Pork Carnitas

Pork Carnitas from

It’s Tuesday night and I’m writing this Friday post because I have no idea what the conditions will be like – whether or not I’ll have power or anything. I guess time will tell how bad this storm is really going to be! It’s so interesting how every part of the United States has had its equal share of crazy weather. California had a “cold streak” a few months ago, the Midwest got pummeled with snow recently, New England had a crazy amount a month ago, and now it’s our turn. Rats! I thought we were going to get out lucky this winter :)

Yeah, so the snow storm turned out to be nothing. We got maybe 3 inches. It was all slushy snow. The second it hit the ground it turned into water. It was basically raining snow, if that makes any sense. If you could look outside my office window right now, it’ll seem as if yesterday never happened. There’s not a speck of snow on the ground nor is the ground even wet. Oh, D.C. weathermen. This depiction right here is pretty spot on with how the DC metro area deals with snow, haha

I haven’t acknowledged the fact that it’s already MARCH. Like, one month from April and one and a half months until our WEDDING. It came out of nowhere. I remember still trying to nail our wedding date last year and now I’m getting ready to become a Mrs.. Invitations were sent Tuesday – which, sending them made me realize I don’t really trust anyone other than myself. Well, no, that’s not entirely true. I don’t trust anyone at USPS. I gave them my entire box of invitations and I felt like I was giving my life away. I can only hope they make it to the recipients. I mean, they did lose my passport earlier this year. They aren’t really high on my trust scale right now. They need to redeem themselves. Anyway, so my bridal shower is actually this Sunday and I’m really excited. My future MIL and SIL are both flying up from Louisiana and Georgia to attend. My mom will be coming with us too, along with friends, and bridesmaids. It’ll be so fun to be in the same room again with the women I love.

Another thing I love almost entirely too much is meat. I’m sorry if there are vegetarians out there reading this but I just can’t help it. I have to profess my love to meat. Making these pork carnitas was so redeeming and worth it. My entire house smelled crazy good – it actually smelled to me like a Cuban restaurant or something. You HAVE to do all the steps for this pork or they just won’t be as flavorful. I love the crispy char on the outside. It really caramelizes the sugars of the sauce. It’s also so versatile once you finish making this. We made faux burrito bowls with the pork one night – just replace the chicken in this burrito bowl recipe with the pork you just made. Oh man, homemade Chipotle all up in my house…and all up in your house too if you make this pork!

Ohhh, if I could, I would’ve made some kinda pork carnitas sub with this. You get my point, though. There is so much you can do with this pork after you cook it all. You can add it to so many things and you can spice up a lot of dishes. Pork fried rice, anyone? Or tacos?

Go on, make this, go crazy over the smell of your house, and go even crazier tasting this unbelievable pork! Oh, and I must mention that this is REALLY moist and juicy pork that melts in your mouth so you won’t hate pork because of the dryness :)

Pork Carnitas
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
2 hr 30 mins
Total Time
2 hr 45 mins

This Pork Carnitas recipe is so amazing and incredibly versatile! Faux burrito bowls, anyone?

Servings: 6 -8
  • 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 leaves bay
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 medium orange, juiced and keep the spent halves
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle lower position and preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a large Dutch oven and bring mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, uncovered.
  3. Once the mixture has come to a simmer, cover and place in oven and cook for 2 hours, or until the pork falls apart when prodded with a fork.
  4. Remove the pot from oven when done cooking, turn the oven to broil.
  5. Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil. I recommend double layering.
  6. With a slotted spoon, scoop out the pork and place it on the foil lined pan. Discard everything in the Dutch oven except for the liquid.
  7. Place the Dutch oven on the stove over high heat and boil until liquid is thick and syrupy, about 20 minutes. I noticed that it won't look thick and syrupy until you take it off the heat. So after 20 minutes, remove from heat, and you should see that your liquid has nicely thickened up.
  8. While the mixture is thickening, use two forks to shred the pork. When the mixture has finished thickening, place pork back into pot and gently toss pork in the liquid trying not to break up the pork even more.
  9. Place the pork back on the lined baking pan and place in the oven under the broiler for 5-8 minutes, then flip the pork and let brown on the other side for another 5-8 minutes. Watch it carefully so you don't get burnt pork!
  10. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Recipe Notes

Source: Cooks Illustrated via My Kitchen Escapades



Posted on March 08, 2013

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  1. 03/08/2013 at 8:26 am

    Holy YUM. These look absolutely amazing, Julie!!! Love me some good carnitas.

  2. 03/08/2013 at 8:40 am

    Julie – This looks amazing! I just purchased a nice pork butt that I was going to use to make pulled pork. This looks amazing, maybe I’ll make this instead. Thanks for the post! BTW, I love your blog and your beautiful pics of food……yum!

  3. 03/08/2013 at 9:31 am

    omg get OUT. But first give me this carnitas.

  4. 03/08/2013 at 9:56 am

    I need this meat in my life asap! Brings back memories of the carnitas pizza we made omg. Sooo good.

  5. 03/08/2013 at 10:04 am

    1- This looks amazing- love how crispy and charred the edges look. I want that in a taco!

    2- Um I felt SO scared when I dropped my invites off- was pretty worried too- but they all made it! :)

  6. 03/08/2013 at 10:14 am

    I love me some carnitas…these looks awesome!!

  7. 03/08/2013 at 10:36 am

    I love carnitas. These look amazing…and I have been on a HUGE fried rice kick lately. I think I know what my next fried rice dish will be. I love this!

  8. 03/08/2013 at 10:58 am

    Carnitas are one of my top three favorite foods! Now I am totally craving a big burrito bowl from Chipotle!! Have fun this weekend! Showers are the best!!

  9. 03/08/2013 at 11:51 am

    I’m a recent pork convert! I love it and can’t wait to try these.

  10. 03/08/2013 at 1:06 pm

    I know that feeling, you want to stamp: THIS IS IMPORTANT, DON’T FUCK IT UP! right on the front of the box so the mail people get it. But it will be fine, even though it’s a mad rush at the end,everything gets done.
    And these carnitas look incredible, endless uses!

  11. Candice
    03/08/2013 at 1:42 pm

    Hi! These look amazing! Question – what do you mean by “keep the spent halves” for the orange part of the ingredient?

    • 03/08/2013 at 9:59 pm

      Hi Candice, spent halves mean the leftovers of the orange after you’ve squeezed out the juice. Meaning, the insides of the orange and the outer rind. Keep those and throw them in the pot as well. It gives the sauce/meat more flavor.

  12. 03/08/2013 at 1:56 pm

    My mouth is watering just looking at the photos! Sounds amazing. Have fun at your shower this weekend!!

  13. 03/08/2013 at 2:09 pm

    Wow looks great! Thanks for sharing the recipe Julie, my hubby would absolutely love this dish:)

  14. 03/08/2013 at 2:42 pm

    That is so exciting that your wedding is almost here! These pork carnitas look awesome–perfect for a weekend with a good beer! My husband is a big fan of these so I’ll be trying this out soon.

  15. 03/08/2013 at 3:22 pm

    This looks fantastic!! Is orange the traditional addition to carnitas? I guess I’m asking…would they be “carnitas” without the orange? Picky-picky husband doesn’t like orange, but he likes pineapple, so I’m thinking of changing. Does that mean they wouldn’t be “carnitas”? lol

    • 03/08/2013 at 9:58 pm

      It might alter the flavor a little but I feel like pineapple would work.

  16. 03/08/2013 at 4:08 pm

    Yes please! These pork carnitas look mouth watering and are exactly the reason why I cant be a vegetarian.

  17. 03/08/2013 at 4:28 pm

    I’m totally craving Mexican food now!

  18. 03/08/2013 at 6:53 pm

    I love all of those crusty pieces on the pork! Give me some tortilla’s and hot sauce and I’m happy :)

  19. 03/08/2013 at 11:52 pm

    I have always wanted to make carnitas. This is perfect!

  20. 03/09/2013 at 12:50 am

    I’m glad the storm turned out to be nothing. I am SO ready for warm weather and flip flops. These carnitas look amazing!

  21. 03/09/2013 at 11:42 am

    All these flavours sound SO GOOD.

  22. 03/09/2013 at 5:43 pm

    I’m making a mental list of everything to use these carnitas on…and I feel like Bubba listing off all the things you can make shrimp out of to Forest Gump. Going to totally going to be a long list. Fanteasmo.

  23. 03/10/2013 at 5:27 pm

    Oh yum, this would be the best Sunday dinner ever! Haha, I’m getting hungrier just looking at your post :) Maybe next week!

  24. 03/10/2013 at 6:54 pm

    I’m saving this in my bookmarks for sure. I’ve been keeping my eye out for this kind of recipe. Yay, thank you!

    I’ve been meaning to ask how much weight you lost on that diet? I’m STILL not up for doing it yet. :(

  25. 03/11/2013 at 9:23 am

    I ended up making this over the weekend and it was a huge hit! The flavor was fantastic!!! Thank you for the great post!

  26. 03/11/2013 at 11:04 am

    I’ve totally made these and they are divine! Love the orange juice in them.

  27. 03/11/2013 at 5:35 pm

    These look amazing! I love the crispy edges. I’m lazy and usually do mine in the slow cooker but miss that crispiness!

  28. 03/12/2013 at 10:29 pm

    You’re getting married so sooooooooon -eep! So excited for you, my pretty.

    Also, next time in D.C… how about you make me sone carnitas?

  29. Roxane Christy
    03/16/2013 at 11:04 am

    I LOVE me some carnitas, Julie, this looks delicious!! I’ve been looking for a good recipe, but what if I don’t have a dutch oven? Could I just throw the meat in a crock pot? Can I just throw all of the ingredients together? For how long?

    • 03/16/2013 at 3:46 pm

      I would think you could throw it in a crockpot, but you’ll still have to do step 7-10 in a regular pot on the stove because then you won’t get the right flavors. I’m not sure for how long because I’ve never done this myself before. Try 4 hours?

  30. Philomenapl
    03/17/2013 at 11:11 am

    I love this recipe! Looks like it will be worth a little extra time for finishing. Imake it pretty much like this up to the second stage. If it weren’t Corned Beef and Cabbage Day, I would ave it tonight. Maybe in a couple of days.

  31. Elizabeth
    03/17/2013 at 4:33 pm

    You never let me down – thanks for this; so yummy and versatile! My two roommates also loved it!

  32. kathy
    03/25/2013 at 11:55 am

    Where do you get the recipes for these dishes

    • 03/25/2013 at 12:13 pm

      …? What do you mean? They’re in the blog post.

  33. Susan Imwalle
    03/25/2013 at 8:16 pm

    My son had his wisdom teeth out this morning, so I was stuck at home all day–perfect day to try this recipe and it is to die for!

  34. Leah
    04/06/2013 at 6:27 pm

    Hi Julie,
    These carnitas look like heavenly. Question- do you put the pork directly under the broiler or keep the pan on the lower middle rack?

    • 04/06/2013 at 11:23 pm

      Keep the pan on the lower middle rack.

  35. Lauren
    04/27/2013 at 8:24 pm

    Thank you for sharing :) These were good, but a bit salty for my taste buds. Next time I make this I will use 1/2 the amount of salt and add a touch of sweet to that sauce. Thanks again!

  36. 06/07/2013 at 10:39 am

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe! My husband has a favorite recipe, but it’s SO DANG SPICY..I can’t stand it. Haha! (I’m hoping he likes this one, too…since I can actually eat this one!) I ended up making this last night (for today’s dinner), and I kept picking at the pan when the pork came out of the broiler. So tasty!

  37. Mercedes Conde
    06/09/2013 at 5:11 pm

    look delicious I will make for the 4 of July

  38. Beth
    06/12/2013 at 10:52 am

    I was planning on cutting the recipe way down since I’m just a single person and last time I did a pork shoulder I ate pork for what felt like a month, froze it, and still had leftovers haha. Do you think I can sub in pork loin instead of shoulder?

  39. Denise
    07/01/2013 at 10:20 pm

    So glad I found you blog. I can not wait to try this!

  40. Karin
    07/26/2013 at 8:48 pm

    Oh, yum! This looked so delicious that I had to make it right away. It cooked up perfectly and is just as tasty as it looks. Thanks for the recipe!

    • 07/26/2013 at 9:10 pm

      Awesome! So glad you enjoyed it!

  41. valarie
    11/04/2013 at 9:57 pm

    Thank you for the recipe…my husband is sooo happy!

    • 11/05/2013 at 7:57 am

      I’m so glad, Valarie! :)

  42. Debbie
    12/21/2014 at 2:37 am

    Can’t wait to go shopping for a fresh pork butt! I want to try these Christmas for a change of pace in our family. Thank you for sharing it with all of us!

    • Julie
      12/22/2014 at 7:54 am

      Oh it’s so good!! Enjoy!

  43. KB
    07/12/2015 at 6:59 pm

    Amazing, just made this. Added a cinnamon stick to the pot. Delicious!!! Thanks for the recipe.

  44. linda
    09/01/2015 at 8:53 am

    Hi Julie, I must admit I’ve never heard of this pork dish before but I’m so eager to give it a try. Do you happen to know the nutritional value of this dish? Thanks in advance for your response. :-)

    • Julie
      09/01/2015 at 10:01 pm

      No, sorry, I don’t. I wrote about it in my FAQ’s as to why I don’t do nutritional info on my blog.

  45. Tammy
    11/19/2015 at 11:29 am

    This was sooooo good! I I served them with your homemade flour tortillas. Both were so easy to make! Thanks so much for sharing!

  46. Ray Cruz
    07/22/2016 at 9:55 am


  47. Lucia
    10/19/2017 at 1:29 pm

    I’ve made this dish so many times! It’s my family favorite! Just wanted to let you know that!

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