Crockpot Pork Carnitas

Do you love Mexican food? So do we. As you may know from my earlier beef taquitos post, we don’t have very many Mexican restaurants here in the Berkshires, so I always perk up when I see a new real food Mexican recipe. And finding this recipe was like hitting the jackpot. In fact, if I think back over the years and all of the recipes I have made, I can think of none that are as simple and tasty as this dish. I first made these in back in January. We loved them so much, I made them again the next week (and even doubled the recipe!), and then made them again a few weeks later. I was missing that delicious slow-cooked pork taste, so I put this on the menu for the week.

There are surprisingly few ingredients in this dish, and I’ve tweaked the recipe along the way. Another great thing about this recipe is that the cut of pork is super affordable. It was one of the first cuts of meat I bought after becoming a real foodie, and I remember cringing at the meat counter as I was handed the large piece of meat, neatly wrapped in crisp white butcher paper. I slowly peeked at the sticker, expecting to see at least a $20 price tag for this organically-raised 2 lbs cut of delicious pork. I remember how surprised I was – I think it was around $7. Now you know why I’ve made it so many times!

The garnishes are totally up to you. In our house, we love salsa, avocados and a little sour cream on ours. Sometimes I will swap out the sour cream for local Greek yogurt. You can make tacos or burritos using whole wheat or sprouted corn tortillas, or you can eat the pork straight from a bowl. So, so good – and great for leftovers.

Crockpot Pork Carnitas
(modified from 100 Days of Real Food)


  • 2.5-3 lbs boneless pork shoulder or Boston butt roast, trimmed of fat and cut into 6 pieces
  • 3 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into large chunks or wedges
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, chopped (optional)

Finishing touches:

  • salsa (tomato or tomatillo)
  • ripe avocados
  • chopped fresh cilantro
  • sour cream
  • shredded cheese
  • refried beans
  • hot sauce


In a small bowl, combine the oregano, cumin, paprika, peppers, and salt.


Cut the pork into 6 pieces and coat the on all sides with the spices and place them in the bottom of your slow cooker (I use this one).

pork butt

I ask for a pork shoulder or Boston Butt cut at the butcher. They usually give me pork shoulder, but today they gave me the Boston Butt cut for the first time. It has different marbling and less fat to trim.

cut pork piecesseasoning rub

Toss the chopped onion and smashed garlic on top of the pork (and the jalapeno, if using). You’ll notice in the picture this is a red onion, not a yellow. I thought I had a yellow onion, but I only had red so that’s what I used!

onions and garlic added

Cover and slow cook on low for 8 hours or until the meat is tender and falls apart easily.

cooked pork

When you’re ready to serve, drain off the cooking liquid. I use a turkey baster to siphon it off. Shred the onions, garlic and pork with two forks (you can also discard the onion and garlic, but I thought those delicious slow-cooked garlic and onions shouldn’t go to waste).

shredded pork

Serve the pork with warm tortillas and finish them off with toppings of your choosing: salsa, avocados, cilantro, and refried beans are clasic accompaniments. I sometimes like a little full fat sour cream or even a little shredded sharp cheddar cheese, but neither is needed; they’re delicious without the dairy. You can also skip the tortillas altogether and put the pork in a bowl with your favorite toppings. Tonight I had larger whole wheat tortillas, so we made small burritos.

crockpot pork carnitas

This pork also makes great leftovers. I’m planning to use some in black bean burritos later this week (roasted sweet potatoes will go in mine; the pork is for Jeff’s.). Enjoy!

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4 thoughts on “Crockpot Pork Carnitas

  1. Pingback: Meal Planning: Week of March 15 | Roudabush Real Food Revolution

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