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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    • Lucy says

      Made this Thursday and it is so delicious. Love the fact that I can remove all the fat. I put the broth in the freezer and spooned off all the fat. Thanks for the recipe!

  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. :-)