Slow-Roasted Pork Carnitas

Pork carnitas are Mexico’s classic version of pork shoulder marinated in a spicy citrus sauce then slow roasted to tender, succulent perfection. The pork is then pulled apart and seared or broiled in it’s juices to enhance the flavors and add layers of crispy texture. It is divine!

Carnitas are typically used in tacos; however, it’s also popular in burritos and bowls. Regardless of the ‘vehicle’ you use to devour this pork goodness, the thing that makes carnitas unique is the hint of citrus in the marinade. Sweet fresh-squeezed orange juice (and the rinds), spicy jalapeño, tangy red onion, garlic, and a blend of smoky chili powder is the base for Michoacán-style dish. Favors which will infuse that behemoth of a pork shoulder for literally hours on end! (Drool …)

Around my house we prefer slow roasted pork carnitas piled high on a corn tortilla and topped with avocado (or Mexican Guacamole), chopped red onion, cilantro and crumbled Cotija. A drizzle of Valentina® Salsa Picante (our favorite hot sauce) adds the perfect amount of heat. But as with most Mexican dishes like this, mix and match your favorite condiments to achieve the flavor that best satisfies your tastebuds.

Leftovers? Add pork carnitas to scrambled eggs in the morning, or a make pork version of Huevos Rancheros — honestly, you really can’t go wrong. (Drool again …)

Please share comments here, and your pics and videos of this recipe with me on Instagram. Just tag @coachedbyjan — I’m always inspired by your interpretations on the recipes I share with you!

Pork Carnitas

Slow Roasted Pork Carnitas

Pork shoulder marinaded in a sauce of fresh-squeezed orange juice, onion, garlic, and jalapeño, then slow-roasted to tender perfection.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 10
Calories 546 kcal


  • 1 Slow Cooker Optional (See Notes)


  • 4 lb Pork Shoulder
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil Substitute Avocado Oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Ancho Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Chipotle Chili Powder
  • 1 tbsp Dried Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 cup Red Onion Thinly sliced or chopped
  • 4 Garlic Cloves Thinly sliced
  • 1 Jalapeño Seeded and chopped
  • 1 3/4 cup Orange Juice About 3-4 ripe oranges (reserve rinds)
  • 1-1/2 cup Water + more as needed
  • Corn Tortillas Warmed
  • 1/2 cup Red Onion Minced
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro Minced
  • 1 Avocado Thinly sliced or chopped
  • 1/2 cup Cotija Cheese Crumbled


  • In a small bowl stir together the sea salt, black pepper, chili powders, dried cumin, and oregano and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 300F and rub pork shoulder all over with the olive oil. Pour 1-1/2 cups water into a dutch oven pot. Rub dried spice mix over shoulder and set in the pot. Top pork with the sliced garlic, onion, jalapeño, orange juice, and orange rinds. Cover with a tight fitting lid, slide in the oven and slow-roast for 4 to 4-1/2 hours, or until pork can be easily pulled and shredded with a fork. Check the pork every few hours and add more water as needed, if liquid has evaporated.
  • Remove cooked pork from the oven and allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a large cutting board, retaining at least 1-1/2 cup of juices from the pan. Using two forks, shred the meat.
  • Transfer the shredded meat in an even layer to a baking sheet and pour at least 1 cup of the reserved liquid over. Place the meat under the broiler for 7-10 minutes, turning meat halfway through with a large spatula to crisp on both sides.
  • Just before serving, drizzle any leftover juices over the meat and serve with warmed tortillas, chopped onion, cilantro, a few slices of avocado, Cotija cheese, and other condiments you enjoy on your Mexican-inspired dishes.


This Pork Carnitas recipe can also be prepared in a slow cooker, making the following changes:
Cut pork into 2″-3″ chunks  and discard any large pieces of fat before rubbing with dry rub, and arrange in an even layer in your slow cooker. Pour orange juice, onion, garlic, and jalapeño over the pork and cook on low 8 hours, or on high for 4 hours. Continue with instructions to crisp the meat under your broiler element. 
I prefer to use 1 tsp ancho chili powder and 1 tsp chipotle chili powder to achieve a smokier and bit spicier result, but if you only have one on hand, use 2 tsp of that. (Chipotle is a bit spicier, so if you prefer milder dishes, reduce to 1 tsp.)
Keyword carnitas, pork, pork carnitas taco, pork shoulder, Taco

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