Jackie @ The Beeroness — April 19, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    That looks glorious! The one time I failed at carnitas I used a pork loin roast instead of the shoulder because it was what I had and it was just not good. Not nearly as much fat as we need for some tasty tacos.

  12. #
    dishing up the dirt — April 19, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Simply mouthwatering!

  13. #
    Mr. & Mrs. P — April 19, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    This pork looks so flavorful!!! Love all the spices and seasonings you added… Beautiful!

  14. #
    Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking — April 19, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Sooo mouthwatering, Laurie! I would love this in a sandwich, tortilla or on top of rice… and maybe I’d let my hubby have some too. šŸ™‚

  15. #
    Daisy Ray @ flowers, fruit and fun — April 20, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    This would be great to triple or double the batch, and save it in the freezer! Would that work? Hmmm…

  16. #
    Shaun — April 20, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Making this right now, another 2 hours to go in the crock. The living room and kitchen smell great. Mostly a garlic scent with a hint of citrus. I know taking the lid off before it’s done is wrong but I had to taste it. So good.
    I wish my daughters weren’t with their mother for the weekend, they’d love this.

  17. #
    Michelle Ritchie | Delicious Karma — April 20, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    WOW…looks amazing! What a cozy, delicious meal this makes! Will definitely have to make it. Pinned it onto our meat Pinterest Board:

  18. #
    H3L3N In Houston — May 17, 2013 at 1:06 am

    Love Carnitas!!! It was fall-off-the-bone tender and well seasoned. I’m cooking for two now, so I used pork shoulder steaks instead of a large roast. The orange must have been super sweet and made the meat too sweet for me. The next time, I’ll use lemon juice to eliminate the sweet taste. Otherwise, this is the best recipe I’ve tried. Thanks for sharing, Laurie.

  19. #
    wfu4612 — May 21, 2013 at 11:50 am

    I’ve tried several carnitas recipes and this is by far the yummiest. I didn’t do the frying in lard step and they were still amazing. At the end of cooking, I recommend tossing the pork into your Kitchen Aid mixer with the paddle attachment, and running it on the first notch for about 30 seconds. This shreds the meat perfectly, every time! Be sure to toss the meat back into the liquid for about 30 more minutes so the shreds can absorb the yummy goodness of the liquid. Thanks, Laurie!

  20. #
    See More — May 30, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    We’re several grouped volunteers plus starting off a whole new system in your area. Your website offered us together with helpful information to function about. You could have executed the formidable job and your full neighborhood could be grateful to you personally.

  21. #
    Michelle — July 23, 2013 at 4:47 am

    Is it ok to leave out the citrus? Everytime I add citrus to meat my family and I end up hating it and I’ve ruined a giant chunk of meat. I want to throw this in today but wanted to make sure

    • simplyscratch replied: — July 23rd, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

      I say go for it!

  22. #
    Jill Ramos — August 5, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    Made these tonight for dinner…they were amazing! Barely had to shred the meat, it just fell apart when I took it out of the crockpot….it was so tender!

  23. #
    Emily — August 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    I’m going to make this overnight in the crock pot, and then take it with us to a cabin for dinner the following night. Do you think I should leave the meat in its juices all day, or drain it completely?

    • simplyscratch replied: — August 20th, 2013 @ 11:03 am

      Hi Emily… I would save the juices for sure! Maybe when the fat congeals, just scrape that off before reheating šŸ™‚

  24. #
    Mike the Cook in Houston — August 22, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Nice recipe and nice photos. I just made one modification, I grilled the seasoned meat 15 minutes on each side, adding wet Mesquite wood chips, for a smoky flavor before I put everything in the crock pot. Just to addan extra layer of character to it.

    Crock pots are great! I even make apple or peach cobbler in mine. Do a search, the recipe is readily available on the i’net.

  25. #
    The Spice Diva — September 20, 2013 at 8:08 am

    We loved the recipe. After reading a bunch of recipes, I decided to throw in a cup of tequila as a part of the liquid. It was so brown around the edges that I didn’t even think it needed the further fat and frying. I’m making it Sunday for our Mexican food-deprived son from Kauai.

  26. #
    Tonya Chalfant — December 11, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Do you think I could substitute pork loin for the pork shoulder? Happen to have a pork loin in the freezer. Thx

    • simplyscratch replied: — December 11th, 2013 @ 8:32 am

      Hi Tonya! Great question, but I personally wouldn’t substitute. Pork loin is very lean while the pork shoulder has more fat-marbling and you might be sacrificing a whole lotta flavor. I would hate you for you to go through all this work and not be happy. But I do have a pork loin roast recipe on here that you could take a look at šŸ™‚

  27. #
    Monique — March 28, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Hi, I’m making this today but want to know… Do l add any liquid to the crockpot before cooking?

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — March 28th, 2014 @ 11:57 am

      Just the juice from the oranges šŸ™‚

  28. #
    Glenda — May 3, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    If some hesitate about using citrus in the recipe, substitute a tablespoon or 2 or 3 of apple cider vinegar. Works great!

  29. #
    sara — December 11, 2014 at 10:35 am

    I am new on the blogging scene. I just wanted to tell you that this is my favorite crock pot recipe and I’ve been making it long before I started blogging. The pictures are gorgeous and the pork is amazing!! Well done!

  30. #
    Bel — May 27, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    Can I substitute the limes for the oranges?

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — June 3rd, 2015 @ 8:59 am

      I don’t see why not, but I’ve never done this so I not 100% positive. Please keep me posted with your results!

  31. #
    Maria — June 18, 2015 at 6:08 am

    Your site is really nice and unique. This is one of the best ideas that you had come up for the people and I do hope that they can have a better future.

  32. #
    ClipOnGirl — July 13, 2015 at 11:50 pm

    Love these! I made them with pork chops, then broiled them instead of frying, and they turned out amazing. Even better than our favorite restaurant. Thanks… it’s a keeper!

  33. #
    Susan — March 14, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    Love the flavors in this recipe! So much goodness! Thank you


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