How to Make Carnitas

In this post I want to show you how to make carnitas. Carnitas are a tender, crispy Mexican pulled pork that can be served as a plate with Mexican rice and beans or in burritos or tacos. They are quite simple to make but they do take time. This is how I make mine. They render such an excellent result that I never have any left-overs.

Be patient when making this recipe. As I said it does take time but it is worth it. I like adding lime and orange to my meat for added delicious flavor. Once you have cooked the meat and you shred it you will need to brown it and make it crisp. You can do this by broiling it in the oven or by allowing it to slowly cook in it’s own fat until it is all gone and the meat is where you want it.

Here is how to make carnitas:

Serves eight
4 pounds of pork butt with skin – cut into 2 inch pieces
Salt/ black pepper/ cumin/ garlic powder
1 medium white onion – peeled and halved
1 chili pepper – stemmed and halved (optional)
3 bay leaves
Dried oregano
Juice of 1 large lime and 2 medium oranges
Orange peel of 1 of the juiced oranges

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Rinse the pork and place it in a large, heavy pot – preferably a Dutch oven. Season generously with salt, pepper, cumin and garlic. Toss well to coat all of the pork.

Place the onion and chili pepper halves and the bay leaves in the pot, amongst the pork. Season with the oregano. Place the orange peels in the pot. Add the juice of the lime and oranges and sufficient water to barely cover the meat.

Bring the pot to a boil. Cover and place in the oven. Braise the pork for 3 hours and remove from oven.

Remove onion, chili pepper and bay leaves from pork. Do one of the following:

1. Place the cooked pork in a baking sheet, in an individual layer, and broil it until crisp. Turn it a couple of times. OR

2. Place the pot on the stove and fry the meat in its own fat. This will take a good hour. Flip the meat often, making sure to scrape the bottom. Cook until your pork is crisp but not dry.

Serve and enjoy!

Print the Pork Carnitas Recipe Here

My name is Mary Ann Allen and I am here to help you get organized so you can save money on groceries and feed your family healthy, nutritious food. My multi-cultural cooking background comes from being born in the US and raised in Bolivia. I have 5 kids and own around 400 cook books. I absolutely love to cook!


  • July 8, 2012


    Im a great cook & I cooked this exactly as posted but its the worst carnitas I’ve ever had! It was bitter & dry. I tried to fix it by boiling it in chicken stock with mexican herbs. It tasted a bit better but was still had the bitter taste.

  • December 12, 2016

    Mike Langna

    On your old website you also had a red sauce recipe with the Bolivian Carnitas recipe.

    Where can I find that recipe?

    thank you,

  • December 15, 2016

    mary ann allen

    Hi Mike!
    Here you go –
    Thank you so much for coming by. I am so happy that you remembered this recipe. Be well my friend!
    Mary Ann