Hi there! I have another super-easy weeknight meal for all of the busy moms out there. These healthy Slow Cooker Carnitas make my entire family very happy, so I’m sure that you will love them too! Bonus — they only require 5 ingredients!
Heads up! This recipe was originally published in November, 2013. The photos were updated in July, 2018.
About a year and a half ago, we completely renovated our kitchen. The final result was WELL WORTH the massive effort, but it was definitely not fun to go without kitchen appliances (like an oven or a stove) for about 6-8 weeks.
During that time period, I had to come up with some creative ways to feed my family dinner — even if I couldn’t cook it in my kitchen. Yes, we ate a lot of carry-out pizza! But I also used my slow-cooker a lot, because I could plug it into an outlet in my dining room and cook our dinner without any other appliances.
These carnitas were created during my time of desperation, but they have remained in our regular meal rotation because they are so good and so easy!
What are Pork Carnitas?
The word “carnitas” translates to “little meats,” and is a dish of Mexican origin. Carnitas are traditionally made by braising or slowly simmering pork in oil or lard until it’s tender. The meat is then often served with chopped onion, fresh cilantro, tortillas, refried beans, salsa or guacamole.
For these Slow Cooker Carnitas, you’ll get the same great flavors and tender, juicy meat in a healthier, easier way! This pork is lean (I use tenderloin), but it stays incredibly moist and flavorful in the slow cooker – none of that dry, chewy tenderloin that everyone dreads!
How to Get that Crispy Finish on Slow Cooker Carnitas:
At the end of the slow cooking time, you’ll have a pot of pork that literally falls apart at the slightest touch. I like to shred the tenderloin on a cutting board using two forks, and then chop up those longer strands with a big knife. It gives you a lot of perfect “little meats!”
If you’re in a hurry, you can then pile the carnitas in tortillas or on top of a salad and garnish with your favorite toppings. BUT!!! If you have about 5 extra minutes to spare, I highly suggest taking one more step to finish off the carnitas and give them that great crispy exterior that everyone knows and loves.
Just heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over high heat. Press the chopped meat into the hot oil and fry it for about 3 minutes (or until it’s crispy on one side). That’s it! You’ll have restaurant-quality carnitas in just minutes — and nobody will ever guess that they came out of a slow cooker!
It’s a delicious twist on a traditional taco night!
If you’ve tried these Slow Cooker Carnitas or any other recipe on The Seasoned Mom, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! You can follow me on Facebook, on Instagram, on Pinterest, and on Twitter!
Slow Cooker Carnitas
These Slow Cooker Carnitas are an easy dinner that can simmer in your slow cooker all day long!
- ¼ cup chicken broth
- 2 pork tenderloins (about 2 - 2.5 pounds total)
- 1 (1 ounce) packet taco seasoning mix (about 12 teaspoons)
- 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, NOT drained
- 1 tablespoon liquid smoke (optional)
- Taco shells or flour tortillas
- Shredded lettuce
- Sliced jalapeno
- Grated cheddar cheese
- Sour cream
- Spray slow cooker with cooking spray and add chicken broth.
- Place pork in slow cooker and sprinkle with taco seasoning, rubbing it into the meat.
- Pour diced tomatoes (undrained) over the pork.
Cook on low setting for about 8 hours. Remove pork from slow cooker and place on a cutting board. Shred the pork with two forks and chop into small pieces.
For a crispy finish on the carnitas: Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet over high heat. Press shredded pork into oil and fry until crispy on one side (about 3 minutes).
- Serve pork in taco shells or flour tortillas with toppings of choice.
Alternative serving suggestions: Try serving the carnitas over rice or cauliflower rice. It's also great piled onto a "taco salad."