Twice-Baked Crockpot Carnitas

crockpot carnitas

I know, weird name huh? I bet a lot of you are thinking “What the heck kind of recipe is that!?” Well,  you’re going to have to trust me on this one…and just keeping reading because I promise it will be well worth it!

I don’t know why I have such a fascination with my crockpot lately, but I do! Whenever I see a recipe with “crockpot” in the title…I’m instantly intrigued, and when you add the word “carnitas” you’ve got me – hook, line, and sinker! So when I saw this recipe for Crockpot Carnitas from Lindsay at Pinch Of Yum I was a goner. But it gets better! They are EASY Crockpot Carnitas! I don’t think it’s possible to get any better than that right there.

Carnitas, literally means “little meats,” and is a type of roasted pork in Mexican cuisine. It can be eaten by itself, but we like it as the main ingredient in tacos, and burritos.

It all starts out with a good-sized pork butt. Don’t make the mistake (like I did the first time I made this!) and buy a pork ROAST. While it will still TASTE good, it will not be the nice, tender, carnita-type meat you’re looking for. Once again, trust me on this one.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Twice-Baked Crockpot Carnitas

adapted from Pinch Of Yum

Twice-Baked Crockpot Carnitas


  • 6-8 pound pork butt
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 12 ounces cola
  • 1/2 cup salsa

crockpot carnitas

Like I said, start with a 6-8 pound pork butt and place it in your crockpot with a generous amount of finely-chopped garlic on top. You could also used the minced stuff in the jar in a pinch.


crockpot carnitas

Then you’re going to make a lovely seasoning combination to put on top of the meat.


carnitas 7

You can just sprinkle each spice on separately, or you could mix them all together like I did.


crockpot carnitas

It may seem like a lot of seasoning, but that is one of the signatures of good carnitas, highly-seasoned meat.


crockpot carnitas

After you have covered the meat with this wonderful seasoning mixture, then it’s time to add the liquid. Start with the lime juice, then add orange juice, cola (I used Dr. Pepper because that’s what I had on hand), and salsa (jarred or homemade, your call.)


crockpot carnitas

Now it’s time to cover this baby up and let the crockpot do its’ thing for 6 to 8 hours on LOW. (If you are in a time crunch you can do 3-4 hours on high, but it won’t be as “fall-off-the-bone tender”).


crockpot carnitas

When the 6-8 hours are up you should be able to shred the pork without hardly even touching it! It quite literally will fall off the bone when you start prodding at it with two forks.


crockpot carnitas

Here is a picture of the bone after I got done shredding the pork. Clean as a whistle!


crockpot carnitas

After you have shredded the meat, transfer it to a baking sheet and spread it out in an even layer. You might want to foil your pan first for easier clean-up, but I didn’t and clean up was not a problem. Spoon some of the juice from the crockpot on top of the meat.


crockpot carnitas

Preheat the broiler in your oven and put the pan in for 5 to 10 minutes or until the edges of the meat start to brown. Remove the pan from the oven.


crockpot carnitas

Here’s where this recipe gets its’ crazy name! When I took the meat out of the oven the first time I thought it looked great….but as I started taking it out of the pan and putting it onto a platter I noticed that only a small percentage of the meat in the pan had that nice browning on it. So I decided to stir and turn the meat with some tongs and put it BACK in the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes. Thus the name “Twice-Baked Crockpot Carnitas”.


crockpot carnitas

When it came out….perfection!  LOTS of nice brown edges on the meat. I also spooned a little more of the juice on the meat at this point to moisten it up a bit.


crockpot carnitas

Like I said earlier, you can eat this just like it is…


crockpot carnitas

….or you can put it in tortillas and fashion it into whatever you please. We used corn tortillas and garnished with cheese, tomato, cilantro, sour cream, etc.

I’m telling you, this is SO delicious!! The flavor is amazing to begin with, but when you add the “twice-baked” method, it is out-of-this-world good!

I hope you will give it a try and let me know how you like my “twice-baked” carnitas!


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  1. Safaia says

    Could probably use pork loin too, that stuff is sooo fragging tender and makes great chops and roasts and just about anything else ya can think of. Thanks for the share, this looks delicious.

    • silverdust says

      I think so too. I’m always put off using the butt because it looks so fatty. I’ve done boneless pork loins overnight at 180 degrees, and it falls apart. I often make it for pulled pork sandwiches, and the smell is so heavenly, it nearly wakes you up at night! I’ve always preferred “low and slow” recipes in the gas oven to crockpot because natural gas is so much cheaper than electricity and I’ve always heard that crockpots are energy vampires, and I’m cheap!

  2. Barbara says

    this looks wonderful!
    BUT….. I have family members who will not eat beef or pork, do you think this would work chicken or turkey and if so what cut., bone in breast, legs, boneless??

    • Beth says

      I would try turkey thighs, lots of dark meat, more like pork, and be sure and make most of them skinless to decrease the grease. The huge amount of fat in pork butt in the slow cooker is a problem for me, so I try to get a leaner cut, and deal with the moisture with more fruit juice with the slow cooker, it is almost impossible to dry out meat anyway.

  3. Jillian says

    I use my electric pressure cooker like you use your crock pot! (Pressure cookers t’ain’t scary any more like grandma’s could be!) I use mine for everything from meats to our favorite cheese cakes! If anyone is interested, a fabulous pressure cooker cookbook, I suggest ‘Miss Vickie’s Big Book of Pressure Cooker Recipes.’ Miss Vickie’s website,, has lots and lots of info and recipes.

  4. says

    Jillee, this recipe looks WONDERFUL and I’m definitely going to make this soon — perhaps this weekend since we’re expecting company *AND* Monday is a holiday (yeah! no school! I love being a teacher!).

    I love anything that’s pork-related and I make shredded pork all the time using bone-in Boston (pork) butts. The meat is incredibly tender and juicy and the cooking method (whether in a Crock Pot or Dutch oven) couldn’t be more simple.

    One shredding technique I’ve learned and use always came from Pinterest: using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, add HOT meat chunks into the mixing bowl and turn on low for 20-30 seconds. The meat will shred perfectly and it’s a whole lot easier than the fork method. Transfer meat to a baking dish and repeat. Clean-up is a breeze too. Easy-peasy!

  5. Stephanie S says

    In place of the cola, you could probably add apple juice You’re going for sweetness and carmalization when you start baking so that should be a good substitute. I like the cola in mine, but I get why some would prefer it without. :-)

  6. Hope Ingalls says

    Apple juice sounds like a wonderful substitute for the soda.. don’t want the HFCS in my diet. Any large chunk of meat should do, the one in the pictures was not a ‘butt’ at all, the bone shows it was a shoulder roast.

  7. says

    I have learned the secret to an amazingly tender end product is that the internal temperature of the meat must reach 190 degrees. That is when the collagen of the meat breaks down resulting in tender, juicy meat for shredding.
    Note this is for pork butt and not pork loin or roasts as they don’t usually have the needed fat content to become tender shredded pork.

  8. says

    I LOVE my crockpot too! Nothing beats an easy meal to give us more time to clean, organize or go out for the day! I make pork roasts in mine, pork and beans and boil chicken for chicken and rice plus other dinners! It’s an awesome tool and doesn’t heat up the kitchen either!

    I will try this! Definitely!

    • Eric says

      I have used root beer with the pork butt/shoulder for pulled pork and it is awesome. Same directions as the carnitas but no need to bake/broil after. Drain the root beer and add your favorite BBQ sauce. Doesn’t help with your non-soda but you might be able to find a replacement for the root beer.

  9. Savannagal says

    Looks like pulled pork. My husband loves the stuff. I’ll have to give this a try. Though I have to say, that’s a lot of meat. I’ll need to buy more freezer storage containers for the leftovers. Thanks.

  10. Sharon says

    Thanks for this great recipe, Jillee. I’ve been preparing carnitas for ages and never thought about the slow cooker. As I’m aging, my 8 quart Le Creuset is getting heavier and heavier and used less and less! LOL Nothing beats braising in a good heavy Dutch oven but the slow cooker will fit the bill for my next carnita craving. Thanks again!

  11. Anna says

    I saw the recipe this morning, stopped by the grocery store at noon, and am looking forward to this for dinner tonight – looks amazing! Though I wish I’d seen the comments about substitutions for soda before I dumped in a pepsi ….

  12. says

    Amazing! My husband absolutely loves Carnitas. His family is English and they immigrated to the States when he was 10, to San Diego, CA. They had wonderful Mexico born neighbors and my mother-in-law took cooking lessons from her to learn how to make all the great Mexican recipes. When I showed him the pictures of your recipe, Jillee, his mouth immediately began to water…lol! So you know what we are going to be buying today…all the ingredients to make this delicious and so easy recipe. A big thank you!

  13. Barbara says

    I want to make it, and I want to make it just the way you wrote the recipe. I wouldn’t change a thing! Thanks! After I make the carnitas, I’m going to lightly fry some nice fresh corn tortillas so they are still soft but have some body, too (about 20 sconds per side in hot oil), drain them well, and roll them around nice big chunks of carnita. Maybe I’ll add some home made salsa, but probably not. I probably will sprinkle on a little chipotle tabasco because it is addictive and so, so good.

  14. Leah harvath says

    For all of you pig trivia enthusiasts out there, the pork butt (a.k.a. Boston butt) is really the pork shoulder and is often labelled that. An actual pork butt is called a ham:) Both are delish!

  15. Cheri says

    Just throwing this out there in case anyone is interested and wasn’t aware it existed…..there is a soda company called Zevia that makes zero calorie soda using stevia. They have some like mountain zevia, dr. zevia, etc, to sort of kinda be like the big names. It does not taste exactly like the brand it mimics, but it is also not as bad for you, so I think it’s a good trade-off. You can go to zevia’s website and print out coupons if you have a store locally that carries it. I don’t, so I buy mine online from amazon, which carries variety packs as well as the individual flavors.

  16. Laurie S says

    It sounds amazing! My mouth is watering and I don’t even eat pork!

    I was wondering if you could use a beef roast to make this?
    I know the flavor would be different as pork has a special flavor all it’s own.

  17. says

    Hello dear! Thank you for this recipe! I made it last night and it turned out AMAZING today for lunch! I had these small 7.5oz cans of coke, so I used one of those and then apple cider for the other 4 oz of liquid. Also, instead of red salsa I used Pace garlic and lime verde (green) salsa and it is so yummy! For a side dish I found this black beans and rice recipe that also called for cumin so I thought it would be complimentary and it was! Here’s the link for that, they are really easy too although I had to add more liquid than it called for as the rice cooked:
    Peace & Love -Meg

  18. Jill says

    Just letting you know that I very gladly voted for your incredible blog at the Parents Magazine contest site. I’ve never seen a blog that is so well rounded, and shares such a variety of great forehead slapping ideas! I also pinned the Carnitas recipe…..crockpots are so forgiving. Thanks Jill….from Jill

  19. Jill says

    Fans/Friends/Readers……Jillee’s One Good Thing is currently in second place to win an award as the blog “Most Likely to Make Life as CHO (Chief Household Officer) Easier.” There are several links on this page, and it only takes a minute to vote….no registration necessary. Seems to be the perfect title for One Good Thing by Jillee! Thanks…..blessings….. Jill (NOT Jillee….HA!)

  20. Vickie says

    Well as much as I WANTED to love these…I didn’t….family liked them ok but not enough to have them again. I am not sure what it was about them I didn’t care for as I love everything that goes in them….I think I would make them again and change the seasoning up a bit, maybe leave out the orange juice and lime….or atleast cut them back some. Sorry Jillee…I love the idea but not the follow through :) I will keep coming back though

  21. Carol says

    I made these yesterday for Sunday dinner with hubby and the kids and grandkids. Unfortunately, it took MUCH longer than 6-8 hours. When we got home from church, the meat was no where near done! We fortunately had some pizzas in the freezer so had lunch anyway! When I left to go back to church about 4:00, it still wasn’t done! But when I got home at 7:30, it was pull-off the bone tender! That was about 15 hours!!! So I went ahead and twice baked it. Hubby and I had it for lunch today. It was good but we didn’t care for the cinnamon. Will leave it out next time. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Tracy says

      I agree with Carol. It took a lot longer than expected. Luckily I checked it around 3:00 and got a little worried so I put my crockpot on high and it was perfect by dinner. Also – I would NOT add the cinnamon next time either. I didn’t care for that. But I would definitely make it again! Thanks.

  22. Jessica says

    I used a smaller pork shoulder than you, about 4 lbs, and mine was not “fall off the bone” tender, though it didn’t have much of a bone in it. Should I have adjusted the cooking time? They still turned out pretty good and definitely tasty!

  23. Emily Currid says

    I tried this yesterday with a whole chicken (small). Substituted chicken stock for cola, lime juice and orange. Turned out beautifully! My husband couldn’t get enough. Yum, yum, yum!

  24. Trenna Sonnenschein says

    I’m a Mother of 3 that works fulltime outside of the home and I’m in love with both my Crock Pot and my Pressure Cooker. I’m so glad that I found Jillee’s Blog thanks to Pinterest. It’s my go to place when I want to try something new & different. I have these Carnitas cooking at home right now while I’m away at work. My husband just called and asked me what I’m cooking because it smells so good. It’s like torturing him while he is home for lunch. The only thing I did different from Jillee’s instructions is that I rubbed the garlic & seasoning into the meat, placed it in one of those Slow Cooker Liners (that I also love) and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator to hopefully infuse the flavor into the meat even more. In the morning, I placed the seasoned meat directly into the Slow Cooker and added the all the liquids and Salsa. Set it and I’m not forgetting it all! It’s been on my mind all day! I’m so anxious to try it. Thanks a bunch Jillee for all the inspiration you have provided me. Keep up the good work!

  25. says

    I have a tomato allergy so I would have to leave out the salsa, it isn’t much so I don’t think it would affect the recipe.

    As for how much a pork butt/shoulder makes I have frozen half after cooking and sometimes I ask the butcher people to cut a large piece of meat in half, then I freeze one half for later and cook the other!

    Thanks Jillee for another awesome post!

  26. says

    Oh my gosh I love this idea! The other day I slow roasted a pork shoulder because I wanted those crispy burnt pieces. It turned out how I wanted it, but I didn’t like how I had to leave my oven on for 14 hours. I’m definitely doing it this way next time!

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