Carnitas ~ Mexican Braised Pork

This old-school carnitas–pork shoulder simmered with onion, garlic, bay leaf, and orange until falling-apart tender and crispy–is excellent in burritos, tacos, or on its own. And it can be made in an Instant Pot or slow cooker.

Blue pot of chunks of pork, authentic carnitas, with a bay leaf and wooden spoon on top

I have to confess something. Pork carnitas—Mexican braised and fried pork chunks with their addictively crisp edges—were unfamiliar to me until I tried this recipe. Which is weird, because I love pork and I love Mexican food, but never the twain had met in the gloriousness that is carnitas. But that’s all ancient history seeing as I’ve been making this dish for years now. This recipe is the classic—with one exception. Instead of being cooked entirely on the stovetop, the pot is slid into the oven so you don’t have to tirelessly attend to the burner to make sure the pork is cooking at just the right temperature. The One and I devour these tucked in soft, warm tortillas as tacos as well as heaped atop rice and beans. We add an entire orange to the pot, as we like that hint of citrus in the background. And, yes, we do use lard. Quelle surprise. [Editor’s Note: That’s French, David. Wrong language. Sigh.] David Leite

How to Cut this Recipe in Half Properly

This authentic carnitas recipe makes what some would consider A LOT of pork. Hardly a problem in our minds, seeing as we can’t imagine not being able to pack away a batch of this subtly infused Mexican-style braised crispy pork in a single sitting. That said, should you wish to make just half a batch, the author advises that you cut the amount of pork, salt, and oregano in the recipe below in half, but that you rely on the same amount of water, onion, orange, garlic, bay, sweetened condensed milk, and lard (mmmm, lard). You’ll also want to rely on a slightly smaller pot than what the recipe suggests. Consider your baby batch the diminutive–though not at all diminished–form of this classic. Carnitas-ito, anyone?

Authentic Carnitas

  • Quick Glance
  • (35)
  • 20 M
  • 2 H
  • Serves 8
4.9/5 - 35 reviews
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Special Equipment: Slow cooker (if following the slow cooker method)



Place all of the ingredients in a wide 6- to 7-quart heavy pot. (Don’t worry if everything isn’t completely submerged.) Bring to a boil, skimming any scum that collects on the surface as necessary.

Reduce the heat to medium-lowish and simmer vigorously, stirring occasionally, until the pork is fork-tender and the liquid has completely evaporated, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Discard the orange pieces and bay leaves.

Tester tip: If the liquid hasn’t completely evaporated, transfer the pork to a bowl and continue to simmer the liquid, stirring often, until it disappears.

Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C)

If your pot isn’t ovenproof, transfer the pork and fat to a dish of some sort that’s ovenproof. Slide the pork into the oven, uncovered, and let it fry in its own fat until it’s browned, 20 to 30 minutes. There’s no need to stir. Serve it straight from the pot. (Leftovers—as if!—keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.) Originally published December 14, 2015.

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      Just toss everything in the slow cooker, reducing the amount of water by at least 1 cup, and cook on low, covered the entire time, for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 6 to 8 hours, or until the pork is tender and falls apart. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, place the chunks of pork to a large skillet, leaving the cooking liquid in the cooker. If desired, shred the pork using 2 forks (or your fingertips if you like things messy). Heat the pork in the skillet over medium to medium-high heat until crisp at the edges but still knee-weakeningly tender within. If desired, dribble a little of the strained cooking liquid over the pork before serving to moisten and flavor it. (If the cooking liquid is quite watery, pour it into a saucepan and simmer until it reduces to the desired consistency.) Curious to hear more about working magic with your slow cooker? Check out what our testers had to say in the TC comments below and then peruse our entire selection of slow cooker recipes.


      Season the pork with the salt and, working in batches, sear the pork in a large skillet in the lard or olive oil until very, very brown. (The Instant Pot’s insert is too narrow and high-sided to sear effectively. It takes too long and the meat ends up steamed rather than seared. Trust us, the skillet is infinitely better and faster.) Meanwhile, juice 1 or 2 oranges to yield 1/2 cup orange juice. Layer the onions, garlic, juiced orange halves, orange wedges, and bay leaf on the bottom of the Instant Pot insert. Dump in the pork and sprinkle with oregano as you go. Drizzle over the condensed milk and orange juice. Secure the lid and push the pressure release valve to “sealing.” Select “manual” and set the cooking time to 30 minutes at high pressure. When finished, carefully quick release the pot by moving the pressure release to “venting.” Once the steam is fully released, open the pot and scoop the pork with a slotted spoon onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Discard the orange halves and bay leaf. Cook the pork in the oven at 450°F (232°C) until crisped, 10 to 15 minutes.

    Recipe Testers' Tips

    This crispy pork dish is RIDICULOUS! It's so tasty that I can't believe *I* made it! And I love the hint of orange in the meat. I think the most difficult part was slicing the pork away from the bone—otherwise, it came together beautifully. It required the full 2 hours to evaporate all the liquid in the pot and about 25 minutes in the oven to darken the pork to a point that it was almost burnt (I love it that way). This is an excellent recipe and one that I'll make again once I have a crowd—in the meantime, I'm looking forward to leftovers!

    I love this Mexican classic, and these authentic carnitas were exactly what I was looking for in terms of taste and texture. The author’s method of oven-frying the pork in the rendered fat from the shoulder is genius. I have to admit that I pilfered some of this “liquid gold” to brown onions and garlic for a killer black beans and rice to serve as a side. [Editor's Note: Brilliant! We're stealing that trick!]

    I used the half recipe method and it worked perfectly, although I will suggest that even though I’d cut the salt in half, the reduction became dangerously close to being a tad salty. Err on the side of caution, whether you make the full 4 pounds or otherwise and add less salt than specified. I made the carnitas tacos with this and the fresh tomatillo salsa was delicious, creamy, and added a nice balance to the rich meat.

    Does it get any easier than this? I don’t think so. This recipe worked exactly as written and produced an incredibly great-tasting, authentic pork carnitas. Where you put the pork from there is up to you. It is fantastic in tacos, would be delicious in a burrito with some salsa verde, and something to look forward to on a tostada after a busy work day. And it tastes even better the second day. Check the pork after 20 minutes in the oven, as it browns quicker than you might think.

    Since this authentic carnitas recipe is one of my favorites on the site, I was enthusiastic to try it in the slow cooker. I began by combining the onions, garlic, and pork together, and then adding them to the slow cooker. I then put in the bay leaves, oregano, and oranges. Reducing the liquid by 1/2 cup, I poured that on top. I let this cook on low for 10 hours. At that point, I removed the pork from the liquid (the liquid had doubled!), and placed the pork in a container for the next day. Discarding the orange and bay leaves, I poured the liquid in a separate container and placed it in the refrigerator. The next day, I skimmed the fat from the top of my reserved liquid (discarding the remaining cooking liquid), and spooned it into an ovensafe pan. I preheated the oven to 425°F and placed the pork in the fat in the oven for 30 minutes. The result was perfect! They had the same flavor and browned bits as the original recipe. I just warmed some tortillas and served. Next time I will reduce the liquid by 1 cup before adding it to the slow cooker.

    I’ve been a fan of pork carnitas as a restaurant dish for years, but have never made it myself, so I was happy to take a crack at this recipe. Long a fan of duck confit, I quickly realized upon reading the description of the dish that this is essentially pork confit. Sweet baby Jesus, what could be better than that?! I’m here to tell you, not much. This is without a doubt one of the tastiest dishes I’ve ever made, and given that it’s a cinch to throw together, I can see making it again and again and again and again get the picture. My only deviation from the recipe as written is that I pulled the pot from the oven only 15 minutes into the roasting phase, whereas the recipe calls for 20 to 30 at this point to crisp the meat. Attention is warranted at this step. Aside from that, following the recipe to a T yielded a sheet pan full of moist, flavorful, and beautifully caramelized pork deliciousness. One could always dabble with the aromatics in the braising liquid to bring other flavors to the dish, but it’s awfully good just as it is, and certainly not in need of any tweaking.

    I didn’t hold out much hope when I got home and first saw the results in the slow cooker. The pork looked kind of meh, nondescript, not really interesting. Then I removed the meat, shredded it onto a pan, and put it in the convection oven for about 15 minutes, stirring once. Holy smokes, what a difference! When I pulled the pork out, the texture had changed and it was tender and crisp at the same time. The pork was gently spiced and delicious. I did find there to be too much liquid in the pot, but it kept the meat very moist and tender. I left it on low for 8 hours while I was at work. I used a 4-pound pork shoulder roast, cubed, and kept the other ingredients true to the recipe, except for the lard. (The roast was fatty enough that I felt the lard wasn’t needed.) And I was right, since I skimmed a lot of fat from the pot but no scum. I might decrease the amount of water next time. Also, I think I’d like to add a couple of dried chilies to the initial cook pot, too, to add a little more spice.

    I also made this in the Instant Pot. I like easy recipes like this, minimal hands-on time with big, flavorful results. My pork shoulder was closer to 4 1/2 pounds. It took me 10 minutes to sear the meat in 3 batches, then juice the orange, layer everything in the pot, and set it and let the magic happen. When the meat was removed and put onto the tray to crisp, it was very tender. After the time in the oven, it was fabulous. The meat was flavorful, tender, and crisp. I was very surprised to find I could still taste the orange used after all the cooking. We served this with tortillas, sliced avocados, shredded lettuce, and chopped onion and tomato. Everyone liked this so much that there was very little left over.

    When recipes are this easy to do and the results are so full of flavor, I would be happy to make this again and again. We got 10 generous servings from the recipe.

    This recipe was fantastic! There aren’t a ton of ingredients in this dish, and having never made this before, I was surprised just how simple the ingredient list was (where were the spices?). It takes a bit of time to come together, but it really just needs to be babysat. It’s a really simple dish to make. I put it on to simmer and made some homemade Spanish rice and salsa. It doesn’t seem like much in the beginning–in fact, I had my doubts looking at the meat and veggies swimming around in this unappetizing milky water—but the very end is where the magic happens. When I finally pulled the finished product out of the oven and saw these beautifully browned pieces of tender pork, I could hardly wait to start eating it. It was definitely a hit!

    I made these last night using a little different technique with the slow cooker. First, I reduced the water from 3 cups to 2 cups, then I cooked the meat on high for 3 hours and, knowing the meat was completely cooked through and I was not risking undercooking pork, I took off the lid and continued to cook it on high for 3 more hours, until the liquid was absorbed. Then I transferred the meat to a large cast iron skillet and browned the meat. We tasted the meat both before browning it and after, and it was amazing both ways.

    I cannot imagine an easier recipe to make on a weeknight. WOW! And WOW to its flavor and tenderness, too. The meat came out juicy and fork-tender with a slight crispness. Every single person in our household asked me to make this again—and soon. I decided to serve it with the fresh tomatillo salsa, white rice, and black beans. The salsa was an amazing addition to the meat. The cold, tart salsa was a true blend of tastes.

    This dish is quite the little ace in the hole. It’s so easy yet yields so much flavor. A little bit of prep work, then throw it into the pot and go about your other kitchen tasks—like making tomatillo salsa. There’s a little checking and stirring here and there, but the dish practically makes itself. Don’t forget to keep the lid off while simmering away.

    This recipe delivered tender, crisp pork carnitas as promised. The ingredients were readily available and the preparation was simple, especially since the pork could be browned by sliding the original pot into the oven. The pork had a fine flavor when tasted right out of the oven, although it was ten times better the following day when the flavors had a chance to blend and mellow. (The oregano was a bit too dominant right after cooking for my taste). I do question the use of 1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk—was it really worth it to open an entire can, especially since it isn’t an ingredient that I use often? But overall, it was an easy way to prepare pork shoulder for a variety of uses.

    I adapted this recipe to the slow cooker, which did require some modification, but it produced excellent results. The big difference between slow cooker and stovetop cooking, and often the downfall of the former, is that much less liquid evaporates in the slow cooker, and often the flavors are not as concentrated. With that in mind, I omitted ALL the water in this recipe. I mixed the pork shoulder and other ingredients, and squeezed the other half of the orange over everything. Then I let it cook on low for 7 hours. During this time, the pot went from having no liquid in it to speak of to the pork being almost covered with fat and liquid.

    After the 7 hours of low and slow cooking, I moved the insert of the slow cooker to an oven preheated to 450°F. I let this go for almost an hour, stirring once to turn everything over and prevent over-browning. At this point, all the liquid had evaporated and the pork had browned in its own fat. The carnitas were falling apart tender and very flavorful. It's great on tacos or just with rice. A tomatillo salsa is the ideal embellishment.

    What a fantastic dish! This is one of those recipes that I immediately knew I had to make. Cinco de Mayo was the perfect occasion. The results are fantastic! I made the recipe exactly as-is except for a substitution for the condensed milk (I used 2 tablespoons whole milk heated with 1 tablespoon sugar). I used coconut oil and a Cara Cara orange, which dissipated nicely into the pork. (I was able to discard the orange peel, although it did break into several large pieces.) It took about 1 1/2 hours for the liquid to completely boil down. The oven browning method worked great. I will definitely make this again. The green tomatillo and avocado blended salsa recipe also found on this site is fantastic with the these!

    Every time I have used the Instant Pot, I have been impressed with its performance. This carnitas recipe was no different. It does require some moving around the kitchen, from stove to Instant Pot and back into the oven to finish, so I would recommend it for an evening when you have more time in the kitchen (and time to do dishes). The pork ended up flavorful, moist, and just melt-in-your mouth delicious. I couldn’t decide if I loved the crunchy outer bits or the rich fatty ends more. Either way, together they created a decadent combination.

    I used a cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat to sear the pork. I worked in 2 batches and each took about 12 minutes, flipping the pieces once or twice. I needed one large navel orange to get ½ cup of juice. It took 10 minutes to reach high pressure. The pork emerged from the steam step tender, but still held together somewhat. I let the pork stay in the oven 15 minutes. It got an amazing crunchy outer layer. I used two forks to break the pork chunks into shreds for tacos.

    I got 4 good-sized entrée servings. I served the carnitas on tacos with cilantro-lime sour cream, veggies, and cheese.  I don’t think the leftovers I gifted my boyfriend will survive the next 24 hours.


    #leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


      1. Thanks, joe! Yes, you can leave the lid off so that the liquid slowly evaporates as it simmers.

    1. Really enjoyed the simplicity of this recipe. I followed the cooking instructions then I chose to fire up the grill and put the lard on the griddle. I then added my pork along with bell pepper and onion to the griddle. I cooked this for 25 minutes then removed it from the grill and served it with refried beans and salsa. Next time I will add jalapenos to make this have a little pizazz.

      1. That sounds like an amazing meal, Larry! Thanks so much for taking the time to let us know.

    2. This recipe is how I found my way to this food blog. I had never cooked carnitas before and I was VERY skeptical. I have tried it all the ways and it always comes out spectacular!! Texan friends were enamored!

      1. We’re so happy to hear this, Amy! Thanks so much for taking the time to let us know.

    3. Fabulous. We might try pan frying the carnitas next time to quickly crisp the meat and not reduce moisture. Might also save a little bit of liquid (fat removed) to pour over just before serving. Will definitely add this the KEEPER recipes!

      1. I have a stupid question. So I read the instruction and it said to boil ALL ingredients for 2 hours. I assumed that meant the lard to. Was I wrong??? Now it says to cook in oven with lard. Omg did I mess this easy recipe?? Help us

        1. Nichol, not a stupid question and no you didn’t mess this up! Yes, that meant the lard, too. We just mean that you take some of the fatty liquid that it was cooked in and use that. So essentially when we say the pork’s fat we mean the lard and all the juices and fat that cooked out of the pork during that initial 2 hours. Does that help? And what did you think of the carnitas?!

    4. Man this is better than restaurant carnitas. My one go-to dish at any Mexican restaurant is pork carnitas to see how good the restaurant is. Amazingly, every place is completely different but this is honestly the best I have ever had….and I made it. I used an 8 lb pork shoulder and cut off the bone and between 8 of us it was gone. This stuff was so good I had a hard time not eating a pound by myself before everyone came over. My wife had to slap my hands a few times to tell me to leave some for everyone else. I would definitely recommend getting the biggest shoulder you can find or maybe even two smaller ones because you will want to have more than you think.

    5. This is an awesome recipe. My family loved it. I cooked it in an enameled cast iron pot and the crispy bits were so delicious! Thank you for a great recipe. Thank goodness I was able to snag two pork butt roasts at Aldi yesterday. The highlight of our week!

    6. I have no words…my mouth is too full!!! 😊 I followed the directions almost to the tee (used a little more orange and milk than called for), and I can say is AMAZING, and I see why there are rarely leftovers! Thank you for sharing this culinary indulgence!!! 😊

    7. Terrific! Used slow cooker, a whole orange (wrung out juice, threw peels in slow cooker), reduced garlic to 6 cloves. Started with full measure of oregano, but had only Greek oregano, and had to scrape some off. Chilled juices/sauce overnight, scraped off some fat. Crisped meat in skillet; OMG! This is the one I have been looking for!

    8. Thank you so much for this recipe! I have not had decent Carnitas since I left California 15 years ago, so this was much appreciated. I made mine in the slow cooker, and because I agree with the person who said liquid is usually a mistake in a slow cooker, I didn’t add any except for squeezing the orange. When the pork was done it was submerged in liquid. I also didn’t have any lard but put a chunk of butter in the bottom of the pot. When it was done i refrigerated the whole mess and then skimmed off the fat to roast it the next day in my toaster oven. Special trip to the store to get cilantro, because chopped onion and cilantro is what I am used to. Absolute heaven!

    9. Wow! I have lived in Texas (Central, South and West) most of my life (and let’s just say that’s a fairly long time) and these are hands down the BEST carnitas I have ever encountered! And I made them! I cook quite often and have made carnitas, and pulled pork etc. and admit I was leary of this cooking technique and whether I was doing it correctly or if it would turn out. I took a leap of faith and so glad I did! However I did not have lard (sad I know) and did not want to venture to the grocery store again, so I substituted virgin coconut oil. This was excellent! Personally I do not like the flavor of vegetable oils and the slight hint of coconut complemented the hint of orange and the pork very nicely, plus it does well under high heat. In Texas I have easy access to lard at most grocery stores, but I imagine many around the country do not. thank-you for sharing this wonderful recipe (ps – in the photo the best smaller carmelized pieces so are not shown! We had already picked them out and eaten them Haha haha)

    10. I’m sorry, no comment as of yet–but I need to know: If making in a pressure cooker, the instructions say to scoop out the meat, then place in 450 deg oven to brown. But stovetop and slow cooker instructions say to cook-off liquid prior to placing in the oven. Do I need to cook off liquid from pressure cooker pot like other instructions?? Thank you for feedback.

      1. Janet, there no way to cook off the liquid in a pressure cooker because it needs to be covered. Plus, it takes several hours for the liquid to cook off. So, yes, follow the instructions for the pressure cooker as written. Best of luck!

    11. These turned out great!!! This was my first time making carnitas and I never realized how simple they were. I’m not sure what the sweetened condensed brought to the table, since it was only one tablespoon, but they were awesome anyway.

    12. I realized I forgot to review this recipe, which is especially egregious after David was so quick to answer a question I had about it.

      In short: Awesome. I think my meat was not as fatty as it needed to be, which may have been the cause of 2 minor issues: (1) It took ~40 minutes longer than specified until all the liquid was gone (less fat means more meat means more water content), and (2) it didn’t crisp up the way I’d like (again, I attribute this to not enough fat in the meat).

      But none of that mattered, because it was DELICIOUS. We ate it in burritos. We ate it with rice. We ate it with eggs. We ate it at every meal until it was gone. This is hands-down my go-to recipe for carnitas from now on. Thank you, David!!

    13. So I love this recipe but I do cook it totally different in a way. I follow your recipe to the T and use a Dutch oven but I cook mine on a grill. Two ways you can do it. 1.) Follow the recipe as is, put your Dutch oven on the preheated grill, and add some wood chunks and let it cook. 2.) Smoke the pork for an hour or two, then follow the recipe. When going to crisp up the pork I also throw it on a discada on the grill to give me a nice crust.

    14. I make carnitas in an turkey oven bag. Couldn’t be easier. You can use the spices you like. I don’t use lard and I know that is not authentic, but oh well: Here’s the recipe I use:

      2 Lbs. pork butt in cubes (the more fat the better)
      ½ cup of coconut oil (vegetable oil is OK)
      About 1 cup of water
      Envelope Goya seasoning
      1 tbs flour
      sofrito or other chopped vegetable seasoning

      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the cubed meat, oil, water and all the seasonings, including the flour in an Oven Bag, Tie up the bag and put it in a baking pan on a rack. Make a few slits and cook for 2 hours. Do not open the oven during this time.

      2. Using a pot holder, take the bag out of the oven. Hold it over the sink and poke a few holes in the bottom to drain most of the juices released by the meat. Return to oven rack for one (1) hour or so until the meat is golden brown, using this method the meat will be tender and juicy but it will also be crispy on the outside.

    15. Having tried the Instant Pot variation, the method cuts the time down considerably, which is key when you have two hungry tweenagers giving you the “When is dinner?” stink eye. The preparation is easy–even for the novice cook. The stovetop searing/browning of the pork chunks in a cast iron pan before hitting the pot is timely and gives the process a leg up. What emerges from the pot are juicy, fork-tender chunks of succulent meat to the eye, and to the nose, old world Mexico aromatics of oregano and orange. It’s the brief run in a hot oven, however, that delivers the coveted crispy edges sealing in the moist unctuousness of pork fat that keeps us clamoring with glee for more. I’ve always wanted to make Carnitas at home akin to reputable Mexican restaurants on the west coast including Baja California. This recipe does just that. My search is over. Many thanks, LC!

      A sheet pan of of carnitas pork chunks and orange sections and a plate of shredded pork carnitas with leaves of cilantro

    16. These are the best tasting carnitas, hands down..I have made this many times, and will prepare it many more. Thanks for the great recipe! Antoinette Garcia

      1. You’re so very welcome, Antoinette! So lovely to hear that you like these as much as everyone we know does! Thank you so much for taking the time to let us know and we look forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next!

    17. LOVE this recipe! I have made it at least a dozen times now and even the pickiest eaters will dig right in. This is my go to recipe for work potlucks and every time I serve it I get at least a couple people demanding the recipe. I actually keep the “liquid gold” after cooking and use it to fry anything that could use a little extra flavor. Don’t discard it!

      1. Chanda, I’m so delighted! I completely agree with you. I’ve made this so many times, and I even made it tonight. I love the idea of using the “liquid gold” for something else.

    18. Wonderful recipe. I used vegetable oil because I don’t have lard. I also used a tablespoon of creamer with a dash of sugar instead of sweetened condensed milk because I didnt want to buy any. The one change for me would be the amount of salt: 3 teaspoons of Kosher is WAY to much. When the onions, garlic and orange broke down it created a velvety sauce mixture that contained enough sodium to bloat for days! Looks are deceiving….so flavorful 3 days later topped with some salsa verde OMG. Love the orange essence. An acid, whether it be a salsa or lime, cuts down on the fatty-ness of the pork. Thanx! (Hellava lot cheaper than restaurant carnitas.)

      1. Kim, thanks so much for taking the time to let us know how much you like this recipe! We greatly appreciate it and love your savvy substitutions–many thanks for sharing them with us!

    19. Just stumbled upon this and judging from the comments, this is exactly what I’m looking for! Thank you! But 4 lbs is not enough porky goodness for my meat-loving family. I saw your tip for cutting the recipe in half, but what about doubling (or even tripling!) the recipe? Do I double (or when tripling, triple) everything, or just double (or triple) the amount of salt and oregano, but use the same amount of water, onion, orange, garlic, bay, sweetened condensed milk, and lard?

      1. Hi Elwood, I’d be inclined to double everything- providing your pot is large enough. This is a great recipe and very forgiving in terms of adjusting amounts.

        1. Thanks, Beth! Good point about the pot size… duh! I have a 6 3/4 quart dutch oven… So, 8 lbs of pork and 6 cups of liquid might be a tight fit… I may use a stock pot for the first part and transfer it into a sheet pan for the oven stage… Thanks, again! One last thing: How do you think bacon drippings would work instead of lard?

          1. Hi Elwood, you could use bacon drippings but there would definitely be a flavor difference and you might lose the subtle orange notes. I’d be inclined to use vegetable oil instead.

    20. This recipe is fantastic as it is. I did toss in a whole orange as David Leite mentioned he does. As an interesting twist I used lard rendered from black bear. (I live on the Oregon coast & we have many generous sportsman around here…) It came out wonderfully & I intend to make it time & time again. Thanks!

    21. These are sooooo delicious, I am surprised there are any left to even make it to dinner for tacos. I used an untrimmed butt, next time I will trim my butt! Additionally, I took the unused sweetened condensed milk, tossed it into a mason jar with lid, and boiled until it cooked down to caramel for a delicious “dulce de leche” in hopes that there will be room for dessert after these scrumptious carnitas! (While growing up I had an Argentine friend who’s mom would toss the can of sweetened condensed milk in to a boiling vat of water and cook it forever (it seemed) as we anxiously awaited that caramel-colored surprise inside—just about as fantastic as New Year’s Eve awaiting the empanada to emerge from the oven… that’s a dinner for another day though!

      1. Kelly, I can’t begin to tell you I’m craving carnitas and dulce de leche after reading your lovely comment. Thank you for sharing and thank you for caring so intensely about food. You’re the best kind of person.

    22. Excited to try this recipe. Will be making today in crockpot, to bring to a camp trip. Doubling recipe. I plan to use 1/4 liquid (about 1/2 bottle of dark beer) along with one orange. I love the cinnamon idea, plus cumin, less salt. I too am hesitant to use sweetened condensed milk but it does scientifically make sense! (Last time I used 1 can of Coke and 2 whole oranges, which has the same effect, although I recommend using only 1/2 can because the meat was a tad too sweet.) Since we are camping I plan to ziplock the carnitas (after crockpot, after cooling) reduce the liquid a bit, and bring the reduction in a mason jar. We will experiment with the browning process with a large pot over the fire. Wish us luck!

    23. These carnitas were so awesome! Thank you for sharing your recipe! My family loved them. The taste was magnificent and the meat was very tender. I was trying to make tortillas so we could have carnitas tacos but after the first taste nobody wanted to wait. I will definitely add this to our rotation of favorite meals.

    24. This recipe is so simple and so incredibly delicious! I’ve made it a few times and always add some cumin and chipotle in adobo. Last night I made it for my boyfriend, who is Mexican, and he paid me the highest compliment… he said it was as good as the carnitas his mother makes! And he said the black beans I made rivaled his abuelas. Thanks for this carnitas recipe… I’ll be making it again and again.

    25. This was excellent. Definitely no need to add any water if you’re using a slow cooker. When I put it in the oven, I let it cook in its own grease or liquid for maybe 15 minutes and then drained all of the grease or liquid and left it to brown some more for maybe 10 more minutes. The last thing I did was to generously sprinkle the meat with buffalo sauce. Louisiana hot sauce is good, too.

    26. Doing this in slowcooker following suggestions to skip all the water, using cara cara orange, and juice of second half of the orange to drizzle over the meat. I skipped the oregano though because I dont care too much for it. Will let you know how it turns out. I may call it Wash DC Blizzard 2016 carnita. O)

        1. Found roast for $1.39/lb. Can’t beat a 5lb roast for $6.88! Great final taste from this recipe. Crisped up nice! Might cut down on some liquid next, think I put too much. It shredded itself, saved me a step. Definitely doing again!

    27. I love this recipe! I’m hoping to make it for my boyfriend and I and I know this is gonna sound crazy, but is there anything I should know when it comes to cutting the recipe in half? As much as I love carnitas, I think 4 pounds of it might be too much for the two of us.

      1. Ashley, I completely understand what you’re saying. Actually, in the note just above the recipe, we include the author’s advice on how to cut the recipe in half. Here it is again. “Should you wish to make just half a batch, the author advises that you cut the amount of pork, salt, and oregano in the recipe below in half, but that you rely on the same amount of water, onion, orange, garlic, bay, sweetened condensed milk, and lard (mmmm, lard). You’ll also want to rely on a slightly smaller pot than what the recipe suggests.” Here’s hoping you love this as much as we do—love to know what you think!

    28. It was, I’m the very proud owner of a delighted belly tonight. The cinnamon rounded thinks off beautifully and I urge you to try it! There also happens to be enough left overs to top nachos tomorrow.

    29. Love this recipe although tonight will be my first time making with the condensed milk. I admit, sweet meat isn’t my thing but I think I might be missing out, so I’m doing it. Got 9 lbs cooking now! Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

      1. You are so very welcome, Margarita! And I promise, the sweetened condensed milk doesn’t really make the meat sweet. It just sorta carries all those lovely carnitas flavors forward, for lack of a better way to explain it. But you tell me. What did you think?

    30. These were absolutely delicious! I’ve tried two other carnitas recipes before and researched many others—this is the holy grail!

      1. Terrific to hear it, Alison! We knew something was special about this recipe as soon as our recipe testers started to report in on the recipe. With such crazy enthusiastic comments, clearly this was not your average recipe. We so appreciate you taking the time to let us know! I look forward to hearing which recipe from the site you try next.

    31. I went to the in laws last weekend and had carnitas. My mother-in-law was born and raised in Mexico and this is the exact way she makes hers—very delicious and authentic.

    32. I cook a lot of pork dishes but this is by far the most amazing recipe for pork I have ever used. I’ve made it four times in the past 8 months. Outstanding!

      1. Terrific to hear you’ve found this recipe to be as reliable and as irresistible as we have, Redawna! We so appreciate you letting us know. Look forward to hearing which recipes from the site you try next…

    33. Made this last night, used the stovetop method, it was AWESOME. The only variation I made was squeezing the remaining half of the orange over the pork right before I put in the oven for browning. Served it with homemade red and green sauce on the side. Guests chose which sauce they wanted to use.

    34. This dish is an absolute five star winner!! It is one dish that I can make that everyone in my home loves!! It is also a dish that I make just as the recipes says, which I never do! This is an is an amazing recipe!

    35. My husband asked for ‘meat wadge’ for dinner tonight. ‘Meat wadge’ equals long-cooked and time-consuming, as a rule, but also delicious for the effort. I found your recipe and headed to the store this afternoon. This recipe was easy and I didn’t have to babysit all afternoon. I’ve never “boiled” meat and then finished in the over. It turned out so well. Served street taco style with radishes, cotija, fresh jalapeno & lime wedges alongside some corn pudding. So great and we have leftovers for work lunches for a couple of days.

    36. I’m making this right now in my 7.25 qt enameled marmite pot. House smells fantastic! Husband found beautiful boneless pork shoulder roasts at $1.59 lb – and brought home 8! I web-searched carnitas and decided your ingredients and method would yield the most authentic taste. When it’s a snowy cold day in Montana the fragrance of real Mexican cuisine warms the heart and puts a smile on yer boca :)

      1. Wow, Nancy! $1.59 a pound? That’s amazing. I’d buy eight, too. Please let us know what you think, because we’re pretty jazzed about how authentic the dish is.

        1. Sorry to be so late getting back to you – this is the ONLY carnitas recipe for us. Making this again for a party next week. Sooooooooooo looking forward to it! Thanks so much for this recipe!

    37. I used my 8-qt. Fagor Duo pressure cooker for this. I rubbed the meat with cumin, oregano, salt and chipotle powder before adding the rest of ingredients. I used half water and half homemade beef stock (also made in the pc) and brought everything to a boil to skim it first before sealing the lid and bringing to pressure. Cooked at 15psi for 1 hour then turned the heat off and let the pressure drop naturally while I prepared the pico de gallo and warmed the tortillas. The pork was fall apart tender and easy to break down into “carnitas” (little meats). Then I discarded the onion, orange, etc. from liquid in the pc and reduced it down to about a cup and poured this intensified glaze over the meat in a bowl and tossed all together before spreading on a sheet pan. Placed it under the broiler on the lowest rack position for about 10 min. until edges began to crisp. Served with soft warm corn tortillas, pico de gallo, soft pickled jalapenos and carrots, avocados and limes with sides of red rice and whole pinto frijoles (also cooked in the pc) and ice cold Dos Equis – Delicious!

        1. Get a PC David and you can be eating this tonight! I just love my pressure cookers. More than any other tool in my kitchen, it has made me a better cook and I especially love it for stocks, beans and braising recipes that usually require hours on the stove or in the oven. I started prep for this recipe (and the sides) around 3PM and we ate at 5PM, so there’s that ;-)

    38. Okay with the “Sweet Baby Jesus” had me! I will be making for Superbowl 2014 – sure it will be a hit!!!

    39. I made this recipe last night, the slow cooked way. Only, instead of using an electric slow cooker, I used a Wonderbag. The Wonderbag cooks with heat retention using insulation, not electricity. Makes me feel better since I’m not leaving an unattended appliance plugged in all day AND I’m knowing that my purchase also gives back (a family in Africa gets a Wonderbag whenever one is purchased). I boiled all the ingredients on the stove top for 25 minutes. Then I put a lid on the pot and transferred it to the bag, leaving it slow cooking for 9 hours, until I got home from work that evening. I took out the still-piping-hot, super-tender pork, pulled it apart, and crisped it up in a fry pan. We made our own hard tortilla shells, topped with cilantro, diced onions, and salsa. The only tweak I would make would be to either add some finely diced jalapeños or use a spicier salsa to give the dish some heat. But very delicious and super easy to make. Easy weeknight meal. I would definitely make it again.

      1. TaraB, I’m thrilled this worked out so well for you, and intrigued by this Wonderbag! Am researching…but in the meantime, many thanks for taking the time to let us know how swell this turned out for you.

    40. This recipe is fantastic. We didn’t have an orange so we quartered a lime and used it and it was amazing!

    41. I have made this recipe 3 times now and it has always been a hit. For those who haven’t tried this recipe, I discovered by using a thick skinned orange, such as a Cara Cara, that the rind does not disintegrate in the pot. I found the navel orange cooked down too much in the initial cooking stage (there was was nothing left of it after the boiling stage) and left a slightly bitter aftertaste after the final oven-frying process. I assume this was from the pith. The last time I made this I cooked a 7-pound pork, with plenty of fat, adjusted some of the other ingredients to accommodate a larger piece of meat and it turned out great.

      1. I removed the orange pieces and bay leaves from the dish prior to browning as the recipe says to do, so i did not have a problem with the orange getting burned. also, i squeezed the remaining half of orange over the pork prior to the browning stage for a little more orange flavor

      1. Atlanta, how blessed you are to be able to find pork with some fat to trim! Most cuts of pork we encounter are ridiculously lean these days. So yes, absolutely, trim the fat next time. And also go to that same butcher next time you need a pork roast—we’ve a recipe that just came out of testing that’s terrific, although it requires a lovely amount of fat. We’ll post it on the site soon….

        1. I have an 8-pound, bone-in pork shoulder (arm/leg/chunk of pork) with a beautiful layer of fat. Was the recipe you refer to above (5/1/13) ever posted? I’m having my 2nd annual “Dallas” party (you are probably too young) on Saturday, and I would love to try something new. (With regard to Dallas, do you mean like Bobby and J.R.?!)

          1. Yes, Cherie, yes! Here’s the roast pork recipe. It calls for a smaller, boneless chunk of pork, but if you have the patience, just increase the roasting time. Granted, it’s a simple recipe, but we rather like that. Let’s that innate porkiness shout out loud and clear.

    42. I had been eyeing this recipe for quite some time, questioning if it was really “that” good. I’m here to tell you “yes, it is.” My son threatened to instagram a picture describing it as “witches brew” in the initial stages of cooking, but he had a change of heart when he took the first bite of an incredible taco. The pork is tender and flavorful, with a crisp, caramelized exterior. I hesitated opening the can of sweetened condensed milk for only one tablespoon, but I don’t think you’d have the same results without it. (My girlfriend was happy to take the milk and make seven-layer bars.) I will definitely keep this on my list of best recipes.

    43. Fantastic dish! I didn’t use the condensed milk and I still wonder what its purpose is. The salt amount was about right—you probably should not use more than 2 tsp. Watch the pork in the oven because it could easily burn—I don’t recall using the full 20 minutes. Had it with pickled red onions, spicy salsa, avocado, queso fresco, etc. Yummy, yummy, yummy!

      1. Hey, terrific, John! You know, we’ve been researching exactly what that teensy amount of sweetened condensed milk imparts to the dish, and we’ve yet to discern exactly what it is aside from a subtle sweetness. Will let you know when we have an answer. In the meantime, know that we greatly appreciate you sharing your experience and your tricks and tips.

        1. The sweetened condensed milk contributes more than sweetness here. Actually, it adds very little sweetness at all (if it did, I wouldn’t like it). Think about it—cook sweetened condensed milk at a low temperature for a long time, and what do you get? Dulce de leche (aka caramel). It’s like a self-contained maillard reaction added to the pot. Also, I believe it promotes browning when you move the meat to the oven, and from this even more caramelization, and hence depth of flavor.

    44. I’m making this tomorrow and want to do it early in the day. Do I leave it in the pot and reheat on the stove top? Also, I still didn’t see the recipe for the fresh tomatillo salsa. I found one elsewhere to try, but I’m wondering if the “original” one is available. thx –

      1. Yes, Ruth, you can make the pork, let it cool completely, than refrigerate it and reheat it gently, covered, over low heat on the stovetop and it will be just fine. As for the fresh tomatillo salsa, you’re right, we’re going to post it quite soon! It’s essentially just pure guacamole–and by “pure” I mean nothing but avocado, white onion, cilantro, chile pepper, lime, and a pinch of salt–whirred in a blender with some raw, husked tomatillos and just enough water to make it pourable. Let us know how it goes!

        1. Thanks Renee! This was so easy and delicious, with simple steps that effectively transformed chunks of pork into yummy, crispy nuggets filled with flavor. I love being able to do my cooking and make my mess early in the day, so when it’s approaching dinner I can relax with friends and truly enjoy both the company and the meal! Also, the tomatilla salsa was a snap and the perfect compliment to the pork.

          1. Hey, that’s terrific, Ruth! I really appreciate you letting us know how well the recipe worked for you. This little carnitas number has been of the most frequently searched for recipes on our site since we posted it, with good reason….

    45. Did I miss the recipe for the tomatillo salsa? I would like to make it too since it is mentioned several times in the comment section. :)

        1. What purpose does the condensed milk serve? Wondering because my son is dairy free and if it’s necessary then maybe I can substitute with something else?

      1. I’ve made this recipe four times in one year. I love it. (My one tweek is that I add 1 tablespoon freshly ground cumin to the beginning mix. No old crap from the local store.) True, it is better the next day, and true…you better make a lot! I lived in Austin, Texas, for four years and went all over that state for awesome food. I’ve made time- and labor- intensive carnitas before, this is a better way. I’m moving back permanently in five months. Good job, thank you!

        1. Terrific to hear, Kathleen! We know that we like them a lot, but it’s always reassuring to hear that from someone who’s had carnitas way more than us. Really appreciate you taking the time to let us know, and I look forward to hearing what other recipes on the site, Tex-Mex or otherwise, that you give a whirl. Welcome back home, by the way!

      1. Um, as one that made these, 4 pounds lasted about 4 minutes. They are that good!

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