Carnitas Tacos

Carnitas tacos are the secret to a restaurant-worthy taco night. They’re filled with meltingly tender pork that’s finished with perfect, crisp edges. Just make your carnitas in a slow cooker (super easy) and add some fresh toppings. It’s Taco Tuesday on point!

Carnitas tacos on a plate.

The Best Carnitas Tacos

If you love good Mexican food, carnitas tacos are probably no stranger to you. Juicy shredded pork is wrapped in a warm tortilla blanket. Then, it’s topped with freshly diced onion and cilantro.

But don’t limit yourself to getting your taco fix at a Mexican restaurant or taco truck. You can achieve the same flavors and textures right at home.

Enter these homemade carnitas tacos. The pork is meltingly tender with perfectly crisp edges – all thanks to the beauty of a slow cooker. Just toss in all your ingredients, let it cook during the day, and crisp it in the broiler for a few minutes before taco night begins. Serve it up taco-truck style, tucking the carnitas into warm tortillas and sprinkling an array of simple, fresh toppings.

Pork carnitas on a sheet pan.

Carnitas Tacos Recipe Video

This recipe comes together easily with a few key ingredients. Watch how I make it in the video below!

How To Make Carnitas Tacos

To get started, let’s make sure you’re getting the right type of pork. Carnitas are typically made with pork shoulder or butt because of its higher fat content. This helps keep the meat juicy and tender while it’s cooking.

You can read more on how to season and cook your pork in my carnitas recipe. Then once it’s done broiling in the oven, you’re ready to assemble the tacos.

Prepare a batch of warm tortillas to wrap your carnitas. Sprinkle on freshly diced onions and cilantro. Then finish it off with a squeeze of zesty lime juice. This right here is your classic carnitas taco recipe.

But if you want to add more flavors to this, keep on reading for additional toppings such as cheese and of course guacamole!

Carnitas tacos with onions and cilantro.

Get Creative With Taco Toppings

While onions and cilantro are typical carnitas taco toppings, there’s no need to stop there.

  • Tortilla options: You can use my freshly made cassava flour tortillas or corn tortillas. But if you’re looking for a low-carb option, large butter lettuce leaves are just as delicious.
  • Fresh dips: Put a spoonful of homemade guacamole, pico de gallo, or homemade salsa.
  • Cheeses: My favorite is cotija cheese, but you can also sprinkle on queso fresco.

Two carnitas tacos on a plate with toppings.

More Taco Recipes

If you’re hosting taco night, surprise your guests with a variety of options. Here’s a few delicious ideas.

Super Tasty Carnitas Tacos

5 from 11 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 8 hrs
Total Time: 8 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 6 tacos
Author: Lisa Bryan
Create the most juicy and tender carnitas right in your slow cooker. Then broil it in the oven for the perfect crisp, golden edges.

Ingredients

Carnitas Recipe

  • 4 pounds skinless, boneless pork shoulder or butt
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 1 jalapeno, deseeded and finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Carnitas Tacos

  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 6 tortillas
  • limes, for garnish

Instructions 

Carnitas

  • In a small bowl place oregano, cumin, black pepper, salt, and chili powder, then mix thoroughly.
  • Rub the spice mixture generously around the entire pork shoulder and place in the slow cooker.
  • Top with pork with the onion, minced garlic, jalapeno, and orange juice in the slow cooker.
  • Cover and cook on the low setting for 8-10 hours, or high heat for 5-6 hours. The meat should be tender and nearly falling apart.
  • Remove the pork from the slow cooker to a large cutting board and use two forks to shred the meat. (Don't get rid of the liquid as you will be using it later)
  • Place the shredded pork on a baking sheet.
  • Pour 1 cup of the reserved slow cooker liquid over the pork to season.
  • Broil for 5-10 minutes on high heat until the meat becomes golden browned and crispy on the edges.

Carnitas Tacos

  • Serve immediately with tortillas, freshly diced onion, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.
  • Note: you'll likely have have leftover carnitas. You can make more tacos or enjoy the carnitas in burritos or on salads. You can also store it in the fridge and then reheat to enjoy later.

Lisa's Tips

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Nutrition

Calories: 529kcal, Carbohydrates: 23g, Protein: 73g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 189mg, Sodium: 866mg, Potassium: 1325mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 400IU, Vitamin C: 15mg, Calcium: 138mg, Iron: 5mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: carnitas tacos
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35 comments on “Carnitas Tacos”

  1. These look fantastic!! I’d love to make these but my fiancé and I are on a diet and need to track our calories. Do you know if the nutritional info provided is based on 1 taco or the whole lot?

  2. This was AMAZING!!!5 stars

  3. So delicious! And make great leftovers, first night is tacos then I meal prep the leftovers as quinoa w/brown rice bowls…talk about yummy! I will definitely be trying your other recipes! 5 stars

  4. I’m trying this in the slow cooker tomorrow, but has anyone tried it in the IP? Thinking easy beach night meal.

    • I believe you can make it in the slow cooker for about 4 hours or so. But I would double check another recipe in terms of cooking time!

  5. This was excellent! I also made your pico de Gallo as a topping and it was perfect. Most of our family meals this past week have been from you: cilantro lime chicken, Mexican rice, one pan chicken and rice, apple sausage stuffed butternut squash, and shepherd pie – – all keepers for our weekly rotation! Tomorrow I will use the leftover carnitas in your pulled pork cabbage and arugula salad!
    Is there anything I can do with the leftover slow cooker liquid? I poured some over my leftovers before putting them in the fridge to keep the pork moist.5 stars

    • Oh wow, it sounds like you’re on a roll with the recipes, Ace! I’m thrilled you’re loving all of those, and these carnitas tacos as well. :) For the leftover liquid, I do as you’ve done, just pour some over the meat to keep it moist, then I usually toss the rest.

  6. Can you cook the pork, shred it and prep it for broiling in advance for a get-together?

    • Absolutely! Just cook this in your slow cooker the night before and broil it the day of so it’s perfectly crisp :)

  7. What if the pork isn’t boneless? How might that change the cooking time?

    • Hi Elizabeth – a boneless pork shoulder can take a bit longer to cook than a bone-in version. I’d cook according to the directions, then check the pork and see if it still needs more time.

  8. Awesome recipe. Best carnitas I ever made. Perfect5 stars

  9. So delicious! I made this in a Dutch oven in the oven and then crisped it under the broiler. We’ve made tacos and salads. Absolutely yummy!5 stars

    • Hi Theresa- So glad you’ve made so much use out of these carnitas! The broiler really does the trick for crisping it up :)

  10. Can this be done in an instant pot? 

    • Hi Serena – I believe it can! But, I’m not sure what the cooking time will be as a slow cooker is different.

  11. Made these last weekend. Doubled the seasoning rub and made tacos the first night and nachos the next!! Looking forward to making for a neighborhood get together when things are a little more normal. As always Lisa wonderful healthy recipes that are easy to make!! 5 stars

    • Hi Elizabeth- Great to hear you’ve made so many recipes from the carnitas already! This will definitely be the perfect recipe to whip up for a neighborhood get together to celebrate. Can’t wait for everyone to try this!

  12. Made this today and it was incredible! Didn’t have to change a single thing about the recipe the meat was juicy and fell apart after 10 hours in the slow cooker. Adding the extra liquid and broiling gave it just the right amount of crispiness while still leaving it juicy. 5 stars

    • Hi Danielle- Looks like you’ve found a winning carnitas recipe! Glad you enjoyed the flavors and textures :)

  13. Mouth melting and delicious and flavorful. So easy and I love your recipe. Cant wait to make these for family.5 stars

  14. I love tacos and these look so delicious. Will be trying the recipe when I can get all the ingredients. :)

  15. These carnitas look so delicious! Love them with red onions a bit of lime.5 stars

  16. thank you for the yummy inspo – YUM!5 stars

  17. These tacos look perfectly delicious. Can’t wait to make them.5 stars

  18. Hi! can this recipe be made with beef instead?

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