Carnitas Slow Cooked Meat

I went to school in Portland, Oregon and would go to Por Que No? as often as I could.  Every time I went, I got the carnitas.  Even to this day I crave their carnitas tacos. Since leaving Portland, I have attempted to recreate their amazing carnitas slow cooked meat.  This is my version.  It's savory, herbaceous, and on the healthier side.

Healthier Carnitas

I will be the first to admit this is not your traditional carnitas recipe, which is usually cooked in pork fat. While I love to eat traditional carnitas, cooking with that much lard doesn't interest me. So, I offer an alternative that is still delicious and healthier - a win/win if you ask me!

carnitas taco on white plate

Carnitas Fixings

I highly suggest heating the corn tortillas on a gas stove top. Just turn the burners to low-medium and using tongs, place the tortilla directly on the burner. I let the tortilla sit on the burner for abut 5 seconds and then flip for another 5 seconds. Just watch them carefully because they will catch on fire very quickly! I assemble my tacos with chopped cilantro, chopped white onion, a squeeze of lime juice, and if I'm in the mood some salsa. If you're a Salt Lake local, any salsas from the Salsa Queen are my favorite.

Carnitas Taco

It's hard to beat one pot meals! Put all of the ingredients in a pot and let them cook. Once the meat is shreddable with a fork, you're ready to make tacos!

Course dinner, lunch
Keyword dinner, mexican, tacos
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Servings 6


  • 1 4-5 pound bone in pork shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 yellow onion rough chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 can or bottle of light beer I used Pabst
  • Juice from 1 orange
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup water you may need more as the cooking time increases


  1. Heat oven to 325 degree.
  2. First, mix the seasonings together.  Then, pread the seasonings on the pork shoulder.  Make sure to really push and massage the seasonings into the pork.  If you have extra seasoning, you can pour it into the pot once all of the other ingredients have been added.
  3. Next, in a large dutch oven, heat up the oil.  Add the seasoned pork shoulder to the pot.  S
  4. ear on all sides for roughly 3-5 minutes on each side.  You want to get a nice gold brown color.
  5. Add the chopped onion, minced garlic, bay leaves, orange juice, beer, chicken stock and water.
  6. Cover and cook for 4-5 hours or until you can pull it apart with a fork.  If the liquid in the pot starts to diminish too much, add another cup of water.
  7. Shred the meat.  If you like crispy carnitas, heat up 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan.  You want the oil to be hot, so the meat doesn't cook too much but just gets a nice sear.  Once the oil is hot, add some of the shredded meat and let it sear for a 3-4 minutes or until crispy.
  8. Finally, I like to combine some of of crispy and non crispy pork in my tacos.  It creates a nice texture difference.  I also like to top my tacos with a bit of the leftover juices in the crock pot.

Recipe Notes

These tacos are best when topped with cilantro, white onion, cotija, and a squeeze of lime.

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hi, I'm leslie

Whether it's through nutrition, mindfulness, spending more time with family, setting monthly goals, or just finding the things that make us happy in life, finding balance is the ultimate goal. Join me as I try and find balance in my own life.

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