Killer Crockpot Carnitas (Slow Cooker)

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Do you remember the show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives? They showed a Mexican restaurant and there was a long line of people at the door. Apparently they have killer carnitas and then they “show you how to make it”. If you’ve ever watched the show, you know that means they just list the ingredients and show it start to finish in about 10 seconds. They are made in large batches, but after looking over and over, we figured out the ratio of ingredients. After a few experiments and a few years of making it, we think these pork roulades are mastered! The meat is as good as it comes and makes a killer taco. If you’re still making ground beef tacos, they’ll soon be a thing of the past once you try this recipe. Bonus: They’re even made in the slow cooker! All kinds of not loving? ! Get ready for tacos, everyone!

We think something magical happens when such an ordinary, inexpensive cut of meat is transformed into this culinary masterpiece. Especially considering how little effort is required to achieve this! Once your meat is chopped, all you have to do is toss everything into the saucepan, give the ingredients a quick hand mix, and go about your day. This is the perfect meal for a busy weeknight! Carnitas belong to all Mexican food: burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, you can even eat it on its own! No matter how you choose to serve them, they are absolutely delicious!

Orange Juice Options:

In some regions of Mexico, carnitas contain orange juice or the peel. You can add both to this recipe for extra citrus flavor. Just add 1/2 cup orange juice and up to 1 tablespoon orange zest to this recipe along with the oil and spices.

My pork was really fatty. Do I need to lose a bunch of fat?

Trimming isn’t necessary, but it’s all a matter of personal taste. Fat doesn’t render in the slow cooker, so you end up with gristle and cellulite. If you don’t like gristly meat, you’ll want to trim off some of the larger fatty pieces. Don’t worry about trimming it, just the larger part.

Why do you need so much oil?

We are essentially slow frying the pork, which requires a lot of oil. The secret to the most amazing carnitas is to be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, which you can’t do without a lot of oil. In the end, there’s a lot of oil to drain, so you don’t actually eat all of it. Also keep in mind that this recipe will make a lot of meat. It’s not just a few servings. While you can of course substitute broth, Coca-Cola, or other liquids for oil, we highly recommend using oil for the most amazing results.

Vegetable Oil Substitutes:

Don’t want to use vegetable oil? You can also use an equal amount of one of the following vegetable oil substitutes:

  • peanut oil
  • Corn oil
  • lard
  • canola oil
  • Coconut Oil (although the flavor may suffer)

We do not recommend using olive or avocado oil in this recipe. While they certainly work, they are expensive and better suited for shallow pan frying.