Pork Carnitas


Since I’ve really got into cooking I haven’t liked bland food (with the exception of the times I’ve been pregnant, I want my food to come as bland as possible – it’s the strangest thing). Once you realize all there is that can go into a dish why would you leave it so plain? I added quite a few things into this recipe but they really do blend so well together. I’m in love with these Carnitas. We had this for dinner last night, then had what was left for dinner tonight and I’m already thinking about making it again. They have a flavor I almost can’t describe. There’s a bit of citrus thanks to the orange, lime juice and zest, along with a hint of the traditional Mexican flavors like Chili powder and oregano. Then you get that salty, slightly crispy pork and its a meal you’re going to remember. Normally my tacos never go without some form of hot sauce, but this time around I didn’t even add a drop. I didn’t want to add anything that would hide any of that delicious flavor. These Carnitas really don’t need many extras because the pork is just that good. Enjoy!

Pork Carnitas | Cooking Classy

Update: I’ve already made these again for the second time this week for company. This time around I used the slow cooker instead and the directions for that method have been added below. Me and family cant stop sneaking pieces of the meat. We love it!


Pork Carnitas | Cooking Classy

After baking and shredding.

Pork Carnitas

Pork Carnitas


Yield: 6 - 7 servings


  • 3 lbs boneless pork shoulder , trimmed of excess fat and cut into 4 chunks
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt , then more to taste as desired
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion , peeled and sliced into 4 thick rings
  • 4 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • Juice of 2 large oranges and zest of 1 1/2 oranges (1/2 cup juice)
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime (2 Tbsp juice)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper , to taste
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Corn tortillas , avocados, cilantro and lime juice, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sprinkle pieces of pork evenly with salt and pepper and rub into pork. Heat olive oil in a large cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add in two of the pork pieces and brown on all sides until well browned, while moving pork as little as possible while browning. Remove pieces and repeat with remaining two pieces of pork, then remove pork and add in onions. Saute onions until golden about 2 minutes per side and adding in garlic during last 30 seconds of sauteing. Reduce heat to medium-low, add in chicken broth, orange juice and lime juice and scrape bottom of pan to loosen browned bits. Return pork to pot, sprinkle evenly with orange and lime zest, chili powder, cumin, paprika, coriander and cayenne pepper and fresh oregano (you want half of the zest/spices to go over the tops of the pork and the other half to go into the broth). Add cinnamon stick to broth in center of pot. Transfer to oven and bake, uncovered in preheated oven 3 - 3 1/2 hours rotating pork once during baking and covering pot at about 2 1/2 hours as needed to prevent excessive browning and to reserve a small amount of broth (you want about 1/2-inch of broth when it's done cooking to toss the shredded pork into).
  2. Remove from oven and shred or dice pork into bite size pieces, while removing any pieces of fat. Return to broth in pot and toss to evenly coat. (Optional step) Heat oven to broil and return pot to lower half oven and broil 4 - 5 minutes, then remove from oven and toss. Return to oven and broil 4 - 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven, serve warm over corn tortillas with diced avocados, chopped cilantro and lime juice. Optionally you can also serve with lettuce, Monterey Jack, pico or salsa, hot sauce or sour cream.
  3. Slow Cooker Method: Cut roast into 2 halves. Brown roast and other ingredients as listed above, then add all ingredients to a slow cooker, cover and cook on low heat 6 - 7 hours, until tender. Shred roast into bite size pieces. Line a baking sheet with foil. Transfer pork to baking sheet and align in a single layer, pour about 1 cup broth evenly over pork and broil in oven 4 - 7 minutes then toss and broil 4 - 7 minutes longer (I actually ended up pouring more broth over them after broiling for more flavor).
  4. Recipe Source: Cooking Classy


  • suja md: Wow!! though I don’t have pork, the dish is too tempting, I definitely should give it try by substituting it for goat. July 5, 2013 at 4:59pm Reply

  • Elisa @ Insalata di Sillabe: Thanks for the inspiration! I was looking for something new to make for dinner tonight and I think I have to look no further now!

    xo, Elisa July 6, 2013 at 1:07am Reply

  • Susan: If you have access to ‘canela’ – Mexican cinnamon, that is really nice in dishes like this that cook for a long time. I find it in those little cellophane packages of spices that grocery stores have in the Mexican section. There is a recipe I make with chicken, apples and cinnamon that I use it for, which is much nicer than when I use regular cinnamon sticks. I’ve never seen fresh Mexican oregano, even though I live right on the border. This recipe sounds like it’s well worth trying. July 6, 2013 at 1:30pm Reply

  • Liz: Love this recipe. Thank you and have a great weekend! July 6, 2013 at 2:09pm Reply

  • Kati: >> (you want about 1/2-inch of broth when it’s done cooking to toss the shredded beef into).

    Think you meant pork here ;) July 6, 2013 at 9:29pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Haha yeah, I think I was thinking beef when I was writing it because my brother was telling me he liked these better than the shredded beef tacos I make :). Thanks so much for pointing that out :)! July 6, 2013 at 10:40pm Reply

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious: Yes, please! I love how you could do so much with carnitas too – tacos, quesadillas, or even a breakfast option with a fried egg. YUM! July 7, 2013 at 11:18pm Reply

  • Bree (Skinny Mommy): I love carnitas and these ones look delish! July 8, 2013 at 7:41am Reply

  • Shari Kelley: I can’t wait to try these! They look and sound so good. July 8, 2013 at 12:15pm Reply

  • Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking: This is a staple here in Austin! Strangely though, I’ve never made it. Time to change that with your killer recipe, Jaclyn! Thanks for sharing. July 8, 2013 at 2:49pm Reply

  • Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl: 100% perfect, pinning to make for dinner soon! July 13, 2013 at 1:21pm Reply

  • Marissa | Pinch and Swirl: My inlaws are from Memphis, so pulled pork in our house has always been the norm. BUT! I’m looking at these tacos and my mouth is watering. Time for carnitas to have a turn! :) July 14, 2013 at 9:33am Reply

  • Shawna: Left out the orange zest (no oranges), used refrigerated orange juice and subbed in dried oregano for fresh (one herb I just don’t have in my garden…)…oh my goodness, absolutely amazing! I actually compared pictures half way through and it looked just about identical to yours! Forgot to cover half way through, so turned out a bit darker but didn’t seem to affect anything. Totally different flavors than anything I’d done recently and so very, very easy…this recipe is going in my tried and true box! Thanks so much! July 21, 2013 at 5:37am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you liked these Shawna! Thanks for leaving a comment! July 26, 2013 at 9:24am Reply

  • Shari Kelley: I made these tonight for dinner, and they were so good! They were extremely flavorful and just the right amount of spicy. My husband and daughter loved it, too. Your recipes are always delicious. Thank you for sharing this one. July 22, 2013 at 10:33pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you family liked these Shari! Thanks for leaving another comment!! I’m happy to hear you like my recipes :)! July 23, 2013 at 8:30pm Reply

  • Kylie: It was a hit in our house last night! Not a complaint heard at the dinner table !! August 7, 2013 at 11:44pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad everyone liked it Kylie! Thanks for your comment! August 8, 2013 at 7:55am Reply

  • Valerie Turner: My son and I love carnitas, but my husband and daughter are allergic to beef and pork. I used this recipe in my slow cooker wth an old stew hen. It was delicious! August 10, 2013 at 12:54pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you family liked this Valerie! Thanks for leaving a comment! August 11, 2013 at 6:43pm Reply

  • Laura: I have just made this, and it came out beautifully.

    Next time I’m going to make this for one of our BBQs. I’m sure it’ll be a hit with our guests. September 14, 2013 at 8:46am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so happy you like dit Laura! I hope it’s enjoyed at the BBQ. Thanks for your comment! September 19, 2013 at 11:08am Reply

  • porter: I have made this recipe 3 times. Both my wife and daughter are vegetarian so I vacuum seal and freeze the leftovers. It warms up perfectly and i use it for for other dishes like black bean and potato breakfast hash with poached eggs. This recipe is perfect 5 stars. December 1, 2013 at 10:46am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so happy to hear you’ve made this 3 times. Thanks for letting me know you’ve enjoyed it and for a great review :)! December 7, 2013 at 10:00pm Reply

  • Steve: Reduce the zest and cinnamon (half stick) taste great will do again December 5, 2013 at 6:30pm Reply

  • Barbara: This is excellent. I think the zest and juice are what put it over the top for my family. December 7, 2013 at 9:49am Reply

    • Jaclyn: So happy to hear that Barbara! Thanks for your comment! December 7, 2013 at 10:15pm Reply

  • Shari davis: Wow after making this once it’s now the only way we cook pork in my house. I am a huge fan of mojo (cuban) marinade that is similar to this. So I have to add extra oj and lime juice. Enough to make u pucker. Awesome December 27, 2013 at 8:31am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so happy to hear you liked this recipe Shari! Thanks for leaving a comment! December 28, 2013 at 4:38pm Reply

  • Jeanne: I made this tonight and I nor my family liked it at all. I followed the recipe to the tee. All those spices don’t meld together at all. April 20, 2014 at 2:57pm Reply

  • Mary: Yum! I can’t get enough of this. I just learned how to make tamales and I needed a great filling. Made this recipe in the crockpot. Once cooked, I removed the broth (might use less water next time – there was a lot), leaving a tiny bit behind in the pot. Puréed the onion and added it back in. Shredded the pork, added it back. Then I put the broth in a pan on the stovetop and reduced it to about 1/3 to concentrate all that yummy flavor. Poured that over everything and stirred it up. Since this was for tamales, I did this instead of putting in the oven, though I’ll definitely try that another time for tacos as I do love those crispy bits! Thanks for a great recipe! October 27, 2014 at 8:06pm Reply

  • barb: My friends and family absolutely LOVE THIS RECIPE! I do brown my meat in a cast iron fry pan, as well as the onion rings but then put it all in a slow cooker for hours. Then shred and put back in the sauce. The orange & lime lighten up the flavor and the cinamon gives it such a good finishing touch. July 27, 2015 at 8:40am Reply

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