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Easy Slow-Cooker Carnitas

Slow-Cooker Carnitas Recipe
Casey Barber / TODAY
Cook Time:
8 hrs
Prep Time:
10 mins

Chef notes

If you’re getting bored with your usual taco night spread, this carnitas recipe is the answer. Using your slow cooker means it’s almost completely hands-off. Cooking boneless pork shoulder with warm spices such as cumin, chili powder, oregano, red onion and garlic infuses the meat with lots of vibrant flavor. Plus, it shreds to perfection, thanks to the inclusion of orange juice, which adds just the right amount of acidity to help break down the meat until it's tender.

Boneless pork shoulder requires slow and steady cooking, so set the slow cooker to low heat and cook for eight hours. You can assemble it in the morning and it will be ready right when you finish up work for the day. After eight hours, the pork will easily shred into bite-size pieces with the use of two forks. Toss the shredded meat with a bit of the aromatic juices leftover in the slow cooker and then pile it into tacos with all your favorite fixings like salsa, guacamole, sour cream and pickled red onions.

While carnitas are a classic taco filling, don’t forget this recipe has many other great uses, too. Use the carnitas in burritos, lettuce wraps, as a topping for nachos or as the main protein in a grain bowl. If you have any leftovers, reheat the shredded pork in a skillet until the edges are crispy. No matter how you serve this meat, it’s guaranteed to be a flavorful base for a wide array of meals.


  • teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 4-to 5-pound boneless pork shoulder
  • 1 large red onion, sliced into rounds
  • 3 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 3 navel oranges)
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In a small bowl, combine the salt, oregano, cumin and chili powder. 


Rub the pork shoulder with the spice blend.


Line the bottom of the slow cooker with the onion and garlic, and pour in the orange juice. Place the pork in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.


With tongs, carefully remove the pork from the slow cooker and transfer it to a rimmed baking sheet.


Chop the pork or pull apart with a fork into bite-size pieces. Serve as a filling for tacos or burritos. Leftover carnitas can be reheated in a skillet until the edges are crispy.