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Sweet and Spicy Slow Cooker Carnitas served on tortillas with ingredients scattered around.
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5 from 3 votes

Sweet and Spicy Slow Cooker Carnitas

These slow cooker carnitas are cooked low and slow for perfectly tender meat to pile high on tortillas with lots of extra toppings!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time8 hrs
Total Time8 hrs 15 mins
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: pork carnitas, slow cooker carnitas
Servings: 8
Calories: 385kcal
Author: Kim Beaulieu


Optional Toppings:

  • 2 medium tomatoes cut into small chunks
  • 1 medium red onion diced
  • 2 green onions diced
  • 1 avocado sliced thinly
  • fresh cilantro to taste
  • salsa
  • lettuce


  • 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!



The spice rub helps the outside of the roast get a nice bark to it, it won’t be as crisp as smoking the pork but it works great for slow cooking.
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.


Calories: 385kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 417mg | Potassium: 831mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 735IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 3mg