Pork Carnitas

Carnitas directly translates to “little meats” in Mexican because they are small chunks of pork in tacos. However, the magic is in the way it is cooked. This is not your standard pulled pork recipe. Pork shoulder is rubbed in a mixture of spices and then braised and slow cooked in orange and lime juice (the acidity) to tenderise the meat. Once the meat is tender, it is then shredded into “little meats” but then returned to a pan to fry in it’s own juices again to crisp up.

What you get is a real “porque no los dos” dish where the pork is not only tender and juicy from the slow cooking, but then it’s so crispy and flavourful from the pan frying at the end.  Something as rich and juicy as this needs taco fillings friends which are fresh, and bright so I’ve recommended paring these with, red onion, avocado, coriander, feta, lime juice and hot sauce! 

Serves 4 (with leftovers, hopefully!)
Ingredients 22
Cooking time 4 hours
Skill level Easy


Carnitas Ingredients

  • 2kg of pork shoulder 
  • 1 tablespoon on cumin 
  • 1 tablespoon of mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon of paprika, or smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 4 brown onions, finely sliced
  • 10 jalapenos
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 limes

Taco Assembly Ingredients

  • 15 Tortillas. I used La Tortilleria corn tortillas, or you can make your own using my corn tortilla recipe.
  • 2 Spanish red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 avocadoes, with the flesh scooped out into small segments using a spoon
  • 1 small bunch of coriander
  • 5 limes, cheeks cut
  • 1 jar of Meredith Dairy marinated goats cheese
  • Your choice of hot sauce. I used Tapatio hot sauce.


Pork Carnitas

  1. Combine 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp mustard powder, 1 tbsp paprika, 1 tbsp sugar, salt, pepper,  1 tbsp fish sauce and 2 tbsp olive oil together to form a paste.
  2. Rub it all over the pork shoulder and then place your 2kg pork into a large dutch oven, cast iron pot or slow cooker.
  3. Now add the 2 cinnamon sticks, 5 bay leaves, 10  jalapenos, 4 finely sliced brown onions, 6 finely sliced garlic cloves to the pot. Squeeze the juice of 2 limes and 2 oranges into the pot making sure you get as much juice as you can. Feel free to zest the skin or add the flesh if you wish. The acid in the limes and oranges tenderise the meat.
  4. Place into your oven at 170 degrees for approximately 3 hours or until the meat pulls away easily.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Remove the fat/skin of the shoulder and transfer to a tray. Roughly shred the meat using two forks but be mindful to still keep the pork in chunky bits versus being finely shredded. Using your fingers, remove the cinnamon sticks and bay leaves from the leftover liquid in the pot. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the onions and jalapenos and add this to the pork mixture.
  6. Heat a pan, add a little bit of oil and then add your pork to the pan. Spoon over some of the juices from your pot into the pan and allow the pork to fry and crisp up for about 2 minutes.
  7. Serve hot and immediately in your taco.

Taco assembly

  1. Heat a pan and heat your tortillas for approx. 30 seconds each side until they become soft and floppy. Once all have been heated cover them with a tea towel to keep warm until you’re ready to serve.
  2. Place your tortilla onto your plate and add a small tablespoons worth of the crispy pork carnitas mixture. Add your sliced onions, avocado segments, fresh coriander, a hit of lime juice, a hit of your favourite hot sauce (if you like it spicy) and finish with a sprinkle of a soft feta of your choice.
  3. Enjoy and go to taco heaven.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published