Crock-Pot Carnitas Recipe

Looking for a new recipe to bust out on Taco Tuesday? If you're a fan of carnitas, this is the perfect recipe for you. However, if you're also a fan of simple Crock-Pot meals that cook themselves, then that's just another reason to love this recipe. All you need are a few ingredients, a Crock-Pot, and about 5 minutes to prep the dish, and then you can head to work while the carnitas cook at home. 

Recipe developer Kate Shungu came up with this great recipe that makes for an easy family dinner, or meal with friends. "Carnitas are a great way to feed a lot of people with a little meat. It's easy, quick to make, and everyone loves this spin on a taco," Shungu raves. "Since a pork shoulder is a large cut of meat, it'll need to cook for at least 6 hours. The Crock-Pot is a hands-off way to make this easy." 

Keep reading to find out how to make this easy carnitas recipe. 

Gather the ingredients for Crock-Pot carnitas

This excellent recipe for carnitas starts with a pork shoulder. "Look for sales on pork shoulder at the grocery store, and then freeze one or two for later," Shungu recommends. You will also need salt, yellow onion, garlic cloves, Coca-Cola, orange juice, lime juice, cumin, dried oregano, and bay leaves. Shungu also recommends getting chopped cilantro, additional chopped onion, tortillas, and lime wedges for serving. "You can substitute Coca-Cola for Pepsi. You can also use bottled lime juice if you don't have fresh," Shungu explains.

Once you have those items, you can whip up these tasty carnitas. 

Season and cook the pork shoulder

Grab the pork shoulder and season it generously with salt on both sides. Then, add the seasoned pork shoulder to the Crock-Pot. At this time, add in the quartered onion, smashed garlic, Coca-Cola, orange juice, lime juice, cumin, oregano, and bay leaves. "The addition of Coca Cola contributes acidity, and a very small amount of sweetness to the finished dish," Shungu notes. 

You can cook the pork low-and-slow for 10 to 12 hours, or you can cook it on high for 6 to 7 hours. "Make sure that the pork shreds easily with a fork before removing it from the Crock-Pot," Shungu says.

Shred and broil the meat

Once you finish cooking the pork, carefully remove it from the slow cooker, and place it on a cutting board. Be sure to let it cool for a few minutes, then use 2 forks to shred the carnitas.

When you are ready to serve, preheat the oven to the high broil setting, and add the shredded meat to a sheet pan. Then, ladle a few spoonfuls of the juice from the Crock-Pot over top. Broil for 4 to 5 minutes. This helps crisp up the pork, and gives it that signature carnitas texture we all know and love.

Serve and enjoy

Most of the time, people serve carnitas on tortillas. Just load the meat on a tortilla, and top it with chopped cilantro, chopped onion, and a squeeze of lime. Shugnu also provides a few additional serving suggestions: "You can also serve the meat with your favorite salsa, cheese, or lettuce taco bar-style."

This is also a great dish for meal prepping. "Keep leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days," Shungu notes. Cheers to another great Crock-Pot recipe. 

Crock-Pot Carnitas Recipe
5 from 30 ratings
Nothing beats a quick and easy slow cooker meal, and this Crock-Pot carnitas recipe is one you will keep coming back to.
Prep Time
Cook Time
crock-pot carnitas on tray
Total time: 6 hours, 20 minutes
  • 1 6-pound pork shoulder
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered, plus ¼ cup chopped for garnish
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 cup Coca-Cola
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 16 tortillas
  • chopped cilantro for garnish
  • lime slices
Optional Ingredients
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped onion
  • tortillas
  • lime slices
  1. Season pork shoulder with salt. Place the pork shoulder, quartered onion, garlic, Coca-Cola, orange juice, lime juice, cumin, oregano, and bay leaves in a slow cooker.
  2. Cook on high for 6 to 7 hours, or on low for 10 to 12 hours, or until the pork shreds easily with a fork. Remove the pork from the slow cooker, and let cool slightly on a cutting board. Use a fork to shred the meat.
  3. When you're ready to serve it, preheat the broiler to high. Place the shredded meat on a sheet pan, and pour a few ladles of the Crock-Pot juices on top. Broil for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the pork is crispy. Serve on tortillas with chopped cilantro, chopped onion, and lime wedges.
Calories per Serving 372
Total Fat 23.8 g
Saturated Fat 8.1 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 90.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 15.3 g
Dietary Fiber 2.0 g
Total Sugars 3.1 g
Sodium 532.6 mg
Protein 23.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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