These are the BEST Pork Carnitas (Slow Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork) you will ever try! Super juicy, easy and so much more flavorful than other version complete with glorious caramelized crispy burnt ends! Great for large crowds or make ahead meals and makes the best tacos, burritos, nachos, salads, etc!
Pork Carnitas!!! Whenever Patrick and I frequent Mexican restaurants here in San Diego (or more accurately hole in the wall joints – the best), one of us usually ends up with Pork Carnitas Street Tacos. The crazy tender juicy pork shoulder with addictively crispy edges is hard to beat. And now we can all devour them at home!
While Carnitas are traditionally made by simmering large chunks of seasoned pork in hot lard on the stove top then coarsely chopping to achieve the name Carnitas, translated as “little meats,” virtually the same result can be achieved in the slow cooker then baking and broiling the meat once shredded to achieve the crunchy bits. Some might call this method blasphemy, but I call it easy, smart, healthier, and absolutely scrumdiddlyumptious. Your family and friends will thank you for making these Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas again and again – think easy taco bar!
To make these restaurant quality Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas, first you sear the pork to seal in the juices, and caramelize the sugars in the meat. I also like to leave my pork in one large piece instead of chopping it smaller because the inside of the meat stays extra moist – not to mention its much easier to sear!
Next, (once cool enough to handle), massage it with a wet spice rub of hand picked Mexican Spices as well as tomato paste, soy sauce and brown sugar. This Wet Spice Rub really sets these Pork Carnitas apart from other versions as it infuses the meat with flavor (but not too much flavor), so it is eat-plain-delectable. Now it might seem a little counter intuitive to rub the meat with the Spice Rub after you sear it, but because this rub contains brown sugar, it can easily burn and blacken when seared. The Spices will still penetrate the meat, as it simmers in the bath of orange juice, lime juice, onions, garlic, jalapenos and liquid smoke for truly glorious Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas. The aforementioned liquid smoke also adds an undeniably smoky flavor that makes these Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas taste truly authentic.
After your meat has cooked on LOW for 8-10 hours or on HIGH for 5-6 hours, its time get those edges nice and crispy! Please don’t skip this step otherwise you just have Slow Cooker Mexican Pork but NOT Pork Carnitas!
There are a few schools of thought when it comes to getting the edges crispy. Some people fry up their shredded pork on the stove, which, while delicious, is more labor intensive and takes way too many batches for so much pork. I prefer the oven method. Simply line 2 baking sheets with foil, spread out your shredded pork, drizzle with some of the leftover seasoned slow cooking juices that are bursting with flavor and bake for 20 minutes. At this point your pork will start to crisp up in a few places but to finish it off, broil it to desired crispiness for an extra 5-10 minutes then drizzle with more scrumptious juices.
Pile your Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas high…
And either wrap in a warm tortilla smothered with your favorite toppings or pack on a plate with rice and beans or stuff in ridiculously delicious Cheesy BBQ Pork Taquitos and savor the beauty of Pork Carnitas without standing in front of a stove all day. It’s a beautiful thing.
Want to try these Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas?
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*Try using leftovers in these amazing Cheesy BBQ Pork Taquitos!
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