Homemade Carnitas

Being from Southern California carnitas is a staple on all Mexican restaurant menus; for some reason though we just can't find it here in the PNW. Thank goodness for Pinterest! I was able to come across this recipe a few months back and finally tackled it.

I made a few changes from the original recipe - I used a pork tenderloin (because there was no pork butt at the store), but next time I'll try to find the butt. Mine definitely needed that extra bit of fat. Oh and I also added a bit more on the spices level (I like it spicy). I also tried out my new slow cooker (instead of roasting the loin in the oven first).

Boneless pork tenderloin, fat trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 onion, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
2 Tb fresh lime juice
2 C water
1 medium orange, juiced and keep the spent halves

1. Combine all the ingredients in a large slow cooker. Cook until the meat falls apart when prodded with a fork, about 2 hours.

2.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat from the pan and place it on a large foil-lined jelly roll pan.  Remove and discard everything from the pot except for the cooking liquid.  Place pot over high heat on the stove and boil until thick and syrupy, about 30-45 minutes.  You should have about 1 C of liquid remaining when it is finished.

3.  While the liquid is reducing, use two forks to pull each cube of pork into three equal sized pieces.  Once the liquid has become a syrup, gently fold in the pieces of pork into the pot.  Try not to break up the pork any further.  Taste and add additional salt and pepper.

4.  Spread the pork back onto the foil lined pan and evenly spread the meat around so there is a single layer of meat.  Place the jelly roll pan on the lower middle rack of the oven and broil until the top of the meat is well browned and edges are slightly crisp, about 5 to 8 minutes.  Using a wide metal spatula, flip the pieces of meat and broil the other side until well browned and edges are slightly crisp, 5 to 8 minutes.

 Serve immediately in a tortilla with all your favorite toppings.

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It was delicious! It made plenty and we used the left overs for a Mexican cornbread tamale pie. Delicious.


  1. We live for carnitas! :-) Looks yummy!!

    Jayme & Mendi @ Her Late Night Cravings


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