Pork Carnitas Tacos

Simmer down

It’s slow going to cook up these pork carnitas for tacos, but it’s worth the time involved. Not much effort, just several hours of your day.

Carnitas – little meats – is a popular dish where I live in the Southwest. Pork seems to be the most popular meat of choice for this slow-cooking, Mexican-inspired meal, but you can use different types of meat, and serve it up as tacos, tortas, burritos, or in salads (think Chipotle).

I’ve seen recipes that use slow cookers to make carnitas, but this one was made on a lazy Sunday, with not much going on – perfect for the almost three hours it took to simmer and cook up deliciously, first on the stove top, then in the oven.

Simply flavorful

These pork carnitas turned out moist and full of flavor. They’re perfect to plate up with corn tortillas as tacos along with a few toppings (but only a few thanks to all the flavor of the meat). I served these with a green salsa and just a bit of cheese sprinkled on top. Worth the wait!

Some of you know me as a non-meat eater, and some of you know I make exceptions from time to time (mom’s meatballs and Galley Boys from Swensons). These carnitas now make my “exceptions” list!

Recipe for Pork Carnitas Tacos:

Serves 6



  • 2-pound pork shoulder roast, excess fat trimmed, and meat cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2/3 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus a bit extra
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 6, 8-inch corn tortillas
  • 1 cup salsa, optional
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese of choice, optional


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sprinkle a few pinches of salt over the cubed pork and set aside.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of the canola oil to a large (4-5 quart) Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the pork, working in a few batches, if necessary. Once browned, remove the pork from the pan and set it aside.
  4. Using the same Dutch oven, add one tablespoon of oil to the pan and brown the onion. When it’s almost finished, add the garlic. Next add the pork back to the Dutch oven.
  5. Add the chile powder, ancho chile powder, cumin, bay leaves, oregano, and the salt and pepper.
  6. Add enough water to cover the pork, add the lid, and place it in the oven for about two-and-a-half hours, stirring the mixture every half hour or so.
  7. After about two hours of cooking, most of the liquid should be evaporated. Remove the bay leaves from the pan.
  8. Next remove the pork from the pan, allow it to cool, and cut it into smaller cubes, or shred it.
  9. Put the pork back in the Dutch oven and allow it to cook for another half hour.
  10. Serve in the corn tortillas, taco style, with cheese, salsa and avocado as optional garnishes.
Serves 6



    • Patricia says

      Hi Jim – You’re right, there. I’m sure lard would be used in place of the oil in a traditional Mexican recipe. Just trying to lighten it up a bit.


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