Easy Slow-Cooker Carnitas

In the category of “Cold Weather Cooking”, I don’t know if there can possibly be a more glorious combination of words than, “Easy. Slow-Cooker. Carnitas.”

Let’s analyze.

“Easy” – well, yes. Got it. That’s understood.

“Slow-Cooker” – that usually means. . . easy, and whatever is coming out is going to be (or should be) pull-apart, melt in your mouth, fork tender.

“Carnitas” – a fancy Spanish word that means “floppin’ awesome spicy meat”.

So there’s no mistaking what this recipe is all about: fork-tender, melt in your mouth, spicy and delicious meat that’s prepared by way of the blessedly easy method of slow cookery.

It’s a total winner.

And I think I broke my personal record of cooking the most massive piece of meat EVER in my slow cooker.

This pork shoulder was SEVEN pounds big.

Like I said. . . . massive.

I have to admit too – that I kind of feared the pork shoulder when I saw what it actually was. It’s an intimidating cut of meat, and I generally am not a huge fan of pork because it tastes too much like. . . pork.

All that matters with these Carnitas though, is the flavor. The only thoughts that make it to your brain from your mouth with your first bite will be something along the lines of, “OMG. My taste buds have died and gone to meat-eating taste bud heaven!!”

It was an all around winner in our house, and there are so many ways you can use the meat.

As an entree, as filling for Carnitas tacos, in a tamale pie – like Lindsay did here, in a breakfast fritatta. . . the list goes on and on.

And with a 7 lb. hunk of meat, you can bet you’ll have some leftovers.


You can also bet folks will head back for seconds.

It’s just plain awesome – kind of like this little post-it note my little guy smacked onto my backside the other night when I was bent over putting the dinner pots back in the cupboard:

I love that little guy. He melts me.

Easy Slow-Cooker Carnitas


  • 7 lbs. pork bone-in shoulder
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 7 whole peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle hot sauce (optional)
  • juice of 2 limes (with some pulp)
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 12 ounces beer (New Castle)
  • ½ cup salsa (I used Tostitos Chunky Salsa - Medium)


Place the pork shoulder in the slow cooker.

Roughly chop the garlic and place in the slow cooker. Sprinkle peppercorns in slow cooker as well.

Combine salt, cumin, chili powder, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Give a quick stir to mix together.

Rub dry spice mixture all over pork shoulder.

Combine lime juice, orange juice, beer, salsa, and chipotle hot sauce, and pour mixture over the pork.

Cover and cook on high for 6 -8 hours****. (I have to add a huge * here. I cooked my 7 lb. pork shoulder for 6.5 hours on high plus 2 hours on low, and it turned out perfectly. You need a LARGE crock pot for this cut of meat. However, if you want to scale it down and use a 4-5 lb pork shoulder, you can do that, and cook it on low for 8 hours).

A little slow cooker tip - typically, you are not supposed to lift the lid - ever - when you are cooking in your slow cooker. However, if you are anxious about how your meat is coming along and wondering if you've hit "shredability" yet, you can lift the lid after 6 or 7 hours and do a little test-shred. Only keep the lid off as shortly as you possibly can. Removing it totally alters the heat in the pot and the even distribution. Once you test this recipe once though, you'll have the timing down for next time.

When meat is finished cooking, remove from slow cooker and take out the bones, skin, and fat. Shred the meat and add it back to the pot until ready to eat. (It should practically fall apart - and you should be able to shred it easily with two forks.)

Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the shredded meat on the cooking sheet and pour a few spoonfuls of sauce over the top. Broil for 5-10 minutes or until you get browned edges on the pork.

Serve as an entree with beans and rice, or on tortillas with fresh toppings of your choice, or any other way your little carnitas-loving heart desires!


This recipe was adapted from Pinch of Yum Thank you Lindsay!



6 thoughts on “Easy Slow-Cooker Carnitas

  1. Mmmm, pork. I was just thinking to myself, “self, you’re in a cooking rut. Admit it. You need to find a way to make something easy in the slow cooker that will have leftovers that Sean can take to lunch.” Et viola! It’s like you’re IN MY HEAD….


  2. that post-it note is too precious! and the recipe… will be pinned in a minute.
    you wrote in your comment on artsy ants that you’re thinking of incorporating chalk: i’d love to see it when you do!! make sure to drop me a note in case you blog about it, just so i don’t miss the post!

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