Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos


  • 1 ¾ lb. boneless pork shoulder, trimmed
  • 1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • ¾ tsp. black pepper, divided (we used freshly ground black pepper)
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice, divided
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice, divided
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 dried ancho chile
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 white onion, sliced (we sliced ours about ¼ in. thick) (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 oregano sprigs
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
  • 6 Tbsp. chopped white onion
  • Cilantro sprigs (optional)
  • Lime wedges (optional)


  1. Cut the pork up into 3-inch pieces, placing them in a large ziplock bag afterwards. Sprinkle the brown sugar, ½ teaspoon pepper and ½ teaspoon salt over the pork.  Add 2 tablespoons each of the lime juice and orange juice to the bag and seal, removing as much air as possible*. Refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.
  2. Add the hot water and dried ancho chile to a large bowl, letting it sit for 10 minutes. Take ¼ cup of the ancho soaking liquid and leave it off to the side for now along with the ancho chile. Take a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker out and add the pork to it, discarding the marinade that the pork was in. Add the garlic, sliced onion, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, oregano, ancho chile, that reserved ¼ cup soaking liquid, the remaining 2 tablespoons each of orange juice and lime juice. Put a lid on the slow cooker and let it cook on LOW for 7 to 8 hours or until the meat is very tender.
  3. Take the pork out of the slow cooker and place it in a container for the time being. Take a bowl out and place a fine wire-mesh strainer over it. Pour the cooking liquid from the slow cooker through the strainer, throwing away any solids. Measure out ½ cup of the cooking liquids, throwing away any leftover liquid afterwards. Take a large cast-iron skillet out and pour the canola oil in, setting the heat to medium-high. Once the oil’s hot, add in the pork, searing it for one minute without moving it**. Take the pork out of the skillet and place it back in the container. Pour the reserved ½ cup of cooking liquid into the skillet, scraping up any bits of pork stuck to the skillet, pouring it over the pork afterwards. Add the salt and pepper to the pork, shredding the pork afterwards. Divide the pork up afterwards among the tortillas, topping each one with 1 ½ teaspoons of chopped onions (we didn’t measure how much much we used). Serve with the cilantro and lime wedges if you’d like.

*After getting as much air out as possible, we rolled the ziplock bag up as tight as possible to help the pork absorb as much flavor as possible.

**We weren’t sure if they wanted you to sear one side only or all sides but we decided to sear for one minute on the first side and 30 seconds – 1 minute on the other sides.

The pork tasted great the first day we had this but the second day, the flavors were even stronger ! The char on the outside of the pork brings a smoky flavor to the taco and is a nice contrast against the tender parts of meat. The toppings bring a freshness to the dish and the onions offer a nice crunch as well.

Recipe source unknown.

Take care everybody !

3 thoughts on “Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos”

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