This Pork Carnitas recipe offers a delightful journey to the heart of Mexican cuisine, perfect for a festive family dinner or a comforting weekend feast.

Pork Carnitas

A Flavorful Journey to Mexico

Imagine the rich aroma of tender pork slowly simmering, infused with a tantalizing blend of spices that fill your kitchen with a warm, inviting scent.

Skill Level: Intermediate

This recipe is perfect for home cooks looking to expand their culinary skills. The process involves marinating, slow cooking, and crisping the pork, which requires some attention to detail but is very manageable.

Health Benefits

Pork is a great source of high-quality protein, essential vitamins, and minerals such as thiamine, selenium, zinc, and B vitamins. These minerals are crucial for a range of bodily functions including energy production and brain health.

In addition, cooking the pork low and slow preserves its natural juices, reducing the need for excessive fats or oils.

Pork Carnitas Recipe

Time & Servings

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 to 4 hours
  • Total Time: About 4 hours 20 minutes
  • Servings: 6 people


  • Pork shoulder (2 pounds or 907 grams), trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Olive oil (2 tablespoons or 30 ml)
  • For the Dry Rub:
    • Brown sugar (1 tablespoon or 12 grams)
    • Salt (2 teaspoons or 12 grams)
    • Ground cumin (1 teaspoon or 2 grams)
    • Black pepper (1/2 teaspoon or 1 gram)
    • Garlic powder (1 teaspoon or 3 grams)
    • Oregano (1 teaspoon or 1 gram)


  1. Prepare the Dry Rub: Combine brown sugar, salt, cumin, black pepper, garlic powder, and oregano in a bowl.
  2. Marinate the Pork: Rub the spice mix thoroughly onto the pork chunks. Let marinate for at least 1 hour, or overnight in the refrigerator for deeper flavor.
  3. Cook the Pork: In a heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pork in batches, searing each piece until browned. Then, reduce the heat to low, cover, and let the pork cook slowly for about 3-4 hours, until it’s tender enough to shred.
  4. Crisp the Pork: Preheat your oven’s broiler. Spread the cooked pork on a baking sheet and broil for 5-7 minutes until the edges are crispy and golden.

Making It Easier

  • Use a Slow Cooker: After searing the pork, place it in a slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours. This method requires less monitoring.
  • Pre-made Dry Rub: Use a pre-made Mexican seasoning blend to save time.

Tips for Perfection

  • Ensure the pork is dry before applying the rub to help the spices adhere better.
  • Don’t overcrowd the pot when browning the pork; this ensures it gets a good sear.
  • Adding a touch of orange zest to the rub can enhance the flavor profile.

Optional Ingredients

Serving Suggestions

Serve the carnitas with warm corn tortillas, diced onions, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. What’s more… side dishes could include Mexican rice, refried beans, and a fresh salsa.

Nutrient Information Per Serving

  • Calories: 300
  • Protein: 25g
  • Fat: 20g (Saturated: 7g)
  • Carbohydrates: 5g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 3g

Storing Leftovers

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a pan over medium heat or in a microwave until thoroughly warmed.

Origin and Folklore

Carnitas, which means “little meats” in Spanish, originated in the state of Michoacán, Mexico.

Traditionally, pork is cooked in large copper pots, which are believed to distribute heat evenly and enhance the meat’s flavor. This dish is a celebration staple, often enjoyed during festive occasions.

This Pork Carnitas Recipe…

Summing up… with its rich flavors and satisfying textures, is a dish that promises a flavor-filled experience. It brings a taste of Mexican tradition right to your table, making it perfect for any gathering that calls for hearty, delicious food.

So, don your chef’s hat, and let’s get this fiesta going!