This Dutch Oven Carnitas recipe is made low and slow in the oven. Simmered in spices and a little bit of citrus, this recipe is juicy and fall-apart. tender! It’s perfect for tacos, burritos, rice bowls and so much more! It can also be made in the crockpot or on the stovetop!
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Living in California, I have a THING for Mexican food! Authentic, Tex Mex…you name it, I love it! One dish that cannot be missed when sampling Mexican cuisine is carnitas!
Now, authentic pork carnitas is famous (or infamous!) for the use of lard. This recipe doesn’t use lard, since I feel the pork shoulder (a fairly fatty cut of meat) has good flavor on it’s own! Jazzed up with a few simple spices gives you a deep, delicious flavor without any lard!
This easy carnitas recipe is fantastic for meal preps and to have throughout the week. Tacos, burritos. burrito bowls, quesadillas….the list goes on!
Pair it with my easy pico de gallo and some black beans and dinner is served!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
- Low and slow cooking makes this carnitas super flavorful!
- Options to make this recipe in the oven, stovetop or slow cooker!
- Super versatile! Perfect for tacos, burritos, burrito bowls and quesadillas!
- Great for meal preps and serving a crowd! It also freezes up nicely!
You’ll need the following ingredients to make this amazing Dutch Oven Carnitas:
Pork Shoulder: Try to find a boneless pork shoulder. I like to trim some of the large pieces of fat off before cooking.
Chipotles in Adobo: These are canned and readily available in the Mexican or Latin section of most grocery stores, They are simply jalapeños that have been smoked, then packed in a savory and spicy “adobo” sauce.
HOW TO MAKE DUTCH OVEN CARNITAS: STEP BY STEP
Here are some quick visual instructions. Remember that full instructions with exact ingredients will be in the recipe card below!
Step 1: Season pork with spices. In a large dutch oven (3 quarts or larger), sear meat 3-4 minutes on each side.
Step 2: Add orange juice, chicken broth and chipotles in adobo. Give everything a big stir. Place in a 300°F oven and cook for about 3 hours until meat shreds easily.
Step 3: Remove pork pieces from dutch oven and transfer to a cutting board. Shred meat with two forks.
Step 4: Optional: Place shredded meat on a baking sheet and drizzle with some of the braising liquid. Broil for 5-10 minutes for crispy pork carnitas!
⭐️ CONFIDENCE TIP ⭐️
Broiling the meat for 5-10 minutes gives the carnitas those nice, crisp edges that everyone goes crazy for! It’s an extra step, but so worth it!
STORAGE & REHEATING
- Storage: This easy pork carnitas recipe stores so well! Whip up a large batch for meal preps and freezing! Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days (according to the USDA).
- Reheating: To reheat, you can either use the microwave, stove or oven. Add a splash of chicken stock if you like to moisten the meat a bit. Reheating/broiling in the oven will crisp up those edges again!
- Freezing: Cool pork completely, then store in a freezer safe container or large zip top bag for up to 3 months. When you are ready to enjoy, thaw overnight in the fridge and follow reheating instructions above.
Pork Shoulder: Pork butt is fine to use, too. If you want a leaner cut, pork loin also works well.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Sky is the LIMIT with this recipe! Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy it:
Simple: Since this pork carnitas recipe has so much flavor on it’s own, I like to keep it super simple with a little fresh cilantro, red onion and some salsa or fresh Pico de Gallo on a corn or flour tortilla!
Burrito Bowls: Pile this carnitas on top of rice and black beans and garnish with lettuce, cheese, sour cream, salsa and your favorite toppings!
Quesadillas: If you have never had a carnitas quesadilla, you are missing out, friend!
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TOOLS FOR THIS RECIPE
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Dutch Oven (3.1 quarts): Not only is this thing SO PRETTY, it cleans up so easily! I am shocked every time how easy it is to clean….even after cooking in the oven for 3+ hours!
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Dutch Oven Carnitas
- 1 3-4 lb. boneless pork shoulder (also called Boston butt), trimmed of fat
- 3 tbsp canola, peanut or avocado oil or enough to coat the bottom of your dutch oven
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 cup chicken broth or stock
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1 chipotle in adobo, chopped + 1 tbsp adobo sauce from the can
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- tortillas, lime wedges, red onion, cilantro, salsa, hot sauce or other favorite taco toppings
Traditional (Oven) Instructions
- Preheat oven to 300°F.
- Cut pork shoulder into large chunks and season with cumin, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper.
- In your dutch oven heat oil over medium-high heat. Add pork in one even layer and cook on one side without disturbing for 3-4 minutes until the pork in nicely browned on one side. Then flip and cook on the other side about 3 minutes more.
- Add orange juice, chicken stock, lime juice and chipotle chilis + adobo sauce. With a wooden spoon, give everything a big stir, making sure you scrape up the yummy browned bits that are on the bottom of the pan.
- Cover pan and place in the oven. Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours until pork can easily be shredded with a fork. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your pork chunks 🙂
- With a slotted spoon, transfer pork pieces to a cutting board. Reserve about a 1/2 cup of liquid from the dutch oven.
- Optional (but fantastic): Set oven to broil. Transfer shredded meat to a sheet pan. Spoon over some of the reserved cooking liquid. Broil meat for 5-10 minutes until crispy edges begin to form on the meat.
- Make carnitas tacos by piling meat into flour or corn tortillas with a squeeze of lime and your favorite taco toppings! Or, enjoy in a burrito bowl! Sky's the limit!
Slow Cooker Instructions
- Complete steps 2-4 above, then transfer to a slow cooker and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours on on HIGH for 4-5 hours until meat shreds easily.
Stove Top Instructions
- Complete steps 2-4 above, cover dutch oven and cook over LOW heat on the stove for about 3 hours until meat shreds easily.
Sara Welch says
Enjoyed this tacos for dinner last night and it was a hit all around the table! Turned out perfectly tender, juicy and packed with flavor! Easily, a new favorite recipe!
Made these for taco tuesday this week and they were a huge hit! They’ll be in our regular taco tuesday rotation now.
These were good when I was shredding it, but putting it back in the oven on the sheet pan brought out so much more flavor! We loved them!
Alison Saalbach Corey says
Perfect for family dinners and for camping! I love this!
Absolutely love this carnitas recipe, so easy to make and loaded with flavor! A new favorite for me, thanks for sharing!
Fantastic carnitas. In fact, one of the best ones that I’ve seen. And the instructions are great to follow, too. Yum!
Amanda Wren-Grimwood says
Love the flavours in the pork and it’s a great idea to broil the meat afterwards. So many different uses too.
Wow! We just finished these for dinner and were blown away! Very nicely seasoned with a great combo of spices! Lovely!
Your process photos and clear instructions were so helpful in making these carnitas. They were so delicious – we’ll definitely be making them again!