When it comes to versatile, you can’t beat slow-cooked pork carnitas! Cook up a big pot and use it in tacos, taquitos, flautas, sandwiches or even on top of pizza!

pork carnitas in bowl


Today I’m sharing a basic Carnitas recipe. It’s perfect for making up ahead and refrigerating or freezing. To finish, simply heat in a hot skillet to brown and really bring out the great flavours.

Ingredients and Substitutions

Pork – You’ll want to start with a pork shoulder, as it will produce the most shreddable pork.

Cook’s Notes

As mentioned above, Carnitas freezes beautifully, so it’s great for making ahead. Simply remove from the freezer and pop in to the fridge the night before you will be using it. It will be ready to go the next morning.

To make your Carnitas “crispy”, simply heat a little cooking oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add your Carnitas and allow to cook until browned. (Pressing down with a spatula works well here). Remove and use in tacos or sandwiches.



pork carnitas in bowl

Get the Recipe: Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas

Slow cooked pork carnitas, wonderfully flavoured pork shoulder, cooked until tender, then shredded. Use on tacos, in flautas or taquitos, or try it on sandwiches or pizza!
5 stars from 2 ratings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Yield: 12 people


  • 3 pounds pork shoulder
  • 7 strips strips orange peel
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 leaves bay
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, (less if ground oregano)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more, to taste (less if using fine salt)


  • Cut pork should in to chunks (about 1-2 inches), cutting off and discarding any chunks of fat along the way. It's fine to leave a bit of fat on the cubes, just remove the areas of pure fat.
  • Place pork in a large, heavy-bottomed pot on the stove-top. Add enough water to cover the meat by about 2 inches. Heat over medium-high heat until water boils. Allow to boil a minute or so, then turn off the heat. Carefully skim off the fat from the top of the liquid and discard.
  • Add to the pot the orange zest strips, garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, bay leaves, oregano, salt and cloves. Stir to combine. Re-heat liquid to boiling, then reduce heat to medium low to a gentle simmer. Simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours, checking a few times near the end of cooking to make sure there is still liquid in the pot (if not, add a bit).
  • After 1 1/2 hours, REMOVE AND DISCARD BAY LEAVES, then use a fork or potato masher to break apart/shred the chunks of pork. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for an additional 30 minutes, or until almost all the liquid has evaporated.
  • Use immediately, or refrigerate or freeze for later use.
  • You can use the Carnitas "as is", or crisp it up in a skillet with a little oil over medium-high heat before using.
Cuisine: Mexican
Course: Main Course
Serving: 1serving, Calories: 110kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 13g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 46mg, Sodium: 346mg, Potassium: 262mg, Vitamin A: 60IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 17mg, Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @seasonsandsuppers on Instagram or tag #seasonsandsuppers.