Marinated in Dr. Pepper, this moist and delicious Slow Cooker Crispy Carnitas is an easy weeknight dinner that the whole family will love!
This post is sponsored by Ibotta. All opinions are 100% my own.
This summer I find myself relying more and more on the easiest set-it and forget meals. As we inch closer and closer to the back to school season, my family and I are trying to take full advantage of our time together this summer. Luckily, recipes like this Slow Cooker Crispy Carnitas and my go-to quick pork chop recipes are great meals to add to my menu plan for busy days!
SLOW COOKER CRISPY CARNITAS
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EASY SLOW COOKER CARNITAS INGREDIENTS
Pork- For this slow cooker carnitas you will want to use a boneless pork roast. Trim the fat off of it and cut it into 3-inch chunks for the best results.
Sometimes the bone-in roasts are cheaper, so I’ll get one of those. Just be sure to carefully trim the meat from around the bone before cutting it into chunks.
Dr. Pepper- I always have Dr. Pepper on hand because it is my family’s favorite soda. It pairs beautifully with the pork and helps create this gorgeous caramelized crust on the seared pork.
Orange Juice- Another drink I always have on hand for the kids! We go through OJ like crazy during the school months. Luckily, I always find great Ibotta deals that help ease the stress of stocking up for back to school!
HOW TO MAKE CARNITAS IN A SLOW COOKER
- STEP 1 – The night before you want to have carnitas, prep the pork. Start by placing the pork chunks in a large bowl and cover them with Dr. Pepper. Allow the pork to sit covered in the fridge overnight. In the morning, drain the Dr. Pepper from the bowl.
- STEP 2 – After the pork is drained, mix the cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Then rub half of the spice mixture all over the pork. Then place the onions and bay leaves on the bottom of the slow cooker.
- STEP 3 – Now it’s time to cook the pork. Start by heating the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the pork on all sides for 3 minutes each. You’ll want to work in batches to get a nice crust. Then transfer the pork into the slow cooker.
- STEP 4 – Once the skillet is emptied, pour 1/4 cup of orange juice into the skillet. Stir the orange juice, making sure to scrape up the browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Pour the skillet contents into the slow cooker. Then all that’s left to do is add the garlic, the remaining spice mixture, the remaining 1/4 orange juice, and 1 cup of Dr. Pepper to the slow cooker.
- STEP 5 – Cover it and cook the easy slow cooker carnitas on LOW for 6-8 hours. The meat will be tender and falling apart.
- STEP 6 – Once the slow cooker carnitas is done, shred the pork and place it in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet in the oven on broil for 4-5 minutes. Flip the shredded meat over and drizzle it with 2/3 cup of the cooking liquid from the slow cooker and return it to the oven to broil for another 3-5 minutes. Finally, remove the Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas from the oven and finish by drizzling it with another 2/3 cup of cooking liquid.
My family loves using carnitas to make tacos topped with red cabbage slaw and jalapenos. If I’m serving the carnitas buffet style or from a serving dish, I like to sprinkle a little chopped cilantro over the top for garnish. This large batch recipe is great for a Mexican food potluck too!
I love that I can get the pork prepped after dinner the night before while I’m still in cooking mode. Then I sear it, throw everything in the crock pot, and forget about it until dinner time the next day. The best part? The leftovers are great for school and work lunches during the week or to make nachos as an after-school snack!
WHAT CUT OF PORK IS BEST FOR CARNITAS
Hands down the best cut of pork to make absolutely delicious carnitas with is a pork shoulder roast. You will also see it in your grocery store labeled as a pork butt.
This cut is perfect in this slow cooker carnitas recipe because its high-fat content ensures the meat will be juicy, tender, melt in your mouth perfection after cooking!
CAN YOU PUT RAW PORK IN A SLOW COOKER
You can absolutely put raw pork straight into the slow cooker! However, the extra effort used to brown the meat in the skillet first will be well worth it. The browned pork adds a dimension of flavor that you simply cannot achieve just by placing the pork directly into the slow cooker. Trust me, browning the meat is definitely worth the extra effort!
TRY THESE OTHER EASY RECIPES
- Super Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
- Slow Cooker Taco Chili Recipe
- Slow Cooker Chicken Taquitos
- Taco Tater Tot Casserole
- Breakfast Ham Casserole
- Other DINNER ideas…
I hope this slow cooker carnitas recipe helps to ease the transition back to your normal routines after a year of chaos! And I hope you use the Ibotta app to get some cash back on your groceries and school supplies. If there’s one thing we all deserve at a time like this, it’s a little less stress and a little extra money in our wallets!
*This post originally posted on 02/04/2014.
- 2 liters Dr. Pepper
- 4 to 5 pounds boneless pork roast trim fat and cut into 3-inch chunks
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 large yellow onion peeled and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- Taco-sized tortillas corn or flour
- Red cabbage slaw
- Jalapenos fresh or pickled
- The night before you want to cook the carnitas, place pork chunks in a large bowl. Then cover the pork with Dr. Pepper. (I usually use about 1 liter for this.) Cover the bowl in plastic wrap or foil and allow it to sit overnight in the fridge.
- In the morning, drain the Dr. Pepper from the bowl.
- In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, salt, pepper, and chili powder. Rub half of the spice mixture all over the pork.
- Add the onions and bay leaves to the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and pour in the oil. Once the oil is hot, sear the pork chunks on all sides for 3 minutes until browned. (You may need to work in batches.) Remove the pork and place it in the slow cooker.
- Pour 1/4 cup of orange juice into the hot skillet that cooked the pork, and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Then pour the juice into the slow cooker.
- Add garlic, the rest of the spice mixture, the remaining 1/4 cup of orange juice, and 1 cup of Dr. Pepper into the slow cooker
- Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours, until meat is tender and falling apart.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and preheat your oven to broil on HIGH.
- Shred the meat and place it in a single layer on the baking sheet. Place under the broiler for 4-5 minutes
- Flip the meat over and drizzle with 2/3 cup of the cooking liquid in the slow cooker. (It's okay if some onions get added, just make sure to discard the bay leaves.)
- Place back under the broiler for another 3-5 minutes until crispy. Remove from oven and drizzle with another 2/3 cup of the cooking liquid.
- If serving from the baking sheet or a serving bowl, you can sprinkle the carnitas with some chopped cilantro for garnish.
- If making tacos, warm up the tortillas. Then add about 3 ounces of carnitas (1/3 cup) to a tortilla, and top with red cabbage slaw and jalapenos. Serve immediately.