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.
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:
- Rice or Mexican rice
- Refried beans
- Black beans
- Fresh cilantro
- Salsa Verde
- Pico de Gallo
- Grated cheese
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.
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.
Ground black pepper
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!
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep safely for up to 3 days.
Wrap well in portions and freeze in the freezer for up to 4 months for easy grab-n-go meals.
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.
More Healthy Mexican-Inspired Recipes
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Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe Card
Clean Eating Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe
- 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
- 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.
Recipe from the Gracious Pantry archives, originally posted 4/12/16.