Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe

These clean eating slow cooker carnitas are totally simple to make!

Yes. Delicious, authentic-tasting carnitas are absolutely doable at home, they are super easy to make, and this clean eating slow cooker carnitas recipe proves that.

Clean Eating Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe, shredded and displayed wrapped in a tortilla next to a halved orange and lime. Black peppercorns are roughly ground and sprinkled over the carnitas.

I grew up with many Latina friends, and because of this, I grew up eating a lot of authentic Latin foods as well. Recipes from Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, and even Ecuador and Cuba were very much a part of my childhood. My friend’s parents took me in like family and always encouraged me to eat (something I never argued with).

So the thought of trying to make Carnitas was a little intimidating for me. I mean, I’ve had the truly good stuff and it’s hard to compete with that. Especially now that most of those friends and their parents are gone from my life, and their recipes along with them. What I wouldn’t give now to have collected those precious recipes back then!

But at the same time, a lack of recipes leaves me open to exploring my own approach to this style of cooking. Can a white girl really make authentic Latin food from scratch? I guess one could create an argument either way for that. But I’d like to think that this recipe comes pretty darn close to the carnitas I tasted in my childhood. And seeing as how my mother hugged her bowl close to her and protectively said, “This is MINE. All MINE.” when I gave her some, I would venture a guess I did okay with this one.

This is perfect for tacos, rice bowls, or even just by itself with some veggies on the side!

What To Serve With Crockpot Carnitas

Aside from putting this inside a tortilla with all the fixings for burritos, you can serve it as is with:

An overhead view looking down on a Slow Cooker Carnita laying on a cutting board with an orange and lime.

Optional Additions

While these will take you away from more authentic flavors, you can also add any of the following to the crockpot:

  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3 large bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1-2 tsp. any Mexican spices or spice mixture you want to use.

About The Ingredients

Pork shoulder – Bone-in. You can also use boneless pork butt if you prefer. But pork shoulder roast is best and seems to make the best shredded pork (or pulled pork). It’s tender and juicy and cooks to perfection in a slow cooker.

Water

Large orange – Try to get one that is juicy.

Lime – Roll this on the counter under a bit of pressure to loosen the juices for easier squeezing.

Vinegar – red wine, white balsamic, or regular balsamic work best, but any will do.

Yellow onion – Chopped.

Garlic cloves – Minced. You can also press this for even more flavor.

Dried oregano

Ground black pepper

Salt

How To Make Slow Cooker Carnitas

Place the pork shoulder in your slow cooker.

Pour the water, orange juice, lime juice, and vinegar over it.

In a large skillet, saute the onions and garlic in the oil, then pour them over and around the pork.

Sprinkle the spices over and around the pork shoulder as well, and finally top with salt.

Cook on low for 5-7 hours, or until the pork easily shreds with two forks.

Allow the pork to cool enough to handle it. Transfer to a plate or bowl where you can easily shred it and remove the bone as well as any additional fat you prefer to remove.

Use it for tacos or even as a salad topper!

Storage

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep safely for up to 3 days.

Freezing

Wrap well in portions and freeze in the freezer for up to 4 months for easy grab-n-go meals.

Reheating

From frozen – thaw in the fridge overnight.

From fridge – simply microwave for a minute or so.

Can This Be Made In An Instant Pot?

Absolutely! Just set your Instant Pot to the slow cooker setting.

Recipe Supplies

Slow cooker sold on Amazon. (Affiliate link)
Instant Pot sold on Amazon. (Affiliate link)
Ninja Foodi sold on Amazon. (Affiliate link)

More Healthy Mexican-Inspired Recipes

SUBSCRIBE

Remember to subscribe to my free newsletter to receive all my latest recipes in your inbox. Click here to sign up!

Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe Card

Copyright Information For The Gracious Pantry
An overhead view looking down on Slow Cooker Carnitas laying on a cutting board with a cut orange and lime.

Clean Eating Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe

Make delicious, authentic, pork carnitas at home in your slow cooker!
No ratings yet
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 7 hours
Total Time: 7 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 6 servings (approximately)
Calories: 356kcal
Author: Tiffany McCauley

Ingredients

  • 3 lb. pork shoulder
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 medium orange (juiced)
  • 1 medium lime (juiced)
  • 1 tsp. vinegar (red wine, white balsamic or regular balsamic work best, but any will do)
  • 1 large yellow onion (chopped)
  • 10 medium garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt

Instructions

  • Place the pork shoulder in your slow cooker.
  • Pour the water, orange juice, lime juice and vinegar over it.
  • In a large skillet, saute the onions and garlic in the oil, then pour them over and around the pork.
  • Sprinkle the spices over and around the pork shoulder as well, and finally top with salt.
  • Cook on low for 5-7 hours, or until the pork easily shreds with two forks.
  • Allow the pork to cool enough to handle it. Transfer to a plate or bowl where you can easily shred it and remove the bone as well as any additional fat you prefer to remove.
  • Use for tacos or even as a salad topper!
  • Can be easily frozen in portions for up to 4 months for easy grab-n-go meals.
  • From frozen, thaw in the fridge overnight.

Notes

Please note that the nutrition data below is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.

Nutrition

Calories: 356kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 45g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 151mg | Sodium: 493mg | Potassium: 859mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 50IU | Vitamin C: 4.2mg | Calcium: 74mg | Iron: 3.6mg

Recipe from the Gracious Pantry archives, originally posted 4/12/16.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

8 Comments

  1. Sounds absolutely delicious, but we’re not huge on eating pork around here. I was wondering if it would be possible to replace with chicken breast, and if it would effect cooking time or anything…
    Thanks for all you do,
    Emilie

  2. Tried this recipe and the pork turned out fairly dry. Taste was great otherwise. Any recommendations on how to rectify dryness?

    1. Jay – If the meat didn’t fill up most of your slow cooker, that’s why it was dry. You can use a small slow cooker, or simply double the recipe. It’s all about how full the crock is. Also, the more fat you have on your pork, the moister it will be when it’s done. Look for a fatty piece.

  3. My family and I love this recipe and I am making it again today! Looking over the ingredients, I notice that salt is listed twice? I’ve just been adding the pepper and oregano and topping with salt, but couldn’t help but wonder if possibly there was meant to have been another spice included in place of the duplicate salt listing? Just thought I’d check. Love your recipes! Thanks for sharing them!

    1. Ashlee – So glad you like it! 😀 No, it was just a duplicate. I removed it. Thanks for the heads up!

  4. I’m going to try this recipe this weekend and use for meal prep lunches 🙂 Question on the calories — is that the calories for the full recipe? if not, what is considered a serving?

    1. Jennifer – Yes, per serving. I would make it and just divide it into six equal portions. That’s what I did. I didn’t measure. Sorry about that!