Melty cheese. Shredded carnitas. Buttery tortillas. These Slow Cooker Carnitas Quesadillas make for one heck of a tasty meal!
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As I’ve noted before, we often have all sorts of leftovers hanging out in our fridge. And we discovered long ago that tacos and quesadillas are an excellent way to use up leftovers. Got an extra grilled pork chop? Dice it up and put it in a ‘dilla. Leftover rice pilaf? It actually goes great as a base for tacos. Extra smoked brisket? ‘dilla time!
Quesadillas can be anything from absurdly simple to masterpieces with layers of flavors. We make Robbie quesadillas in the microwave using American cheese. #TrueStory I’m not proud of that one, but it’s something our picky little eater will actually eat…when he’s in the mood. We’ve tried making legit quesadillas for Robbie, but he just turns his nose up at ’em. “No dilla. No.” That’s fine. It just means we’ll save the legit quesadillas (like these Slow Cooker Carnitas Quesadillas) for after the little man goes to sleep.
Since we make quesadillas at least once a week around here, I figured it was high time to actually share some tips on making delicious ‘dillas.
- For starters, use one large flour tortilla instead of two smaller ones. Just fold the large one over halfmoon-style. It’ll make flipping that quesadilla SO much easier. Yes, I have indeed tried flipping quesadillas only to lose half of the fillings. Not fun.
- Don’t add too many fillings. See comment above. Too many fillings means the whole thing will fall apart when you flip it. I know it’s tempting, but less is more in this case!
- Use salted butter (or unsalted butter with a sprinkle of salt) to grease the pan. Trust me on this one. The salted butter flavor on the outside of the quesadilla is insanely delicious. We’ve gotten to where Laura tells me which side of the quesadilla has the salty, buttery topping…because that’s the side I want to touch my tongue first! Yes, those are actual conversations that happen in our house.
- Use Oaxaca cheese. Ever heard of Oaxaca? It’s a Mexican-style cheese that’s similar to mozzarella, and it’s perfect for shredding into quesadillas. Do we always keep Oaxaca around here? Nope. But it’s a special quesadilla day when we happen to have some in the fridge! Oh, and Oaxaca comes rolled up in a rope that you unwind. Kinda cool, huh?
For these Slow Cooker Carnitas Quesadillas, I kept it fairly simple. The pork shoulder slow cooks while you are at work or running around doing a zillion other things. Then you just shred that pork into carnitas, and you’ve got the base for some delicious Slow Cooker Carnitas Quesadillas. I used Oaxaca cheese (because I actually planned ahead to make these ‘dillas), and then I added some corn and red bell peppers for a bit of a flavor and texture boost. Oh, I almost forgot! The most important thing about making quesadillas?
- Cook ’em low and slow. Sure, I can boost the heat on the stove and really melt that cheese quickly…but my tortilla will get burnt in the process. Low and slow is the way to go when it comes to quesadillas. Seriously. We cook ’em for 6-7 minutes per side. The cheese and filling gets all nice and melty while the tortilla stays perfectly browned.
If you’re looking for a nice and easy dinner, these Slow Cooker Carnitas Quesadillas are the answer! They’re packed with flavor and require very little prep work. Enjoy, friends!
Slow Cooker Carnitas Quesadillas
For the Slow Cooker Carnitas
- 3-4 pound boneless pork shoulder
- 1 tsp chipotle powder
- 2 tsp black pepper divided
- 2 tsp kosher salt divided
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- ¼ cup of lime juice
- 1 medium white onion chopped
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp garlic minced
- 1 Tbsp adobo sauce
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp ground cumin
For the Quesadillas
For the Slow Cooker Carnitas
- Rinse pork shoulder under cold water and then pat dry with paper towels.
- In a small bowl, combine chipotle powder, 1 tsp of pepper and 1 tsp of kosher salt. Sprinkle spice mixture evenly over pork shoulder.
- Using a Dutch oven (or large skillet), add olive oil; place over medium-high heat. Once hot, add pork shoulder and sear each side for 3-4 minutes.
- Transfer pork shoulder to crock pot and add remaining ingredients (chicken broth, lime juice, remaining salt and pepper, chopped onion, bay leaves, garlic, adobo sauce, oregano, thyme and cumin).
- Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours, or low for 8-10 hours. When done, the pork shoulder should shred very easily.
- Transfer pork to a large cutting board or plate and shred using 2 forks; stir in several tablespoons of the cooking liquid. (Note: You will have plenty of leftover carnitas for more quesadillas, tacos, nachos, etc.)
For the Quesadillas
- Using a large skillet or griddle, add butter and place over medium-low heat. (Tip: If using unsalted butter, then add a pinch of salt to the pan.)
- Lay flour tortillas out on large cutting board. Divide fillings evenly across tortillas, but place all fillings on half of each tortilla. Fold tortillas over to create half-moon shaped quesadillas.
- Once butter has melted, add quesadillas and cook over medium-low heat for 5-7 minutes per side, or until golden brown.
- Cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges. Garnish with sour cream and additional chopped green onions before serving.