Carnitas Soft Tacos to Make at Home

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Love the Carnitas Soft Tacos that you order at the local taco shop? Bring that delicious goodness to your home kitchen. Using the slow cooker makes the process super easy. You will wow your crowd with these delicious homemade Carnitas Soft Tacos.

Carnitas Soft Tacos to Make at Home | Good Cheap Eats

One of my favorite childhood memories is going to Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles and eating at La Luz del Dia, the restaurant on the corner of the plaza. The carnitas soft tacos are sooooo delicious.

When they were at college close to my home, my brothers knew how to make their big sister happy. On their way through LA, they’d cruise by and pick up a pound of carnitas and a stack of corn tortillas. Wow! What a treat!

But, younger brothers grow up and move away, get married, and get deployed. Good thing I know how to make Carnitas Soft Tacos myself! And now, you can, too!

You’ll be so pleased to see how incredibly easy it is to make these tacos, you’ll want to make them a regular feature for Taco Tuesday. Trust me.

How to Make Carnitas Soft Tacos at Home

Carnitas means “little meats” in Spanish. It is a seasoned, roasted shredded pork filling used for tacos. So good! Though I consider “Olvera Street carnitas” to be the gold standard of Carnitas Soft Tacos; my version can give it a run for its money. It’s cheaper, that’s for sure, and a little easier to achieve than a drive to the City of Angels.

For traditional carnitas, the meat is braised in water to make it tender and then fried in pork fat to give it nice, crispy edges. I’ve healthier and simplified the method. Soon, I’m gonna try adapting it for the electric pressure cooker, aka Instant Pot.

This same pork filling goes super well atop tostadas or nachos and inside taquitos or burritos.

Carnitas Soft Tacos to Make at Home | Good Cheap Eats

How to make this good and cheap:

Here are some of the strategies you can use to make this recipe more economical:

  • Stock up on ingredients when they are on saleStock up when you see pork roasts on sale and stash extras in the freezer. Likewise, load up on onions.
  • Price match. Check your grocery store fliers to see who has the best price on the items on your list.
  • Buy herbs and spices in bulk. I regularly order things like oregano and salt from Vitacost or Amazon, or buy them at Costco.

Tools I use to make this recipe easy:

This is a pretty straight-forward dish. You don’t need any fancy equipment. However, having some good basic kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs. Here are the tools that I like to use in this recipe.

5 from 2 votes
Carnitas Soft Tacos
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
4 hrs
Total Time
4 hrs 10 mins

Love the Carnitas Soft Tacos that you order at the local taco shop? Bring that delicious goodness to your home kitchen. Using the slow cooker makes the process super easy. You will wow your crowd with these delicious homemade Carnitas Soft Tacos.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 8
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 3-4 pound pork shoulder roast
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup water
  • corn tortillas preferably homemade
  • toppings such as salsa or guacamole
  1. Place the pork roast in the crock of a slow cooker. Season the roast with salt and pepper. Add chopped onion and sprinkle with oregano. Add the water to the pot.

  2. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for about 4. The meat should be fall-apart tender. Save the juices for chili, stew, or soup.

  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  4. Remove the meat from the pot and shred it. Place it in a baking dish and bake for about ten minutes to crisp the edges just a bit and brown the meat.

  5. Serve the meat with corn tortillas and toppings.

Recipe Notes

To freeze: Cool the meat completely and place in ziptop freezer bags. Squeeze out excess air and freeze. Reheat to serve.

Originally published October 27, 2009. Updated March 10, 2018.

Carnitas Soft Tacos to Make at Home | Good Cheap Eats

About Jessica Fisher

I believe great meals don't have to be complicated or expensive. There's a better way, and it won't take all afternoon.

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  1. I do have a favorite taco memory – in high school we went to Tulum, Mexico and had the most phenomenal fish tacos I’ve ever eaten. They are the standard by which I judge fish tacos. Simple, fresh and delicious.

  2. Are the tortillas homemade? They look yummy too!

  3. Just had these tonight! Everyone loved the meat so much- delicious! Next time, I think I’ll use flour tortillas. I’m sure that’s less authentic… but it seems to be the preference of every one of us. 😉

    • @JessieLeigh, glad you liked it. And, no flour tortillas are not authentic, but neither are store-bought corn tortillas. So, I’m glad you’re gonna go with what suits your tastes. When you someday come visit us, we’ll make homemade corn tortillas for you. 😉

  4. I used to think oregano only went in Italian dishes, but when I make my homemade salsa or refried beans, I do add oregano in addition to the cumin, salt and olive oil.

    • There are several varieties of oregano, including Mexican and French, so that is probably where the confusion comes in.

      • @Jessica,
        I always think carnitas- my favorite mexican food- have some secret seasoning on the pork. Do you really only use oregano?

        • Jessica says:

          Yes, just be very generous with the salt and pepper. The onion and oregano along with the fat of the meat add tons of flavor.

  5. PS I am drooling over the guacamole.

  6. Brooke Kingston says:

    We have made this three times now, and it is a HUGE hit! So easy, flavorful and fast to put together. Thank you for the great permanent rotation recipe. It’s divine!

  7. Michelle says:

    Hi Jessica…I love reading your blog and have just bought your cookbook. I am currently trying to use up the meat that I have in the freezer. Have you ever tried using a different cut of pork to make the carnitas? I don’t have a roast, but I have boneless country style pork ribs. Do you think that would work also?

  8. Claudia Ruiz Esparza says:

    You are preparing an excellent recipe instead of The traditional one. Sometimes we in México add half a can of a light beer and it provides a flavor that really hora well with the carnitas !

  9. Is 1/4 cup water enough? I plan to leave the roast all day while at work. I’m not an experienced cook…so I don’t wanna burn the house down! Your recipes are great!! Thanks for helping busy moms!!

  10. OK, I have a dumb question. What size crock pot do you use? Thanks!

  11. Made the carnitas today, and ALL members of my family love it! Thanks, Jessica!


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