I am embarrassed by how long it took me to discover carnitas, or “little meats” that are usually braised then roasted, and are as far I quickly became concerned, the very best thing to pile on a blistered corn tortilla. I had my first one just a couple years ago. I was pregnant at the time and protein-rich foods were ten times as delicious as they normally were so when I became obsessed with having another, and then another, I chalked it up to baby madness. But that kid is now two, and my carnita fixation has gone nowhere. (And no, people, I’m not pregnant. In fact, I’m pouring whiskey into my coffee as we speak, just like I always do after preschool drop-offs.)
The only thing greater than my love for carnitas was my wonderment as to how they were made. I imagined that getting a flavor so complex, and a texture so nuanced — somehow fork tender in the center and caramelized to a crunch at the edges — was best left to the experts, and so I continued to pay a tremendous markup in a city not known for excellence-on-a-taco because I knew I’d never pull it off as well at home. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I learned that one of the most famous recipes for carnitas has but three ingredients: pork, water and salt. Three! I still can’t get over it. I tell people about this all of the time — vegetarians, even, who nod politely; my husband, who thinks it’s cool, but perhaps a little less than I do; this old lady on the crosstown bus who heard me talking about them on the phone… But wait, there’s more: not only do you only need three ingredients to make carnitas, the cooking technique is kind of brilliant. The meat braises in the water and salt (this is the tenderizing part) for a few hours and then, once the water cooks off, it fries itself in its own rendered fat (thus creating those addictive crisp ends). Did you just get hungry too?
This isn’t to say that you can’t add more ingredients to the pot. In her first book, Lisa Fain who you may know from her blog Homesick Texan, cooks her carnitas in a little salt and fresh-squeezed lime and orange juices (i.e. it takes a margarita bath; I’m only a little jealous) plus some cumin and garlic, thus so do I as I defer to her on all matters Tex-Mex. The flavors are gentle enough that they don’t overwhelm the pork, but amazing enough that you’ll probably be fishing “tasters” out of the pot long before you share them with others.
The book, by the way, is fantastic. The day I got it, I stopped what I was doing (likely, chasing Jacob around the apartment with a comb in a feeble attempt to “civilize” his mop) and read the whole book, cover to cover and was overwhelmed with a desire to book a flight to Texas. If you wept when Friday Night Lights ended, this is your book. If you you were hoping to get your Tex-Mex cookery to the next level, this is your book. If you need another slaw recipe (and you know, I always do) there’s a fine one with a jalapeno buttermilk dressing within that we pretty much inhaled with our carnitas. And if you were looking for a great way to spend the afternoon of a Friday half day at work, buy some beers, make this soup, this pudding and these carnitas and invite your friends over. I can think of no finer way to usher in the weekend.
One year ago: Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese, Buckeyes and Spaghetti with Chickpeas
Two years ago: Baked Chicken Meatballs and Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats
Three years ago: Peanut Butter Crispy Treats, Spaghetti with Swiss Chard and Garlic Chips and Pepita Brittle and Cottage Cheese Pancakes
Four years ago: Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup, Cranberry, Caramel and Almond Tart and Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic
Five years ago: Easiest Baked Mac-and-Cheese, Bretzel Rolls and Stewed Lentils and Tomatoes
Homesick Texan Carnitas
Adapted, just barely, from The Homesick Texan Cookbook
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder or pork butt, cut into 2-inch cubes
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lime juice (from about 2 to 3 limes)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste
Corn tortillas, for serving plus
Avocado slices, chopped cilantro and fixings of your choice (we love pickled jalapenos or onions, lime wedges and a bit of slaw)
Place the pork in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot. Add the orange juice, lime juice, garlic, cumin, salt and enough water to just barely cover the meat. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for two hours. Don’t touch the meat.
After two hours, increase the heat to medium-high and while occasionally stirring and turning the pieces, continue to cook for about 45 minutes, or until all of the liquid has evaporated, leaving only the rendered pork fat. Let it sizzle in this fat long enough to brown at the edges, turning pieces gently (they’ll be eager to fall apart), only as needed.
When pork has browned on both sides, it’s ready. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve on warmed tortillas with fixings.
484 comments on homesick texan carnitas
Carnitas is one of my favorite items to order at the Mexican restaurants here in San Diego. Who knew it was this easy?! I am soooo making this. Thanks for sharing!!
Looks delicious..I have to admit we’re not eating much meat these days but I might have to make an exception for this and I agree-great dish for entertaining with friends on a Friday evening!
I always wondered what “carnitas” meant…thanks for the description – makes a lot of sense! Eventhough I didn’t know what the word meant, carnitas has been my go-to dish in Mexican restaurants for awhile. I’ve gotta try this at-home recipe the next time I have a crowd over. Yum!
Carnitas are on our list to make! This recipe looks delicious. We were going to make them in the crock pot, but you have a good point that it wouldn’t have that crispy-ness. Will have to think about it :)
Also a big fan of the Homesick Texan – she inspired my favorite dish I’ve ever made, my Chorizo-Style Pork Chops http://yellebellyboo.blogspot.com/2011/10/chorizo-style-pork-chops.html
I make in the crockpot all the time, shred and place under the broiler to crisp up. Set it & forget it easy!!
You can’t tame the un-tameable. My daughter has Einstein hair that I tried to tame for almost three years before I gave up.
Not a pig eater, but I’m hoping this will transfer well to a nice piece of brisket. Cumin. Citrus. What could go wrong?
I want to make this for my non-vegetarian husband, but I’m not sure if I can cook it inside without feeling overly meated. I wonder if it would work on the grill.
Carnitas are divine! And I bet yours are even better. And you’re my kind of girl, whiskey in the coffee. Hooray for spiked morning beverages! :0)
Huh – I always thought you needed lard to fry the braised meat, so I’ve never gotten around to it. Must try out this method – thanks!
reminds me of home. my mother used to make these for me
I made Homesick Texan’s recipe a few weeks ago! So easy, and I love that it makes a ton of leftovers. We had carnitas breakfast tacos the next day.
it’s posts like these which make me curse my husband for being a vegetarian.
Forgive me for not knowing, but… What are “butter” ribs? Or is that possibly a typo in the recipe and the other meat option is pork “butt”? Please let me know. Thanks. The recipe sounds delightful!
Butter ribs do sound delicious, right? But that was a typo. It’s pork shoulder, pork butter or country-style ribs, de-boned as the meat options.
Update: On second thought, I’m going to nix the rib option as the pieces will be smaller and this recipe will have too long a cooking time. Sorry for the tease!
mmm, now see, when I make Carnitas, I break out the Crockpot. I don’t worry about deboning the pork. I throw the whole shoulder in the crockpot, and let it cook until the meat and bone separate naturally. I then separate the fat and the left over liquid, and sautee the meat in the fat, to get the crispy-ness desired.
With the left over braising liquid, I’ll use some of that to make rice later.
I am surprised how easy this is. Plus my crockpot has been stealing all the glory from my dutch oven lately so I should probably share some love.
I was just contemplating making carnitas this weekend for Guy Fawkes night; looks like I’ll be following your recipe! I use a similar cooking method (braise in a little wine then fry in the rendered fat) for confit duck.
Is pork butter a cut I’ve not heard of (in the UK) or should it be pork butt?
This is a fantastic recipe! I made it exactly as written. Pour citrus and spice on top of meat, simmer 2 hr, then turn up heat until all liquid evaporates. The meat will then fry in its own fat, producing brown bits of what can only be described as “meat candy”.
I’m saving this recipe for future dinner parties, and future taco cravings.
Thank you Deb, you are a kitchen goddess.
Would it be possible to sub in beef broth or something for the juices? While that sounds delicious, I need to avoid sugar. But I really want to give the cooking technique a try!
These carnitas are SO awesome! They were my first foray into the wonderful world of carnitas.
Spiked coffee’s are the way to go!
I’ve never tasted carnitas before – bet I am missing on deliciousness :)
Butter? Did you mean pork butt? Or did I miss some sort of nomenclature for country ribs?
I’m sitting here taking a break from work while devouring some leftover chili for lunch – your Beef Chili recipe. So I owe you 2 thank yous – 1st, for my new go to classic “red” beef chili recipe, and 2nd for giving me my plans for tomorrow evening – making carnitas and sharing with some friends over beers sounds perfect.
Who doesn’t want a margarita bath? And who knew this could be so easy…
Thanks for the inspiration.
I love carnitas, my favorite taco filling, and finally got to make it myself last year for my Texan husband (he loved them :). I used the Cook’s Illustrated recipe (http://www.cooksillustrated.com/recipes/login.asp?docid=13064), which I think is pretty similar to this one. Simple and extremely delicious!
When you said, “margarita bath” I immediately thought, mmmm, tequila. Margarita carnitas. Of course, now I’m not going to be able to get that out of my head….
Oh wow. I am SO making this next weekend(would be this weekend but plans have been made) and thinking that it will score me many bonus points from the boy. These look amazing and I believe I will need to go buy the cookbook! Thanks again for yet another yummy recipe!
Love carnitas and love, love, love the Homesick Texan! So many great recipes. I regularly make Lisa’s pulled pork with coffee chipotle rub with the jalapeno slaw—to.die.for. I’ll definitely try the carnitas recipe..and serve with the Homesick Texan’s delicious and easy homemade flour tortillas.
Can we use a pressure cooker to sped up the process? I can’t turn on the stove for two hours it would break havoc on my light bill…electricity ain’t cheap in Puerto Rico :(
I love LOVE this recipe and have made it many times. I am not generally a pork lover, but I dream about these carnitas…
I am Texan, live in the neighborhood where “Friday Night Lights” was filmed, and yet reading the Homesick Texan somehow manages to make ME feel homesick for Texas.
3 ingredients!! can’t wait to try these! cuz well, 3 ingredients!
Adding pork shoulder or butt to my shopping list so I can make this. I have a tasty winter kohlrabi that would be perfect shredded and dressed with creme fraiche and herbs to pile on top with the tortillas. Sounds like dinner one night that my husband is out of town will be easy!
Maybe this would make it too “Spanish”, but I would be tempted to put some
smoked paprika in here. The hot kind. I think that would be divine!
I’ve seen a recipe similar to this before but was skeptical. Now that it has the SK seal of approval, I think carnitas are on the menu for this weekend. It fits my better half’s paleo-diet and fits my delicious requirement. Can’t wait to try!
Hmm…might this recipe work with pork belly? I’m lucky enough to a.) have a father who raises pigs who b.) recently gave me some delicious pork belly-ness for my own culinary experimentation.
FYI – I noticed that when I printed this, it had the PORK BUTTER error in it. (You don’t have to post this, just wanted to let you know, since I know you care about these things.) Looks delicious. I’m on it.
I am seriously FA-REAKING out right now as I’ve been needing to make something like this for a while.
You = ruleth.
Oh, crap, Deb. I don’t get off work for another seven hours, and not only do I want to be braising pork right now, but I could real use some whiskey in my coffee! …I know what I’m making for Sunday dinner!
this looks even easier than david lebovitz’s carnitas, which starts with searing, making a mess of my stovetop. but i love it anyway. i’m going to try this one next time. we use carnitas for tacos, for pulled pork, just adding bbq sauce. so tender and yummy…
When you simmer the meat for two hours and you say not to touch it, are there some cubes on the top that eventually dry out as the water evaporates?
Most of the liquid evaporation will happen when you turn up the heat in the last 45 minutes, so I don’t remember a lot of exposure up top until the end.
wow, this looks fantastic. i think i need that book!
Carnitas are the bomb! (And so is Lisa’s book!)
Actually, pork shoulder and pork butt are the same thing. They’re all cuts from the shoulder of the pig – I think there is some variation on the naming based on what part of the shoulder the cut is from and the region where one is doing the purchasing. But pork butt is not from the arse of the pig :) I think that’s why recipes say “pork shoulder or pork butt” because of the many names for what is essentially one cut of meat.
This is very well-timed as I just bought a huge pork butt and was planning on making green chile carnitas a la Torchy’s – a fantastic taco joint in Austin. If you ever make it down to central Texas, I can guarantee you more amazing Tex-Mex than you can shake a churro at (and good BBQ too, but I think that Tex-Mex is where it’s at). It’s a great city to be in when you’re hungry!
This is a revelation. All I can say is thank you. Fantastic!
Wow – I have to make this straight away! I’m wondering if it’s because of the pictures or your irresistible description!
Yep, I think I need that book too. What a great recipe!
My boyfriend is going to be very happy when I cook this for him. :)
Thanks, Deb and Lisa.
Oh, I love love love carnitas! So delicious. :)
YUM! Sounds so good, I’m definitely including this on the menu for my family next week!
Just seeing those pictures is making my heart break right now. I can’t taste a darn thing from this cold and I’d love to make that right this very minute.
Well, whoop-de-doo, this sounds great. I’l put it on my list for next week. Thanks for sharing.
I adore carnitas and have never attempted it at home. Thanks for the inspiration!
I’ve made carnitas with a couple different techniques, and I think Kenji’s over at Serious Eats is really interesting: http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/07/the-food-lab-how-to-make-crisp-and-juicy-carnitas-without-a-bucket-of-lard.html
Mmmm…carnitas! Starting them in the OJ and lime sounds good to me. I love the simplicity of it. I do something similar with a boneless chuck roast; a plain carne asada, if you must name it. Just throw it in a cast iron skillet, sprinkle it with pepper (no salt!) and put it in the oven at 300F and turn every half hour for about 3 hours until it’s brown and slightly crusty. I use it in in tacos, enchiladas, beef bbq sandwiches, chili..what ever you can imagine! I’ve even changed my mind at the end and made a pot roast out of it. I was amazed at how naturally salty the meat is without adding a single crystal of salt to it…and so flavorful.
Wait, I was under the impression that pork butt and pork shoulder are essentially the same thing. Is this wrong?
I’ve been wanting to get that book! I love love love carnitas and pretty much any tex-mex. It’s a shame that I live as far as humanly possible up here in Boston.
I’ve always though pork butt and pork shoulder were the same thing. What’s the difference?
Pork butt = pork shoulder, yes. I’ll reword it.
David Lebovitz also has an amazing carnitas recipe. His calls for cinnamon sticks, which sounds wierd, but tastes like heaven. I may have to do a little recipe comparison this weekend…
Yum! Can’t wait to try making this. I really miss Tex-Mex. SoCal Baja style just doesn’t come close…
This is a great recipe! I add a couple of chopped chipotles in adobo sauce to the pork for some extra heat cause that’s what I like.
Wow. This looks insane!!!
I just need to tell you that I love that you pour whiskey into your coffee (on a weekday :)).
Oh my goodness you were right on the simplicity claim.
I *need* to make this ASAP. Or, more like yesterday.
Oh my goodness. I am so intrigued by this cooking method! And it of course sounds delicious! I’m with you…I’ve never thought I could pull off meat like they have at all our favorite Mexican restaurants…but I’m going to have to try doing this!
Deb, my husband does not eat pork and frequently tells me “lips that touch swine don’t touch mine.” Do you know of any substitute that comes reasonably close to tasty carnitas? Frankly I LOVE carnitas but can’t feed them to hub or kids.
This dish sounds super. And your mini-mop, oh my, what a cutie. He’s really growing up.
loved your line about a margarita bath. I bet those would be fun to take :)
Honey, any time you want to come to Texas, come to Houston and I will take you to Ninfa’s. Ask Lisa about their original Hitas ( fajita’s to the rest of the world ) and the margaritas..just sayin.
> Jennie above..Honey what about trying beef in lieu of the pork ? ?
Waving from Houston
“pouring whiskey into my coffee as we speak, just like I always do after preschool drop-offs.” – you just made my Friday, Deb.
These carnitas sound great and so, so simple to make! Love how you serve it with an avocado slice, lime wedge and slaw – minimalistic and perfect.
Have already fallen in love with this recipe just from your pictures! Any ideas for using beer as part of the braising liquid?
Excuse me if I missed this but I’ve long heard that pork butt=pork shoulder and don’t really get it but I’d like to know what the pork arse is actually called then?
These sound delish… Will perhaps have to thaw my roast so I can cube it instead of the way I had planned. Tasty!
Thank you, Deb! You made my day!
This looks great Deb! I can’t wait to try it. Can you give an idea of how many it will serve?
Park arse is ham!
This looks like a great method. In the past I’ve always braised with the lid on, then separately fried the pork to brown it. This looks much easier, and I like the fact that you add acid (lime, orange) from the beginning. Again, I usually add acid at the end.
I’ve made a surprisingly easy (and good!) carnitas before from a recipe that basically only used a rub made out of finely powdered (in a mortar & pestle) Bay leaf.
Here in Texas,I buy my carnitas at the grocery around the corner. They are always being sold in front for $1 each, along with huge slabs of Tres Leches cake and agua fresca in 6 or 8 different flavors (Tamarind!). When I make this, i might have to make the cake too. Seriously, i dont know why every person in the state doesnt just roll everywhere. We eat too well.
I was a vegetarian for about three years but recently returned to eating meat. So far, I’ve only been doing it at restaurants, but these carnitas sound like my way back into cooking meat at home. Thanks, Deb!
Oh you should try tuna carnitas! Yeah you heard that right. While my parents were living in Campeche my momma learned how to made them so scrumptious! They serve them on tortillas with some cucumber, pickled onions ans habaneros. To die for I tell you!
I made pork shoulder few weeks back. It was simply roasted in oven with salt. I can completely understand the implicitly of just salt. Totally making this.
I’ve never made carnitas but these look delicious. My husband would love if I made these!
I recently discovered carnitas at a local taco truck. I thought I would only get them when I went taco trucking but, after reading this recipe I may never have to leave my kitchen!
Any food that can be associated with Friday Night Lights in any way is clearly one that I need to be making and eating on a weekly basis.
Digging the cross-blog love here — love you, love Lisa. And I have her book! Everything sounds so delicious, I hadn’t picked where to dive in yet. (Although the slaw and jalapeno buttermilk dressing you mention had caught my eye….) Now I know where to start — carnitas! Thanks, y’all.
I love your blog. Wit, good food, and convienence are a few of my favorite things. So nice to find them all in one place. I’m 25 and a novice cook. I try and cook most of my meals as I am southern bred but live in Hawaii. Asian cuisine is great, but most of the time I like to stick to my culinary heritage and save my cash by staying in. Your blog is a go-to, I love the surprise option. Thanks to you my roommate thinks I’m a real cook. I guess I am but I’m still new at this and don’t have a lot of recipe resources. My question is, if you had to choose a few down-to-earth cookbooks with attainable yet very satisfying recipes what would they be? I’m very curious and would appreciate your time answering. Mahalo!
Oh my goodness, reading through the recipe alone had me drooling on the table! I’m pinning this to try next week
I left work, immediately went to the grocery store, bought a 3 pound pork shoulder and came home and started cooking. I just finished making this delicious piece of deliciousness…..and I am SO tempted to sit down and eat the entire pot right now…. must resist……
Hi Deb, have you seen this recipe that was in a recent GQ? Sounds like a strange place to find such a thing but your post made me think of this recipe (where the pork slow fries for hours in olive oil) and now i must make a pork butt dish soon!
just FYI, its a long process – took me 4 hours to get the meat tender the other day @250 in the oven and pork shoulder makes a TON of food. When you are a family of 2 + 1 kid that means carnitas for a least a week unless you gorge (not that there’s anything wrong with that). However, I have found that if you divvy up the braised but not yet fried meat you can freeze it pretty nicely for a rainy/carnitas-craving day. That and the meat of course can be used in burritos, and especially nachos….
Also I very successfully use a nice ale + coriander + marjoram + garlic + bay leaf + onion braising liquid in mine.
This is the recipe I’ve been waiting for. THANK YOU. Having moved from San Diego to CT a week ago, all I have been craving is carnitas (they have even been popping up in my dreams). Yum yum yum. It’s like you read my mind. This recipe is most definitely going to replace my traditional Sunday chicken roast this week. Now I just need to get my hands on some good avos and whip up some poco de gallo.
carnitas are basically a staple where i’m from (san diego) and i love this recipe already! All the ingredients sound spot-on, and I can’t wait to try it out so my mouth can see for itself! Props to you and homesick texan! this is a winner for sure :)
Looks amazing – I am confused though, because I thought carnitas were fried in lard….kind of like a pork confit? I made mine last time by frying them for a couple of hours in duck fat…………….and they were amazing, but I don’t know if I want to do this again, it was really crispy and soft and amazing but really heavy too. I would imagine the fat in the pork would crisp just as nicely and not make me feel like a huge pig myself :)
Yay! My two favorite cooking blogs together at last :) This homesick Texan can’t wait to visit so I can buy both y’all’s cookbooks!
Oh good god this sounds amazing.
I have never cooked carnitas but these look so amazing!
I love this recipe. I highly recommend serving it with pickled red onions on fresh soft tortillas, like we do in Texas.
ooo yes please! mexican food. its just the best.
Actually…the shoulder vs. butt argument is a lettle right, a lettle wrong…the cut your referring to is called a Boston Butt, which comes from the shoulder (forequarter) of the pig. Technically, the shoulder encompasses everything from the base of the neck down to the ball joint. There’s two connective tissues that exist in the shoulder that are cut out from the Boston Butt cut. Just sayin’….
Did I just misspell “butcher” that badly? Wow…Now open for ridicule…
I made this…it is. to. die. for.
And I live in Texas. YAY! Come visit me any time, honey! And bring that cutie-patootie with ya! :)
I’ve been eating an obscene amount of carnitas tacos lately, but only b/c there’s a fabulous authentic mexican restaurant two minutes from where I live that sells them for around $1.70 each.
Can I do this with beef?
Amazing, just three ingredients for the basic carnitas? I’m still amazed! Your carnitas look awesome!
Made it, ate it, amazing! And enough for more tacos tomorrow.
Everytime I make chile verde with a pork shoulder, I vow to never buy another shoulder again. It takes an inordinate amount of time to carve out all the fat, and removes about a 1/3 of the meat. It looks like you don’t bother to cut out the big fat chunks. Does this make the final dish greasy? Do you de-fat at the end of the cooking when it is easier? Looks delish! Can’t wait to see your cookbook!
As someone else has asked, will this work with beef or chicken instead??????
What other kind of meat than pork can I cook it with?
Never heard of carnitas (Mexican is not as big here in UK as there) but, god, sounds amazing even at 8am with a hangover!
I agree! The first time I made these (using the recipe on Lisa’s website) it was such a revelation. I could not believe this stuff wanted me to leave it alone to turn out the best! I actually found pork at whole foods a couple weeks ago already cut into perfect carnitas sized pieces.
Okay, so I am sitting here salivating, not over the carnitas (although I am so making them when I get home) but over the slaw with jalapeno buttermilk dressing.
A while back, Lisa posted this recipe.
Please put another homesick Texas out of her misery (I promise to buy the book next time I am back home in the States) and tell me if this recipe is close, as in, can I substitute serranos for jalapenos?
Carnitas will change your life….there, I said it.
As a new vegan and former Texan, I miss carnitas the way other vegans miss bacon. So glad you discovered their magic – it’s too good to stay in the Republic!
New to this blog but am eternally grateful to the person who turned me on to it – and to you for writing it! So far I have 4 jars of peach butter in my cupboard, and I’m def making the soup and the carnitas – Is the recipe for the buttermilk jalapeno slaw in here somewhere? When I hit the link for “serve with a bit of slaw” it takes me to a different recipe, and I’d really like to try this buttermilk version. Am I missing something, or will I have to buy the cookbook? (Which I probably should, anyway…) Thanks again!!
Wow, I can not believe how easy that is! I think Mexican night is going to have to include these next week!
This has to be a sign….yesterday I watched a video made by Bobby Flay to show how he utilizes a pressure cooker that he is selling on Open Sky to make carnitas. I must make them! Thanks!
Well, believe it or not, as I drove home yesterday I was wondering how to make carnitas…. Seriously!!
I already have my pork in the fridge and am eager to go.
Thanks for the recipe. And I have to say I eagerly await all your recipes since recently finding your blog. Absolutely fantastic!
Oh man, I did just get hungry!
Any advice on getting/making good quality corn tortillas?
I never feel the ones I get are fresh/yummy (unless fried, but fried is a whole other topic…)
I was pretty excited about the carnitas, but then you mentioned coleslaw with jalapeno buttermilk dressing. That must be the tastiest slaw on earth.
This sounds amazing…well, the carnitas and the whiskey in your coffee. My husband is getting me a Dutch oven for Christmas so these will be made often.
Your photos are wonderful! If you ever come to Washington State, you would be in for a treat – the carnitas here are are wonderful and everywhere, and come in both hipster, non hipster and irony free. Our favorite Mexican restaurant has a salsa bar of several types and woman who sits behind it hand making toritillas, and the check always has a proverb on it.
How many serving would I get from this? I’d hate to run out when I’m serving this for friends!
Oh sweet carnitas! I had NO idea how to make them, but I love them. I go to school in Ohio, but am from New Mexico. I was just thinking yesterday how homesick I am. A perfect solution! I’ll be serving them with some roasted green chiles I brought back with me!
I am not much of a Tex-Mex fan, but more of a straight Mex fan. And carnitas are an equal obsession of mine as well. Traditionally, carnitas are cooked (outdoors) in a giant pot of lard with a few orange peels and maybe some type of sugar (coke often). I am not that dedicated to tradition to buy those tubs of lard I see in my Mexican grocery store, but that is why I guess I can never reach that Mexican carnitas nirvana. Although I do get really close with this recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Crispy-Pork-with-Avocado-Salsa-and-Tomato-Salsa-108049
Highly, highly recommended. And when the carnitas are done, put them on a cookie sheet under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp the edges.
It look so tasty! I’ll try it out!
Hi Deb! I feel inclined to chime in since I have family members that make carnitas for a living (both in Mexico and here in the U.S.) and wanted to reiterate what a few people have mentioned, the *traditional* and tastier (albeit not very healthy) way to preprare carnitas is to deep fry the cuts of pork in seasoned lard in a large copper pot. They are most often enjoyed for breakfast, yes, breakfast. Yum!
Wow–even easier than the Cook’s Illustrated recipe I love so much. (http://www.fransfavs.com/2011/08/carnitas-mexican-pulled-pork/). How ingenious to eliminate one of the steps which creates another pan to wash! I’m surprised, though that there is no oregano in the Homesick recipe. The CI recipe has the oregano but no garlic. Hmmm…. Now I want to try your recipe’s technique but adding the oregano which I know Chipotle’s carnitas has and which I enjoy so much. I’m all for delicious and EASY.
Inhaled is my favourite word to describe eating quickly ha!
I will definitely be trying these.
I make carnitas at home by adapting the flavors from the pork stew recipe in Supper at Lucques with a pork shoulder and with a pork shoulder. its incredible! and great for casual parties.
This sounds amazing! I don’t have any oranges, but I have lemons… can I substitute it?
Stomach growling loudly in the library. Darn this blog.
I just finished reading the commentary, recipe and all the comments. I too love carnitas but assumed that they were difficult to prepare. I will be making tomorrow. I can see the grocery stores across the country running out of pork shoulders just because of your recipe….
For anyone who doesn’t eat pork, you can try using shoulder of lamb, which is exceedingly delicious with such treatment……
You mean this is basically like what I do to make pulled pork, except cut up in cubes and browned when the juices dry up? I will keep this in mind the next time I slow-cook a pork shoulder for pulled pork, since I usually do 20 or 30 pounds at a time. My family loves it for parties.
carnitas tacos in queens: $2.50 each and delicious.
I apparently over simmered while simmering the meat, and the rest of the water boiled off in about 15 minutes after switching to medium-high, but they still came out so delicious! I made a cilantro-onion-lime juice salad to put on top, and added a little chipotle salsa for an extra kick. It was fantastic!
Just made these with a little ancho chili powder added-oh man are these spot on delicious!
Love your site…love carnitas…love finding fellow foodies…life is good. Guess I’ll hafta add this cookbook to my other 500! :( No, no, this is definitely a :) !
Pulled pork is similarly easy and simple. I use pork shoulder, salt, pepper, garlic, oil and some vegetable (celery or onion, in small quantity, will do). Smear pork shoulder with oil. Put some vegetable in the dutch oven to hold the pork up from the bottom just a bit. Drop in the garlic cloves. Put in the shoulder. Salt and pepper. Cover. Put in a ~110-130 degree oven for … well, nearly forever. 9 hours at least. Two days isn’t a problem. The temp of the pork core should stay in the 110 range, ideally.
Take it out, pull it apart, chop it up, eat it. You can use the drippings with other ingredients to make BBQ sauce.
My husband just made this using lamb instead of pork (lamb was in the freezer already; pork was not). Fabulous! When it was done, he took the meat out and cooked onions and bell peppers in the drippings. Mmmmmmmm…
hi!!! I am from Guadalajara. If you come someday, you should go to TACOS PROVIDENCIA and you will eat one of the best carnitas in the universe!
I did not read all 142 posts on this recipe (wow, it struck a bunch of nerves!), so you may have been asked and answered the question already (sorry if you did), but would I like to know how many people this recipe would serve as a main course? It sounds fabulous.
I love to read your blog — truthfully, the only one I ever do read.
Like Louse above I too am from the UK and also never heard of carnitas. Mexican is not my favorite cuisine but these do sound rather tasty. I’ll add these to my mezze for my next dinner party (sounds rather grand doesn’t it but its usually just 4-6 close friends round regularly and boy do we love our food)…cheers
This was awesome! I made this last night (served just like you said with pickled jalapenos, avocado, lime wedges, etc) along with your red wine chocolate cake for the LSU/Alabama game. Everyone loved it! Needless to say, there were no leftovers;-). Thanks Deb!
We LOVE carnitas – can’t wait to try this recipe. Our family favorite carnitas recipe is from La Taqueria in San Francisco courtesy of Sunset Magazine:
Living in Scotland I won’t get the opportunity to try this at a restaurant -or better yet, a roadside taqueria – so I will have to make these at home. I can’t wait to introduce a touch of Mexico into my very northerly kitchen. I will take a few commenters’ advice and do it in the slow cooker (can’t trust myself not to burn the meat) and ‘Scotify’ it with a side of kolrhabi slaw and maybe trying it in a steamed kale leaf (as well as in a corn tortilla – we’re not completely bonkers). PS like you I was a protein-fiend while pregnant – and still am, 16 years later.
Help! I’ve got a pot of pork simmering on the stove and it’s developed a layer of gross foam on top. Do I skim it off or do I leave it and just consider it added flavour once all the liquid has cooked off?
I usually comment about the food, and your photos are always great – but these photos are exceptional today! I don’t know what it is, the color of the composition? Anyhow, just wanted to say these shots are really nice. :)
When can we expect new posts? Is there any type of schedule? I look forward to them. Thanks!
Nothing could appeal more to me, as I sit at home during my child’s (supposed) nap, than the smell of slow cooking porky bits. Nothing. I am going butt shopping tomorrow.
Joy: why are you boiling pork? Assuming there is a good reason, yes, skim off the foam. Otherwise, get that pork into a pan and roast it low and slow. Good luck!
It boiled when I made it and came out delicious!
Looks absolutely stunning. Any kind of slowly braised meat is something I consistently want to eat, and this is now on my list of things to make!
It’s thirty degrees outside and I’ve git a pot of pork braising on the stove and a pot of pinto beans simmering – life is good :). Hopefully my carnitas will come out like Deb’s.
As soon as I saw that first picture pop up on my screen, I thought “I need to eat this”. Reading on just made that thought more and more intense.
*Favourites post to add to shopping list* :)
Is it just me or are carnitas the best thing in the world?
Just finished pulling this off the stove. The meat is like “buttah”. I keep stealing the tiny crunchy bits. If I’m not careful, I’ll eat the entire plate (how could that be a bad thing?). The only change I made was increasing the cumin to a heaping teaspoon. My dutch oven is cast iron and I got some seriously crunchy porky bits at the end. I’ll have to remember to crank the heat down a tad to compensate next time (and there will be a next time!)
Thanks so much for reminding me that I had this recipe tucked away!
Made this tonight, and we loved it. I left my boyfriend in charge of finishing it on the stove while I was at yoga, and for some reason he took it upon himself to shred the larger pieces of pork (!), so we didn’t get as many browned bits as I would have liked. Oh well. We ate ours with Trader Joe’s salsa verde, which is probably completely inauthentic but was very tasty.
Definitely the best I have made from my own kitchen! I used an enamel on cast iron dutch oven and had a bunch of blackened bits on the bottom, I’m assuming from the O.J. Made fresh corn tortillas, served with chopped onion cilantro and lime wedges.. pure heaven. I could really put away a ridiculous amount (in my stomach) so had to get it in the fridge. Can’t wait for leftovers. I can’t imagine finding a better recipe. Ordering the book now!!
I love that there’s a sort of carnitas revolution going on this weekend around the globe, as in my kitchen, as so many of your readers are digging into this delicious recipe. Occupy Pork Butt, I say.
Made these yesterday – amazing! Easy, flavorful, tender and a perfect Sunday night dinner. All the leftovers – bonus for midweek dinners this week. Perfect addition to my Mexican / TexMex repertoire! Thank you.
I’ve been travelling to Texas for work recently and for breakfast, my Texan colleagues treated me to “kolaches” (aka sausages wrapped in a savory croissant-like pastry with salty jalapenos). I don’t think they’re meant for everyday consumption but man oh man, they make one amazing breakfast.
I love this recipe and am so looking forward to going to my English butcher and ordering pork butt!
Does it matter if u use fresh squeezed Orange juice or carton stuff? Is it meant to be a sweet juice or acidic sour juice?
k — Won’t matter either way. I defer to freshly squeezed but over several hour cooking time and lots of pork flavor, you won’t know the difference in the end.
Traditional carnitas are braised in lard.
i love these carnitas! such a good recipe with great flavor. have you tried them the her recipe for ninfa’s green sauce? ahh makes them even better!
This sounds amazing – carnitas tacos are my favorite favorite. I will have to make this despite my pescetarian husband.(Although the tuna carnitas in someone’s comment sounds very interesting!)
My question is where do you get your corn tortillas? The one in the photo looks perfect. Is it homemade?
Diana — The slaw recipe is in the book. I know, such a tease! Though as Stacy pointed out, this one is similar: http://homesicktexan.blogspot.com/2009/06/buttermilk-dressing.html If I remember correctly, the book’s slaw adds whole cumin seeds, a splash of cider vinegar and it was a green cabbage and radish slaw.
Zadzi — They do fry in lard — their own rendered lard from the braising process. Isn’t it brilliant? I love recipes that trust the meat to have what it needs to cook itself. (I’m thinking also of the Zuni roast chicken, which doesn’t have you rub the bird with any additional fat, just trusts that the skin has enough fat to crisp itself.)
Christina — No reason not to throw a bottle of beer in before adding any additional water needed to get it to the right level. But please, invite me over!
Using other meats — I’d be hesitant. Chicken doesn’t have enough fat for the technique to work; it also would be way too long of a cooking time. A fatty brisket might work, but for tacos, I prefer to cook brisket this way. (Seriously, please try that recipe if brisket tacos sound good to you. It’s amazing.) For a similar fat level and cooking time of pork shoulder, I’d actually lean towards short ribs. But, this is all just guess work as I’ve only made pork in this manner. But should you want to experiment, it might be worth starting with short ribs.
These look AMAZING… and I would love to try them! We do not eat pork, so just wondering if you have a beef cut that you would recommend using to replace the pork? thanks!
These look great! The best carnitas I ever ate were at Ninfa’s in Dallas (see comment #68. They demonstrated their recipe on television years ago and they braised the meat in milk! I wonder what difference that would make. I haven’t had good carnitas in a long, long time.
love love LOVE carnitas! I made them at home for my husband in our crock pot a couple months ago (actually not too bad a way to make ’em!) but I’m glad to see this more authentic recipe. Can’t wait to try it.
ps- I’m obsessed with these recipes of yours, esp. the tomato soup w/ broiled cheddar. yummm. and relieved there’s someone else out there pouring whiskey in their coffee in the wee hours.
made these for sunday night football.
accompanied with pickled red unions. jalapenos. radishes. cilantro. and queso blacno.
incredible. simple. and fun.
I make these everytime we are snowed in :) so good.
This looks amazing. How many people will it serve, roughly?
Hahaha – I just inherited those same wooden square plates from my parents – LOVE them! Funny you should mention finding carnitas late in life – out of no where I seem to have developed an obsession with Latin American food, and I haven’t been preggers in over two decades, so I don’t think I get to use that as an excuse.
I really, really loved this post. The storytelling, the meal, the photos. Loved! Thank you, Deb!
Please, please, please, can you post the recipe for the jalapeno-buttermilk slaw? I’ve gotta make these carnitas next weekend and the slaw sounds like a must-have with them.
Made this last night – everyone LOVED it, even my 14 month old thought the meat was delicious. My husband asked me to put this on permanent rotation. Thank you so much!! I could only find a 5 lb shoulder so I almost doubled all of the ingredients, it worked out just fine and there was no major change to cooking time.
Looks great! Curious to know how many people a 3-lb shoulder would feed. Thanks!
Another A+++ recipe. I was amazed at how brown and crispy the little lovely pieces of pork turned. My carnita experience is limited as it isn’t something I’ve seen in restaurants around here and my only other recipe was a slow-cooker one which was good, but reminded me more of a pot roast. The crispiness this method creates is to die for.
So, so good. I made this yesterday and had leftovers for lunch today. Best brown bag lunch I’ve had in ages. Also, Deb if you ever find yourself in Minneapolis, you need to go to Taco Taxi. They make the best “Mexican style” tacos, and they’re $1.75 a piece. Heaven.
I discovered this recipe on Homesick Texan a few years ago. Oh my. Can’t remember how much pork I cooked but I can remember — I ate the whole thing. All by myself. I stood at the stove — it never made it to a plate — putting bite after bite into my mouth until it was all gone. Better than anything in any Mexican restaurant. And I too couldn’t believe how easy it was. Never heard of this method before but it works and is so simple. Also, just got her book last week. So beautiful. Congrats, Lisa!
Hold the horses. Huh? Jacob is in pre-school? Not possible.
These look sensational! I am planning on cooking carnitas soon, with a bit of a twist – using Pepsi for the liquid, or perhaps a smoky porter. Did you find that the flavor was spicy and bold enough? Also, is there a type of tortilla you would recommend? I find that sometimes, store-bought corn tortillas are too dry.
The slaw also looks really good. Is there anything more delicious than crispy tangy vegetables next to slow cooked meat?
I made these yesterday and they turned out really well! However, there was way too much liquid in the final 45 minutes and I had to dump some out and then they kind of burned to the bottom. My pork shoulder was a little more than three pounds, but should the chunks be one layer at the bottom of the pan before putting in the liquid? Mine ended up being more like two layers of meat so could this have been the cause of too much liquid?
These look awesome, I can’t wait to try them and then use any left overs in Cubans!
This was really delicious. You can use regular orange juice. Bought the cookbook — it better live up to last ep of Friday Night Lights.
Holy carnitas, batman. This is the best recipe EVER. My 7yo (who eats nothing) LOVED it, as did my husband, my 5yo and I. Thank you!!!!!!!!
Wow, that’s so surprising! I’m often intimidated by Mexican cooking but this DOES look easy. I believe a certain boyfriend would be very excited if I made this. Thanks for the tip, Deb!
Siiiiigh. Why did I just read this at 8:45PM??? Now I’m hungry!!!
Yip Lisa’s carnitas is awesome. I’m a huge fan of slow cooked meats as they really take on an unrepeatable flavor every time. I was lucky enough to get this book before it hit the shelves and be a part of a recipe test and review group so I have tried a lot of the books amazing meals, my favorite so far is probably the Poblano Mac and Cheese! Loving your blog..
For a very long while, your blog and Lisa’s have been sitting next to each other in my “bookmarks” folder. This is the first time I see them cross referenced.
If both of my favourite bloggers endorse a recipe I guess I’ll HAVE TO try it.
….off to buy pork butt…
Wow thanks for the tip to Homesick Texan blog. An american living in Sweden and i love this site….always looking here for inspiration!
This looks amazing! I have been looking for a carnita recipe to try and feature on my blog.. Once I’ve tried this, this may just be the one I was looking for! Love this blog and love the pictures.
i made these last night, followed the recipe exactly, and they were AMAZING. so simple and delicious and ridiculously tender. thank you for this recipe! i’ve been wanting to make these at home for forever but never dared try assuming i couldn’t achieve the juicy tenderness and flavor in the pork but this recipe just nails it.
Yum! Being from Texas I hardly ever see carnitas on Tex-Mex menus and instead get fajitas. Can’t wait to try this out as I’m a sucker for tender juicy pork, mmm!
This does look like the perfect way to usher in the weekend..or any day for that matter. Definitely going to have to give these a go — really curious to try the cooking technique for the pork!
I can’t belive you posted this, I’m from Toronto & just tasted carnitas this weekend while I was in West Virginia at a great Mexican Restaurant in Fayetteville. I’ve hunted down a few recipies on line (there seem to be many variation & some are South American as well, it seems – the chef at the restaurant was from South America) but may try yours first – thanks so much.
Really?! You are a food goddess. I am so dang inspired to cook this tonight. I’m salivating.
How many does this serve? Would you be able to add that?
Carnitas have been my all-time fav for many years. Here in Ca, (made by the Latinos) they are cooked in rendered pig fat from the start. The outside gets very crusty with the center being moist and fork tender. If there’s no pig fat, then lard is used. We have made them in galvanized wash tubs (clean, of course) and stood around that pot, waiting. Gonna go get my pork butt and give your recipe a try. Sounds simpler than a galv. wash tub!
These are making me homesick for Texas and I am not even from there! I’m Canadian!!! Yummy!
Just made these and they are amazing!! I used country ribs because they were cheaper and it turned out well. We always wish there were more crispy bits when we order these at restaurants so having smaller pieces worked better for me. Also it shortened the cooking time a little. Braised for 1.5 hours and then browned it.
This is fantastic. My husband is very excited that I can make these at home now. :)
I must admit I have never treid making these. I think it will have to be a good winter first time thing!!!! Look so good.
While these look delish just the way they are, I’m not a pork eater. Can you recommend another cut of meat?
Serving size — About 4 to 6 people.
Hi Deb! Quick question: I’m in possession of a brand new Le Creuset dutch oven and the instructions that came with it say never to put the oven over anything higher than medium heat. I’m dying to make these carnitas but I worry that if I’m not able to turn the heat up to medium high that I’m going to miss out on those great caramelized edges. What do you think?
Hi Nicole — I’m unfamiliar with this. You can’t use Le Creuset for high heat cooking? It might be about the plastic handles, not sure. (Not a fan of Le Creusets for this reason.) Nevertheless, this is a stovetop recipe and you don’t use the lid. It will be fine.
I just tried this and I followed the recipe exactly. It turned out wonderful but when I turned up the heat, it started to burn at around the 20 minute mark in my le crueset pot- far from the 45 minutes it says. I turned my back to make slaw and guacamole. I did salvage it and the taste was amazing minus the fat I had to remove. I showed my butcher the recipe and he gave me the cut it called for. Did anyone else have this issue?
Your site is beautiful! I have been craving carnitas and this recipe looks mouthwatering……yum! I cannot wait to try it.
how do you think this might taste with beef used ? It looks so delicious…
Carnitas are my favourite Mexican food. I make mine with just pineapple juice, garlic and salt. I love the Homesick Texan blog though, so I might have to try these!
It looks fantastic!Thanks for sharing.
I made something similar a couple of nights ago, but used my pressure cooker, which reduced the cooking time considerably. I rubbed the cubed pork butt with a spice mixture, seared it off in two batches, added a chopped onion, half a red pepper, a few dried chiles, some garlic and a can of diced tomatoes. I then cooked this on high pressure for 25 mins. The meat was perfectly tender. To finish just strain the juices and reduce them while you shred the pork. Mixed the reduction into the sredded pork and your done! I served the meat on corn tortillas with pico de gallo and an avacado lime crema. A fabulous meal made in under an hour.
Update- the taste was amazing but mine turned out very dry not as I expected. They simmered wonderfully but the last 45 min didn’t turn out so well. I left kitchen for a bit and the water most have evaporated within 15 to 20 min. I’ll be cooking this over and over again until I get it just right. Family loved the regardless and I made Migas for breakfast with the leftovers.
Sunday was a rainy, cold day in the Midwest and the Packers didn’t play until 3 pm – what better to do than cook something warm that would fill the house with good smells! This recipe was excellent and the leftovers I took to work on Monday had my co-workers thinking their sandwiches and left over pizza were a little lame!
Wow…this looks AMAZING! I am going to have to purchase that book, as I have been looking at it but haven’t “taken the plunge” yet!
Jacob has gotten so big, Debbie. I wouldn’t call his hair a mop at all- I would call it a head full of ringlets! He’s so adorable!
I use a similar method and sometimes use boneless country style pork ribs cut into appropriate size pieces.
Another trip I use is to add about a quarter cup of brandy in the end when the pork is crisping up, it seems to add help the “crispiness” factor and heightens the flavor a bit.
I made these last night for my lunch today and I am counting down the minutes until I can eat them! (I may or may not have sneaked a few bites as they were coming out of the pan!)
SUCH an easy recipe and so yummy! I even deglazed the pan with a few cups of water and froze it in a container for quick pork broth next time I make a pork roast!
These look great! Can’t wait to try it. I’m also loving what you put in your coffee. :)
Looks easy and I absolutely love carnitas tacos.
This sounds DELICIOUS! :) Is there something similar with chicken instead of pork? :)
I made this over the weekend and it tasted amazing!! I have a really hard time leaving meat alone- I always want to constantly turn it but I succesfully restrained myself, followed the recipe and didn’t touch the meat for the first 2 hours. At that point a thick black scary layer had formed on the bottom of my pot. Like I said, the carnitas turned out fantastic and after 36 hours of soaking, my pot came out no worse for the wear but I’m wondering how to prevent the crazy black gunk next time? Because there definitely will be a next time! The meat wasn’t burnt and I was careful with the heat… Anyone else have this problem?
Carnitas are so delicious – definitely going to try your recipe!
OMG! This is so much easier than the traditional recipe that I have in my Mexican cookbook! I have slow-cooked pork loin in the fridge or I’d make it for dinner right now… Cannot wait to try it.
Also, love your blog… mine is new and I haven’t found my voice, photography style or anything yet. Hope someday it’s as good as yours. Thanks for the lovely food.
This recipe is genius! I’ve tried to get that crispiness on my slow cooked meat dishes but didn’t get there until reheating leftovers the next night, usually on the grill or toaster oven. Does frying it have the same effect as resting and reheating (tangy spiced brisket)?
I used beef and noticed a lot of the juices burned to the bottom of my dutch oven (perhaps due to the lower fat content?). I dreaded the cleanup, but it turns out, it wasn’t so bad!
Made it, loved it. Slight food coma afterwards but definitely worth it.
These days I am trying different Mexican dishes…this one looks delicious …will have to try this weekend…
I didn’t know I liked carnitas. What a surprise. I made this last night on a whim and it got rave reviews all around. We topped ours with sour cream, guacamole and pico de gallo. Delicious! Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for sharing this. There is an authentic Mexican restaurant about 20 minutes away from where I live and they specialize in snappy little carnitas like this. They serve four of them on a plate and while they look small, I can never finish the whole thing (though I always go to the point where I make myself sick, as I don’t have an off switch and they’re soooo good!). Perhaps now I can make a Tex-Mex version of these at home! Thanks for this recipe and the recommendation. I’m going to go check out her blog.
I love love love your blog, and have made so many of your recipes (cocoa brownies, blueberry crumb bars, sour cherry slab pie OMG). i’m ready to try one of your meat recipes, and i really want these carnitas. However, I do not have a large enough heavy pan or dutch oven. I have a thin bottomed stock pot, a medium( 2-3 quart) heavy bottomed pot, and a large beautiful glazed cast iron casserole dish with a lid which is square with tall sides, and similar capacity as a 9×13 pan (i’m a recent college grad cooking with hand me downs). Would you recommend halving the recipe and using the medium pot, or making the whole recipe in the OVEN on low heat with the casserole dish, then increasing the heat toward the end to create the crackly bits? Sorry for all the details!
HI EmilyMB — I think either would work. Good luck!
Those look delicious. Also, Ali Larter says this is her favourite blog!
Deb, once again you have done it! I cooked this exactly to your specs, except the crazy-cheap ethnic market had no pork shoulder. I could have bought pork leg, except when he put it on the scale it was 14 lbs. I said, “Can I get half a pork leg?” He said, “That IS half.” The alternative was “cushion meat” which turns out to be a leaner part of the shoulder, which was refreshing-usually I wind up sawing about 1 lb of fat off any shoulder cut I buy-so the only downside was there wasn’t enough fat to crisp it up at the end. But y’know what? IT DID NOT MATTER. It was still the best carnitas tacos I have ever made and the doubled recipe I made was more than halfway demolished by 2 adults and 3 jabbering teen girls, each of whom had 5 tacos. I made this slaw from homesick texan:
And it was very very very good indeed! Also feta, crema, pickled jalapenos, cilantro, chopped green onions and avocados! THANK YOU FOOD GODDESS!
Hi, I’ve not commented yet on your blog–I don’t think, hmmm . . . old age setting in, perhaps, but I SO enjoy it!! Knowing that you’re busy writing, editing, cooking, enjoying life and friends, and with family, cute husband, really adorable little boy—I look every day to see if you’ve posted a new recipe and when the answer is, sadly, no–sigh–I use your “Surprise Me” feature–what a joy that is (I do realize that there are entirely too many dashes and interruptions to what might otherwise be called a train of thought–must be the sightseeing train). Take care–enjoy the holidays and thanks for the recipes!!
Yum! I’ve made these before and they are amazing. I will say though that I recall these being noted on her site as Diana Kennedy’s carnitas and I think it’s an important distinction to make :-) since Diana Kennedy did the real legwork in investigating the Mexican kitchen and interpreting it for the American public decades ago :-)
OOOH YEAH! I made this last night as part of a birthday dinner for my husband, and unseemly and hoggishly (sorry) decadent consumption ensued. I commented to my extremely happy husband that this really *did* taste like carnitas, and he replied, “Better!!!”
One cautionary note to anyone bothering to read the 232nd comment: The browning part at the end seemed to happen really quickly. Things got very dark at the bottom of my pot. (Granted, I was splitting time between my four-year-old and the carnitas at the time.) However, I scraped up the stuck-on bits and shreds of meat along with some of the dark crustiness and tasted porcine nirvana. Thanks for a great recipe. It’s a keeper in our household.
For the person who asked why pork butt = pork shoulder, it’s because of shape; the word ‘butt’ originally meant ‘barrel’.The heiney cut of a pig is ‘ham’ or ‘leg’.
I made these last night, and they were very good. I couldn’t bring myself to put all the fat from the pork into the pan, so cut off the large chunks of fat (leaving all the marbled fat). That mean, however, that there wasn’t a lot of fat left in the pan at the end to brown the meat. I ended up putting it under the broiler for a couple of minutes at the end. That worked well, and gave it some crispy brown bits.
this san franciscan loves herself some tacos, so thank you for the easiest carnitas recipe ever!! i hereby pledge allegiance to deb-ocracy – i will cook whatever you cook! :)
I made this recipe today, using boneless pork loin instead. (Because I had it in my freezer, not for any culinary/gustatory reason).
It was the most delicious non-bacon pork I have ever tasted.
Perfect, with a citrusy tang and the crunchy bits and ooh ooh ooh! the crunchy bits. I tried to steal all of them.
Thanks for the recipe- it’s delicious!!!
Made this tonight and it was fantastic and so simple. A definite keeper in our Friday taco night repertoire. I really enjoy your blog – thanks for the inspiration!
This was sooooo good. I cooked it last night and everyone in the house raved about it. I thought it was a little greasy, but nothing we couldn’t get into our pie holes several times over.
Do you think it would be as good if I made it with a pork roast or tenderloin?
I love making carnitas! It is also super easy just to stick the pork shoulder in the slow cooker and let it cook away all day…no work required!
Never had carnitas, but always wanted to try it. Made this for the first time tonight and they were soooo good. A little cilantro and sweet onion and they were a hit. Thanks!
in honour of The Homesick Texan, via Smitten Kitchen, a slightly British spin – made while I was baking Christmas cakes – thank you ladies!
These look so delicious. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I haven’t had any carnitas in a long time, I have always thought that they looked to intimidating to make, but you make these look easy.
I made these yesterday for dinner and they were a hit. My husband had reservations since we’re not big pork eaters but he LOVED them! Thanks for sharing this recipe. I’m sure I’ll be making this one over and over again.
these look absolutely delicious! I cannot wait to try them, I’m also super excited that I can easily make this dish gluten free by using corn tortillas!
I made this last night but changed it up a little. I simmered the pork in vegtable broth instead of water. I also added 1 thinnly sliced red onion, a couple of handfulls of dark brown sugar and some soy sauce. Man…it was good! I almost wished I hadn’t of cooked the broth down so much because that was delicious. Next time I will leave some of the broth for sure. For an added topping I chopped up 2 jalapenos w/seeds and simmered them in some of the broth. My husband said it was the best carnitas he’s ever had. Now that is sayin’ something!
Living in Austin, I am s.p.o.i.l.e.d when it comes to the deliciousness of carnitas – when i get a craving, i just jump in the car and have more wonderful options of restaurants that serve these than I can shake a stick at. But, this means that I’ve never thought of making them! Shameful. I’ll remedy that soon with this recipe. There is a place here in town called Curra’s – which i HIGHLY recommend should you ever venture to Austin – that does their carnitas with a little coca-cola thrown into the mix. It makes the crispy bits that much more crispy and caramelized and oh-so-subtly sweet. Oh my, my mouth is watering. I’m thrilled that you shared this recipe – carnitas for everyone!
Simmering on the stove for the last 2 hours= my house smells fab. I did add some spices ala David Lebowitz’s version. I will keep you posted. I will say cutting up that hunk a meat made me want to hurl but I survived.
Just finished up the last of our leftover carnitas from Saturday night. So simple and delicious! I added a tablespoon of cumin, two bay leaves, and a bottle of beer to the lime juice and orange juice, then covered with water. The bottom of my enamel dutch oven also turned black, but don’t be scared, a good soaking overnight cleans it up easily. I served my carnitas with sweet onion, lime, cilantro, and avocado. Also had a variety of salsas on the side. Sublime!
Um…. YUM. Adding to my never ending list of must makes!
Yum. I want these and I want the cookbook,too . Nice post Deb!
We miss you Smitten, please come back soon :))
We miss you Smitten
tahreem, Simone — I miss you too! I am back, starting now. And I’m heading into the kitchen as we speak. :)
Deb – thank you and thanks to Homesick Texan! I made this yesterday – the carnitas AND the slaw from the book with the buttermilk dressing (I cheated and snagged the recipe from Amazon “look inside”….but in all fairness, I will buy this book.) I could not stop “tasting” the dressing and sampling the pork during those last 30 minutes! Super easy and delicious! Also delightful to have a little leftover for lunch today….yum!
Oh, dear. Deb – this just didn’t work for me! I am not sure if I simmered it too high and the liquid boiled off too fast or if I didn’t add enough water to begin with – but this made one crazy burned mess on the bottom of my dutch oven! The silver lining, however, were the bits that we could remove from their charred encasement. They were, indeed, delicious.
This looks delicious, and I’m so glad you posted this! I’ve been using the flour tortillas recipe from The Homesick Texan for awhile, but I hadn’t realized her cookbook had been published. Can’t wait to get it to have the security of having the recipe forever without having to actually print it out or copy it down. My laziness always gets the better of me..
I am jealous. I would love to try this recipe, but my husband is seriously anti-Mexican food. Sad, I know. So I must live vicariously through your pictures/written description. Looks amazing!
Deb, a good portion of the things I make are from your website. I love it all; it’s so accessible and is at just the right level of cooking for me. My favorites on repeat are the lemon braided bread and meatball subs with gruyere, but these carnitas might be at the top of my list now! They were so easy to make; I studied while they cooked, and they were amazing. If anything they were a little TOO rich so I could only eat a small amount at a time. Thanks for all the recipes, your adaptations are great!
Oh, and a side benefit of the two-hour cook? Your home will smell heavenly. Yum.
This recipe looks so enticing–and the good news it, I already have avocado, cilantro, tortillas and lime juice in my fridge! Any suggestions on where to buy good quality pork? Would a store like Whole Foods be the place to go?
I made ’em a couple of days ago and thought we’d died and gone to heaven!! Absolutely scrumptious!! It was a long dry spell for me all summer (so NOT a fruit recipe lover!) but this was a perfect lead-in to the colder weather. Thanks so much for this recipe!
thank you for another delicious recipe — made this tonight and this was just AMAZING.
I made this over the weekend and it was a big hit stuffed into steamed corn tortillas. The next day we made the leftovers into a sort of hash with carrots, potatoes, and onions–cooked the veggies, then stirred the meat into the mixture just until warm. It was fantastic both ways.
Well, we just got our meat from a farmer friend, so this will be how we use the shoulder! I go to visit my high school friend in Central Mexico each year – this time I’m bringing the kids and we’ll go for Sunday lunch in the middle of nowhere for carnitas. Thanks for the reminder of just how welcoming and wonderful carnitas can be.
delicious and super easy! i used the juice of two oranges because we were out of oj. worked out great. this one is a definite keeper!
I made a double batch yesterday. Thank you! My teenage sons are now planning a carnitas party for their food club :D
I made these (and the rice pudding! and slaw!) for my boyfriend, who grew up in Mexico. He practically inhaled them, then proceeded to tell me that carnitas were his favorite food growing up (unbeknownst to me) and that these were the best he had ever had. There you have it, from the 105-pound Mexican duckling: Best. Ever. I totally agree.
(BTW, he didn’t tell me carnitas were his favorite food in advance because he didn’t want me to be disappointed if he didn’t love this version. I said, “Honey, no more secrets about really important stuff, OK?”)
We raise pigs and I have to say that this recipe on a nice chunk of home-grown pork is amazing. I’ve never made carnitas before tonight but they turned out pro! Thanks a bunch. :)
These look amazing! I love your posts and have made several of your recipes and have about a dozen on my wish list– oh wait, better make that a BAKER’S dozen after this one!
OOOH! These look yummy! I had never heard of them before but can’t wait to try them. We have been thinking about raising a couple of feeder pigs. Can’t wait to get started now :-)lol
I love that you have introduced me to so many wonderful foods that I never would have tried before. These are fantastic, easy, fill my need for tasty and offer opportunity for changing them up once I have made them true to recipe the first time. Merci
YUMMMMM! The photos are making me drool. Thank you for the recipe!
Oh man… I just bought a pork shoulder from my CSA and was looking for something special to do with it, since I knew the pig and all… I think this is it! Thanks, Deb!
I usually do a whole pork shoulder with garlic, cumin, orange juice, lime juice, and apples in the slow cooker for pork tacos because until reading this entry I didn’t know how to make authentic carnitas, even though I’ve lived in Texas my whole life. I made this recipe last night and couldn’t resist adding a couple glugs of fresh apple cider to the margarita bath. The flavor was incredible! The meat was so pretty too. Our dinner vanished pretty quickly… including the sweet tangy morsels of pure fat. Dessert? :) Thanks, Deb!
Just made this recipe tonight for myself and 3 others. YOU MUST MAKE IT!
This made me laugh when I saw it because I’ve had carnitas many many times in Mexico (not from a restaurant, but from home kitchens of friends and/or their abuelitas) and, honestly, it’s always been my least favorite (and the most disgusting to me…except for menudo, I’m sorry, I can’t love it) Mexican dish because it is much different than I see it here- basically the fatty trimmings from preparing something else taken and fried. I’ve never been a lover of chitlins or chicharrones (or whatever you want to call them), so to have basically the freshly made equivalent of that has always been…just terrible. I eat it of course, but oh the pain!
This, on the other hand, looks AMAZING, and I’ll definitely be trying it. Thanks for possibly redeeming carnitas for me! :)
Here in Japan–having lived in California for a long time– the one cuisine we truly miss is Mexican.The Japanese, as brilliant as they are about food, just don’t get it, and thus Mexican ingredients are nearly impossible to find. When we return to the states we fill our bags with peppers and masa. Recently I found a butcher who I am able to communicate with about pork shoulder, and voila, I made my first attempts at Pozole. But what I have really really missed is Carnitas. So bless you for this intriguing recipe. I’ll be trying it out real soon! Yahhhh!
Made this recipe last Sunday. They. are. so. good. I used a pork loin with some fat on it because that’s all I had, worked great. We used the leftovers on nachos. Really great recipe!
Okay, I need help. I’ve made these twice in the last week, and both times the results were wonderful, but the road there…not so much. While frying the carnitas (to get the delicious crispy edges), the bottom of my enameled dutch oven began to burn. Enough that I had to open doors and windows to deal with the smoke. The second time I took the carnitas out of the dutch oven and finished browning them in a non-stick skillet. What am I doing wrong? I already tried turning the the temperature down, with the same results.
I was dreaming about the carnitas of my youth, surprisingly growing up in Hudson County NJ gave me access to some of the best Latin American cuisine in the country. My search led to your site, an 11lb pork shoulder and some of the best carnitas ever! I can’t believe how simple and yet how perfect this recipe is, you are my kind of cook, can’t wait to explore more of your site.
Big Fan of smitten kitchen. Can’t wait for cookbook. Writing about thecarnitas. Loved them but stuck so much to my Dutch oven. Any way to avoid this. Thanks.
Just wanted to chime in here and say that I made these, per recipe with great success. The only item I would update is that next time I will make 1.5 times the amt of dressing called for in the slaw. Or maybe I just had a huge head of cabbage?
Anyway, it was great and the leftovers are even better!
Re: The pork sticking. I feel like if I used a boneless shoulder without a lot of fat, mine might have stuck too. Perhaps the posters above had that problem? Make sure you are using pork that is not caged. Caged pork is typically breed to have much less fat on it. This doesn’t mean that your pork has to be super pricey, something along the lines of Step 1 at Whole Foods. Hope that helps!
Made this on Sunday night and it was delicious! So simple and sinfully good. I had no problems cooking them in my dutch oven. There certainly was a lot of black fat to scrub off but it was worth the effort. The hubby and I polished off every last bite! Can’t wait for your cookbook!
Made this tonight for husbands birthday it was a huge hit and turned out amazing. Maybe I was lucky as my heavy pan is non stick so there were no issues at all and it went yummy crispy. I love love you blog and with no good mexican here in Sydney Australia I was desperate to try this out. To make the Coleslaw I used the Buttermilk dressing from Homesick Texan and just used green cabbage, celery, radish and 1/4 cilantro. As its hard to get good chillies here I just used 2 tablespoons of jar Jalepenos for the dressing instead of the suggested chilli. I served it up with Strawberry margaritas and it was superb. Definately going to do the dinner party suggestion next. Thankyou for such an amazing blog and for being so helpful and super sweet!.
Just made my house water. Those Carnitas look so delicious. We live on a ranch in Canada and thinking about trying this recipe out with my wife.
Holy Wow! I made this today! It was fantastic! I guess some where along the way I learned to brown the meat first. I liked doing it this way. The hardest part was not touching it for two hours. I was so excited to give it a stir. Then I worried that there was to much liquid to cook away. It all worked out perfectly! Thanks for the recipe!
yum. just… YUM.
can’t wait to try these.
thanks so much for this recipe. ive never had carnitas but the pictures made me drool, so i had to try making them. my bf and i loved the way it turned out. i made a few changes: i added some beer, parsley, brown sugar, jalapenos, and thai chilies. it was so good, we are both lying in bed stuffed. thank goodness stumble brought me to your roasted tomato soup with broiled cheddar page or i would still be missing out.
I made these. They were a hit with all four of the men in my life. I confess, I did stir the meat because I’m terrible with reading recipes all the way through. Which is also why I didn’t realize it would take 3 hours to cook said meat…..
I make mine in a slow cooker. Toss onion halves in the bottom and coat the meat with salt, pepper, and oregano. No liquid. Cook until falling apart. Crisp in the slow cooker with the lid off and heat high, or if you made a ton, just take out the part you want to eat, shred, and broil for a few minutes. Probably my favorite thing to cook. So easy and people go bananas for it.
New Mexico makes a similar dish called carne adovada, but it is marinated and cooked in a red chile sauce. The sauce is made by soaking New Mex red chiles, then making a puree of them in the blender with other spices. The marinade and pork are cooked down like the carnitas. Put a sunny side egg on top with a tortilla for breakfast. Now I am going to have to make this, maybe both the Texas and New Mexico versions for Christmas morning. Here is a link from our state site: http://www.newmexico.org/enjoy/cuisine/carne_adovada.php
This is great and all but you didn’t consider the main player of the dish – the Tortilla. The entire recipe is about the filling, but in true indo-mexican style, the corn tortilla is the star of the show. Too often people overlook a good tortilla and serve fantastic filling on a round disc of cardboard. If I have to go commercial, I like a brand called El Milagro. But the ones you make at home are the best.
Finally got around to making this recipe, and so glad I did! It got a perfect 10 from my boyfriend, and I immediately wrote it down and added it to my recipe box. My enameled cast iron dutch oven has finally gotten stains that even barkeepers friend can’t remove – but this recipe was the best thing to ever come out of it!
I have a lot of family in Texas. These totally made me long to be back there with them. There’s something about growing up on the East Coast that just makes Texas all the more special. It’s a totally 180 from the world I live in, much in the same way New York is like the fast paced version. Thanks for sharing these. I’ll definitely be making these one day this week with some of my own added touches. Most specifically… biscuits to eat these on. YUM!
This recipe is failure proof if I can do it, anybody can. Only thing is I lost track of time and overcooked the carnitas and they were a bit mushy but the taste was incredible. I made tortas using the carnitas with refried beans, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, sour cream and cilantro….soooo delicious.
When I saw this recipe my soul sang – crispy pork! citrus! slow cooked deliciousness! surely this would be a meal to remember! The smell in my home was incredible. I didn’t even end up with black, charred mess at the bottom of my dutch oven! Glory! Sadly, my expectations were not met. Maybe it’s because I’ve never really had a pork carnita. Maybe it’s because my avocado was not even close to being ripe. Maybe I just anticipated too much from it. Don’t get me wrong, the pork is good and was oh so easy to make. It just seems to have a mind of it’s own. It’s like it’s screaming at me to bathe it in BBQ sauce and serve it on a bun. We’ll see how the leftovers hold up this afternoon, but the BBQ sauce may just win out in the end.
I reheated the leftover pork this afternoon in a skillet. I thought it only fair to give it another shot before I drowned it in BBQ sauce.
Oh.My.Word. It was incredible! I think the problem I had last night was that I tried to add things to my carnita (pickled onions, cheese, lettuce, etc) which ruined the flavor. This afternoon I left the pork naked and the taste was divine. So happy I gave it another try!
These were so delicious. We stood in the kitchen at the stove eating the tacos they were so good. I do not normally post comments, but I saw so many people with the black crust on the pan issue, I thought I would share our experience. We had a 5 lb pork shoulder, so we doubled the amounts on the liquid, spices, etc. After 3 hours we still had a lot of liquid with a molten fat layer, so we fired up a cast iron skillet and spooned some of the fat into the skillet and crisped the meat in a separate pan. We found that we did not have the cooked on black crust in the braising pot and now we have delicious broth to make black bean soup with the leftover carnitas tonight! Win-Win! I’ve been reading for years and have made dozens of your posts. Love your blog!
Check out David Levovitz’s carnitas on his blog–davidlebovitz.com/2007/09/carnitas/. It will have you cooking again. Carnitas are the best.
mmmm…. these look amazing. i love any version of mexican food!
I made these tonight and added a splash of tequila because I had it. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I have always loved carnitas and now I will make them all the time. OMB!!!! (Oh My Bob)
Yup, these were fan spanking tastical. The pork is sweet because of the citrus and it is DELICIOUS. I kept scrapping up the crusty crunchy bits of greasy pork. Served these on blue corn tortillas with homemade salsa verde, guac, tiny slivered heirloom cherry tomatoes, cilantro and onion.
Yeah, I pretty much want to eat these at Shoshana’s house next time. :)
Tried the Carnitas in soft tacos at El Camion on 12th Street Ave A. They were awesome! Trying your recipe this weekend-hoping to re-create the yummies I had there.
These were *awesome*!! I served it on top of a bed of yellow rice, added some diced green & red peps. It freezes very well, too – I know this because I made these 2 weeks ago yet am DEVOURING it right now for lunch at my desk! Thanks, Deb
I made this last night and they were a huge hit!! Thanks! I look forward to making them again.
I am making these right this second! My house smells amazing… I am so tempted to stir them in the first 2 hours!!! AH! Cannot wait to dive right in :)
Since this post was published, I have made this for Sunday night dinner four times. I am obsessed with how simple this is!
Thank you so much for this recipe. I am going to give up meat but I’m building up to it with a two-week-long meat-a-thon.
Also, thank you for not filling your blog with advertisements. You are my favorite.
Is it possible to do through the braising part on day 1, and then do the rest the next day? Making this for a dinner on a weekday, and don’t have time between work and the dinner to do it all. Thanks!
Hi Whitney — I haven’t tried it but it sounds like something that could work.
Thank you for posting this recipe. Just made the recipe for my office holiday potluck. Super easy to make, taste wonderful, and the orange, lime, garlic and cumin taste combination was not only yummy, it made my house smell so good! Serving it with lime cilantro salsa(good alternative to lime slices) and corn tortillas.
I’ve made so many delicious things from your site, Deb, but this really took the cake (the red wine chocolate cake is my favorite!). My god, incredible flavor, and so easy to make. I ended up eating at 9pm, but the wait was worth it. Used a local pasture raised boston butt and followed your recipe and added a bottle of Dos Equis amber for good measure. Absolutely amazing — obviously, as it inspired me to leave my first comment. Thanks!
Deb, I’ve made these carnitas twice now, following the recipe exactly, and I double it each time–yum! yum! yum!–my famliy says, (or would say if they weren’t completely engaged in this delicious meal) we serve it simply with green salsa, lime wedges and sliced avocado on corn tortillas lightly charred over an open gas flame on the stove. Seriously, Deb… SO good, I die.
Made this TWICE this week! Cooked it on high in slow cooker for 8 hours. To adjust for the slow cooker, I did not add the water. The water content in the meat ‘rendered’ and was enough to barely cover all of the meat. I took the lid off for the last half, rotating the meat every once in a while. If I try this again while away from home, I will probably leave the lid on the whole time. I then transferred meat and most of the oil/liquid into a heavy pan and cooked on high–which only took 10 minutes for it to brown on all sides. Then shredded the meat and added some of the remaining liquid from the slow cooker (and a few tablespoons of very hot water that I heated up in the microwave) to moisten the shredded meat more. Since I knew I would add a little water in the end I had increased the orange juice from by 1/4 cup. My husband asked if I wouldn’t mind making this once a week! (he’s never asked that before!). also topped it with the bobby flay onion slaw you suggested. thanks for the recipe!
My wife and I have made this a couple of times. It’s absurdly easy and perfect for an early dinner on Sunday night. Put the stuff in the pot during halftime of the early NFL games and you’ll be ready as soon as the late games are ending. Plus, then you’ve got at least one day of lunches for the week.
A couple of quick notes: the second time we made it, we doubled the citrus and thought the added sweetness and tanginess were really great. We serve the carnitas with guacamole and a roasted tomatillo salsa on flour tortillas.
Delicious! The children loved it and requested that I make it again ASAP. I used loin so there was little fat for crisping; I just put a bit of olive oil in a large skillet and browned the meat in it as the bottom of the Dutch oven was black once the liquid evaporated. Soooo good!
This is exactly how I make it minus the citrus, garlic & cumin only b/c after trying it that way, I didn’t notice much of a difference in the flavor of the end result. I saw Lucinda Scala-Quinn of Mad Hungry make it on her show using just the water to cover & salt & couldn’t possibly believe it was that easy. Sure enough after attempting it myself, it was exactly that easy & I have made it several times for family & friends since. No one can believe that’s all it takes! We serve it with all the fixings, lime wedges, shredded cabbage, avocado, cilantro, queso fresca, mexican crema & of course on grilled corn tortillas.. SO good!
I made these on New Year’s day and they were not the overwhelming hit I expected. Meat was a bit dry, yet very flavorful. My 10-year-old commented they were missing sauce. Served with recommended condiments of pickled onions (a household staple on most everything), guac, tortillas, the slaw, beans, etc. I had many of the same issues mentioned by other enameled cast iron users. I think I may have not used enough water and that the pork may have not had enough fat (horrors!) as meat cooked quicker than directed and liquid cooked out before the 2 hours. Shredded leftovers into a suiza-style (used homemade roasted tomatilla salsa) enchilada casserole which was fabu. Going to try tomorrow in the slow cooker using a combination of tips shared here. Wish me luck!
Made the red wine cake the other night to rave reviews, especially from my kids. Keep it coming, Deb!
I have made this a few times now and with excellent results. It’s like candy – it’s hard to stop with one bite! I tried it out with chicken breasts and surprisingly, with very good results. I mirrored the recipe except for the cooking time which is significantly shorter – I’d say 1 hour, start to finish. I used 3 large chicken breasts and reduced the recipe accordingly – about in half. You need to watch the liquid as it evaporated a lot, something I didn’t find with the pork. The end result was a wonderfully tangy, lime chicken that is excellent in tacos, but also in a salad.
Yum, can you say: dinner tonight? My husband and I have been eating (mostly) Paleo and it’s always hard to find recipes that fit in that category, and this definitely does (and it’s often a go-to dish at a Mexican restaurant for us too). Thanks!
I tried this recipe twice.
The first time, my carnitas came out a bit too crisp (burned at edges and slightly tough).
The second time I made them, I made sure to stick closer to the 2-inch cube (using a ruler!), threw in a bay leaf, and added more water than before. THEY CAME OUT AMAZING AND TENDER.
I even though I’d try using an orange-pineapple juice. Paired with a white onion, cilantro, and freshly diced pineapple slaw, it was gave a nice citrus sweetness!
LOVE this recipe!
This is how I start my home made tamales filling. So good.. thanks!
Had much more success with slow cooker. Took Rochella’s suggestion and didn’t add water. After 6 hours covered on high, meat was tender and there was lots of liquid. Took a few tries to crisp and here’s what ultimately worked: poured off most liquid, except a little to cover the bottom. Transferred to pot and cooked on high for 10 minutes to delightfully crispy crusts all around. Now it’s a keeper.
A friend made these for us when we were in New Orleans (where I’m from) for the Christmas holidays, 2011. I was a bit dismayed that I wasn’t getting NOLA food, but the dismay disappeared when I tasted these! Now that I’m back in California, I have made this recipe three times and it’s only Jan. 25. This last batch was for a teacher appreciation lunch and now I know they know I love my teachers!
Made these again — so awesome, so easy, so delicious!
Amazing! Made this for dinner for by boyfriend and I. We proceeded to eat the rest with in the next day! I also made the slaw. Such a wonderful and simple recipe full of flavor!
It may be useful to mention that doing these in two steps works – so convenient! I made the boiling part yesterday night, and a bit of reduction, and finished off the ‘frying’ today. I used Seville oranges in place of limes. It smells like heaven.
This recipe sounds amazing and the pictures make my mouth water just looking at them. Mexican Carnitas will be tried out this friday for my whole family. Thanks for posting.
The Gentleman Friend loooooovvves carnitas, so I made him try this. He experimented towards the end by putting it in the oven to get the crunch, and it worked really well for the crispiness. About 20 minutes at 425.
Looks amazing! Question though- what are your thoughts on putting the shoulder in a brine overnight? Is is tender enough as it is and not really worth the extra effort?
jeff – no need to brine overnight if tenderness is what you’re looking for. Literally just pulled this off the stove and the meat is TaF (tender as f***). I’ll admit, during the 2 hour simmer period, I was a little worried that the pork wasn’t breaking down as much as it should.
The key here is to disturb the meat as little as possible so that it remains in bigger chunks. This also means, once you’ve passed the 2 hour simmer period, turn it to medium-high HEAT versus what your stove actually says is medium-high. You don’t want such a vigorous boil that it starts to break up the meat into little pieces; you just want the stove hot enough that it reduces the liquid and “fries” the meat in the 45 mins it will take for a nice caramelized crust to form.
Patience, mon amis!
Deb/Alex, can’t emphasize enough how much I love this blog–I’m currently working through the entire recipe index.
Love from Toronto!
I made these last night for Cinco de Mayo and it was A-Ma-Zing! I added a couple of bottles of Hoegaarden (because of the orange and coriander in it), skipped the OJ and water. And then I served the recipe for strawberry sorbet that I found on your site. Let’s just say I may have been the most popular person that night. So, thanks!
I just made the carnitas! Mmmmm wonderful…I got a little brown stuff on my pan as well, but it didnt bother me, I made the green onion slaw and had the tortillas, meat and a little slaw on top. Delicious!!
Any idea approximately how many people this will serve? I’m awful at estimation.
HOLY PORK FAT! This meal was amazing. My husband and I aren’t big pork eaters, but the thought of carnitas made me miss home (Phoenix) and I am so glad we tried this recipe. Hubby LOVED it and I couldn’t stop eating the little crispies at the bottom of the pot! We are definitely adding this to our regular rotation. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
So clearly I did something wrong, but this recipe did not impress (me or my 5 dinner guests).
I think my first big mistake was sizing. I even pulled out a ruler and 2 inches ended up being smaller than I thought, so I trimmed my pork shoulder (which I had purchased already cut for stew) into even smaller pieces.
I bought 3.5 lbs of pork shoulder for a group of 6, hoping to have plenty of leftovers. That amount of pork seemed like way to much to properly brown in a single pot, so I split it into two: my ceramic dutch oven and a nonstick All Clad deep saute pan.
The pork in the All Clad pan simmered off it’s water MUCH faster.
In both cases, I noticed that the pork shrank up considerably during the simmering phase and then once I started browning them up, they shrunk even further (as the fat rendered, I imagine) and ended up being rather hardened tiny little cubes. Not super appetizing but, worse, neither tender nor moist.
Also, because of the shrinkage, we barely ended up having enough pork to go around and ZERO leftovers.
I will also note that the pork in my dutch oven left an ungodly black scorched mess on the bottom that I’m still soaking off. The pork in the non-stick pan came up easily and left no mess, so lesson definitely learned on which pan to use for the future.
The other thing I’ll definitely do next time is to leave the pork in REALLY big chunks (like 4 inches+). I personally like carnitas that have a crispy outside but are tender and juicy in the middle–the ones I made last night were just crispy. And rather dry. Definitely a disappointment since I was cooking for a crowd. I’m glad I decided to serve these with guac, picked onions and that Bobby Flaw spicy slaw, all of which worked to somewhat salvage my little dried up pork bits.
Anyone else have a similar experience?
I’m going the crockpot route. Diced up the meat (a bit more than the recipe calls for) and added ingredients as directed to the crockpot. (Used 1 cup orange juice, 1 lemon, and 1/2 cup water, as I didn’t have limes on hand. Salt and cumin as per the recipe.) It’s been on low for 10 hours and smells delicious. I may or may not have had a little taste of the meat already, and yum! Today I will throw the meat and liquid into my dutch oven, reduce the liquid, and let the meat caramelize. Can’t give a final verdict yet, but the crockpot seems to be working out well. If any of you are considering giving it a try with your slowcooker, I think it will turn out just as nicely as it would’ve with the original method…and this way you can let the meat stew while you’re at work. Perfect.
Just made this exactly as written and it worked perfectly. The meat was amazing – tender and crispy. We had it with avocado, sour cream, and pickled onions and cabbage slaw both from smittenkitchen. Another great recipe – thank you!!!
this was really delicious! i made it today and my husband said it was one of the recipes i have ever made for him. i don’t have too much experience with pork but i found this a good beginner recipe. we will definitely be using this in the future as a lazy sunday meal.
I agree with those who already posted that this recipe makes a black mess of your pan. I soaked it in baking soda, vinegar and scalding hot water overnight. That along with some scrubbing removed the black, but I LOVE my pans (All-Clad) and don’t like putting them through such abuse. I’ll stick with the low & slow method in the oven for my pulled pork.
Delicious. I have stainless steel pans and use a commercial wire mesh pan scrubber–takes off anything. These were tasty! I simmered longer and didn’t have citrus so I poured in a bit of apple cider vinegar. Thank you for the recipe!
I made this for my extended family over the weekend it was absolutely delicious and was a huge hit with the guys. I used a deep cast iron pot and clean up was a breeze. Oh and make sure you have fresh tortillas for this one.
Just tried this tonight and the results are amazing. Warm tortillas, avocado, salsa … however, to add enough liquid I used the rest of a can of chicken stock that I had. It probably added more salt than needed. Lesson learned. Still … yum!
YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. Just made these tonight for my boyfriend and his mom and her husband as we “entertained.” Went over QUITE well! Thank you ma’am. May I suggest a Pinot Noir pairing to any seeking such advices.
I read your blog often, but this is my first tried and true. :) Keep up the good work please. You’re my official go-to, and I cook A LOT so this is no light deal.
I cant believe I made my first carnitas! They turned out great! THANKS!!!
I love this recipe. It’s simple and does not contain lard. I can enjoy this and not feel guilty. Genius!
I just made these today and they are SO yummy! Thank you so much for this recipe!
I’ve made these several times already and they’re a family favorite. Top them with the jalapeno slaw and some slices of avocado, throw the tortillas in a skillet for 30 seconds per side and they are melt in your mouth heaven.
WOW….Had a couple chunks of pork in freezer I wanted to use…Found your recipe and bingo. So easy and so delicious!!!
THANK YOU :)
Brilliant – the last 20 mins. almost magical!
This recipe is AMAZING!! It’s one of my favorite recipes of all time. Thank you so much!
Just made this recipe, it was a big hit. It was hard not to touch the meat for the first 2 hours, but for once I decided to follow a recipe to the T, and am glad I did!
One question, more than once I have seen this jalapeno slaw referenced, anyone have a recipe please!!
We’ve gotten to where we make this once every other week or so. It’s a great lazy day recipe.
These carnitas are so good, that I’m actually basing my entire rehearsal dinner menu around this exact recipe.
They are beyond good. I don’t know how something so simple tastes so amazing.
If you haven’t made it and you are reading these comments, MAKE THIS RECIPE. Now.
Made these tonight as a “man meal” and they were just as good as advertised! It’s a simple recipe and doesn’t take much work at all.
Might wanna reserve a little lime juice or orange juice for the very end to help get some of the tasty bits off the pan when you’re browning the meats.
Love it! You probably won’t believe it but my friend, who was born just a south of Mexico City braises the meat in cola, orange and lime juice. And it’s quite extraordinary.
Made these tonight for cinco de mayo. Wow, delicioso. I followed the recipe exactly. Braised for 2 hours in my Le Creuset dutch oven, cranked the heat for 45 minutes to brown aka fry the meat. Watch out at the end, the fat can (did) splatter into your face :-) All part of the fun haha.
Served this with Mexican rice, homemade guacamole, cilantro, red onions, and corn tortillas. I had planned on serving with lime slices and avocado but decided to use my extra ones to make more guac! Next time I’ll make sure to serve it with lime at least, it would have nicely brightened the flavors. So So So good. Thank you Deb! The Le Creuset will soak for probably about a week, but it’s so worth it. ;-)
We usually don’t eat pork but I did make these, they were amazing! So easy and impressive. Inexpensive, fun, yummy! Thank you Deb!
I made this yesterday. Delicious.
Next time I think I would use less lime juice though. Once the meat was done I removed it all from the pot and deglazed using beer, OJ and honey. Then I added the meat back in to keep it warm while I got everything else ready.
We ate the carnitas in burritos with all the fixings.
We got a great deal on a huge pork loin, so I cut it in half for this recipe. I may make these again with the other half.
I made these today and for once in my life I followed the recipe…… well kinda! I did not measure the orange or lime juice, but just used the juice of 2 oranges and 3 limes. This recipe was fabulous. It was very hard for me to just leave the meat alone as it simmered, but I did it! It turned out just as the recipe stated. I will definitely make this one again, it’s a keeper.
Made these last night with the slaw! O-M-GEEZY! They were so good!!!! I only changed up two things, ONE – I used the bottled MOJO from the latin section of the supermarket, its orange juice, lime juice and bitter orange juice and seasonigs because im too damn lazy to juice oranges and limes. TWO – I threw three of those peppers that come in spicy adobo sauce in there as well. Can somebody say “THESE CARNITAS ARE THE BIZNESS” because guess what they are!!!!!!!
How many does this recipe serve?
just made these for the first time. holy ever-living sh*t these are amazing! the flavor is so concentrated and intense – both umami and citrus – that it’s otherworldly. i will definitely make it again!
btw – i subbed chicken stock for water. maybe that added to the umami. in any case, it was astounding.
Pork Butt/Pork Shoulder. I’m too late for this discussion, but the politically incorrect full name of a butt is “Boston” butt. And to add to the confusion, a pork shoulder is actually a HUGE piece of meat usually divided into two parts, the afore mentioned butt and the “picnic”. Just for clarification. Make sure you use a “butt” and not a picnic. Credentials: I’m in Texas, but originally from pork loving Georgia, the only thing I know to do with the picnic cut is ham. Otherwise it’s just too dry and tasteless.
I tried this recipe out on some friends and it met with much acclaim! Would you happen to know a variant of this that utilizes a crock pot for slower cooking?
I just had to offer a big ‘thank you’ for this recipe. I have a large family of picky eaters and have run the gamut of new recipes that were a flop. This was easy.. and delicious! Thanks for sharing!
Oooh! Had a 7 lb shoulder, bone in, and did what I could butchering it myself and threw the remaining meaty bone in with the rest and fished the bone out later. Doubled the spices and juices and apparently added way too much water and had to suck about a quart out with the turkey baster after almost 3 hours simmering. (saved stock to use with beans and rice later) During the simmering portion I was a tad concerned because the meat looked a little, well, like boiled meat does but never fear, it will still turn out amazing! Too much meat for suface area of my giant le cruset stock pot and broiled half of the meat to get the browning. The broiled meat was good, but the fried meat was AMAZING. Could’ve trimmed some of the fat off pre-simmer as there were a few pieces with unappetizing chunks of fat left at the end, but overall, it was freaking fantastic! New fave pork shoulder recipe by far!
Absolutely delicious & very easy to make. Cheers!
I don’t remember when I found this recipe on Homesick Texan. But. I was stunned at how easy — and delicious — this recipe is. LOVE IT! Thank you Homesick Texan and Deb for reminding me to make it again — tomorrow.
Same question as Kevin L. I’m all about using the slow cooker these days!
I just made this tonight! So, so good, and the pork really had excellent flavor. I did make it in my Le Creuset dutch oven, and had no problems whatsoever. Some changes I made: I did add a sliced jalapeño, seeds and all, which turns into magical goodness along with the garlic gloves and really imparts a little something extra! After frying for 45 minutes and developing a great fond, I also added some water to the pan to deglaze and give the meat a little sauce. Overall, really excellent recipe!
I’ve made this recipe 3X now for product demos at my work for a new braising pan I designed and it’s PERFECT for showing off the benefits of a braiser. Both pork butt and pork shoulder work well, but I had a LOT of excess fat to trim from the butt. Also, I’ve had dozens of colleagues come and ask for the green onion slaw recipe. I’ll be making this dish a 4th time this weekend for out of town guests.
It was my little boys third birthday today and he requested homemade corn tortillas for dinner. So glad he did because these yummy carnitas are what we made to go with… we also had arroz con guandules and a broccoli slaw. Delicious! We’ll be making these again and again! Thanks Deb.
Made this for a pot luck. What a hit. Better than most restaurants! Follwed the recipe to a tee. Perfect!
We made this recently with duck breasts for a fancy taco night. They were simply outstanding. The duck had enough fat to behave similarly to the pork and the taste was amazing.
Just made these for dinner tonight. My husband and I were fighting over who got to scrap the delicious burnt crumbs out of the pan since the meat was all gone. Can’t wait to make again. Thanks!
This post is so old now, but I just wanted to comment:
I have made this now many times in my slow cooker. I just put everything in and cook it low most of the day, then roughly divide into batches of meat+juices that will fit in my non-stick frying pan and fry it up to crispy just before serving. You just fry until the juices are evaporated and all the meat is nicely crispy edged. So good, very easy!
How many serves does this recipe make? I’m cooking for seven on Sunday and want to be sure of quantities…? Thanks Deb, your recipes are the BEST.
I’d say 4 to 6 people. But if you’re serving a lot of other stuff, maybe more.
Just made this tonight and it was delicious! Amazingly, it pleased both my 4 1/2 year old and my 2 year old (once we convinced them to try it). We had gotten a shoulder with bone in, so left the bone in the pot for flavor while cooking down. Not sure if it made a difference but certainly didn’t hurt. Will try the slow cooker/finish in pan technique next time, though, so as to be a bit less shackled to the kitchen. Will also try trimming so of the the excess fat off, since there didn’t seem to be a shortage of fat to go around :-) Thanks for the wonderful receipe!
Made these for the family,and what a hit,there wasn’t a piece left!,thank’s for posting!!
I decided to try these instead of my usual carolina bbq recipe. OMG! They are so tasty! I can’t wait to make them again and again and again!
Just made these the other night, they were awesome!
Had them this morning for breakfast with toast, a fried egg, a little siracha, and some avocado.. YUM!
Hi, I am hosting a New Years Day get together, and I wanted to make these for it. However, I don’t have enough time to make everything for the party on New Years day, so I was wondering if you think these could be made in advance, or at least partly made in advance. Also, how best to heat them up if I have to make them a day early?
BTW, love your website and your cookbook, my sister and I never look anywhere else for recipes since yours are a hit every time!
I’ve made your recipe several times, got it bookmarked on my iPad. Tonight I am cooking the carnitas and tomorrow I’ll use it as a topping for Tamale Pie!!!! Maybe some breakfast carnitas with the leftovers….
Claire — A little after the fact, sorry, but I hope that you found, as we do, that this reheats very well, and is definitely something you can make almost a day before you need it.
I made these carnitas last night, and we are over the moon about them! I did use beer, instead of water–holy cow, er, pig, er, ANYWAY, AMAZING! They taste so delicious that it is hard to push away from the table! Thank you for researching, testing, then posting this amazing recipe!
Hi! How do you think this recipe would work in the slow cooker before browning- or would it? Thanks!!
i hate pork (i know…) but have done this recipe at least a dozen times with lamb and it’s AMAZING!
I made these last night, knowing they would not be done until I went to bed. after snitching a few bites to snack on before bed, i got to wake up to crispy egg & carnitas breakfast tacos — YUM! can’t wait toi make some slaw and have these for dinner tomorrow!
I’ve been making carnitas for years without the frying step. I pressure cook the pork (I use larger chunks) with half an onion, a tsp of cumin, salt and pepper. When it’s finished, I salt all sides of each piece and bake it in a 350 oven for 30 minutes. Voila! Crispy outsides–tender, juicy insides. Heaven! And with the speed of the pressure pot, it only takes about an hour start to finish!
I make this all the time, thanks to you. I love your website, your sense of humor, and the recipes. Thanks for what you do for the rest of us!
i can’t tell you how long i’ve had this bookmarked…and why did i not make it until last night? what’s really shameful about it is that i’ve been buying rick bayless’ frontera carnitas sauce packets periodically for like a year and making carnitas in the slow cooker. and they aren’t bad, but i still gotta brown the meat and i add garlic, spices, & OJ to get the flavor i want, and i’m home the whole time anyway so…why?
well, no more. made this last night and it was a hit. this is one of those recipes that’s so easy but takes trust and i’m glad i did. the best part is not having to eat shredded meat to get our carnitas fix – i much prefer meat of any kind in chunks vs strings.
we had ’em on corn tortillas with lime wedges, queso fresco, pickled jalapenos for boyperson and your slaw recipe for me, and of course chips & guac. best dinner ever!
oh, and for those asking about the slow cooker – simply brown the meat on the stove, then add the browned meat cubes, garlic cloves, spices, and a cup of liquid (i also usually add a thickly sliced red onion) and let it go. my slow cooker is an old one (belonged to my gramma) and only has one setting, and they meat is done in six hours. with this method though it will be shredded pork. definitely do NOT add water to cover the meat, you’ll just end up with pork soup.
it’s really good, but not as good as the stovetop method, imho.
I make a few different versions of Carnitas. This one from Mark Bittman is my favorite of late.
Just made these- they were delicious! I think I had my heat turned up too high for the first 2 hrs as most of my liquid was gone at that point and I had to add in some extra water to keep the bottom from burning. We ended up with lots of little crunchy bits, though, so it worked out in the end. Thanks for yet again another amazing recipe!
I have a gorgeous 5 pound pork shoulder in my freezer right now. Do you think I could just double the braising liquid for this? Would the cooking time change? I don’t really want to defrost the whole shoulder and then have to cook it two different ways. This seems like a perfect weekend recipe.
Living in Texas here, and have made this several times and it’s a hit every time. I use a huge pork shoulder and love how this is a recipe that never goes wrong – If it’s not falling apart, just add water and keep simmering. If we have leftovers, they reheat great. I have thawed frozen carnitas, popped them in the oven, and enjoyed the same crispy goodness as when I first made them.
I haven’t made these in a long time, guess i forgot about them, but my husband remembered and requested them. Tastes just as good as I remembered!
Found this same recipe on the Whole Foods website
This is better than traditional carnitas that uses lard.
I would love to make this along with a delicious Mexican corn salad! If you haven’t tried that before, you should. It’s amazing!
I saw that an earlier (like five years earlier!) commenter asked about making homemade corn tortillas, but I didn’t find an answer and I’ve been searching your site (and lots of others) for a corn tortilla recipe with no luck. Do you have any suggestions on how to make a great corn tortilla to go with this? Mine are always either to fragile or too dry to hold anything and flour tortillas just don’t taste the same.
In the interest of full disclosure, I doctored this just a tad. I added tequila, half an onion (left “whole”), half a jalapeno, and a bay leaf to the braising liquid. What can I say? I like aromatics. ☺️
This was absolutely fantastic! The method is brilliant and only one pan to clean up. The meat was moist and flavorful. With the slaw in a tortilla, it made the perfect bite!
Based on reading the reviews, I have a couple of tips/cautions. When the recipe says simmer, that means don’t boil it. Boiled = dry meat. The bubbles should barely, if at all, be breaking the surface. Once you turn up the heat, watch it. It goes from boiling to frying in the blink of an eye. If you’re not there, you’re gonna end up with a very messy pan.
The recipe, as written, is brilliant. Trust it!
All I can say is that these carnitas are the best carnitas i’ve ever tasted. this will be my go to recipe always, easy and delicious. thank you!
So I more than doubled this recipe over the weekend for a party, cooking ~7lb (yikes!) in my 9qt Dutch oven. I got the meat perfectly braised in ~2 hours at a very low simmer, but got concerned that because the pot was so deep that all that tenderness would be lost if I tried to simply boil down all the liquid. So I got it to a roiling boil and then ladled off 8-10 cups of liquid (skimming some of the fat off the top and adding it back to the pot to the meat had something to brown in.) It cut down on the time at the end and ensured that the meat was perfectly cooked. Totally delicious!!!!
Just wanted to say that this is the BEST!! I’ve been known to eat leftovers for breakfast!
Thanks for this fantastic recipe :)
I’d love to make this in a crockpot. I’m thinking to cook the pork in the same ingredients as listed for 8hrs? Once cooked, I’d remove the pork to shred and reduce the liquid in the crockpot. I think I’d also crisp up the pork and add the reduced sauce?
What do you think?
I haven’t made it in one but these three comments, oh and this too, talk about how they approach it. Doesn’t sound like it will be a problem, just less crispy if you don’t finish it somehow in a pan or broiler.
These carnitas give life. That is all.
That recipe looks good. Carnitas is different all over – but it’s always pork and it’s always twice cooked. In stands by the road in Baja California years ago, it was boiled in a big iron caldron, constantly, all day. When you ordered it, the meat was pulled out, and quickly fried, and slapped on a tortilla with lime, scallion, and cilantro. You had to order “puro” to get meat without offal. I usually stick a (bone in) pork roast in the smoker, with apple twigs, and a steaming pot of water – kind of smoke roasting – good for ducks too. When done, maybe 3 hours later, at about 325°F, I divide up the extra into meal size portions of smoked meat cut into 1″ to 2″ chunks. When needed, they get thawed, frizzled and browned – crisp on the outside, tender inside, and served on tortillas with lime, scallion, cilantro, and avocado. When I moved away from San Diego years ago, I had to learn how to do it myself – since going without was not an option.
I made this but the meat was very tough – not sure where I went wrong! It was barely bubbling for the two hours but I felt the second half went faster than the 45. Any troubleshooting tips?
I cooked mine in a crock pot and had something similar happen to me. What I found was that I did not braze it long enough while the meat was cooked the connective tissue hadn’t dissolved so it was still tough so brazing a little longer would be my recommendation.
This has been my go-to carnitas recipe for years.
These were so, soooo good! I even made with *gasp* bottled orange and lime juice because sometimes when you have a 5 week old you take shortcuts. ;) But they were still AMAZING! Froze leftovers and can’t wait to use again. Also makes for some AMAZINGGG breakfast tacos! Definitely adding this to my “regulars” list as well as my list to make for entertaining!
you had me at ‘im pouring whiskey in my coffee right now as we speak, just like i always do after preschool drop-offs’. blog. followed.
I made this a couple of months ago, and it was wonderful. I’d like to make it again for company this week, but since I work it would be good if I could reheat. Do you have any tips for the best way to do that?
I might warm it through covered (so it doesn’t dry out but you can always add a little water if it seems like it could) and then blast it under the broiler for a minute for extra crispy bits. Hope that helps.
Thank you for the great recipe.
I make the recipe as presented but I had a pork leg and did everything else as presented and the flavor was excellent. There is very little fat on pork leg and I knew that. Make sure you use the fatty cut like shoulder or butt like the recipe says. And it is a cheaper cut. The fat makes it work best. Win win
I had to add some fat to it to brown it. Still tasted excellent.
Never had carnitas before…my only regret is making this with only 2.5 lbs of pork butt. 2.5 year old says yum after each bite and asks for more. Will be making again soon…
Also added 1 tsp of smoked paprika since I am addicted to it. Cooked for a bit longer since I can never get the flame right to simmer…either boils or does nothing lol.
my sister is gluten and dairy free, what can i use instead of milk?
Hot. damn. Soooo good. Worth the time to get the sides of the cubes and many of the parts and pieces brown. Put them in tortillas with a bit of sliced red cabbage tossed in lime and topped with green onion dressing (from the slaw link above). The crunch and spice worked beautifully with the carnitas. My man kept making the “this is f*ing delicious” noise as we ate. I also separated the leftovers from the lard to save each for later. Thinkin this recipe could make 18-20 tacos for a nice diner party, with 3-4 pp.
You had me at ‘fries itself’.
Char the tortillas on a gas burner (I prefer flour tortillas), slap some meat on them and top with crema or a little sour cream and if you have it, pick de Gallo. I live in Mexico and this is my fave.
During the braising stage, do you need to add additional water to keep it over the meat? Seems like it would boil down during a 2-hour period.
Yes, sometimes! If I feel like I’ve added a lot of water I’ll squeeze in another lime too. Adjust seasonings, etc, etc. :)
How many does this recipe serve?
This is a very good recipe. You have to really keep your eye on it the last five minutes or so to be sure the spices don’t burn on the bottom of the pan. I would add more cumin next time. I served it with guacamole, fresh tomato salsa and sour cream. Will make it again for sure.
The. Best. Ever!
Made tonight with an apple/cabbage saute and a really good syrah from WA. Thanks for the recipe!! Love your writing. 🍷
These are so amazing! How do you suggest (if at all possible) altering the recipe for an instant pot? I’d love to cut down on some of the time!
Posie Harwood says 20 minutes to cook in the instapot then 20 minutes to release. her recipe for carnitas in an instapot is over on Food 52 – very similar to this awesome recipe – just in the instapot! :)
Hi! Deb posted these on Instagram today and I too was wondering if they were Instant Pot friendly. Did anyone try the 20 mins on high/20 mins release? Would love to make these for the Super Bowl
These are absolutely incredible! I read the recipe incorrectly; cooked with the lid for two hours, and then without until the water was gone; and it was amazing.
The pork had truly come apart by then, so we were left with an incredible pile of soft, crispy, golden, heaven.
I can’t wait to make it again!
Just a tip- make the pickled red onions with lime juice and serve with homesick texan’s green avocado salsa! So delicious! Thank you!
I love this recipe and it makes amazing carnitas. But it absolutely destroys my Dutch oven — like it is nearly impossible to clean. Any tips for avoiding an inch of char? It’s not going to stop me from making it again tonight though :)
I just soak mine in water and soap if anything sticks. Overnight, even.
Wow. This was so incredibly good. I seriously didn’t think it would be that flavorful with so few ingredients. Boy was I wrong. I will be making this often.
Hi Deb – can this be made a day ahead? If you were to, how would you modify the recipe? Thanks!
No need to modify. Braised meats keep fantastically overnight. You could, if you wish, leave the crisping-at-end part until right before you serve it, first re-warm it.
Any possibility of you adapting this recipe for the Instant Pot? I think it could work quite well… :)
Yes, very soon!
How would I adapt this to an instant pot? Is that even possible or would it completely mess it up?
Just saw this above… duh!
Any instructions to make this in an instant pot? Thanks!
Oh! Just saw the same questions before mine!
Making this now smells awesome!
Has anyone tried converting this to instant pot?
Ditto whoops :)
Deb, can this be made ahead of time, or the day before and reheated/”re-crisped”?
I made this, but they burned pretty quickly after raising the temperature after the 2hrs. Did I somehow not have enough fat?
I have made this recipe of yours for years. (Your blog is a favorite of mine) And we absolutely love it. But my son can not have orange juice. I subbed the same amount of pineapple juice and just thought you should know, it was amazing that way, too!
We make this all of the time. Have made it with chicken thighs, for the non pork people. Just shorten the cooking time. After it’s cooked (pork or chicken) out, we shred and boil until crispy. For the non Tex Amex eaters, we serve on slider buns with barbecue sauce
Do thebleftovers freeze well?
Yes, they do!
This was amazing – great Sunday night dinner. After the two hour low simmer, I was concerned that the liquid wouldn’t evaporate but it did in exactly 45 minutes after I turned the heat up! I had this with the Sunset Slaw from Smitten Kitchen Everyday and it was perfect! Added one jalapeno with the garlic and a bottle of beer in place of some of the water. I put some of the leftovers on rice/bean/veggie bowls for work lunches this week.
I made these last night and will be making them again ASAP! I worried about how the meat would turn out from start to end (am I cutting off too much fat? are these pieces too big? too small? is this a low simmer? is 45 minutes really enough for all this liquid to cook off? aren’t they gonna be tough? do I worry enough??), but needlessly. The meat was fork-tender, browned beautifully, and tasted great.
I had a 7lb butt, so I doubled all quantities, kept cooking time exactly the same, and even split my batch of meat (guessing as to how much of the cooking liquid to transfer along with the meat) after about 2 hours 15 minutes to take some to a friend’s, then finished the travel batch on his stove an hour later and it turned out just as well! I also threw one seeded and halved jalapeno into the pot for depth of flavor. Love a recipe so straightforward and forgiving. Deb, you’re the actual best.
Not to echo everyone else but I made these and they were amazing! My husband said they were the best tacos he has ever eaten! I would note that for people not as versed in the art of braising as some, you HAVE to bring it to a boil first. I was scared to boil the meat so I stopped heating it when there were some bubbles but not many. To me (the newb😜) that meant a simmer. But then I started getting worried so I used a thermometer to see the temp of the water and it was 160. That is like poaching the meat and there is no way it can get tender at that temp. I know magical things happen when the meat gets around 205 so I toyed with the water until it got to that temp. But it essentially got to 212, I turned it down and it stayed between 210 and 205 pretty easily.
I made this with the sunset slaw from Deb’s second cookbook, pickled onions, and avocado. I also went a little crazy and made corn tortillas for the first time. Amazing! Like life changing. They really aren’t hard once you get the hang of it, and there are two ingredients! I watched a clip of Pati Jinich make them and her technique worked perfectly for me in a cast iron pan.
Thanks again for such a wonderful recipe!!
Hey Deb! Our family has been loving your homesick Texan carnitas tacos – some of us ( a certain chubby 11 month old) so much so that we’ve planned her entire first birthday party around them! A first fiesta, or UNO party will be had at the end of August and I think I need to double this recipe- should I do two separate pots? A double batch will fit in my giant Staub easily- should I adjust the cooking time some? Have you ever made this the day before? Any advice you have on scaling/ possibility of reheating would be greatly appreciated! Now I just have to decide if I want to brave churros or not….
OMG these were delicious! I followed the recipe exactly, and at the two hour mark after the simmering finished, I was convinced I would have to find something else to feed my dinner guests. The pot truly looked like I was making gross boiled meat — the chunks of meat were still completely tough and they weren’t breaking down at all. I wondered if I should simmer them longer, but stuck to the recipe and turned it up to medium-high. And sure enough, after about 30 minutes of higher heat they broke down beautifully. Follow the recipe and don’t be worried — it will work out!
Just made these and they were delicious. However, they RUINED my Dutch oven with a thick layer of baked on grease. Has this happened to anyone? Any tips?
Kris….I presume you’ve given the dutch oven a good soak. Is your dutch oven enamel covered or is it plain cast iron? Is the grease still there or is it a stain? I’ve had good success with removing stains from my enameled dutch oven by boiling a cup of hydrogen peroxide. If you do have a grease issue then I’d suggest you start by boiling a water and baking soda mixture – heavy on the baking soda. That should remove remaining grease and most stains.
Thanks for this! The Dutch oven is enamel and I finally got the grease out with a vinegar/baking soda mixture and a metal grease scrubber. So now that I have that solved, would definitely make again!
These are unbelievable. Exactly what you want out of carnitas and they’re easy AF.
Any suggestions for cooking technique to do this in the instant pot?
I haven’t tried it but someone commented with a suggestion earlier; I’d Google the recipe she references to be safe: https://smittenkitchen.com/2011/11/homesick-texan-carnitas/#comment-1070073
We make these all the time. We’ve also done them with chicken for our non pork eating friends. After the liquid boils off, we put the pork on a crisper pan or cookie sheet and broil it, turning often, to get extra crispy. This is a good dish for picky eaters because we serve it with taco stuff and barbecue sauce, so everyone has a choice
I echo everyone’s comments – my meat was still quite tough (and not great looking) after the 2 hour mark. Had doubts. Continued with the recipe and about 30 min into the boiling down the liquid, beautiful, tender, delicious-looking meat appears! Woo hoo! Follow the recipe and you will not be disappointed. Thanks, Deb!
Also, last time I made this, I didn’t have any oranges so used a grapefruit instead and it was great – didn’t have a grapefruit flavor….
Can the meat be made ahead and frozen? Also can we use bone in pork shoulder? Thanks
You’re the best.
For how many persons would you say this recipe is?
What I learned from another blogger. I put a large pork shoulder in water, with garlic salt, chicken broth and simmered away until the meat fell away from the bone. Took it out of cooking broth, let it cool, and removed all fatty icky stuff. The broth was put in the fridge to congeal fat, then fat removed, the broth was frozen for soup. The meat was then mixed with a sauce and cooked in the slow cooker for another hour until the sauce was caramelized. It was the best pork shoulder I made for pulled pork. Great way to make a very fatty piece of meat more healthy and no one missed the globby fat.
I will certainly be making this recipe, it sounds delicious using my newfound method. Will report back
Can someone point me in the direction of the buttermilk jalapeno cabbage and radish slaw in the pictures? Thanks much!
I can’t stand the idea of cooking this for three hours, no matter the results. Is there a pressure cooker version of the recipe?
Carnitas for the win!
The shoulder I bought was a little over four pounds. After trimming off 95% of the visible fat, it was probably close to 3.5 pounds. The breakdown took a little time, but that was time spent by choice. With the braise and the sizzle, I knew there would be enough fat marbling to handle the long cook.
Speaking of long cook, it took well over an hour for all of the liquid to evaporate and for that sizzle stage to start. Just as i was thinking that there was no way this was going to come together, I heard the tell tale sound from the bottom of my DO, and the browning had begun.
Served with warm homemade corn tortillas, dinner on a cold snowy night was an absolute hit.
I’m a terrible cook. However I followed this recipe exactly (which I rarely do, and was tempted to improvise, but didn’t) and it was fabulous! I’m making it again today. Thanks!