Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas is the one dish that my guys and frankly most of our friends ask for when I ask, “What do folks want me to make?” It is always this accompanied with my tomato salsa. No store brought salsa with these carnitas for tacos. It has to be freshly made by me. Lucky for me it is a quick salsa and hopefully it will become your go-to salsa recipe.
What makes this slow cooker pork carnitas recipe so special?
The simple fresh ingredients are the key to the success of slow cooker pork carnitas. It is only eight ingredients: pork tenderloin, salt, pepper, bay leaf, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, water, and olive oil. That’s it. Nothing fancy. There is a lot of recipes of there with tons of ingredients and they are fine, but these is something about the simplistically of this recipe that just works. I use pork tenderloins, but pork shoulder will work too. What I like about it is that usually there is two pork tenderloins which gives you options. For use we make tacos with one of the tenderloins and then next day or so we BBQ pork sandwiches with homemade coleslaw.
Easy preparation as the slow cooker does all the work for these carnitas.
The preparation is easy and the slow cooker does 90 percent of the work. The “hardest” work is getting the pork into the slow cooker. First you start by washing and drying the pork as a pan hits on high with olive oil. Washing and trying the pork helps it develop that nice bark. Season it generously with salt and pepper. Place in pan searing all sides to a nice brown.
As that is searing, add rosemary, thyme, bay leaf to the bottom of the slow cooker insert. Once the pork is ready then place it on top of the bed of herbs pouring the liquid from the pan. Deglaze the pan with some water and pour that into the insert.
Layer more rosemary and thyme finishing off with more salt and pepper. Put the lid on and pick the settings. After 4-8 hours depending on when you start it, you remove and shred.
That’s it for perfect tacos. On Taco Tuesday and beyond. Add the slow cooker pork carnitas, salsa, cheese to warmed tortillas and you have a delicious dinner. Need another option if you are having a crowd? Try fish tacos.
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
- 2-3 lbs (1.5 kg) pork tenderloins, washed and dried with paper towel
- Bunch of fresh thyme
- Bunch of fresh rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- Generous amounts of sea/kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Drizzle of Olive Oil
- 1/2 - 1 cup water
- 1. Heat large pan on high with drizzle of olive oil.
- 2. Wash and dry pork tenderloins with paper towel.
- 3. Generously season all over with salt and freshly ground pepper.
- 4. Add tenderloins to pan browning all sides
- 5. While meat is browning, layer rosemary, thyme, and bay on the bottom of the slow cooker insert.
- 6. Place tenderloins on the bed of herbs and pour the pan juices over.
- 7. Add 1/2 cup water to deglaze the pan and then pour that on top.
- 8. Layer more thyme and rosemary on top making sure some gets between the tenderloins.
- 9. Sprinkle more salt and freshly grounded pepper.
- 10. Put lid on and select cooking settings for high (4 hours) and low (6-8 hours)
- 11. Remove pork from slow cooker and shred. If not using both then keep one tenderloin whole to use for BBQ pork sandwiches the next day.
The Best Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas this side of the Mexican State of Michoacán
For us, a mark of a good Mexican restaurant in the US is how they prepare pork carnitas. Recently we have had trouble finding good carnitas so I decided to make them myself. My first attempts were not successful in the crock pot. While tasty, they lacked the texture. You know that crispiness goodness on the edges and they tasted bland to me. The key to success with this recipe outside of the beer and chiptle spice is browning the meat before it goes into the slow cooker then once it is done, spreading it all out on a baking sheet crisping under the broiler.
Add warm tortillas, shredded cheese, sour cream, lettuce, and salsa, perfection!
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 (4-5 pound) lean boneless pork roast, excess fat trimmed, cut into 3-inch chunks
- 1 bottle beer
- 1 medium white onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon chipotle
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- Heat oil in a large saute pan over high heat.
- Add the pork and sear on each side until browned then transfer to a slow cooker.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker, and combine well.
- Cook on low for 6-8 hours until the pork is completely tender and shreds easily with a fork.
- Preheat broiler to high heat.
- Use a fork to shred the meat into bite-sized pieces.
- Transfer pork with a slotted spoon to a baking sheet.
- Spread the pork in an even layer and leaving the juices behind in the slow cooker. (Don’t discard the juices)
- Place the sheet under the broiler for about 5 minutes, or until the edges of the pork begin browning and crisping up.
- Remove the sheet from the oven, then ladle about 1/4 cup of the juices from the slow cooker evenly over the pork.
- Broil for an additional 5 minutes to get the meat more crispy.
- Then remove and ladle an additional 1/4 cup of broth over the crispy pork.