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Close up side shot of tasty carnitas tacos on a metal plate
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5 from 2 votes

Slow Cooker Carnitas

Use these succulent, crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas for tacos, rice bowls, salads, quesadillas and more!
Course Dinner
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword carnitas tacos, slow cooker carnitas, Slow Cooker Dinner, slow cooker pork carnitas
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 7 hours
Total Time 7 hours 5 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 211.1kcal
Author Blair Lonergan


For Carnitas:

  • ¼ cup chicken broth (or substitute with orange juice, Coke, beef broth or water)
  • 2 pork tenderloins (about 2 - 2½ pounds total)
  • 1 (1 ounce) packet taco seasoning mix (about 12 teaspoons)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke (optional)
  • Optional, for serving: taco shells or flour tortillas, shredded lettuce, sliced jalapeno, salsa, guacamole or avocado, grated cheese, sour cream, cilantro, sliced green onion


  • Spray slow cooker with cooking spray and add chicken broth (or other cooking liquid of choice).
  • Place pork in slow cooker and sprinkle with taco seasoning, rubbing it into the meat.
  • Pour diced tomatoes (undrained) over the pork.
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 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).


  • Use a bone-in or boneless pork shoulder or pork butt instead of the pork tenderloin. These larger cuts of meat will require twice as much cooking liquid, seasoning, and tomatoes. You will also need to cook the pork shoulder or pork butt in the slow cooker on LOW for about 10-12 hours.
  • Instead of chicken broth, cook the pork with Coke, orange juice, beef broth, or even just water.
  • Swap out the packet of store-bought seasoning mix and use a homemade taco seasoning instead.
  • For spicy slow cooker carnitas, add diced jalapenos to the pot, use a can of Rotel tomatoes with green chilies instead of plain diced tomatoes, or season with a pinch of cayenne.
  • To achieve that classic crispy texture on the carnitas, don't forget to fry the cooked meat in oil at the very end.
  • Pork tenderloin can be long and stringy when pulled at the end. For the best texture, chop those longer pieces into smaller "little meats" -- just like authentic carnitas.
  • Garnish the meat with fresh toppings like a squeeze of lime juice, fresh cilantro, or sliced green onion for a finishing touch that brightens up the dish.
  • Cooking for a Smaller Family? This meat freezes really well! I like to package leftovers in individual containers, label them, and stash them in the freezer for later meals. The leftover carnitas are delicious served in quesadillas, on salads, pizza or nachos, or even inside baked potatoes.


Serving: 1/6 of the pork | Calories: 211.1kcal | Carbohydrates: 6.3g | Protein: 32.4g | Fat: 5.2g | Saturated Fat: 1.8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2.3g | Cholesterol: 98.3mg | Sodium: 552.8mg | Potassium: 675.8mg | Fiber: 0.6g | Sugar: 1.8g