Slow Cooker Crispy Carnitas

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These easy and delicious crispy slow cooker carnitas are absolutely delicious! Made with just a few simple ingredients, and in the slow cooker, this is the perfect recipe to make when you need to hit the easy button on dinner. This healthy recipe is also Paleo, Keto, and Whole30 compliant and makes enough to feed a crowd!

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Easy Slow Cooker Crispy Carnitas Perfect for Taco Tuesday

There are few things better than a hearty slow cooker meal. The “set it and forget it” cooking style just never gets old. It’s also impossible not to feel like you’ve got your life together when you start your slow cooker in the morning and come home to dinner after work.

Need a confidence boost and want to feel like you’ve got a better handle on life? The answer is almost always to make a slow cooker meal. You’ll suddenly feel like you have a chance at this whole adulting thing. Ok, maybe it’s not the only answer, but slow cooker meals are simple, easy, and great way to meal prep or feed a crowd.

This slow cooker crispy carnitas recipe is easy and incredibly flavorful. The pork is made with just a few simple ingredients and then you’ll add just a few key spices to get that delicious carnitas flavor that you know and love.

What Kind of Meat do you use for carnitas?

The base of any carnitas recipe is the pork. For this particular recipe, you’ll use a boneless pork shoulder which is often called a “boston butt”. You’ll need two to two and a half pounds of pork shoulder for this recipe.

You can ask your butcher to cut your pork shoulder to the desired weight or you can easily make a double batch of this recipe if you have more pork. To make things easier, I like to cut the pork into large chunks. This makes the pork much easier to handle.

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How do you get the most flavorful carnitas?

The trick to getting the most flavorful carnitas, is to sear the pork before adding it to the slow cooker. First, season the pork with one tablespoon of salt and then sear the pork pieces on both sides until golden brown. You could just dump all of the ingredients into the slow cooker, but I highly encourage you not to skip this step. Browning the meat helps to develop a rich deep flavor that you just can’t get by dumping everything into the slow cooker. If you’re short on time, you could skip this step if you absolutely need to, but I highly recommend taking the extra five minutes to get a good brown on your pork.

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Once the pork has been seared, remove it from the pan and add it to the slow cooker. Next it’s time to deglaze the pan you used to sear the pork. Lower the heat and then add the apple cider to the pan and scrape up any brown bits. Pour that liquid over the pork in the slow cooker and add the remaining ingredients.

Now, all you have to do is cook the pork on high for 4-6 hours or until it is fork tender. Shred the pork with two forks, and you have the start of perfectly crispy carnitas.

The great thing about this recipe is that the base of this recipe is really just a simple recipe for shredded pork. After shredding, you can turn half the shredded pork into carnitas for this recipe and freeze the other half for later.

Need some ideas for that leftover shredded pork?

  • heat it on a sheet pan in the oven and then drizzle on your favorite barbecue sauce for easy pulled pork

  • crisp it in a skillet for breakfast and serve with scrambled eggs and roasted sweet potatoes

  • use it instead of the ground pork in this recipe for an easy breakfast hash

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How to get perfectly crisp carnitas

The secret to the crispy carnitas that you’re craving is a hot skillet and just a little oil. Crisp the shredded pork on medium high heat for three to six minutes until they become golden brown and your desired level of crispiness. Then serve the pork carnitas immediately in your lettuce cups with all of your favorite toppings!

My favorite meal prep tips for this recipe

This slow cooker crispy carnitas recipe is a perfect recipe to add to your weekly meal prep. To make things even more simple for you here are a few of my favorite meal prep tips:

  • Prep the pork over the weekend or a day in advance of when you plan on eating it

  • Chop your taco toppings like tomatoes, radishes, or red onion in advance so you can easily assemble your tacos at a moment’s notice

  • Turn your tacos into a salad! Place your carnitas over a bed of mixed greens and veggies for a delicious salad. You can add cilantro lime white rice or cauliflower rice to make a delicious burrito bowl!

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  • Slow Cook Chipotle Beef Burrito Bowls [gluten-free, dairy-free, Whole30]

  • Slow Cooker Beef Enchilada Stuffed Sweet Potatoes [gluten-free]

  • Spicy Lime Tahini Dressing [dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan]

Slow Cooker Crispy Carnitas


Carnitas Seasoning

For Serving

  • butter lettuce cups

  • mango or pineapple salsa

  • avocado

  • radishes

  • cilantro

  • salsa

  • fresh lime wedges


  1. Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the pork and sear for around 3-4 minutes on each side or it until golden brown. When all of the pork has browned, place the pork shoulder, fresh garlic, salt, apple cider vinegar, and red pepper flakes into your slow cooker.

  2. Lower the skillet heat and add the apple cider vinegar to deglaze the plan. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits on the pan. Next pour the apple cider over the pork in the slow cooker. Cook the pork on high for 4-6 hours or until the pork is tender and easily shreds with two forks.

  3. When the pork is tender, remove it from the slow cooker, and shred the meat. Pour any remaining liquid in the slow cooker over the meat. You can use all of the meat for carnitas or freeze half for later.

  4. To finish and crisp up the carnitas, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add a 1/2 tbsp of coconut oil. Next, add the shredded pork. Season the pork with the cumin, chili powder, onion powder, paprika, garlic powder, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Cook the pork until brown and crispy, around 3-6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and finish off the pork with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

  5. Assemble your tacos starting with the lettuce cups, then carnitas, and any toppings you would like. Enjoy!

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