Pork Carnitas

The first time I ever had what I consider to be ‘authentic’ Mexican food was when I was 29 and had just moved to Los Angeles. My coworker at the time, Charley, introduced me to King Taco, where I had a burrito al pastor. As the cube mate of my boyfriend at the time warned me … it burns on the way in and on the way out. He wasn’t kidding. But still I loved the taste.

Since then I’ve gotten away from the al pastor burritos and tacos and moved to a less spicy pork flavor, carnitas. And I’m in love. I order carnitas tacos any time I’m getting tacos at Cha Cha Cha!, a Mexican restaurant in my neighborhood. I love the simplicity of carnitas tacos – shredded pork with diced onion and cilantro. No fuss no muss.

This recipe is adapted from one I found in Penzey’s magazine for Slow Cooker Carnitas.


  • 1 3 to 4 lb pork tenderloin or roast (I used a two-pound roast)
  • 1 4-oz can green chiles
  • 1 c. water mixed with 1 T. chicken bouillon
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 T. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. Mexican oregano
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 whole bay leaves


  1. Place the meat and broth in the slow cooker and cover with chiles and spices. Cook on high for 1 hour and then low for about 4 hours (up to 8 hours) or until the pork shreds easily.
  2. Remove the roast from the slow cooker and reserve the remaining liquid discarding the bay leaves. Shred the meat with two forks.
  3. Place the meat on a baking sheet and crisp briefly in a 400 degree oven to reach desired texture (I found 10 minutes worked great for me). Moisten with reserved liquid if desired.
  4. Serve with warm corn tortillas (I warmed the tortillas in the oven with the meat), diced onion, cilantro, guacamole, salsa, pico de gallo or whatever other garnish your heart desires. This meat would also work well in burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, tamales, as a pulled pork sandwich or in a Panini.

You will definitely want to soak your crisped meat in the reserved juice before serving – otherwise the meat will be too dry. I have a feeling this dish is even better the next day.

Recipe rating: 

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