I don’t know who invented the slow cooker, but I’d like to give them a big squishy hug.
And now (drum roll please) I can add the BEST slow cooker carnitas you’ve ever had to my list of amazing dinners that don’t need me to cook them.
Let me assure you, this is NOT me buttering you up in hopes that you’ll give this recipe and try and like it.
You WILL like this recipe because two months ago 15 warm bodies devoured this during a one week extended family vacation and my own family of four has eaten this no less than 12 times since then.
Yes you read that right – we’ve eaten this carnitas recipe TWELVE times in the past 8 weeks.
No, we haven’t gone crazy.
In full disclosure, we didn’t intend to eat so much carnitas in such a small time frame, but here’s what happened:
I found a 7 pound bone-in pork shoulder roast on sale. It was way too much for my own family, but perfect for my night to cook on family vacation. I bought it and put it in our deep freeze and completely forgot about it until we pulled up to the vacation house (10 hours away from home) 2 weeks later.
I still wanted to test this carnitas recipe though, so I bought a roast on vacation and cooked it up. The crowd DEVOURED it.
When we got home, I thawed the massive hunk of 7 pounds of pork in the freezer, made a slight adjustment to the recipe and cooked it up. The family INHALED the pork… for 4 solid days.
Yep, for four whole days we ate carnitas for lunch and dinner and no one complained. When I told the kids we were having carnitas for lunch (again), they cheered!
When I told my husband we were having carnitas for dinner for the third night in a row, he asked if he should pick up some limes.
Then somewhere around meal #3 I remembered I hadn’t taken pictures of the carnitas yet… You see, I was working on my new course Grocery Budget Bootcamp and everything that wasn’t GBB was put on the back burner.
And that included taking pictures of delicious new recipes.
So that awesome carnitas recipe I wanted to share with you eons ago? It was happily filling our bellies by the time I remembered that I wanted to take pictures of it.
Which means we had to eat it, again…
And again, because as history tends to repeat itself, I made it a THIRD time with full intention to take pictures and promptly forgot!
So what you’re seeing now is no less than the FOURTH time I’ve made this recipe in 2 months. But here’s the kicker – still, no one is complaining!
My husband once told me that he didn’t like pork in the slow cooker, that beef was okay, but not pork.
Yet THIS SAME MAN is the one asking if I can make this carnitas recipe more often.
Yes, this recipe is THAT good!
The Best Slow Cooker Carnitas
The recipe itself is pretty straightforward, so let’s talk about the other stuff before you dive in.
What size slow cooker should I use?
I have and love this 6 quart slow cooker. It holds a full 7 pound roast when you cut it into quarters, although I usually use a 3-3 ½ pound roast.
Can I freeze leftovers?
If you have any, yes! I like to freeze in 2 cup portions, adding about 2-3 tablespoon of water to prevent the meat from drying out. There’s no such thing as meat that’s too moist. Dry meat though? No bueno.
This recipe calls for cinnamon?!
Don’t knock it until you try it, mkay? Trust me on this one – you won’t be disappointed!
- 1 onion, roughly diced
- 3-3½ lb pork shoulder butt/shoulder (bone-in or boneless)
- 3 tsp salt
- 3 tsp garlic powder
- 3 tsp cumin
- 1½ tsp dried oregano
- 1½ tsp coriander
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 4 bay leaves
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ - 1 cup chicken stock or water or beer
- Place the onion evenly on the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Place the pork roast on top of the onion.
- Add ½ cup liquid to the slow cooker.
- In a small bowl or a mug, combine all the spices. Sprinkle liberally over the pork shoulder.
- Cook the pork on low for 10 hours.
- When the meat is done, shred the meat with two forks. Add the remaining ½ cup liquid if the pork has not released many juices. Stir to combine and serve.
Additional Recipe Notes
While on vacation (and later at home) we paired this amazing carnitas with Lime Crema. Only the most delicious topping to ever grace a taco.
And tacos wouldn’t be complete without homemade tortillas. Don’t be afraid to make tortillas yourself. They truly are better than anything you can find in the store. The process is much easier if you have a tortilla press and electric griddle BUT you don’t have to have those to make them.
Did you forget to start the meat in the morning? You can also make this recipe in the Instant Pot! Follow the conversion tips I share HERE. It’s super easy!
If you need some Mexican themed sides: