Slow-Cooker Pork Carnitas Tacos

For tender yet crispy carnitas, each piece of pork is individually browned and caramelized to intensify flavor and crisp the edges, then braised with a savory mixture of smoky roasted chiles, sweet mango juice and tangy Mexican beer. It can be made up to three days in advance and slowly re-warmed for tacos, Mexican salads or huevos rancheros.

By | August 22, 2017



4 Tablespoons kosher salt, divided

3 Tablespoons ground pepper

3 Tablespoons chile powder

6 lbs. boneless pork shoulder,cut into 3-inch cubes (ask your butcher to cut it)

4 New Mexico or Guajillo dried chiles

½ cup + 2 Tablespoons fresh Mexican lard, divided

4 yellow onions, cut into wedges

3 garlic cloves, peeled 4 bay leaves

2 cups mango juice

2 (12-oz.) cans Mexican beer, such as Negro Modelo

1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

For Serving:

Corn tortillas, warmed

Crumbled queso fresco

Pickled red onions


Pico de gallo

Lime wedges



  1. Combine 3 tablespoons salt, pepper and chile powder in a small bowl. Use a paper towel to pat pork dry and rub spice mixture all over.
  2. Toast dried chiles on medium heat in a large dry cast iron skillet until lightly darkened and puffy, about 2 minutes. Set chiles aside.
  3. Add ¼ cup lard to the skillet and increase heat to medium high.
  4. Add seasoned pork in batches to hot skillet. Don’t let meat pieces touch to ensure the most caramelization and flavor. Turn with tongs to brown on all sides. Transfer seared pork to slow cooker.
  5. Add remaining ¼ cup lard and the onions to the skillet and sauté for 6 minutes,  until soft.
  6. Stem the dried chiles and discard stems and seeds. Place chiles back in the pan with onions.
  7. Cover chiles and onions with garlic, bay leaves, mango juice, beer, remaining 1 tablespoon salt and chile powder. Bring to a boil for about 5 minutes. Transfer all contents of skillet to the slow cooker to cover the pork.
  8. Cover and cook on high heat for about 3 hours until pork begins to break apart. Alternatively, cook on low for 6 to 7 hours.
  9. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork from the slow cooker to two baking sheets and pat dry with paper towels. Leave remaining liquid in slow cooker and turn off heat. Use tongs and a large fork to pull visible fat off pork and discard.
  10. To finish pork and add crisp edges, place cast iron skillet back on stove over high heat and add remaining 2 tablespoons lard. Transfer chunks of pork, a few pieces at a time, to skillet and cook until they crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes per batch.
  11. Transfer pork to a glass bowl or warm platter. You will have about 8 cups of meat. If making ahead, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  12. To reheat carnitas, place in a pan over medium heat with ¼ cup mango juice and ¼ cup Mexican beer. Cook until liquid is absorbed and meat is warm. Transfer to a warm serving platter.
  13. Serve carnitas with warm tortillas, crumbled queso fresco, pickled onions, guacamole, pico de gallo and lime wedges, cold beers or top-shelf margaritas!


About this recipe

Recipe supplied by Just Add Salt. 

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