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Crispy Pork Carnitas Recipe

  • Author: Mark's Daily Apple
  • Total Time: About 4 hours
  • Yield: 6 or more servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


This crispy, savory shredded pork is a staple of Mexican cooking. Enjoy carnitas in tacos, burrito bowls, casseroles, or even soup. Leftover carnitas freeze beautifully, so go ahead and make a double batch!



3 to 4 pounds (1.4 to 1.8 kg) boneless pork shoulder or pork butt cut into five pieces

1 1/2  teaspoons (7 ml) salt

1 teaspoon (5 ml) cumin

1 teaspoon (5 ml) chili powder

1 cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 onion, chopped or thinly sliced

Water for braising


  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC).
  2. Mix together the salt, cumin, and chili powder in a small bowl. You can trim off a little bit of the fat off the pork or leave it all on.  Rub the spice mix all over the meat.
  3. Place the meat in a large, heavy Dutch oven or other oven-safe pot with the cinnamon stick, bay leaf, garlic, and onion. Ideally, the pot should be large enough so that the meat is in a single layer. Add enough water to almost, but not entirely, cover the meat.
  4. Put the pot in the oven, uncovered, and braise for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Stir the meat just a few times while it cooks. You’ll know the pork is done when it’s really tender and slightly browned, and most of the liquid is gone.
  5. Remove the pork from the oven. Carefully transfer the meat to a cutting board and cut or shred it with your hands into thin strips.
  6. Crisp the meat using one of the following methods:
    1. Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaf from the pot. Add the shredded meat back to the pot and return it to the oven. Roast the meat, mixing occasionally, until the meat is as dark and crispy as you like it.
    2. Spread the shredded pork evenly in a roasting pan along with the braising liquid. Allow it to continue roasting in the oven until it’s done to your liking.
    3. Place the shredded meat in a thin layer on a heavy rimmed baking sheet. Turn your broiler to low, and place the meat about 6 inches below the heating element. Keep your eye on it to prevent it from burning.


If you’re making the carnitas ahead of time, wait to do the final crisping step until right before serving the meat.

Nutrition info calculated using Cronometer. Nutrition info is for a 4-ounce serving of carnitas (about 1 cup shredded).

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 to 4 hours
  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Braising, oven
  • Cuisine: Mexican


  • Fat: 21 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams
  • Protein: 26 grams

Keywords: Crispy pork carnitas, Pulled pork, Braised pork carnitas, Oven-cooked carnitas