Homemade Pork Carnitas

One of the greatest and tastiest foods I discovered soon after moving to Mexico has to be Carnitas. The first time I encountered them at a large family gathering, I had no idea what they were. They were presented on a large serving platter in rather large pieces along side large piles of tacos dorados (fried tacos) and chicharrones (fried pork skins). When I asked Hubby what kind of meat they were he simply responded, "Carnitas."

"Honey, I can see that it's meat, but I want to know what kind of meat?" Turns out Hubby wasn't just being cute calling the meat the Spanish word for "little meats", Carnitas was the actual name of the fried pork meat.

Traditionally Carnitas are fried in manteca (lard) in a large copper cazo (pot) over a wood burning fire. The meat is fried to a golden crisp on the outside, but inside it's tender and juicy. The taste is out-of-the-this-world delicious. Carnitas are so good that I've come up with an easier (and healthier) version so we can enjoy them at home.

I use vegetable or canola oil to "fry" my carnitas, but if you're looking for that authentic Mexican Carnitas flavor, you can use lard. The choice is entirely up to you. These finger-lickin' good Carnitas are delicious on their own, or you can use them as a filling for tacos, tostadas, burritos, and/or enchiladas.

Homemade Pork Carnitas - lacocinadeleslie.com

Easy Carnitas 
  • 2 pounds lomo de cerdo (pork shoulder or butt roast), cut in large pieces 
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Cilantro (optional) 
  • 2 tablespoons lard, shortening or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 orange, cut in half 
  • 1 cup pork or chicken broth 

Place the pork, onion, garlic and cilantro in a medium stockpot. Fill the stockpot with enough water to cover the pork (about 6 cups); season with salt and pepper. Cover the stockpot and bring the meat to a boil over high heat. Reduce to heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 90 minutes or until the meat is tender. Remove from heat.

In a large skillet heat the 2 tablespoons of lard or vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Remove the cooked pork with a slotted spoon and fry in the oil, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat slightly with the back of a wooden spoon, until light golden brown. Squeeze the juice of the orange over the carnitas; season with ground cumin, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and pour in 1 cup of the broth the meat was cooked in. Let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.

Serve with Frijoles Adobados, Mexican Rice, Ensalada de Nopales and plenty of warm corn tortillas.  Enjoy!

How to make Mexican carnitas at home - lacocinadeleslie.com

*Timesaving tip: Use leftover pork roast instead of having to wait 2 hours for the meat to cook!



  1. I love carnitas but I am sure the carnitas I have here are not nearly as authentic as the real thing. That looks so awesome. I may try your healthier version. :-)

  2. Thanks for giving a healthier version.  The excessive use of lard in a lot of recipes scares me, lol!

  3. You are truly the Betty Crocker of Mexico!  These do look really good! 

    I must be anti-Betty Crocker with pork.  I have no luck when it comes to making it on the stove.  I will have to do the meat in a crockpot first or something.  Mine always turns too tough.

  4. Thank You Leslie, I'm going to try this, this week. I usually do mine in the oven. It scares me to just fry big chunks like that, I get nervous that they're raw. But boiling them then frying seems way faster then a few hours in the oven. One of our friends years ago said that after they are done in the oven to pour a some dr. pepper over it and put it back in the oven. I never tried it though.

  5. My mouth is watering right now.  I love your recipes and accompanying photos!

  6. I loooove Carnitas! I usually make then every year for Super Bowl (somehow that became a tradition), but I could eat them anytime! Yours are definitely making my mouth water :D

  7. Yum! They look so good. I'm not a big fan of pork, although I do make pork tamales because the meat is more tender than the beef. Your carnitas look so good that I'm ready to grab a tortilla and go through the screen. So if you see a hand reaching out, it's me, gloria! Tee hee. Take care.

  8. Leslie, I cannot wait to make your carnitas recipe!!!  Thank you!

  9. hm i wonder if hubby  would eat this!lol..we are doing carnitas for my daughter's 2nd bday party...husband knows a guy here that knows how to do it the traditional way..but i will try to make it this way and see what he thinks!thanx :)

  10. Carnitas are one of my favorite dishes.  Your recipe is similar to my brother's, who taught me how to make them.  Though he passed away a few years ago, every time we make them, it reminds me of that wonderful day we spent in Colorado together, and he giving me all his "secret" recipes.  He was the greatest cook I've ever met, and your post brought back so many wonderful memories for me.  Thank you so much for sharing.


  11. I will definate try this one this weekend.  IO usually pin yur receipes in my pinterest

  12. I use pork shoulder for my carnitas as well. Didn't know about the orange juice and milk... I usually just use leftover bits from my pork shoulder roast, with some of the pork leavings (instead of lard). I'll have to try working with that a bit.