How to Make Carnitas: A Step-by-Step Guide

Welcome, DAPPS Lovers! Are you ready to learn how to make delicious, authentic Mexican carnitas right in your own kitchen? Look no further! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through every step of the process, from selecting the perfect cut of meat to achieving the ideal crispy texture. With our tips and tricks, you’ll be whipping up carnitas like a pro in no time!

Ingredients You’ll Need 🛍️

Before we begin, let’s make sure we have everything we need. Here’s a list of ingredients:

Ingredient Amount
Boneless pork shoulder 3 lbs
Lard or vegetable oil 1 cup
Orange 1
Garlic cloves 8
Cumin 1 tbsp
Bay leaves 2
Water 2 cups
Salt to taste

Selecting the Right Cut of Meat 🥩

The key to tender and flavorful carnitas is starting with the right cut of pork. We recommend boneless pork shoulder, also known as pork butt. This cut has the perfect balance of fat and meat, which will melt down during cooking to create a rich and succulent texture.

Preparing the Pork Shoulder 🔪

Begin by trimming off any excess fat from the pork shoulder. Cut the meat into 2-inch cubes and season generously with salt. Set aside.

Cooking the Carnitas 🍴

Step 1: Sear the Pork 🔥

In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, heat the lard or vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the seasoned pork in a single layer and sear on all sides until golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes per side. Work in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pot. Remove the seared meat from the pot and set aside.

Step 2: Prepare the Aromatics 🌿

While the pork is searing, prepare the aromatics. Slice the orange in half and squeeze the juice into a small bowl. Peel and smash the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife. Gather the cumin and bay leaves.

Step 3: Slow-Cook the Pork 🕑

Once all the pork has been seared, reduce the heat to medium and add the orange juice, garlic, cumin, and bay leaves to the pot. Stir well to combine and return the seared pork to the pot. Add enough water to cover the meat by about 1 inch.

Cover the pot with a lid and simmer over low heat for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the pork is fall-apart tender.

Step 4: Crisp Up the Carnitas 🍳

Remove the pork from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer it to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Shred the meat into smaller pieces with a fork or your hands, discarding any large pieces of fat or gristle.

Meanwhile, strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the solids. Return the liquid to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes.

While the liquid is reducing, heat a large skillet over high heat. Add a tablespoon of lard or vegetable oil and wait for it to shimmer. Add the shredded pork in a single layer and let it cook undisturbed for a few minutes, until crispy and browned on the bottom. Use a spatula to flip the pork and let it crisp up on the other side. Repeat with the remaining pork until it’s all crispy and delicious.

FAQs: Your Carnitas Questions Answered 🤔

1. Can I use a different cut of pork?

We highly recommend using boneless pork shoulder for the best results. However, you can also use bone-in pork shoulder or pork belly if you prefer.

2. Can I make carnitas in a slow cooker?

Yes, you can! Follow the same recipe as above, but cook the pork on low for 8-10 hours instead of simmering on the stove. Finish the carnitas by crisping them up in a hot skillet as directed.

3. Do I need to use lard?

No, you can use vegetable oil if you prefer. However, lard will give the carnitas a richer flavor and a crispier texture.

4. Can I double the recipe?

Yes, you can! Just make sure to use a large enough pot or Dutch oven to accommodate all the pork and liquid.

5. How should I store leftover carnitas?

Store leftover carnitas in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, simply microwave or fry in a hot skillet until crispy and heated through.

6. What should I serve with carnitas?

Carnitas are delicious served on their own or in tacos, burritos, or bowls. We recommend serving them with fresh cilantro, diced onion, sliced avocado, and a squeeze of lime juice.

7. Can I make carnitas in advance?

Yes, you can! Cook the carnitas as directed, then let them cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to serve, simply reheat in a hot skillet until crispy and heated through.

The Pros and Cons of Making Your Own Carnitas 🤔


One of the biggest advantages of making your own carnitas is that you have complete control over the ingredients and the cooking process. You can customize the seasoning, adjust the cooking time to your liking, and avoid any preservatives or additives that might be present in store-bought carnitas. Plus, making your own carnitas can be a fun and satisfying culinary adventure!


Making carnitas from scratch can be a time-consuming process, taking several hours from start to finish. It can also be messy, with splatters of hot oil and bits of pork flying around the kitchen. In addition, the cost of the ingredients and equipment (such as a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot) can add up. Finally, there’s always the risk that your homemade carnitas won’t turn out as tasty as you hoped.

Conclusion: Time to Dig In! 🍽️

Now that you know how to make carnitas like a pro, it’s time to get cooking! Follow our step-by-step guide and enjoy the rich, savory flavor of authentic Mexican carnitas in the comfort of your own home. Experiment with different seasoning blends and serving arrangements to make the recipe your own. And don’t forget to share your creations with friends and family!

Thanks for reading, DAPPS Lovers. We hope you found this guide helpful and informative. Happy cooking!


The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet or exercise regimen.

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