Carnitas Tacos

These Carnitas Tacos are slow-cooked to perfection.
They’re an easy recipe that’s perfect to make on a chilly weekend!

These Carnitas Tacos are a slow cooked to perfection. They're the perfect recipe to make on a chilly weekend!Can we talk easy food for a minute?  As a food blogger, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen…and I absolutely love testing recipes!  Tweak this for the next time.  Add that for the next batch.  Good thing for me is that my wife loves to cook, too.  Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and I’m certain that we will cook a full Turkey Day feast here.  (Never mind the fact that it’s just the two of us…but then again, Thanksgiving leftovers are the best part, right??)  Despite our passion for cooking and baking, sometimes we like to take it easy.  And that’s where recipes like this one come in.  These Carnitas Tacos are slow-cooked for several hours…and the result is one delicious (and easy!) dinner.

These Carnitas Tacos are a slow cooked to perfection. They're the perfect recipe to make on a chilly weekend!Now that the Winter is beginning to roll in, we end up hibernating a lot.  By hibernating, I mean we head to the basement and watch shows on the DVR like it’s our job.  Occasionally, I’ll take a break to pull out the snow-blower, but for the most part it’s pretty quiet around here.  (Although we did join the local curling club this year, so we’ve been trying to get out and go curling at least once a week.  More on that later.)

These Carnitas Tacos are a slow cooked to perfection. They're the perfect recipe to make on a chilly weekend!Carnitas Tacos

These Carnitas Tacos are the perfect Winter meal.  It’s easy to make the carnitas, and I consider tacos to be one of the best comfort foods ever!  Since it’s just the two of us here, we end up freezing the leftover meat in about 2-3 night portions.  That way we can just pull it out and have easy weeknight meals.  (We do the same with Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork and Smoked Brisket, but I much prefer to cook indoors in the Winter…imagine that!)

I use a heavy Dutch oven when making these Carnitas Tacos, but I’m sure you could adapt this recipe for a crock-pot if that is your preferred style (just check out your crock pot manual for cooking temps and adjust the recipe as needed).  Our crock pot broke last year, and I just haven’t replaced it.  I’m a huge fan of enameled cast iron (i.e. Le Creuset), so I really don’t know if I’ll replace our crock pot.  Either way, these Carnitas Tacos are a great recipe to make on a chilly weekend.  Enjoy!

Did you make these Carnitas Tacos at home?  Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog)!

These Carnitas Tacos are a slow cooked to perfection. They're the perfect recipe to make on a chilly weekend!

Carnitas Tacos

These Carnitas Tacos are a slow cooked to perfection. They're the perfect recipe to make on a chilly weekend!
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 256kcal

Ingredients

  • 2-3 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
  • 5-6 pound pork shoulder
  • 1 white onion coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers finely chopped (see note below)
  • 1 Tbsp adobo sauce see note below
  • 1 ½ Tbsp juniper berries lightly crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 cups chicken broth

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  • Place a large oven-safe pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil and heat until oil is hot.
  • Place the pork shoulder in the pan and sear each side for about 2-3 minutes. Continue rotating until all sides of the pork shoulder have been seared.
  • Reduce heat to medium and add the chopped onions. Cook for 6-8 minutes.
  • Add all of the remaining ingredients except for the chicken broth (garlic, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, juniper berries, bay leaves, chili powder, oregano, thyme and cumin) to the pot.
  • Add chicken broth to the pot. Then add water until the water is about ¾ of the way up the side of the pork shoulder. Stir the pot gently.
  • Cover and place pot in the oven for 4 hours.
  • Once cooked, transfer the pork shoulder to a large cutting board. Discard the remaining liquid.
  • Once pork is cool enough to handle, shred it using 2 forks.
  • To prepare, place about 2 cups of pork in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2-3 Tbsp of chicken stock and cook until stock has evaporated and pork is slightly crispy.
  • Serve in tacos or burritos along with shredded lettuce, guacamole, corn salsa, pico de gallo, cheese and Chipotle rice.

Notes

Cans of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are common in the Mexican food aisle. Chipotle peppers are very spicy, so I usually only use 1-2 peppers for this recipe. I do add about 1 Tbsp of the adobo sauce from the can into the pot as well. The leftover peppers and adobo sauce freeze quite well.

Looking for more tasty taco recipes?  Check out these other favorites, too:

These Crispy Baja Fish Tacos are not only quick and easy, but packed with delicious flavor, too!  They're the perfect way to celebrate the arrival of warmer days!Crispy Baja Fish Tacos

Make tonight a taco...err, pizza...night!  This Deep Dish Taco Pizza is a fun way to enjoy your favorite taco toppings in pizza form!Deep Dish Taco Pizza

Smoked Brisket Tacos are one of the best things about summer!  Learn some brisket-smoking tricks, and grab the recipe for these tasty tacos!Smoked Brisket Tacos

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26 Comments

  1. I’m a huge fan of making your own tacos. After too many trips to the ER with food poisoning, I gave up on fast food tacos.
    Your pork looks incredibly juicy and I pretty much want these tacos for breakfast 🙂

    1. Ouch! ER and fast food tacos? No thank you very much!! And yes, I give you permission to eat tacos for breakfast today, Becca. But only because it’s a snow day…but then again, isn’t every day a snow day for you up on the frozen tundra??

  2. OEMGEE- David, my daughter’s and my idea of hibernating is the same as y’alls!!! Only I got rid of cable and DVR this past month, so our Netflix membership will be getting a workout! I am loving the spices you have used – having this dish perfume the house as it cooks would be a great accompaniment to a marathon Netflix session!
    Oh – btw, I think I saw an invite there between the lines seeing it’s just you and Laura this Thanksgiving – and – why yes – my daughter and I will just bump the trip we were planning next summer to this November and love to join yall! Let’s start a bonfire night (much like the one in the UK) in your neighborhood- cos us gals gotta stay warm – also that would melt the snow and you wouldn’t have to lug that snow blower out – win win!

    1. Hahah…I LOVE your plan, Shashi! You and your daughter are always welcome to crash our Thanksgiving. As long as you like leftovers and watching reruns on tv. And the parade, of course. I can’t forget the parade!

      We’ve been on the fence about getting a Netflix membership for some time now. I suspect we may finally break down and do it with the winter coming…we have an uncanny ability to watch reruns around here once the weather turns cold!

  3. You joined the Curling club???? I’m jealous man. I have an uncanny sweeping ability, and I feel that I could be a pretty decent curler.
    If you promise to cook me some of those amazing carnitas and to show me some curling tricks. I’ll come visit you in Saratoga this winter.
    Do we have ourselves a deal? 😉

    1. Wait, you have uncanny sweeping skills? Like sweeping the ice skills or sweeping the dust buffalo under your kitchen table skills? If we’re talking sweeping the ice, then you can absolutely come up to Saratoga this winter! We’ll get on the ice and make a professional curler out of you. They’ll have to invent a quadrathalon for you: running, biking, swimming…and curling!

  4. I love carnitas! I’ve never made them at home, though. These look really flavorful. Your photos are so pretty and full of color. This meal looks like the cure for the Winter blues! 🙂

    1. Oh, they are so much easier than you think to make them at home, Tamara. Just a little bit of prep work and throw ’em in the oven to slow cook. Bonus: the house smells amazing while they are cooking, too!

  5. These are looking good Dave, and as a San Diegan out here in SoCal it is everywhere. Make this all the time and I like your addition here of juniper berry – a must try next batch.
    Funny you talking about “we head to the basement and watch shows on the DVR like it’s our job.” Not only did that make me laugh, but reminds me of the home I grew up in in San Francisco. Lucky for us out here in San Diego it’s still warm. Be well and have a great weekend.

    1. Man, am I jealous…you and your San Diego weather! Thanks for reminding me that I live on a frozen tundra. Haha! Yeah, it took a bit of hunting, but I was able to track down juniper berries at my local health foods grocery store. Definitely a fun addition…give it a shot and let me know what you think about it. Have a great weekend!

  6. Someone would have to pry my Dutch oven from my hands to separate me from it (cough, cough them…I have too many). I love it. Just a shade more than I love my cast iron skillet. And this recipe is EXACTLY why! These carnitas look amazing and hands off, which is precisely what everyone needs during the holidays. I can’t even think past next week. I get heart palpitations. These carnitas will totally cure that. Pinned.

    1. No! I can’t allow you to have heart palpitations, Lindsey! Who is going to fill my computer screen with amazing cupcake pictures?? I think you need a big plate of carnitas tacos STAT! And yes, I absolutely love my Dutch oven…well, both of them. There’s something magical about that thing…haha!

    1. Tacos are totally my weakness, too, Nicole…especially when they are leftovers! What is it about tacos and leftovers that is just so darned delicious?? 🙂

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