Crockpot Pork Carnitas Recipe for a Busy Weeknight Dinner

by Pamela

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There is nothing I need more in my day than that first cup of coffee.  All warm, black and bitter (kinda like my heart which is probably why I like coffee so much) and full of enough caffeine to pry one of my crusted over eyes partially open.  That’s all well and good to get me somewhat going in the morning.  But nothing gets me more wide awake in the morning than resting my arm in the middle of an ant cha cha party on my kitchen counter.

I don’t realize what I’ve done at first, because I haven’t even had my first sip yet.  But as soon as that liquid caffeine flows past my lips I see it, and feel it.  Black specks everywhere.  I swear to God the little bastards are from one end of the counter to the other and all over the floor.  I am now dancing all around the kitchen yelling IT’S ANT ARMAGEDDON, THE 2012 PROPHECY IS COMING TRUE. OMG I’M GONNA DIE ON MY KITCHEN FLOOR FROM ANT BITES.  At this point my sweet, but lazy ass dog, comes tromping in to see if I’m going to give her any treats okay.  Once she realizes I’m full of crap she high tails it out of the kitchen.

I’m frantically brushing the ants off of my arm and running around trying to find the ant spray and paper towels.  But I need another sip of coffee before this madness begins.  Now that the other eye has opened up (from the caffeine) I begin to survey the scene.  What I thought was the biggest ant infestation in the world was about a half pound of coffee grounds all over my kitchen.  How did this get there, my naive mind wonders.  So I call Craig at work to inquire if he is aware that our house is haunted by a ghost that wants to screw with me.  His reply?  Oh, I mighta had a little problem opening up the new bag of coffee this morning.  Isn’t the new stuff good?  You gotta get some more of that.  I hung up on him.

After my massive cleanup job I thought cooking anything with fire, on my stove top, might inspire me to take all of Craig’s clothes into the backyard and light them on fire.  So I opted for a crockpot recipe to ease my temptation.

I originally had a healthy pork recipe in mind for the pork shoulder I had bought the day before.  So I thought I’d continue with that, but modify the vessel I cooked it in (remember….no open flame).  So the pork carnitas recipe that I usually use was going to need a bit of a modification.  To make it healthy, I couldn’t exactly cook it in a couple pounds of lard (the traditional way).  But I could cook it long, low and slow in the crockpot.  So crockpot carnitas was born.

Crockpot-Carnitas Crockpot Carnitas

A pork carnitas recipe requires the pork to be cooked twice.  The first cooking tenderizes the chewy cut of meat into soft (easy to chew) pieces.  The second cooking gives you the crispy caramelized bits of pork and adds another dimension of flavor to the meat.  This carnitas recipe is a healthy pork recipe because the first cooking is done in beer and orange juice (not lard) in the crockpot.  The second pass is done on the stove top with a mixture of sauce to give even more flavor to the pork.  With all of the different textures and flavors, your mouth will have no idea this pork carnitas recipe is healthy.

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Recipe: Crockpot Carnitas


  • 2 Pounds Boneless Pork Shoulder (cut into 2″ cubes)
  • 1 Large Onion (roughly chopped)
  • 1 12 Ounce Bottle of Beer
  • Juice from 1 Large Orange
  • 1 14 – 15 Ounce Can of Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
  • Juice from 1 Lime
  • 1 Teaspoon Coriander
  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil


  1. Place pork cubes in the crockpot along with the onions then pour the beer and orange juice over the top.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
  3. Remove pork from juices and set aside.
  4. Once cool, shred pork using a fork or your fingers.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the vegetable oil) to a blender. Cover and puree everything until it is well blended.
  6. In a large saute pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat.
  7. Once oil is hot, add the pork and saute to crisp up some of the edges.
  8. Spoon or pour in as much of the sauce as you would like onto the pork. Continue to cook until sauce is heated through.
  9. Serve with corn tortillas, tomatoes, queso fresco and guacamole.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 5 hour(s) 20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

Culinary tradition: Mexican

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)


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kellypea October 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Well the carnitas sound fabulous, of course, but I am hooting over your Venn diagram. SO hilarious 😀

Louise Ducote October 7, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Made this tonight for my husband and. . .we have a winner! Thanks for a great, affordable, and relatively-easy recipe.

Pamela October 8, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Hi Louise,
Glad to hear you and your husband liked the carnitas. I’ve got an even easier recipe for pork tamales coming soon (no corn husks required).

Kaarin Alsop October 6, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Great recipe idea and totally awesome warm up to it! I live in an all male family (other, obviously, than me) – and sometimes the things they leave for me to clean up are truly disgusting. Unfortunately, my most recent version of the ant story was coming home and older son had cleaned up (sorta) something (maybe cheese? never determined) and there was a line of ants from the kitchen door to the sponge, roiling with black ants, in the sink. I freaked out. But I have also mistaken coffee grounds and beans for creatures, too, and it wasn’t cuz I spilled em. Keep up the good work.

Pamela October 6, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Hi Kaarin,
At least your son made an attempt at the cleanup. Of course this sadly confirms what you’ve thought all along…that he doesn’t pay attention to you when you show him how to do things. But it is a start.

Oh, the wayward bean on the floor has come real close to making me call an exterminator. You are not alone

Barbara | Creative Culinary September 20, 2011 at 8:32 am

The ant story had me giggling and craving coffee. But the carnitas has me thinking dinner. I love using my crockpot yet don’t do it near enough. This helps!

Susan in the Boonies September 19, 2011 at 5:50 pm

I made my first carnitas this year from a pork shoulder that my husband smoked. They were AWESOME.

These sound and look fantastic as well!

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