Pork Carnitas Tacos

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Love the Pork Carnitas 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 pork carnitas tacos.

three pork carnitas tacos

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 pork carnitas 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 Pork Carnitas 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.

What Are Carnitas Tacos?

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 Pork Carnitas 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.

What Cut Of Pork Is Best For Carnitas?

The best pork to use is a pork shoulder because this meat is going to be cooked in your slow cooker. The pork shoulder can stand up to the low and slow cooking method!

Can You Use Pork Tenderloin For Pork Carnitas?

If you are following the Whole 30 diet, then you would want to use pork tenderloin.

Otherwise I do recommend using the pork shoulder because of  the fat streaking through the meat which helps to keep the pork moist.

Three Pork Carnitas Tacos

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
Pork Carnitas Tacos
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
4 hrs
Total Time
4 hrs 10 mins

Love the Pork Carnitas 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 Pork Carnitas Tacos.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: carnitas, carnitas tacos, mexican dishes, pork tacos
Servings: 8
Calories: 495 kcal
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.

Nutrition Facts
Pork Carnitas Tacos
Amount Per Serving
Calories 495 Calories from Fat 318
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 35.3g 54%
Saturated Fat 12.2g 61%
Cholesterol 120mg 40%
Sodium 124mg 5%
Potassium 66mg 2%
Total Carbohydrates 12.1g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1.8g 7%
Sugars 0.8g
Protein 30.1g 60%
Calcium 24%
Iron 2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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

three pork cornita tacos

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. Tina says

    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. 😉

    • Jessica says

      @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.

    • Jessica says

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

      • Pat says

        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!

    • Jessica says

      Yeah! Sounds pretty good right now. Yum!

  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?

    • Jessica says

      I am not absolutely sure that it will shred as easily, but I’d use it. You can always chop it up if it doesn’t shred.

      • Michelle says

        Thank you for your quick response…I will try and see what happens. 🙂

  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 !

    • Claudia Ruiz Esparza says

      I meant that really goes well with the carnitas!!!!

  9. Corey says

    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!!

    • Yes, the pork has so much moisture in it, you’ll have more than 1/4 cup liquid when it’s done. Just be sure it’s on low.

  10. Emilia says

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

    • So sorry for the delay in replying. Whatever size fits your roast.

      • Jessica, I actually made this and LOVE it. I did exactly like the recipe. They come out of the 400 F oven lightly crispy, to die for! Thank you so much for sharing your lovely recipes.

        • Well, THANK YOU! for taking the time two years later to comment and leave a review. I’m slowly updating old posts and adding the review feature. Thanks so much for chiming in!

          • I actually forgot to leave the comment. I love all your recipes. I have never been disappointed. Every time I try one I know it will work! God bless.

        • Thank you for your kind words. I’m so pleased to hear that your success has been consistent!

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


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