Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe


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These crispy carnitas are made super easy in the slow cooker. Slow Cooker Carnitas is one of the best Mexican recipes! This shredded pork shoulder is incredibly tender because it’s cooked in orange juice.

This post is sponsored by BUBBL’R.

Slow Cooker Carnitas

These crockpot carnitas are one of the easiest recipes you’ll ever make, and they manage to find that magical combination of crispy and juicy. You’ll love using this Mexican pork in the best ever tacos, burritos, or on nachos.

I’ve partnered up with BUBBL’R to bring you this incredible Mexican pulled pork recipe. The citrus in this dish pairs perfectly with a can of their lemon lime twist’r. You can find out where to buy BUBBL’R here.

Slow cooker carnitas tacos next to a can of BUBBL'R.


Spices: A combination of chili powder, ground cumin, oregano, salt, black pepper, and chipotle powder makes the best carnitas seasoning. I recommend using Mexican oregano if you have it.

Pork: Pork shoulder that’s been cut into 2” chunks is the best meat to use in this recipe. Pork shoulder (also called pork butt) is a great cut of meat to cook low and slow because of its higher fat content, which makes it juicy and so flavorful.

Cutting it into smaller pieces makes it easier to shred, and it helps it cook a little bit faster.

Aromatics: A combination of white onion and fresh garlic adds a lot of flavor. The onions also caramelize a bit when the meat is broiling, which adds another dimension of flavor.

Juice: Using a combination of orange juice and lime juice helps break down the meat, which makes the most incredibly tender and delicious carnitas. It also adds a lovely bright flavor.

The labeled ingredients for slow cooker carnitas.

How To Make Carnitas In The Crockpot

Start by mixing together the carnitas spice blend. (See the recipe card below for the full printable instructions.)

Mixing together a homemade carnitas spice blend.

Add the pork to the slow cooker, and sprinkle the spice blend over top. Toss to evenly coat the meat in the spices.

Adding 2 inch pieces of pork butt and a homemade spice blend to the crockpot.

Sprinkle the onion and garlic over the seasoned pork, then pour the orange juice and lime juice into the slow cooker.

Coating pork shoulder in a homemade spice blend, then adding diced onion and garlic.

Cook the pork until it’s tender enough to shred with two forks, stirring it once halfway through cooking.

Crockpot carnitas halfway through cooking time, and then after it's fully cooked.

Use a slotted spoon to lift the shredded pork out of the crockpot, and spread it onto a baking sheet. Broil it until it’s crispy and golden brown. You can also pan fry the carnitas in rounds to make it crispy if you’d rather not turn your oven on. See the recipe card below for the full written instructions, including ingredient amounts, cooking times, and helpful tips, etc.

Shredded carnitas on a baking sheet shown before and after broiling to make it crispy.

What Is The Difference Between Pulled Pork And Carnitas?

They’re both shredded pork recipes that are cooked low and slow so that the meat is tender and juicy. The main difference is that carnitas are cooked with Mexican spices, and it’s sometimes cooked in orange juice.

Carnitas can also be cooked in oil, but I prefer the texture of the meat cooked in citrus juice, plus it’s healthier, which is a nice bonus.

A white platter of crispy carnitas tacos.

What Kind Of Pork Is Used For Carnitas?

Pork shoulder (also called pork butt) is the best cut of meat to use for carnitas. It has a higher fat content, which renders as the pork cooks low and slow. That’s what makes the meat so flavorful, tener, and juicy.

Can You Overcook Carnitas In A Slow Cooker?

Yes, you can overcook carnitas in a crockpot. If you planned on cooking meat for a really long time, like 18+ hours, you would likely end up with overcooked meat that separated into really fine strands. I prefer cooking these on LOW so that the timeframe where they’re cooked is more forgiving.

Pork carnitas that's been cooked in orange juice and lime juice.

What Goes With Pork Carnitas?

I love using carnitas in street tacos, in burritos, or on nachos. It tastes amazing topped with salsa verde, a bit of diced onion, and some fresh cilantro.

Keep In Touch

I’d love to hear what you thought of this recipe in the comments or on Instagram! @KeyToMyLime #KeyToMyLime

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A Pinterest pin image of slow cooker carnitas, with title text at the top.

Pork Recipes

If you like this recipe, be sure to check out all of our pork recipes! Some reader favorites are:

Yield: 8 servings

BEST Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe

The best slow cooker carnitas recipe.

These crispy carnitas are made super easy in the slow cooker. Slow Cooker Carnitas is one of the best Mexican recipes! This shredded pork shoulder is incredibly tender because it's cooked in orange juice.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes


  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder*
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (4-5 pound) pork shoulder or pork butt (skinless and boneless, excess fat trimmed, cut into 2” chunks)
  • 1 large white onion (diced)
  • 6 medium cloves garlic (diced)
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (the juice of 2-3 oranges)
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (the juice of about 2 limes)


  1. In a small bowl, mix together the chili powder, ground cumin, oregano, kosher salt, black pepper, and chipotle powder.
  2. Add the pork to a 6 quart slow cooker, and sprinkle the spice mixture over top. Stir to evenly coat the pork in the spices.
  3. Sprinkle the white onion and garlic over the pork.
  4. Pour the orange juice and lime juice over the pork.
  5. Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours, or on HIGH for 5-6 hours (or until the pork is tender and easily shreds with a fork). Stir once halfway through cooking
  6. Shred the carnitas in the slow cooker using two forks.
  7. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the carnitas to a baking sheet and spread it out into a single layer.
  8. Broil the meat in the oven for about 5 minutes (or until the tops are golden brown and crispy).
  9. Serve immediately.


*This chili powder is a spice blend sold in the USA and Canada. It is much milder than the pure chili powder sold in the UK and other parts of the world.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 504Total Fat: 31.9gCarbohydrates: 6.5gFiber: 1.1gSugar: 3gProtein: 45.3g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.


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Crockpot carnitas marinated in orange juice and tossed in the best carnitas spice blend are the best easy pork recipe you’ll ever make.

The best slow cooker carnitas recipe.

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