Recipe: Slow Cooker Carnitas

Taco bowls have been our meal of choice during quarantine.  They seem to make it on the rotation almost weekly, topped with different combinations of meats, beans, veggies, and rice.  We always make a lot as meal prep and Chris enjoys the leftovers for lunch throughout the week.  These bowls  are hearty, fun, and versatile, plus healthier (cheaper, and safer) than going to Chipotle every week.

Last night I made a slow-cooker carnitas that was absolutely perfect, and I wanted to hop on and share.  I’ve made other carnitas recipes in the past, such as the Double Pork Carnitas recipe from Rick Martinez, but the simplicity of this slow-cooker version really won me over as a delightful weeknight dinner solution.  This meal was as easy as throwing some pork shoulder into our little slow cooker at lunch time, adding chicken broth, onions, and cilantro stems, and allowing the slow cooker to do its thing on high until we were ready to eat at 7:00.  The result was pork carnitas that were so tender they fell apart as I was pulling them out of the cooker, shredded like a dream, and were so flavorful and moist from the chicken broth and aromatics they had been steeping in all afternoon.  It was such an easy hands-off dinner that resulted in a perfectly porky topping for my bowl, and I can’t wait to make this on repeat in the future.

I served this carnitas last night with some cilantro lime white rice, diced avocados, watermelon radishes, salsa verde, and shredded cheddar cheese.  The bowl was a delight and a big hit in our house!  I even strained the leftover broth to use for soups another time this weekend, as the broth had been beautifully infused with onions, herbs, and pork, and it would be a shame to waste all of that delicious flavor.

This recipe made enough for 2 people with plenty of leftovers, possibly enough for a family of 4.  We have a small slow cooker (1 gallon sized), which fit about 1 pound of pork shoulder perfectly.  If you are wanting to scale up and are using a larger slow cooker, the key is to be sure the meat is fully submerged in the chicken stock so that it can all become evenly tender.  Feel free to add one more onion as well to be sure the flavors really soak in.  This recipe does take about 6-7 hours to slow cook, so plan ahead!  All of this cooking is all totally hands-off in the slow cooker, so prep and go about your day, then come back for dinner when it’s tender and ready!

Recipe down below, photos up top! 

Slow Cooker Carnitas:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb pork shoulder
  • 3 cups chicken stock (or enough to fully submerge the pork)
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 bunch (about 20) cilantro stems
  • 1 tsp salt

Method:

  1. Add the pork to the slow cooker.  If needed to fit, use a knife to chop into large chunks to allow all of the pork to fit in the slow cooker as evenly as possible.
  2. Cover the pork entirely with chicken stock.  Add onions, cilantro stems, and salt.
  3. Place the lid on top of the slow cooker and set the slow cooker to high.  Allow to cook on high for 6-7 hours.
  4. Once cooking has been completed, remove the pork shoulder from the slow cooker using tongs.  Use two forks to shred the meat into bite-sized chunks (the meat should be super tender). 
  5. Serve immediately as a filling for tacos, burritos, or to top nachos or grain bowls.  Enjoy!

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3 comments on “Recipe: Slow Cooker Carnitas”

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