Pork Carnitas Recipe

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This recipe and photos are courtesy of Melanie and her cooking blog called Duck Soup. Melanie says, "We love all things Mexican at our house, but carnitas are a particular favorite."

There are probably as many different carnita recipes as there are chili con carne recipe. In Mexico, carnitas are a popular snack. The pork is often used as a filling in tacos, but carnitas are cooked and eaten in a variety of styles. Melanie's recipe is easy-to-make and delicious!

Learn more about tortillas and tacos, check our the History of Tortillas and Tacos.

Pork Carnitas


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Pork Carnita Recipe:

Recipe Type: Pork, Sandwich, Cast-Iron Cooking
Cuisine: Southwest, Mexican, Tex-Mex
Yields: 6 servings
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 90 min


2 to 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder
4 cloves garlic, minced
Mexican oregano, to taste
Salt to taste
Flour or corn tortillas*
Prepared Guacamole**
Prepared Salsa**
Sour cream
Grated sharp cheddar cheese

** Learn How To Make Corn Tortillas and/or Flour Tortillas.

** Check out some favorite Guacamole and Salsa recipes.


(1) Cut up the pork shoulder into 1-inch chunks. NOTE: You will NOT remove the fat because the fat is what makes it good. In fact, if you use a lean cut of pork like the tenderloin, you will need to add some lard to your skillet.

sauting pork cubes

(2) Place pork cubes in your cast-iron skillet or a large heavy frying pan. Sprinkle with Mexican oregano and salt.

adding water to pork cubes

(3) Add enough water to almost cover the pork cubes (let some of the meat break through the surface).


cooking pork cubes

pork cubes done

(4) Over medium-high heat, bring water just to a boil; reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 45 to 60 minutes or until the water cooks down and the pork carnitas meat ntil all liquid evaporates and the pork is crisp and easily pierced with a fork (the pork will render all of its fat and get nice and crisp in the pan). Remove from heat. Either leave in the cubes or place the pork on a cutting board. Using two forks, shred the pork into thin strips. Keep the pork carnita meat warm while preparing your other ingredients.

frying tortilla

(5) After the pork is cooked, remove the pork and clean out your skillet. Place skillet back on medium heat to get hot. If you are using store-bought tortillas, heat the tortillas one-by-one in the hot skillet. If you heat them on a skillet you may need to use either little butter, vegetable oil, or cooking spray to help soften them. When air pockets form in the tortillas they are done.


pork carnitas ready to eat

pork carnitas ready to eat

(6) To serve, double up the tortillas and place a few spoonfuls of the pork carnitas on them. Top with guacamole, salsa, sour cream and/or grated cheese (use whatever condiments you prefer). Cooked pork carnita meat may be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Reheat before using.


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