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Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)

Did you know that Carnitas, the beloved Mexican pulled pork dish, is not only known for its succulent flavor but also for its incredible versatility? Whether you’re craving tacos, burritos, nachos, or hearty salads, Carnitas recipe can be the star ingredient that elevates your meal to new heights.

Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)

With its easy preparation and irresistible taste, Carnitas has become a household favorite across the United States. But what sets this Mexican delicacy apart? Let’s dive deeper into the world of Carnitas and discover how this dish has captured the hearts and taste buds of food enthusiasts everywhere.

Ingredient List & Possible Substitutions

When it comes to making flavorful Carnitas, using the right ingredients is essential. Here’s a list of the key ingredients you’ll need:

  • Pork shoulder: Also known as pork butt, pork shoulder is the ideal cut for Carnitas, as it offers the perfect balance of fat and meat, resulting in tender and juicy pulled pork. Look for boneless and skinless options for convenience.
  • Carnitas seasoning: To bring out the authentic Mexican flavors, you’ll need a blend of oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper. This simple mixture enhances the taste of the pork, giving it a deliciously seasoned profile.
  • Orange juice: The secret ingredient that sets Carnitas apart is orange juice. Not only does it add a tangy citrus flavor, but it also helps to tenderize the pork, ensuring a melt-in-your-mouth texture.

If you’re unable to find pork shoulder or pork butt, there are a few substitutions you can consider:

If pork shoulder or pork butt is not available, you can use cuts like pork loin or tenderloin. However, keep in mind that these cuts may not yield the same succulent and tender results as pork shoulder or pork butt.

Experiment with these variations to find the perfect combination of flavors and textures for your Carnitas.

How To Make It

Making delicious Carnitas is easier than you think. Follow these simple steps to create tender and flavorful Mexican pulled pork.

  1. Choose your cooking method: Carnitas can be made in a slow cooker, pressure cooker, or oven. Whichever method you choose, the result will be equally delicious.
  2. Prepare the ingredients: Gather your ingredients, including pork shoulder or pork butt, onions, garlic, jalapeno, orange juice, and your favorite seasonings. Don’t forget the essential Carnitas seasoning for that authentic flavor!
  3. Cook the pork: Place the pork in your chosen cooking vessel along with the onions, garlic, jalapeno, orange juice, and seasonings. Cook it low and slow, allowing the flavors to meld together and the pork to become tender and juicy.
  4. Browning step: Once the pork is cooked and tender, it’s time to add that irresistible golden brown and crispy texture. Heat a pan and pan-fry the pork until it develops a desirable crust. This browning step is essential to achieve the perfect Carnitas.

And there you have it! Your homemade Carnitas are ready to be enjoyed. The combination of slow cooking and the crucial browning step adds depth of flavor and irresistible texture to the succulent pork.

Now that you know how to make Carnitas, you can get creative with your serving options. Let’s explore some delicious ways to enjoy this versatile Mexican pulled pork!

Serving Suggestions

Once you have made your delicious Carnitas, it’s time to enjoy this versatile dish in various mouthwatering ways. Whether you’re in the mood for tacos, burritos, nachos, or salads, Carnitas is the perfect protein-packed addition to elevate any meal.

For Carnitas tacos, all you need to do is stuff the tender and flavorful shredded pork into warm corn or flour tortillas. Add a generous sprinkle of onions, cilantro, and sensational salsa. For the perfect finishing touch, top it off with a dollop of sour cream, bringing together all the flavors in one delightful bite.

Looking to satisfy your craving for loaded nachos? Simply use Carnitas as a scrumptious topping. Pair the crispy pork with melted cheese, creamy sour cream, and zesty Pico de Gallo. Each bite will be bursting with irresistible flavors, providing the ultimate nacho experience.

Turn your meal into a healthy and satisfying option by adding Carnitas to salads. The succulent shredded pork adds a punch of flavor and protein to any salad, making it a complete and nourishing meal. Combine it with fresh greens, veggies, and your favorite salad dressing for a well-balanced and delicious dish.

The beauty of Carnitas lies in its versatility. It can effortlessly transform into a crowd-pleasing party dish or be incorporated into your meal prep routine. You can easily store and reheat Carnitas without compromising its texture or flavor, ensuring a quick and tasty meal any day of the week.


What is Carnitas?

Carnitas is a Mexican pulled pork dish known for its succulent flavor and perfect combination of tenderness and crispiness.

How long does the Carnitas recipe take to prepare?

The Carnitas recipe requires only 5 minutes of preparation time, making it quick and easy to make.

What can I use Carnitas for?

Carnitas is a versatile dish that can be used in various Mexican recipes like tacos, enchiladas, burritos, and more.

What are the main ingredients for making Carnitas?

The main ingredients for making Carnitas are pork shoulder or pork butt (preferably boneless and skinless), Carnitas seasoning (a mix of oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper), and orange juice (a secret ingredient that adds flavor and tenderizes the pork).

Can I use other cuts of pork for making Carnitas?

If pork shoulder or pork butt is not available, other cuts like pork loin or tenderloin can be used, but they may not yield the same juicy and tender results as the preferred cuts.

What is the preferred cooking method for making Carnitas?

The slow cooking method is the preferred method for making Carnitas. It can be done in a slow cooker, pressure cooker, or oven.

Why is the browning step important in making Carnitas?

After the pork is slow-cooked, it is pan-fried to achieve golden brown and crispy edges. This browning step is crucial for the best results and adds a delicious texture to the Carnitas.

How can I serve Carnitas?

Carnitas can be enjoyed in various ways, such as in tacos, burritos, nachos, or salads. For tacos, the shredded pork can be stuffed into corn or flour tortillas and topped with onions, cilantro, salsa, and sour cream. It can also be used as a topping for nachos, along with cheese, sour cream, and Pico de Gallo. Additionally, it can be added to salads for a flavorful and protein-packed meal.

Can Carnitas be frozen?

Yes, Carnitas can be frozen without any loss of quality, making it a great option for meal prepping or batch cooking.

How should Carnitas be stored and reheated?

Carnitas can be easily stored in the refrigerator or freezer and reheated in the microwave, oven, or stovetop without losing its flavor and texture.

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Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.