Slow Cooker Carnitas

by May 9, 2017

“It’s like bacon!” exclaimed my 11 year old. He tolerates my creations of squash and beans and greens and such, but it’s meat that makes him smile.


You have options with this pork.  Load a few crispy pieces into a soft tortilla and top with shredded cabbage and a spoon of fresh salsa for taco night. Or sandwich in a split ciabatta roll and alternate bites with a tart green salad (vinaigrette basics here). It all starts with a quality pork shoulder roast (aka “Boston butt”).  Go for boneless so you don’t have to hunt for bones before serving.

Slow Cooker Carnitas

serves 6; adapted from "Slow-Cooker Carnitas" published in Sunset, January 2017


  • 3–3 ½ pound pork shoulder roast, "Boston butt"
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • several grinds of fresh black pepper
  • 2 tbsp high-heat cooking oil avocado, olive, grapeseed
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ 7-ounce can chipotle in adobo OR substitute one 4-ounce can mild green chiles
  • wide zest strips cut from 1 orange
  • for crispy time: 2 more tablespoons high heat cooking oil


  1. Trim excess fat from roast and discard. Cut roast into 2 or 3 chunks. Heat oil in stovetop safe slow cooker insert (or Dutch oven) set over medium-high heat. Mix together the cumin, salt, and pepper and sprinkle over the meat. Pat onto all surfaces then transfer the pork to the hot oil to brown all sides—this will take about 15 minutes.

  2. Drain and discard the fat. (If you browned the roast in a Dutch oven, transfer it to the slow cooker now.) Add broth, canned chipotle or green chiles, strips of orange zest, cover, and set to 8 hours on Low.

  3. After cooking, remove the meat to a cutting board. Skim off and discard the fat and strain the cooking liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Using two forks, shred the meat into large chunks. Working in 2 batches, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast iron pan (or other frying pan) over medium-high heat. Arrange one half of the pork in a single layer and allow to cook, undisturbed for 5 minutes, until deeply caramelized. Stir in 1/2 cup cooking liquid and transfer to a serving platter. Repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, second half of the pork, and 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Serve pork with tortillas or split and toasted buns.



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