If you want Mexican street food at its finest in a gringo kitchen, these carnitas are not going to let you down.

The pork has a perfectly crisp exterior and unleashes incredibly seasoned flavors.

Carnitas | Kita Roberts GirlCarnivore.com
Taco night is a weekly event at our house. There’s just something about the perfect proportion of meat to tortilla to toppings. It’s the perfect harmony of flavors in one perfect messy bite.

Mexican Street Food Style Carnitas

If you want Mexican street food at its finest in a gringo kitchen, these carnitas are not going to let you down. The pork has that perfectly crisp exterior so wonderfully spiced and flavored when chewed on.

Really, I may have eaten an entire bowl of just the shredded pork before I even made the pickled onions. So if you want a true Mexican feast for Cinco de Mayo, start here, with this perfect pork and build up from there. I did, and I’ll show you how on Thursday.

Or, you could just shove tiny little pico de gallo topped carnitas in your mouth all day. I won’t judge. This makes a big batch…

A Great Carnitas Recipe

Carnitas are so easy to make, and you can use the meat for so many dishes. It is an easy win on so many levels. Everyone loves to eat it and will go from seconds to thirds. So, you literally can’t overdo it by making too much.

Authentic Carnitas

Truth be told, carnitas can be done two ways. Both are authentic, but just differ in regionality as far as what is popular. One, and this is the way I do it, is cooked low and slow in braising liquid. In the other version, the pork is slow cooked in lard.

Nothing wrong with that. I just prefer the braising method since I think it seasons the meat so nicely before you crisp it up.

More Mexican Street Food Style Recipes

Carnitas | Kita Roberts GirlCarnivore.com

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Carnitas: Mexican Pulled Pork

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 2 hrs 30 mins
Total: 2 hrs 40 mins
Servings: 10
Carnitas | Kita Roberts GirlCarnivore.com
If you want Mexican street food at its finest in a gringo kitchen, these carnitas are not going to let you down. The pork has a perfectly crisp exterior and unleashes perfectly seasoned flavors.

Recommended Equipment

  • dutch oven


  • 1 3 1/2 – 4 lbs boneless pork butt, fat trimmed to 1/8″, cut into 2 chunks
  • 2 cups water more or less
  • 1 onion peeled and halved
  • 2 tbs lime juice
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 orange halved
  • Tortillas
  • Toppings: Minced red onion fresh cilantro, thinly sliced radishes, pico de gallo, sour cream, and lime wedges


  • Adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position and preheat the oven to 300 degrees. 
  • Place the pork in a Dutch oven with the onion, lime juice, oregano, cumin, bay leaves, 1 teas salt and 1/2 teas pepper. Add the water, it should cover just barely cover the meat.
  • Squeeze the juice from the orange into the Dutch oven and throw the spent orange halves in there as well. 
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover and transfer to oven. 
  • Cook for 2 hours, until meat is easily shredded with two forks, flipping the meat once halfway though cook time.
  • Remove the meat from the Dutch oven and discard the onion, bay leaves, and orange. 
  • Place pot over high heat and simmer the liquid stirring occasionally until it leaves a trail when a spatula is run through it and it is thick and syrup like, about 8-12 minutes. It bubbles while cooking so use caution.
  • Turn the oven to broil. 
  • Shred the pork into bite sized chunks. 
  • Fold in the syrup and spread out mixture in a single layer onto an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. 
  • Broil on lower middle rack for 5 to 8 minutes, until meat is crispy but not charred. 
  • Carefully remove from oven, flip the meat and broil again for 5 to 8 minutes longer.
  • Serve carnitas with desired toppings.


Cook’s Illustrated Mexican Favorites


Calories: 71kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 32mg | Potassium: 195mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 30IU | Vitamin C: 8.7mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 0.7mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Author: Kita Roberts

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Carnitas | Kita Roberts GirlCarnivore.com

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Well, Hey, Y’all.

Kita is a multi-talented individual, boasting numerous accomplishments such as being an award-winning recipe developer, world-traveled professional photographer, and journalist. As the lead creative force behind Girl Carnivore®, she is widely recognized as an authority on all things meat. Kita’s impressive expertise has been honed through extensive education with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Certified Angus Beef, as well as through attending butchery demos and visiting ranchers and farmers from coast to coast, allowing her to better learn and understand American foodways.


  1. Hi, so I made these last night and I’m not sure what I did wrong so I’m hoping you can shed some light. First, the pork didn’t have much flavor, and I followed the spice measurements to a T. Second, my liquid never got syrup-y or even slightly thicken. Any ideas where I went wrong?

    1. Hi Gabrielle, I’m sorry to hear the carnitas didn’t workout for you. I am not sure what could have caused the sauce to not thicken (maybe just crank the heat up a little more next time?) or why the pork was lacking flavor. Trial and error. I know that this recipe worked for several others. I’d say give it a go again some other time and hope that things turn out better :/

  2. I made this a while ago when I saw got and email from Americas Test Kitchen. Being a transplant from Southern California to New England I miss good Mexican street food, this method makes it as close as you will ever get without frying the pork in lard.
    Thanks for posting this, we will be having Carnitas this weekend!

  3. Man, I *looove* carnitas. I usually cheat and just toss them into the crock pot, but I might have to try this one sometime. I’m sure the tender love and care it requires makes it that much better. 😀

  4. these photos are ridiculous. The tablescape is awesome not to mention the carnintas look fantastic. Yum taco night

  5. Oh wow those look so perfect. If I weren’t going to be at the Beale St Music festival all weekend I would totally make these. Maybe later, no shame in celebrating Cinco de Mayo late, right?

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