Slow Cooker Carnitas are a rich, juicy, and oh-so tender way to make taco nights easy. You’ll love this delicious Chipotle copycat recipe!
Pork Carnitas makes for a wonderful and delicious slow cooker dinner. Our recipe here yields a big batch- which means plenty of leftovers! Tastes great with some Easy Pico De Gallo or atop a bed of some Copycat Chipotle Lime Rice.
Slow Cooker Carnitas
My love for Chipotle is a bit of an open secret here on the site. It’s one of those places I always drive right past but I never regret stopping in for a quick bite to eat. My orders always seem to be changing, even though I do have a few constants like those delicious tortilla chips with some queso. My main is the one thing I’m always mixing up- all the meats at Chipotle are just too good to ignore! The carnitas pork, especially, is one of my favorites.
Chipotle just seems to have their recipe down- this stuff is so addicting! They struck the right balance of heat and juiciness and all those Mexican and Spanish flavors. Thankfully, with the slow cooker, you can easily replicate that tender pork you only seem to find at Chipotle locations. It’s well worth it too- this Homemade Carnitas recipe has helped spice up more than a few taco nights!
The real beauty of this recipe is how quickly you can have it ready and cooking. Yes, Slow Cooker Carnitas do need quite a few hours to cook but the prep time can be incredibly short if you need it to be. You can just toss all the ingredients into the slow cooker and let it go to work. If you have the time, though, you’ll thank yourself for searing the pork and enriching your stock before cooking. Get that slow cooker ready- this is a dinner we know you’ll love!
Other Favorite Mexican Recipes
You can’t pass up on our Slow Cooker Barbacoa! This is another delicious Chipotle copycat recipe with a short and simple ingredients list. Tasty, juicy, tender, and perfectly spiced!
White Queso Dip makes for a great side or appetizer- especially with some good tortilla chips! Using some white American cheese, some spices, and a few peppers, you can make this easy and delicious dip for yourself!
We can’t forget our Copycat Chipotle Guacamole while we’re here! This delicious recipe is simple to make and packed with flavor. Great for burritos, bowls, tacos, and chips!
What is Carnitas? What’s in Carnitas?
Pork – Ideally, you’ll use a nice, marbled cut of pork for this recipe. Your best bets are going to be pork shoulder and pork butt.
Rotel Tomatoes & Chiles
Spices – We use a blend of dried chipotle pepper, cumin, oregano, and some ground cloves. Don’t forget the salt and pepper!
How to make Carnitas
Prep and sear your pork before adding it to a slow cooker with all the other ingredients.
Slow-cook on low heat for 8-10 hours.
Shred your pork carnitas before serving and enjoying!
While you could toss your pork into the slow cooker and get started, you’ll love the flavors you get from properly prepping your pork. First, trim any silver-skin leftover on your pork while a cast iron pan warms up on the stovetop. Once it’s hot enough that water flicked onto it sizzles, add a couple of tablespoons of oil, and put your pork into the pan.
Give each side of your pork a good sear- about a minute or two without moving it. You may have to hold your pork upright with some tongs while it sears on some sides.
Once your pork has picked up some color, remove it from the pan and transfer it to your slow cooker. Pour off any excess fat in your pan and return it to the stovetop over medium heat.
Grab your beef stock and add it to the pan. We’re going to use the stock to deglaze the pan and pick up all that delicious fond searing our pork left behind. Something like a wooden spatula will lift that fond up real easy without scratching your pan.
Add the stock and all your remaining ingredients to the slow cooker. Set your lid on and let everything cook on low for around 8-10 hours.
Once your pork has finished its stint in the slow cooker, transfer it to a large bowl or a cutting board. Use a couple of forks to shred it and, if your pork had any bones in it, pull those out and get rid of them.
Remove the bay leaves from the slow cooker and drain off about half the liquid- I’d recommend saving it! Add your shredded pork carnitas back to the liquids to keep them moist. Serve and enjoy!
Serving & Topping Ideas
Taco Night – The classic way to enjoy your carnitas is in taco form. Serve your pork up in some hard or soft taco shells and enjoy! Alternatively, serve up in a big, hearty burrito instead. Make your soft taco or burrito shells homemade with our Homemade Flour Tortillas recipe.
Carnita Bowl – Of course, you could also enjoy a nice bowl of pork! Mix it up with some Copycat Chipotle Lime Rice and some beans for an easy and filling lunch or dinner.
What to do with leftover Carnitas?
Unless you have a big family, you should have plenty of pork leftover when you’re done. To make your leftovers taste good for as long as possible, store them in an airtight container or Ziploc bag with plenty of juices. When it comes time to reheat, reheat your pork with its juice on the stovetop, in the oven, or in the microwave. Your leftovers will keep for 3-5 days in the fridge and about 3 months in the freezer.
Slow Cooker Carnitas
- 5 lb Whole Pork Shoulder or Pork Butt
- 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 1 Onion chopped
- 20 oz Rotel Tomatoes & Chiles (2 cans)
- 2 tbsp Minced Garlic
- 1/2 tsp Oregano
- 1/4 tsp Ground Cloves
- 2 tsp dried Chipotle Pepper
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 1 cup Beef Broth
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- Heat oil in a large pan and brown pork on all sides.
- Transfer pork to slow cooker.
- Add beef broth to skillet and bring to a boil to release fond from the bottom of the skillet.
- Pour liquid into the slow cooker,
- Add remaining ingredients on top of the pork.
- Cook on low 8-10 hours.
- Remove pork and shred (remove bones if it was not boneless).
- Remove bay leaves.
- Drain about half of the liquid.
- Add shredded pork back to juices in the crock pot.