Pork Carnitas

Well, we all survived another election season.  Just in time to make us extra cranky for the holidays, right?
Do your favorite food blogger a favor please?  Pour all your frustrations, anger and crankiness from the election process/results into something productive.  Like food :)

I promise you (and a real promise, not a politician-type promise) that this meat will make you happy, mellow and in the greatest mood you have been in for months.  Promise!

While there are a few extra steps to this recipe, none of them are hard or time consuming.  The end result however is out of this world.  I have made these twice already in a very short period of time and have the fixings in the fridge for Round #3.  The meat is completely melt-in-your-mouth, while the caramelization on the outside multiplies that amazing flavors.  We have a hard time not eating it all before we get the chance to stick some in a tortilla :)
I used my favorite enameled cast iron Dutch oven to prepare this rock star recipe, but if you read the comments, many people have had success using their crock pot as well.  Next time, I am going to have to pull out my crockpot and give it a try as well!

Pork Carnitas
(recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated)
4 pound boneless pork butt, fat trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 onion, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
2 Tb fresh lime juice
2 C water
1 medium orange, juiced and keep the spent halves

1.  Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat to 300 degrees.  Combine all the ingredients in a large Dutch oven, (this is my favorite one!) including the spent orange halves and juice.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, uncovered.  Once it simmers, cover pot and transfer it to the oven.  Cook until the meat falls apart when prodded with a fork, about 2 hours.
2.  Remove the pot from the oven and turn on the broiler.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat from the pan and place it on a large foil-lined jelly roll pan.  Remove and discard everything from the pot except for the cooking liquid.  Place pot over high heat on the stove and boil until thick and syrupy, about 20 minutes.  You should have about 1 C of liquid remaining when it is finished.
3.  While the liquid is reducing, use two forks to pull each cube of pork into three equal sized pieces.  Once the liquid has become a syrup, gently fold in the pieces of pork into the pot.  Try not to break up the pork any further.  Taste and add additional salt and pepper.
4.  Spread the pork back onto the foil lined pan and evenly spread the meat around so there is a single layer of meat.  Place the jelly roll pan on the lower middle rack of the oven and broil until the top of the meat is well browned and edges are slightly crisp, about 5 to 8 minutes.  Using a wide metal spatula, flip the pieces of meat and broil the other side until well browned and edges are slightly crisp, 5 to 8 minutes.  Serve immediately in a tortilla with all your favorite toppings.

Don’t miss these other amazing Tex-Mex Dishes!
**My friend, this post contains Amazon affiliate links which means I receive a small compensation, at no additional cost to you,  if you make a purchase using my link.  If you decide to give this project a try, I will be your bestie if you would use the links from this post.  And no worries….I only link to products that I both use and love! ~Carole  


    • Brittanyann says

      I know this is an old post but in case anyone else wants to know I thought I’d answer. I have only made this in the Dutch oven once and have made it in the crockpot at least 30 times because we love it so much. I actually have it cooking in my crockpot right now. This is our go to for party’s and large groups. We follow the recipe except that we use a crockpot and do 1 and 1/2 cup water instead of 2. I cook it for 8 hours on low. I then scoop the meat out onto a foil lined pan and take out the Orange, onion, and bay leaves. I pour the sauce into a pot on the stove and follow the directions. It’s actually the best carnitas that I can get in my town.

      • Carla says

        Thank you for answering this!!! I was just told about this recipe today and I was just thinking about crockpot, when I saw your reply! I am going to try it in the crockpot.

      • Christina says

        I am having a large fiesta theme party. What would you recommend for a large crowd? 25-30 people? There will be about 75 total, but there will be a ton of other food…Thanks!

        • says

          Hi Christina! Sounds like quite the party and a ton of fun. If you are serving the meat in small tortillas, this recipe will easily make 20-25 tacos. Have a great time! -Carole

      • Charlene says

        When you do this recipe in the crock pot, do you simmer it on the stove first, or just put everything in the crock pot and set it to low until it’s done? Thanks!!

        • says

          Charlene- I’ve never made it in the crockpot before but I know some of my readers have. My guess would be to put it all in the crockpot.

    • JEN says

      I did this last night in the crock pot and it worked fine. Like the other comment, use less water. The only thing is I didn’t get a liquid left that boiled down to make a glaze…I tried but it remained pretty loose. I still put some over the top before broiling the meat, not sure if it mattered though. Overall, was a yummy, easy way to have a taco (or other) filling ready to go.

  1. says

    I’m not sure Melanie. In theory, the slow cook portion could work in a crock pot but I wouldn’t skip the reducing of the liquid and broiling. Those two steps are truly what sets this recipe apart from other carnitas.

  2. Rhonda says

    This is either a silly question or I have not had enough coffee yet: Do you add the orange pieces & juice also, or just the rind halves?

  3. says

    Not silly at all. I can see how you questioned that. I will fix the instructions to be more clear. Yes, you add the juice of the orange as well as the spent halves.

  4. says

    This looks delicious, and the extra steps are brilliant! I can imagine they’d make a big difference. I found this on pinterest and am looking forward to trying it this week, as well as seeing what else you’ve got on here! :) Thanks!

  5. RenaeInCA says

    This is my new go-to recipe for carnitas! And our friends rave about my carnitas :-) Our grocery store didn’t have pork roasts today, so I used boneless country ribs and it worked perfectly. Less cutting, too!

  6. says

    Jessi- just use a large pot that is the same size. You might need to cook the meat a bit longer and stir it a few times because the cast iron Dutch oven is a better heat conductor.

  7. says

    I made this tonight, I only had a loin and I do not have a Dutch oven, but I was successful. I have a roasting pan, so I put everything in that to cook for 2 hours. I covered it in foil and then placed a cookie sheet on top as the lid. When the meat was ready to be broiled, I drizzled olive oil over it all, and that helped it crisp up and stay juicy. Will definitely use the Boston butt next time, but hey, it was still good! Even made fresh corn tortillas to go with it :)

  8. says

    Hi Carole…a fellow MN food blogger here and equally frustrated with the election process and results! Still haven’t recovered…maybe your pork carnitas will prove a yummy distraction. Thanks for a refreshing post! Come visit me! glutenfreespinner.com


  9. says

    Made this tonight and everyone loved it! I even used this recipe as an excuse to go buy a Dutch oven :). Definitely something I will make again and again.

  10. Susan Andrews says

    I made this today. Went the crock pot route. It took a good 8 hours to cook to the desired tenderness. I used only 1 C of water & added several garlic cloves. Mmmmmmm! I love he crisp it up part at the end! Thanks for sharing!

  11. says

    I’m not sure why, but my juices/liquid isn’t reducing to anything thick or syrupy. Bummer! I am going to finish it anyway and I’m sure it’ll be good, just not as good. Thanks for sharing!

  12. says

    This recipe is PERFECT for at-home Tacos Al Pastor! If you aren’t familiar with them, they are little tacos made with a lightly fried corn tortilla (not fried crispy), seasoned pork, a couple strips of pineapple, then topped with heaping helpings of chopped cilantro, onion, and a generously squeezed lime wedge. They are SO FRESH and delicious! I’ve never made them at home before but I definitely give it a try with your pork carnitas recipe! I think it will be a hit. THANKS! (And hopefully it will take my mind off the election results. Blah.)

  13. says

    I think I may bring this to a Christmas potluck this year. I imagine it would work to make it ahead, broiling and all, and then keep it warm in a crockpot. Thanks for sharing.

  14. says

    CROCK POT VERSION: i really wanted to make this, but needed it to be in the crock pot, so i threw all the ingredients into the pot and cooked it on high for 5-6 hours. i took out the pork, then poured the juiced through a strainer into a dutch oven, which is where the reducing took place. folded the meat back into the dutch oven and broiled it.

    and OH. MY. STARS. so so good. my florida-native husband who grew up eating cuban food kept asking about the meat and telling me that this is definitely a “make again” meal. i served it on tortillas, but i also tried it on rice (what can i say, i’m pregnant with twins and wanted to try it a couple of different ways!). both were fantastic. there were some leftovers that i’ll probably put into a quesadilla for lunch today.

    thanks for the recipe!

  15. says

    I just came over from Pinterest. These sound so good!

    (I’m also a fellow Minnesotan who shares your feelings about the election process/results.) (:

    Can’t wait to try these!

    ~ Jennifer

  16. says

    These are amazing. Made them for dinner exactly as is and I’ll admit although I was skeptical every step of the way, they turned out PERFECT. Probably a top 5 thing I’ve ever made. Used the meat to make Verde burritos served with spanish rice and black beans. Thanks!

  17. says

    Looks fabulous! Can’t wait to try it! About how many servings does it make?? I’m thinking about making this for my family during Christmas. There will be around 13-15 adults. Should I double or tripple the recipe?

  18. says

    Mica- it depends how you are serving it. If you Are putting it in tacos or burritos, then I would double it for 15 adults. If you are serving it as a main solo dish, then triple.

  19. says

    I found you on Pinterest too. Just made this (in Connecticut) tonight for dinner. Served it with tortillas, guacamole, rice and beans. So delicious!
    This recipe is a keeper! I seared the pork first and couldn’t stop myself from adding a clove of garlic.
    Thanks for sharing a wonderful recipe. I’ll be making it for years to come. It is really easy and could be doubled for a crowd. I don’t think I’m going to brown the meat again, but I may stick with he garlic!

  20. Taylor says

    Made this tonight after finding it on pinterest. Highly recommend, it turned out delicious! It takes quite a bit of time, about 2.5 hours, but well worth it. I did have to boil my meat juice for about half an hour in order to get it to the desired consistency, took longer but did end up thickening. Will be making this again, and definitely one of my new top 5 go-to recipes, soo good! I put sautéed onions and red and yellow peppers with feta on corn tortillas with the pork and it was a hit! Thanks for the recipe!!

  21. says

    Another suggestion on this – make a big batch up through the reducing the liquid stage, then freeze in smaller portions with the liquid. When you want tacos for dinner, thaw a portion and then roast until crispy. Makes it an easy weeknight meal.

  22. Anonymous says

    Somehow when I was boiling the liquid to reduce it, I managed to boil it off! It had only been boiling for 10 minutes when I took a look and saw about a half a cup of liquid. Besides keeping a closer eye on it, is there anything I can do differently to avoid this next time?

  23. says

    I just finished having this for dinner. I actually used pork shoulder by accident (I try to get out of Costco quickly and I wasn’t paying attention :) whoops) and it worked out great as well. I almost doubled the ingredients since I had about 7 lbs of meat. It was quite delicious and although it takes awhile for it cook, it really doesn’t take much preparation time. I decorated the tree, vacuumed, watched a show with the hubs all while it was in the oven at 300. Thank you for the recipe, we will make it again :)

  24. Anonymous says

    I see I’m not the only one wondering if chicken can be used, i might just try it today and see how it turns out. Kimberly

  25. Anonymous says

    So, tonight I tried a different version, to accommodate items i had on hand. I used chicken breast for the meat. I cooked the meat and other ingredients on a low crock pot. I removed chicken, and other ingredients, put broth in saucepan over med-high heat and added some pineapple juice, and 3-4 tbl spoons of good thick quality teriyaki sauce, cooked until thick and bubbly , put chicken in pan to coat, back onto baking dish, with canned pineapple, under broiler. Served over rice. Next time will add green peppers. I kept the pineapple on one side, meat another, turned so browning would occur on other sides. It was FABULOUS -Kimberly

  26. Desarae says

    Tried this, liked it. And I didn’t even have to worry about them being good enough to take my mind of the election. I’m satisfied with the results!

  27. Katie L says

    This was delish!! Husband even said they were the best tacos EVER! I also used boneless country ribs and put everything in the crock and cooked on low all day. Then drained the liquid and reduced on the stove before serving. AMAZING!! My two young kids devoured it :)

  28. says

    No fail. I was a bit nervous that the amount of liquid that the roast yielded would reduce but alas it worked out wonderfully. The recipe is a keeper. Thanks!

  29. JoAnn says

    Made this yesterday, delicious. I did throw the lime rind in the pot…why wasted that, LOL—the smell was wonderful and the taste was authentic, thanks!!

  30. Jennifer says

    I made these last night and the flavor was wonderful! My juice reduced down to a cup but not like a syrup as described, but still very flavorful. I will definently make this again. I added garlic to my meat.

  31. says

    My husband and I love to try new recipes all the time. The minute I saw this on Pinterest, I knew it had to go on my menu plan for Christmas weekend. We made it today and I am just completely blown away. No more restaurant carnitas for us….we’ve never tasted better carnitas. We served with warm corn tortillas, chopped onion and cilantro…and lime wedges to squeeze on top. We only made 2 lbs of meat for the three of us (saved the rest for carne frita (Puerto Rican)). My husband, who is a wonderful cook, said this was top notch and I have to agree. Thank you so much!!

  32. Anonymous says

    pork butt and pork shoulder are the same thing. Its only called butt because the used to store it in the bottom (butt) of the barrel before refrigeration.

  33. Anonymous says

    This is very close to how I’ve been making them for years. Will now be reducing the liquid. I always use a cola with real sugar cane instead of the water though. Have heard that is traditional in Mexico.

  34. Anonymous says

    Very interesting recipe. A lovely americanization of the original Mexican recipe. Here is a simpler less greasy version of the original recipe (since Mexican carnitas are boiled in lard). 4 ingredients: pork shoulder (or picnic pork), orange juice, lime juice, Adobo Goya naranja agria seasoning. Preheat oven to 375. Remove skin from pork and trim all fat. Season meat generously with seasoning and place in a roasting pan – the meat should be packed in, no space around the meat at all. Place skin on top of meat. Cover and bake for 3 hours (depending on the amount of meat) or until the bone comes loose from the meat. Squeeze the juice of two limes and add to half a cup of orange juice. Pour juices over meat. Return to oven and cook uncovered for half an hour to an hour depending on how crispy you want it on top. It will be both juicy and soft – and not sweet at all. This is just a rough recipe, but it is simple and sells well to Mexicans who think that it was cooked according to the traditional method.

  35. says

    Just made this to go with our blackeye peas for New Year’s and it is wonderful! Love the flavor and I made mine in a vintage pyrex dish since I don’t have a dutch oven. Don’t know if it affects the flavor, but it is yummy!

  36. Anonymous says

    Oh my gosh…these are nothing short of amazing! I followed the recipe exactly and they melted in my mouth.
    I calculated the calories per serving at 208 via my fitness pal.

  37. says

    I never comment on any recipes but this was really super easy and AWESOME grub. I don’t have a Dutch oven and I’m a crock pot gal so I did what came natural and put everything in the crockpot. Cooked on high for 6 hours and it was super tender. Followed remaining steps and everyone loved it. Thank you for sharing.

  38. Anonymous says

    So Gooood!!! Just made it in the last 3 hrs and it is awesome!! Going to make it a biweekly if not weekly menu item

  39. Bobbi says

    This sounds delicious and I’m looking forward to making it! I don’t have a jelly roll pan though…is it necessary for this dish to turn out well or can I use a different type of pan? Thanks.

  40. says

    Bobbi: just be sure whatever pan you use allows the meat to be in a single layer. The caramelizing of the meat is what takes this recipe over the top. If you don’t have a big enough pan, do the broiler step in a few different batches so every piece of meat is caramelized on both sides.

  41. says

    You can do this in a crock pot. same recipe. Cut mean into 1 inch chunks. Put meat and seasonings and bay leaves in crock pot. Squeeze the orange halves in and drop the peels in with it. Cook all day until tender and falling apart. Heat oil in a skellet. fry up the carnitas chunks for until edges are to your desired crispyness. This is how i’ve done it in the past. Its delicious.. less steps and doesnt require a dutch oven. :)

  42. Anonymous says

    im from mexico from where is the carnitas, tacos and all that delicious food, is funny enter to pinterest an find this recipes that is so familiar to my soo my recomendation if you like the taste of this, give a try to “cochinita pibil” is making with “Axiote” and bitter orange the recipe is pretty close to tacos al pastor, someone refer about “tacos al pastor” but missing say you must use use Axiote because with out the Axiote is just a pork taco

  43. Anonymous says

    Well just a thought, this is a great recipe which i have been making for sometime though i am cuban and the recipe is a little bit different I marinate my pork shoulder or butt which a cuban marinate call “mojo” which is fairly simple juice and garlic marinate easily found online and just a thought to those who do not own a dutch oven..I would use a crockpot myself but why couldnt one use an electric skillet just have to monitor it….just a thought!!!

  44. says

    Thanks for posting this recipe! I’m trying it right now, but because I started it late in the game, I’m afraid I may have to cut some corners. I will try to do it justice, though. If it tastes half as good as your photo, it will be fabulous. :)

  45. says

    I had to tell you that these were fantastic! My boyfriend said “I’m not a fan of pork, but these are the BEST carnitas I have ever had.” Thank you so much! We will be making these again and again.

  46. Ashley says

    I saw someone posted the question about not having a dutch oven and your response was that you may need to cook it longer because the cast iron is a better heat conductor. My question to that is I have the All-Clad tri-ply stainless set.. I know it’s not cast iron but it heats very fast and cooks evenly. Would this be comparable to the dutch oven or no?

    P.S. this recipe looks AMAZING!

  47. says

    Great recipe! My family really loved and I am thinking of making it for my husband’s deer hunting group in December. My question is, do you have any ideas for sides?

  48. says

    This was a very moist and flavorful dish. I did not have lime , but even with out it it was a huge hit with my family and one of my husbands soldiers.

    Thanks for sharing.

  49. says

    I am sure you could freeze the finished product. However, one of the great aspects of this meat is the crisp, caramelization on the outside of the meat. The flavor would be the same if you froze it, but you would lose something out of the texture. I say go for it!

  50. says

    I don’t have any pork butt in my deep freeze but I do have pork chops. Would there be any harm doing this with pork chops instead? Thanks!

  51. says

    You could, but your result would be different. The fat content of a shoulder/butt is what makes this so tender. You would have to change the cooking time because you would not end up with the large pieces if meat to cook in the Dutch oven. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

  52. says

    Jelly roll pan is a large cookie sheet with short sides. You can use any pan but be sure it is shallow and you can keep the meat in a single layer on the pan. Broil it in more than one batch if you need to. Good luck!

  53. Anonymous says

    This was amazing! My husband rarely raves about anything, and he was thrilled with this. My two year old loved it too!

  54. Anonymous says

    Omg this was unreal!!! thank you for putting this on pinterest, it was awesome!! added a couple garlic cloves…sooo good!! thx again!!

  55. Anonymous says

    I’ve been making a version of this for years – from the Cook’s Illustrated recipe – and yes, you can definitely freeze it. Just do so, after soaking the shredded meat with the reduced liquid. Then just proceed with the caramelizing in the oven, and it tastes just as good as the day you made it!

  56. Kim W says

    I found this on Pinterest, made it for supper tonight and I am in LOVE!! It is amazing! The closest to restaurant Carnitas that I’ve had. Thanks so much for posting it!!
    Kim W, MI

  57. Erika says

    I found this link to you via Pinterest. Made this last night and it was delicious!!! Just had to stop by here and let you now.

  58. says

    I made this the other day. I was short on time so I took a risk. I did everything like the recipe up to where the pork needs to be glazed. I cut the pork in pieces and put it in the frig. as well as the juice (after I strained it and reduced it). The next day. I warmed up the pork at 200 degrees on a foil lined jelly roll pan covered with heavy duty foil until warm. I warmed up the juice on the cooktop at low heat. Once I was ready I just scooped up a large spoonful of the meat and tossed it in the juice until the meat was covered and continued this until I did all the pork. I then followed the recipe as written. It turned out GREAT! I will do it this way every time as I usually have time constraints around dinner time. I served it with refried beans, guacomole, sour cream and some onions and green peppers (using veg. oil) I cooked on the stove at medium heat until soft. I also did this the day before and just warmed the veg. up on the cooktop before serving. Definitely a keeper, everyone loved it.

  59. says

    This was absolutely amazing! My husband said he didn’t want to try any other Carnitas recipe ever again… It was DELICIOUS! My almost one year old loved it too.

  60. Anonymous says

    I made these today for a snow in dinner and although I enjoyed it, I wish there was more sauce or moisture to the pork.

  61. says

    I found this on Pinterst and I must say it’s Ah-mazin! I made it to day exactly the way it’s written and it’s out of this world. Can’t wait to make it again!

  62. says

    Carolina Cake: yep. I think you missed a step. You cook the pork in a Dutch oven with the citrus. Let me know if you have further questions after you re read the recipe!

  63. Anonymous says

    Pork shoulder and pork butt are the SAME cut of meat. Different parts of the country call them different names, but are the same.

  64. Anonymous says

    Amazing! I added a few red pepper flakes at the very beginning, just because. And I only had to bake for 1.5 hours, but they were so delicious! Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

  65. says

    I’ve made this meal 5 or 6 times now, since finding it on Pinterest. It’s so yummy! After making it a couple times, I’ve made a few changes: cut two cups of water down to one to minimize the time the sauce needs to reduce. Also, I’ve used lemons instead of lime, and once I even used raspberry sherbet when I didn’t have lemons! It was still amazing!

  66. says

    Sahra- you could use the loin but the results will be different. The loin has much less fat and connective tissue that will breakdown and become tender. I would wait until you get a butt/shoulder. Plus, a loin is so much more expensive so save it for a nice roast :)

  67. says

    I’ve made this twice in the crock pot. Works like a charm. The key is in the sauce reduction/meat broiling. Last time I added about a cup (maybe less) of green salsa (replaceing some water), as well as a couple T of brown sugar. It was amazing. Seriously AMAZING. Tomorrow I’m trying it with chicken so it will be more lean. Mmm.

  68. Tonya says

    I found this recipe recently on Pinterest. Made it last night for dinner. The smell emanating from my oven was driving me crazy all afternoon! I couldn’t wait for the meat to be done enough to sample. I was not disappointed. My husband and I made “burrito bowls” with pork carnitas and loved them. My two girls, who are both picky eaters, liked the meat. Thanks so much for posting this recipe. I’ll definitely be making it again.

  69. NaomiK says

    I tried this tonight and I had a cooking disaster! I used pork tenderloin cause that’s all I had and then I over cooked the meat so it was somewhat tough, then my sauce went from reducing to charred black scum in less time than it took to change a diaper (literally) so my meat was totally dry! I think I will try this again when I have the right meat and someone else home to change the diapers!! :)

  70. Anonymous says

    I’m making this for the second time tonight. The first time I made it my husband, daughter and I simply ate the meat by itself rather putting it in the tortilla’s it was that good. Tonight I hope for more control.

  71. Melissa says

    I just made this for dinner this evening and it was a hit! There is nothing left! I didn’t change a thing and it came out perfectly. I served it with warm tortillas, sautéed green peppers, the onions from the cooking process (sliced thin), sour cream, and cheese. Everyone was raving about the tenderness and flavor. Thank you for this recipe!

  72. Anonymous says

    Made this tonight, and it was awesome! Family loved it, even the finicky fourteen year old. Hubby raved about the carnitas throughout the meal. He’s already left the house to get more pork. LOL! Also loved your Roasted Parmesan Creamed Onions recipe too! Thanks for sharing your tasty recipes with us!

  73. Anonymous says

    I made this for dinner last night and it was great! Loved it, my whole family did! My husband said this is the best recipe I have found yet! Thanks~
    P.s. I used a crock pot to cook the meat then boiled the juice in a pan and broiled! Yummo-O!!!

  74. Margarita says

    This is an authentic recipe for spanish carnitas as I have many spanish friends and have eaten pork tacos al pastor at many taquerias. It is my favorite hands down! And the method of this recipe is right on the money to achieve the authentic results. Another key to authenticity is to serve the “toppings” of fresh cilantro, sour cream, pico de gallo, chopped jalapenos, chopped onion and limes wedges. After you eat them with these dressings, OMG! You will have it on your fingers & lips, reaching for more! So good! (The squeeze of lime over the top kicks it over the edge!). Thanks for sharing.

  75. Anonymous says

    Made them 3 times already! Add a little fat of your choice, garlic and a couple jalapeños to the broth before cooking for a little extra yummy goodness!

  76. Anonymous says

    oh yeah and chicken broth for the water and a little bit of sugar mmmmmmm they are delicious!!!

  77. Anonymous says

    Just made this for the first time and it is delicious! I made it exact to the recipe but you can see that it is an easy recipe to play with. Thank yu so much for sharing

  78. Anonymous says

    I am going to try this recipe, so looking forward to it! As a single person who cooks for a non-existent army, I tend to freeze everything in portions. There were some earlier posts about people freezing the meat and possibly losing some of the texture.
    My plan is to portion it out without crisping it in the broiler and then crisping it each time I pull some out of the freezer…that is if I don’t just eat it in one setting.
    Will let you know how it goes.

  79. Anonymous says

    My freezer meal group made this to the point right before broiling then froze. Before eating we thawed and broiled as instructed. Turned out fantastic! Texture seemed the same as when I made it all in one day.

  80. Daphne says

    I have made this three times in about two months and it’s a huge hit at our house. I made it the other night for some friends and they loved it too! Great recipe!

  81. MrsObresley says

    I made this tonight for dinner, and this in now my go-to recipe for shredded pork. I did make some of my own alterations, based on my own flavor preferences and my past experiences making shredded pork. I put the cut up pork in a large mixing bowl, drizzled with a tiny bit of olive oil, then added the spices and citrus juices. I also added 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, and 1/2 c brown sugar. I also threw 3 cloves of garlic in the pot. Rubbed the spices all over the pork then simmered before putting in the oven. I don’t have a dutch oven, so I decided to use the ceramic liner from my crock pot and it worked great. Cooked at 300 for 2 1/2 hours. Reduced the liquid, stirred in the pork and then spread it out on a foil lined cookie sheet. It was amazing. Very similar in flavor to Cafe Rio’s shredded pork. My husband loved it and kept commenting about how good the house smelled. :)I highly recommend this recipe to everyone I know! Thank you for sharing!

  82. says

    This was the best Pork I have ever had. It was fall-apart-melt-in-your-mouth tender. But I did not get a syrup like consistency in the sauce until after it had cooled. Is it supposed to be syrupy while it is reducing? or is it just after the fact that it looks like syrup? Thanks for a wonderful recipe!

  83. BrittTall says

    Amazing! Did not have a Dutch oven, so I put it in a large pot with a lid, and it was great!! Everyone loved it!! Thanks for sharing!

  84. says

    i had some marbled pork chops in the fridge and decided to use them for the recipe. i also didnt have an orange so i used a grapefruit and threw in some garlic….using the crock pot since i dont have a dutch oven. cant wait to taste them!!

  85. says

    So many people really like this I can’t wait to try it. I did notice a few asked about using beef, but no one replied. I have tons of beef in the freezer so would also like to know if a beef cut can be used.

  86. says

    Nine Months- I’m sure you can use beef but be sure it is a very fatty and marbled piece like a pork shoulder is. Let me know your results when you do!

  87. nursinmem says

    I’m making this as I type…the house smells so good!! I can’t wait for it to finish!! Great recipe! Thanks!! Lisa

  88. says

    I had my doubts that the liquid would reduce and get syrupy, but I stirred and boiled for 20 min. and behold it worked. It was delicious and a hit with the family. Good recipe for a lazy day at home. Or, when it’s 108 degrees outside and you don’t feel like going out to grill.

  89. Anonymous says

    I found you via Pinterest and the link that I had used was removed! I had a panic attack for not having written this down. This is one of my favorite recipes and well worth the 30 minutes I just spent hunting it down on the web. Thanks so much!

  90. Anonymous says

    I made these tonight, and they were absolutely amazing! The meat melts in your mouth, and the flavors were great! My two little girls, my husband, and I all loved it!

  91. Anonymous says

    I have never made carnitas, nor have I ever eaten it, so it was a surprise for us and our guests. Delicious! I will make again. Thanks for sharing!


  92. says

    I have had carnitas at two authentic Mexican restaurants here in town and then I made these. Let me tell you, these are astounding! The “authentic” ones paled in comparison to this recipe. This is a recipe that I will never part with. Definitely two thumbs up!

  93. Anne H says

    I made these with chicken instead of pork (bf hates red meat) and did it once with thighs, once with breasts. Both times the flavor fell a good bit flat, and with the breasts, I doubled all the spices and citrus. Any insights as to how I might boost the flavor? As a note, the reduction process took forever, and the sauce was still very watery. Sugar, maybe?

  94. says

    Anne-my main suggestion for you is to stick with the pork butt instead of chicken. The flavors of this recipe are made to work with pork, not chicken or beef. Plus, the texture is completely different as well. The pork is tender and melts in your mouth. Chicken will never do that. As far as reducing, be patient and use the widest pan you have if you need to speed it up. Adding sugar will only mess with the balance of flavors that is so perfect with the pork.

  95. says

    I came across this on Pinterest and thought, “hmm, I could maybe use one of my pork roasts for this.” What you don’t know is that I HATE roasts, beef and pork both. But, growing beef and pork sort of makes us have to eat it. LOL! This looks like something I could make and enjoy, and when I read all the reviews (ALL of them), I decided I would try it. On the menu for this week. Thanks so much for posting something appetizing for this roast disliker. :)

  96. says

    Trying this tonight! I wish I would have found your page sooner, I found this recipe via pinterest, and it wasn’t the original, so after putting everything in the oven, I realized there was no time written. Thankfully someone had figured it out and I found the link here.
    Can’t wait! We’ll be eating late, but from the comments, at least we’ll be eating something good!

  97. Anonymous says

    Love this recipe. I make about 4 batches and freeze them. Last time I did not have time for the Dutch oven so I put it in the crockpot. Did last 2 steps in recipe. Family said it was the best one yet. Definetly my go to recipe. Thank you for sharing it with everyone.

  98. sarahbear says

    Looking forward to trying this recipe for a casual dinner party for 13 friends this weekend. Having not made this before and assuming the meat cooks down quite a bit – can you make a suggestion for how much meat to start with for the correct number of servings? I am planning to do “burrito bowls” with rice, beans and other toppings. Thanks!

  99. says

    Sarah- this will be a huge hit for your party! If you want the bowls to be generous with meat, I would make two batches. Otherwise, a recipe and a half will be great.

  100. Anonymous says

    I tried this tonight and waited and waited for my liquid to thicken. It never happened. The only change I made to the recipe was omitting the lime juice because I didn’t have any. I can’t imagine lime juice would make the liquid turn syrupy. After waiting over 30 minutes and rereading the ingredients, I couldn’t figure out how the liquid would thicken by itself. I’m stumped at what I did wrong. Any ideas?

  101. says

    I’m not sure what the problem was and you are correct that the lime juice would not make a difference. I boil my liquid on high for about 20 minutes before it reduces down and starts to thicken. How much liquid did you have before you began to boil it down?

  102. Anonymous says

    I started with the 2 cups liquid so I was boiling whatever was left after baking approximately 3 hours. I removed the bay leaves and orange rinds before boiling. When it didn’t thicken after 35 minutes I ended up adding some Pepsi to help it thicken.
    I’ve been cooking over 30 yrs and have never seen water thicken on it’s own without flour or cornstarch.

  103. says

    Maybe thicken is the wrong term to use. It reduces down, the natural sugars in the meat and citrus cause the sauce to become a more syrup like thickness so it will cling to the meat before you put it under the broiler. You should reduce the liquid to about half by the time it begins to become more syrup like.

  104. says

    Made this tonight and like others, my sauce never became a syrup like consistency…boiled for 20 minutes. No matter. It was still over-the-top delicious! From two who are very skeptical of pork, we LOVED it. Thanks for the recipe!

  105. dawnf says

    Thank you so much for this delicious recipe that is now a beloved staple of our family meal planning.

    For previous readers-I’ve made this several times in the last few months and it really does take a long time for the sauce to reduce, totally worth the wait though so if yours isn’t reducing just keep at it.

  106. says

    Just had to comment because this was SO GOOD. I also used a crockpot for the first step: for 4 lbs it cooked for about 4 hours on low and then another 2 on high (was running out of time. :) ) Then I just strained the cooking liquid into a pan and followed the instructions as written from there. I was a little skeptical of the reducing part since it seemed like it wasn’t doing anything at all, but then – right around 20 mins – it got all syrupy looking. Perfect!

    My plan for next time (have already picked up another chunk of meat!) is follow the instructions up through mixing the meat with the reduced cooking liquid. At that point, I’ll let it cool a bit and then put it in quart- or pint-sized freezer bags an freeze them flat. Then whenever I want carnitas, I can just defrost, broil and eat!

    Again, thanks so much for posting this – so delicious!

  107. Anonymous says

    Just made this tonight and will DEFINITELY be making it again! I had it with chihuahua cheese, avocado, onion, cilantro, lime and grilled pineapple. I’m in love.

  108. Anonymous says

    I never leave comments on recipes–until now! These are amazingly good. I follow the recipe almost exactly (I shred the meat more than the recipe calls for) and everything turns out more than perfectly. I serve these with homemade flour tortillas, cheese, cilantro, tomatoes, sliced scallions, and generous squeeze of lime. And for reducing the liquid at the end–be patient; it’ll happen! I boil until the liquid sort of runs slowly off the spoon…sometimes takes more than 20 minutes, but it does happen.

  109. says

    This was a hit!! I used pork loin, because that’s what I had on and and that’s all my family likes, and it was still wonderful! It stayed juicy and so flavorful. This is definitely a keeper recipe.

  110. Renee says

    i pinned this recipe a long time ago and found it again today when looking through my pinterest for a good pork recipe. it made the entire house smell so good while it was cooking and tasted even better than the smells! definitely a keeper!

  111. Susan says

    I am making this for the second time tonight. It was sooooo good. My husband and I fought over the leftovers. I can’t eat bread so I always get the leftovers. Not this time! :)

  112. says

    Have made this recipe three times in the last three months!!!!! This is now one of my go toos for company! Thanks for sharing!

  113. Anonymous says

    I found this recipe today and decided to try it as my husband always orders this when we go to the local mexican restaurant. I followed the recipe exactly though the juice never thickened even after 30 minutes. I used the juice to make a gravy mixture and dipped the meat in it before broiling. We loved it and will definitely be making again.

  114. Anonymous says

    Just mixed the reduced liquid in with the meat. I’m waiting for the broiling step for when I take it to a friend’s house tonight, but I can’t stop sneaking bites…it’s so delicious!

    Thank you so much – I’ve been searching for a good recipe to make tacos like I ate when I lived in Mexico.

  115. Anonymous says

    Amazing, reminded us of the carnitas we got at a little taco stand in Cancun! I used boneless country style ribs, so easy, couldn’t keep my teenage son out of the meat once I took it out of the oven, definitely will be making this again!!!!!!

  116. says

    I made this last night and the meat turned out pretty dry. Do you have any suggestions? I didn’t change anything or make substitutions.

  117. says

    Juli- I’m surprised and a bit stumped. It should have a nice char and crust on the outside but the reduced cooking liquid should keep the meat quite moist while it is in the broiler. Since you are cooking your meat in a liquid, again, not quite sure what happened. The only thing I could suggest next time is maybe reducing your cooking time and temperature a little bit

  118. says

    Thanks for the amazing recipe post! I have made this 3 times now and its so good. My husband LOVES Mexican food, so this is pretty much the best meal he could ask for.

    I have made it every time in my pressure cooker with huge success. I didn’t see another comment with pressure cooker instructions, so here’s what I do.

    I cut the water down to 1 cup, and cook on high pressure for 35 mins, and do a quick pressure release. Once the pressure cooker has released pressure you open it up and follow the rest of the recipe for broiling it with reduced liquid. Its so fast and easy!

    I plan to make this for my daughters birthday party next week. I’m having 20 adults and about 10 young kids. Do you think I should quadruple the recipe for this many? so like 16 lbs?
    I plan to serve it with tortillas, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, shredded cabbage, and beans.
    Thanks again!

  119. says

    Thank you for the pressure cooker directions! I will have to give that a try next time. I think a quadruple batch would be perfect for that many people! Have a great time

  120. Dianne says

    So got all the way to the cooking down the liquid and so far been cooking for almost 45 minutes and not even close to getting thick and syrupy :( I’ll keep boiling it but it’s taking a looong time! I started with at least 5-6 cups of juice. Does that seem right?

    • Carole says

      Dianne- 5-6 cups seems like quite a lot of juices left. Try using less water next time. You should end up with about 1 cup of finished liquid after it is done reducing. Thanks for your question! Carole

  121. heidi says

    This is seriously the best pork taco recipe I have ever made or tried! Even better than any taco stand or fancy Mexican restaurant! My family asks for these at least 3 times a month! I make homemade quac and Pico to go with them. It’s in the oven now and I can’t wait for dinner! Thanks so much for the awesome recipe!

  122. Marie says

    I just finished cooking this. It is sooooo delicious! I had to adjust a few things, but still had great results. I used pork loin, and just added some olive oil. I also, emptied the pot into a crockpot for the slow cook portion, just to keep the house from getting hot. My broth didn’t really get very syrupy, but i reduced it down until it was thicker. This is a super easy, delicious recipe!

  123. Beth says

    Can’t wait to make this today. Question is I want to take to party tomorrow but need to make today and then warm up in crockpot. Will it be dry if I do this?

    • says

      Beth- It won’t be dry because there is enough reduced liquid to keep it moist. It is best hot from the broiler because of all that caramelization on the pork. You lose that once it gets reheated later.

  124. Brandy says

    Do you know how many servings this makes? I really want to make this, but don’t see myself eating 4 pounds of pork – lol. Can I halve it? If I do, how would you adjust any cooking times?


    • says

      Brandy – it makes quite a bit of finished carnitas! You could definitely halve the recipe and reduce the cooking time in the oven by 1/3 to begin with. Keep checking the meat after that because you need it to be tender and falling apart. I’ve never made a half recipe so this is my best estimate -Carole

    • says

      Jamie- it depends what you are using the meat in. If you are serving it in smaller tortillas, I think you are fine with a single batch. If the meat serves as a main ingredient, like in a salad or served on it’s own, I would increase the recipe. – Carole

  125. Mackenzie says

    Hey Carole,
    My husband and I love this carnitas recipe and are going to make it for a party tomorrow. I was reading through the recipe again and noticed at the bottom a link for a chicken chorizo bake. This looks delicious and I’d love to try it but the link takes you to the fish taco recipe. could you fix this or send me the link for the bake. Thanks so much.

  126. Laurie says

    Wisctwins. – Ok – I did something wrong – I followed the directions exactly but when I reduced the liquid it did not turn into a syrup. Any suggestions? It basically reduced down to nothing.

      • Arline says

        When I made this it didn’t thicken either. I just reduced it and poured it over the pork. My husband seemed to think it was because I was using a cast iron dutch oven and it was to hot just made the juices evaporate. Any suggestions?

        • says

          I use a Dutch oven as well. I just reduce it until it becomes more syrupy….about 1 to 1 1/2 C once it has reduced. You need that liquid to stick the meat, but it does take some time for it to reduce enough

  127. says

    Making this for the first time! I hope it tastes as good as it looks and from what I’ve read, as long as I follow the directions, it should be easy!! :)

  128. agnes says

    3. While the liquid is reducing, use two forks to pull each cube of pork into three equal sized pieces. Once the liquid has become a syrup, gently fold in the pieces of pork into the pot

    “Once the liquid has become a syrup, gently fold in the pieces of pork into the pot” does this mean pour the liquid onto the meat?

    • says

      Agnes – great question! I think it is easier to put the meat back in with the reduced liquid and then onto a pan to go under the broiler! -Carole

  129. Angelica Aguilera says

    Wow! I made this for dinner tonight. I also made the home made tortillas. My husband and son devoured them. Believe me. It may seem like it’s a lot of work, but it’s actually simple and sooooo worth it in the end. I asked my husband from a scale of 1 to 10 and it got a 10. Yum! Will definitely make in the future. Thanks for the recipe.

  130. Shani says

    Made this recipe today with some balsamic roasted carrots and homemade corn tortillas and hmmm hmmm hmmm it was good. My family LOVED the Pork. Thanks!

  131. Christi Gray says

    This is one of my family’s favorite meals! Tonight will be the 4th time we’ve eaten it in 2 months. Thank you for the yummy recipe!!!

    • says

      So glad to hear that Christi! It has been about two months since I’ve made it but have the pork in my fridge for this week! One of our favorites as well

  132. ERICA U. says

    OMG! Carole this recipe is GOLDEN! It’s very rare that I don’t have to change a single thing when I try a new recipe. This one is perfect as is. I loved it and so did everyone else that tasted it. Thank you SO much for sharing!

  133. Arline says

    I made this about two weeks ago, my family has not stopped asking when will I make it again, they loved it! I’m making this today. Next time I will try the suggestions here about using a crock pot. That would make it easier for during the week. However, I set the pork up to marinate last night. I expect it to taste even better this time.

  134. says

    My daughter made this when I came for dinner a few weeks ago, and it was delicious! She used a crock pot. I don’t have time for a crock pot, and I don’t have a cast iron dutch oven. What tweaks would you recommend for using a run-of-the-mill aluminum Farberware dutch oven?

    • says

      Great question Jana! You can use any large pot, but it has to be safe to go into the oven. If you have handles that are not oven safe, or a lid that is not oven safe, you will ruin your pan -Carole

  135. Rob says

    This will be interesting. I am use a lamb shoulder. Didn’t have a butt. Lots of fat. Hope it works out. Smells great BTW

  136. Terra says

    My husband and I have traveled together for our jobs for almost 30 yrs, everywhere we land we look for the most authentic mexican food we can find along with the best local mexican grocery store. We definitely know our mexican food! Recently we have been in Nebraska in the middle of NOWHERE and there is nothing remotely worth eating here (other than steak) unless we travel to the bigger cities. THANK YOU A MILLION TIMES for posting this…. I make it every week! Super simple and has been a life saver! Who knew you could make this at home and why have I never tried??? Because I’ve never HAD to and thought it would be super difficult!! NOPE! I use almost the same recipe now for chicken to switch it up, learned how to make home made beans and rice as well. Now I make this every Sunday, and we have AHmazing lunches and dinners all week! I just toss the meat in any meal im making. This recipe equals a very happy husband! LOVE IT.. TRY IT… TODAY!!!

    • says

      Jenn – How about a side of mexican rice and some refried or pinto beans? It really depends on how you are serving the meat. I love it over a salad with a lot of avocado and pico de gallo

  137. Kat Connors says

    These were incredible!!! Robert Rodriguez’s puerco pibil has been my go-to for carnitas for years, but this is much simpler and much quicker. I made a few minor adjustments I wanted to throw out there!

    1. I used 6lbs of bone-in pork butt and adjusted liquids/seasonings accordingly. I cut as much meat off as I could off the bone, then actually just threw the bone in on top of everything else. Adds flavor and gets every scrap of meat!

    2. I used chicken stock instead of water. I almost never use water where I can substitute stock. Why pass up a chance to add flavor! If you’re using the canned kind, make sure it’s low sodium broth or the kind of unsalted stock that comes in the carton. You can even get pork stock now!

    3. I threw in a handful of sliced garlic… Because nothing leaves this kitchen without a ton of garlic, lol. I also added a little harissa for kick.

    4. The main change was my cooking method. I am addicted to my electric pressure cooker. It is one of the best gifts I have ever gotten, because it’s like a crockpot, but fast instead of slow, lol! I brought everything to a boil, then cooked at high pressure for 45 minutes with natural pressure release. I probably could have gotten away with even 30 minutes. Because there’s virtually no evaporation in pressure cooking, it took much longer to boil down the juices, but MAN OH MAN was it worth it!

    Thanks so so so much for posting this! This will be going into ourregular rotation!

  138. says

    I made this for Cinco De Mayo and posted it on my blog, thanks for the great recipe. I loved the pork carnitas and the hint of orange that the meat had after cooking for 2 hours. Broiling it was great to get the crispy texture. I served with home made salsa verde and pico de gallo!

  139. Rhylee S says

    Was thinking of making these for my graduation open house, and wondering about how many people would this serve?
    Also any ideas on what to serve with it? Im thinking all the fixings (guacamole, pico de gallo, salsa, etc.,), mexican rice and served with tortillas or maybe some salad.

    • says

      It really depends Rhylee on how you are serving it. As a taco, with small flour tortillas, this easily makes 15 tacos. If you make this, your guests will be some very lucky people :)

  140. Brigitte says

    I have made this several times now. It is so delicious! I make it when we have guests for dinner and it has always been a hit! Thank you for sharing!

  141. Marri says

    I know this is a very old post, but as I get ready to prepare this for our Saturday’s Easy Meal, I wanted to take the time to thank you for this recipe. My neighbor’s in the States would make carnitas several times in the summer months outdoors in a copper kettle over am old oil drum. There was always a knock on the door inviting me to come and eat. And I did!

    I missed carnitas so much when I moved to England. Here I am able to make most of the Mexican dishes my neighbor taught me, much to my husband’s delight. His family was posted to Mexico so they are familiar with the cuisine and enjoy it,. This one recipe eluded me; I couldn’t get Victor’s magic taste correct in my indoor carnitas.
    This nails it. I love watching my husband’s face when he smells the aroma as it cooks and he realizes what’s on the menu!

  142. Marty Robinson says

    Hi. I know this recipe has been out there for awhile, but I just discovered it. I wanted to let you know how wonderful they are. I know everyone used dutch ovens and crockpots but I used a 6 qt electric pressure cooker. I just doubled the recipe and added only one cup of water. I cooked it for 40 minutes and let the pressure release naturally when the forty minutes were up. OMG! The meat was so tender and favorable. I couldn’t find boneless port butt or I bought a nine pound bone in. I trimmed fat and cut up as per the recipe. Just thought I would give folks another way to cook it. Thank you for a wonderful recipe. Having a family get together this weekend and I can’t wait to share this flavorful recipe. Thanks so much!

  143. Jagger says

    Hello, that picture is the THE most delicious looking picture I have ever seen in my entire life. Next time you make it, send some to Darwin, Australia please :)

  144. Bill Morgan says

    I’m partial to the Michoan style carnitas and have to ask if anyone has tried first browning the cubed pork in lard?

    • says

      Hi Dane! I usually serve this with some homemade beans and a salad. Usually people like to smear some of the beans into their tortilla before loading up the pork -Carole

  145. says

    I made this recipe in the slow cooker and broiled the meat afterwards and it was everything i hoped it would be. I’m making some right now. Everytime i go out and eat Mexican i always order the Pork Carnitas. I’ve had it every which way and this recipe is what the best restaurants will make. Thank you very much. My next attempt is to use this recipe in a stolen Chipotle burrito recipe.

  146. Jill says

    I’ve never had good luck making good mexican food but we had this tonight and it was a hit with the whole family! I was skeptical about the orange but I followed the recipe exactly as written and it was awesome! Thanks!

  147. Meaghan says

    Could I cut this recipe exactly in half? I’m cooking for four and don’t mind some leftovers to freeze but I don’t need a ton.

  148. Shari Robinson says

    Just tried this tonight and everyone liked it. It’s a change from the deep-fried kind we are use to, but still really good. I also cooked the meat in a pressure cooker for 30mins. Then followed the rest of the directions as stated. Yummy!!!

  149. Heather says

    I seem to be the only one with this question, but I really need to know. How do you get the liquid to a syrup? I boiled it for twenty minutes and it’s still like water. Any help would be very appreciated. Thank you.


    • says

      Howdy Heather! Sometimes when I make this recipe, it takes a lot
      Longer for the liquid to boil down and thicken. Just keep letting it boil :)

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