International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Carnitas de Puerco

Tacos with pork carnitas

(Mexican crispy tender shredded pork)

Image by mccun934

Average: 4.8 (4 votes)

Mexican carnitas are an amazing option for stuffing tacos, burritos and tamales. Slow-simmered pork, with a quick fry and the end, carnitas are easy to make, but do take some time. That makes them perfect for a slow cooker.

Traditional carnitas are simmered in lard to add flavor and moisture. Check out the variations below if you'd like healthier options without losing deliciousness.

4 to 6 servings


  • Lard -- 1 cup
  • Pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes -- 2 1/2 pounds
  • Orange, sliced -- 1
  • Cilantro, chopped -- 1/2 bunch
  • Oregano -- 1 tablespoon
  • Bay leaf -- 1
  • Salt and pepper -- to season


  1. Melt the lard in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium flame. Stir in the pork and remaining ingredients and heat until the pork is simmering. Reduce heat to low, cover tightly, and simmer for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove cover and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pork browns and becomes crispy on the outside, another 30 to 45 minutes.
  3. Drain of any excess fat and remove the orange slices. When the pork is cool enough, shred it by hand or with a fork.
  4. Adjust seasoning and serve as an entree or as a filling for tacos, burritos, enchiladas or tamales. Carnitas go well with salsa verde.

Carnitas Variations

  • Other Flavorings: Add some chopped onion and chopped garlic to the simmering pork for added flavor. For some heat, add a couple chopped jalapeño or chipotle peppers. Other seasonings often used include marjoram, thyme and cumin.
  • Lower-Cholesterol Version: If you're watching your cholesterol, substitute olive oil for the lard.
  • Lower-Fat Version: If you're watching calories, substitute 2 cups of chicken stock or water for the lard. You won't be able to get the browned crispiness of true carnitas this way though.


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