These slow cooker carnitas are cooked low and slow for perfectly tender meat to pile high on tortillas with lots of extra toppings!
My family loves pork so this carnitas recipe is always a hit in our household. It combines the perfect amount of heat with a just a hint of sweet.
Honestly, this recipe is SO good. It's packed with flavour and easy to make as well.
These carnitas are cooked in the slow cooker so it's very low maintenance, not to mention tender.
I actually made these slow cooker carnitas back in 2014 so the pictures are a bit on the old side. This was part of a collaboration for a cookbook for charity.
Lots of emails roll in from people who want the recipe but can't afford or access the cookbook. I've decided to post the recipe on the blog for those people.
That said, I certainly encourage people to buy the cookbook if they are able. Honestly, it's a great cookbook.
You can order the cookbook on Amazon. It's called Where Slow Food and Whole Food Meet.
For the Carnitas:
- Pork - You can use pork shoulder or pork butt, as well as blade roast.
- Sugar - Honestly, brown sugar is the way to go for this recipe.
- Spices - I used ancho chile pepper, smoked paprika, salt, white pepper, dried cilantro, cumin, coriander, and red pepper flakes.
- Cola - Coca-Cola or Pepsi will work. The soda helps the meat soften up and adds an amazing sweetness to it.
- Liquid - You can just use cola only, or you can add water or broth to this.
- Citrus - I used oranges as well as limes.
- Garlic - For the purpose of not overwhelming people, I used 3 cloves for the initial recipe. Honestly, now I use WAY MORE!!
- Tortillas - Use corn or flour tortillas. To clarify, it's actually hard to find corn tortillas where we live.
For the Toppings:
- Tomatoes - Use any kind of tomatoes you love. If they're large you can cut them into smaller pieces.
- Onions - Red onions are great for this, but also green onions as well.
- Avocado - Slice thinly to layer over the meat and veggies.
- Fresh Herbs - Use fresh cilantro if you love it. If you have an aversion to it you can actually use fresh parsley. No worries!
- Salsa - Use homemade or store bought. Again, don't sweat the small stuff if you can't make your own.
- Lettuce - Add if you like and leave out if you don't.
- Sour Cream - Honestly, I am NOT a fan! But you do you!
How to Make Slow Cooker Carnitas:
- First, remove the pork shoulder from the fridge and allow to rest on counter for about 30 minutes prior to cooking.
- Next, in a medium size bowl combine the brown sugar and spices. Mix well and then rub it on the pork. Make sure to rub it over the entire pork surface.
- Then, place the pork in the slow cooker.
- Pour the cola around the edge so it doesn't rinse off the rub from the top and side of the pork.
- Add extra water or broth, if desired.
- Next, cut the oranges in half. Squeeze the juice out over the roast and place the pieces in the slow cooker too.
- Also, cut the lime in half as well. Squeeze the juice out over the roast and place the limes in the slow cooker too.
- Then toss the garlic cloves in the slow cooker as well.
- Cover and cook on the low setting for about 8 to 10 hours. It's done when the meat is tender enough to pull apart easily.
- Next, transfer the meat to a cutting board. Shred the meat with two forks or chop with a knife.
- Then, add a little olive oil to a skillet and turn heat on medium-high. Toss the meat in the pan and allow to cook until edges brown.
- Remove from the heat and transfer meat to a bowl.
- Next, cut up all the toppings and place in bowls.
- Then, place everything on a table or buffet so everyone can help themselves.
- Finally, heat the tortillas in a frying pan or skillet, flipping so both sides are warm.
More slow cooker recipes:
- Slow Cooker Taco Pasta
- Huli Huli Chicken
- Slow Cooker Spare Ribs
- Pulled BBQ Chicken
- Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas
- Lasagna Soup
- Slow Cooker Hamburger Soup
- More Great Slow Cooker Recipes!
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Sweet and Spicy Slow Cooker Carnitas
- 3.5 lbs pork shoulder, pork butt, or pork blade roast
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp ancho chile pepper
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp dried cilantro
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp coriander
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 8 oz Coke
- 8 oz water this can be omitted if you like
- 2 oranges halved
- 2 limes halved
- 3 garlic cloves
- 16 corn or flour tortilla
- 2 medium tomatoes cut into small chunks
- 1 medium red onion diced
- 2 green onions diced
- 1 avocado sliced thinly
- fresh cilantro to taste
- Remove pork shoulder from fridge. Set aside.
- In a medium sized bowl combine the brown sugar, ancho chile pepper, smoked paprika, coarse salt, white pepper, dried cilantro, cumin, coriander, and red pepper flakes. Mix well so all the spices combine thoroughly. Carefully rub the entire pork shoulder with the spice rub, making sure to coat all the sides.
- Place the pork shoulder in you slow cooker.
- Pour the Coke and water around the side of the roast, but not over top of it.
- Cut the oranges in half, squeeze the juice out over the roast. Place the pieces inside the slow cooker.
- Cut the limes in half, squeeze the juice out over the roast. Place the pieces inside the slow cooker.
- Place the garlic cloves in the liquid as well.
- Cover and cook for 8 to 10 hours, you want the meat to be moist, and to pull apart easily.
- Transfer the meat to a cutting board and pull it apart with two forks.
- Place the meat in a large frying pan with a touch of olive oil. Cook over medium-high heat for about 3 to 5 minutes. I find adding just a touch of brown sugar helps to caramelize quickly. The key to great carnitas is having the meat be moist, but the edges crispy. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.
- To make Tacos:
- Cut up all the toppings ahead of time, with the exception of the avocado. Do that at the last minute so it does not brown before serving.
- Heat the tortillas by placing them in a frying pan, one at a time, flipping so you warm each side. Alternately you can warm them in the microwave all at once for about 30 to 45 seconds.
- Top each tortilla with meat and toppings of your choice.
- Serve with a big old sweet and spicy smile!
You do not have to heat the meat in a pan, but personally I think Carnitas need that crispy edge. It’s worth the few minutes it takes to do it.
You can also use the meat for making sandwiches. Personally for Carnitas we like making tacos with them.
If you want to cut the sugar content of this recipe omit the Coke and use water, or vegetable broth. We enjoy the sweetness from it; it’s a nice counter balance to the spice and acid from the citrus.
Thanks for visiting today!
If you’re looking for more dinner recipes be sure to check out my recipe index. You can also find a lot more slow cooker recipes as well.
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Love it. Love the photos too 🙂 Thank you so much !
Thanks for commenting.
Much to my doctor's dismay, I eat way too much pork but you can't beat the flavor. I love this recipe and it will be great for Cinco de Mayo, (if I can wait that long). Old or not these pictures are fantastic thanks for sharing the recipe.
I hear you Sandra. I have to go easy on the pork because of my tummy issues. If I had my way I'd eat it every single day. It's so darn good.
Thanks so much. I was getting a lot of emails about this one from the previous post so I thought it was time to post the recipe. Hopefully people will still buy the cookbook too.
Well now I'm hungry! This looks amazing. Thanks so much for joining us at Tasty Tuesdays this week!
Thanks so much and thanks for hosting, Gina.
Your pictures are gorgeous and I want to just reach right in to eat these. Thanks for sharing your recipe with us on Merry Monday. Pinned.
Thanks so much Erlene, and thanks for hosting and pinning.
Your pictures are gorgeous and I want to reach right in and eat these. Thank you for sharing your recipe on Merry Monday.
Thanks so much Erlene, and thanks for hosting. Much appreciated.
This recipe for slow cooker carnitas looks delicious! Thanks for linking up with us at the #HomeMattersParty - be sure to link up again on Friday!
Thanks so much Nicole, and thanks for hosting the party. Always fun to participate.
Betsy @ Desserts Required
You have NO idea how much I love carnitas and the ease of the slow cooker makes me so happy! Can't wait to try this one. I'm pinning for later and sharing on Desserts Required today. <3
Thanks so much Betsy. I love them too but I'm such a lazy cook. This works for me. Ha ha ha. Thanks for sharing. Much appreciated.
Helen at the Lazy Gastronome
It's taco tuesday (a link party) on our blog and this taco recipes looks so good!! I would be thrilled if you shared it at our party!
Thanks for stopping by Helen. I'll have to check out your party.
The flavors in here are absolutely amazing! We are definitely making this again.
Thank you very much. So glad you liked it.
This was really a huge hit at my house! I will definitely make it again and again!
That's awesome to hear. Thanks so much.