Carnitas Tacos

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Life without guacamole just isn't worth living!! Which is why I'm always on the prowl for fun ways to incorporate one of my favorite condiments! And today it's all about these Carnitas Tacos topped with guac!

A white plate with three carnitas tacos topped with pickled onions and lime wedges, with a bowl of pickled onions peeking from the corner.


 

Why I Love This Recipe

I can't even remember the first time I made carnitas tacos. It had to be years ago when I was in culinary school and just starting to emerge from my picky eater status. (20 some odd years of not really eating fish, meat, mushrooms etc... so if I can get over it, there's hope for everyone else!) Since then, I can't get enough.

These melt in your mouth carnitas are to die for. And when you put them in a warmed flour or corn tortilla and top it off with some guacamole and a sprinkle of pickled onions, well, things look just about perfect! Protip: make extra carnitas and make Enfrijoladas. If you are looking for a vegetarian version of these, check out mushroom carnitas tacos!!

A skillet with carnitas, with a bowl of corn, a bowl of white rice and a plate of tacos peeking from the side.

Ingredients & Substitutions

mise-en-place with all the ingredients required to make carnitas tacos

Substitutions & Variations

These carnitas are to die for when you put them in a warmed flour or corn tortilla, but they would also be delicious in a burrito bowl, on top of nachos, or even a pizza.

For the Carnitas

  • Boneless Pork Shoulder
  • Fresh Orange Juice
  • Fresh Lime Juice
  • Chipotle Salsa
  • Kosher Salt

Toppings

  • Small Corn or Flour Tortillas
  • White Onions
  • Lime
  • Guacamole
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Sliced Jalapeños
  • Pickled Red Onions

*For a full list of ingredients and instructions please see recipe card below.

How to Make Carnitas Tacos

A small bowl with sliced red onions picked in a mixture of apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and water.

Step 1: Prep the pickled red onions in a small bowl.

A large blue dutch oven with pork with orange juice, lime juice, salsa and salt.

Step 2: Next get started on the pork. In a large dutch oven with the orange juice, lime juice, salsa and salt.

A large blue dutch oven with pork in a mixture of water, seasonings and orange juice.

Step 3: Add enough water to barely cover the meat and bring to a boil.

A large blue dutch oven with pork cooking into carnitas.

Step 4: Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and simmer with the lid on for 2 hours, at which point the pork should be falling apart to the touch.

A large blue dutch oven with carnitas cooking.

Step 5: Turn the heat up to medium high, and continue to cook the pork for 45 minutes, uncovered, stirring every once in a while, until all the liquid has evaporated and the pork fat as been rendered.

A large blue dutch oven with carnitas, cooked without a lot of liquid left.

Step 6: Parts of the pork should be caramelized and golden brown. Remove the dutch oven from the stove and season with salt and pepper as needed.

A skillet with carnitas, with a small skillet of corn, a bowl of white rice and a plate of tacos with a small bowl of pickled onions on the side.

How to Store Carnitas Tacos

You can store the carnitas in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container. To re-heat, you can use microwave or heat on the stove. Stir a bit and make sure they are warmed through properly.

How to Freeze Carnitas Tacos

You can store the carnitas in the freezer for about 3 months. Once cool, place them in a freezer bag. Thaw in fridge overnight, and follow the above instructions to re-heat. This is a great item to have on hand in the freezer!! If you have a lot of leftovers, always a good idea to store in small batches so you can thaw just the amount you need!

Tips & Tricks

These Carnitas Tacos are made on the stovetop. If you're using a slow cooker, cook the pork shoulder on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours. It’s important to use a meat thermometer to make sure your pork shoulder reaches an internal temperature of 170°F.

FAQs

What kind of meat is carnitas?

Boneless pork shoulder.

What is difference between pulled pork and carnitas?

Pulled pork and carnitas are both cooked slowly for several hours; however, carnitas are finished by rendering the fat out of the meat until parts of the pork are caramelized and golden brown.

What is carnitas vs barbacoa?

Traditionally carnitas are made with pork whereas barbacoa is made with beef.

What to Make With Your Carnitas Leftovers

Burrito Bowl - My all time fav Carnitas Burrito Bowl! All of the toppings plus yummy rice!

Skillet Nachos - These mini skillets are composed of layers of homemade tortilla chips, carnitas, some shredded cheese, a bit of queso for good measure, and salsa.

Pizza - This pizza is a game changer.

Similar Recipes

If you tried this recipe, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the 📝 comments below. Thanks for visiting today!

Carnitas Tacos from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

Carnitas Tacos

Author: Gaby Dalkin
5 from 11 votes
These melt in your mouth carnitas are to die for. Put them in a warmed flour or corn tortilla and top it off with some guacamole and a sprinkle of pickled onions, for the perfect dinner.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Total Time 3 hours
Course Main Course, Dinner
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 8 people

Ingredients
  

  • 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder cut into 2 inch cubes
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 10 oz chipotle salsa
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
  • Small corn and flour tortillas

Toppings

  • Diced white onions
  • Lime wedges
  • Guacamole
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Sliced Jalapenos

For the Pickled Red Onions

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 red onion thinly sliced

Instructions
 

  • Make the pickled red onions. Whisk the apple cider vinegar, sugar and salt with 1 cup water in a small bowl until sugar and salt dissolve. Place onion in a jar; pour vinegar mixture over. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
  • Place the pork in a large dutch oven with the orange juice, lime juice, salsa and salt. Add enough water to barely cover the meat. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and simmer with the lid on for 2 hours, at which point the pork should be falling apart to the touch.
  • Turn the heat up to medium high, and continue to cook the pork for 45 minutes, uncovered, stirring every once in a while, until all the liquid has evaporated and the pork fat as been rendered.
  • Parts of the pork should be caramelized and golden brown. Remove the dutch oven from the stove and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve as needed or let cool and store in an airtight container for 4 days in the fridge
  • To assemble the tacos, warm or char a small tortilla and place a few pieces of carnitas on top. Add a dollop of guacamole, a few pickled red onions, chopped onions, jalapenos and a sprinkle of cilantro. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Leftovers? Throw it on nachos or over rice.
  • These Carnitas Tacos are made on the stovetop. If you're using a slow cooker, cook the pork shoulder on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours. It’s important to use a meat thermometer to make sure your pork shoulder reaches an internal temperature of 170°F.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 253kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 1053mg | Potassium: 816mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 205IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this Recipe? Tag me Today!Mention @WhatsGabyCookin or tag #whatsgabycooking!

Photo by Matt Armendariz / Food Styling by Adam Pearson / Recipe by What's Gaby Cooking

60 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this today after seeing it on Gaby’s insta stories earlier this week.
    Extremely simple recipe, but the result - wow - AMAZING!!!! Even the picky 9 year old twin ate it all.

  2. Great recipe and congrats on Poppy! Suggestion for slow cooker/insta pot timing/tips? Made these stovetop and they are great.

  3. This recipe looks yummy!!! Please tell me what exactly is chipotle salsa. Do you have a recipe for it or is there a particular brand you like to use.
    Thanks!

  4. 5 stars
    No brainer! has quickly become our family's go to taco night! so easy and my So Cal raised hubby says best tacos he has outside of Huntington Beach!

  5. Hi Gaby-

    We have really enjoyed your recipes the past several months and your new cookbook is amazing.
    Question: have you ever made your carnita recipes with chicken. I'm allergic to hooved animals, (yep, that's a real thing) so pork won't work. I would love your advice.
    Many thanks-
    Rebecca McVeigh

  6. 5 stars
    This was insanely good! Make it immediately. Also is it in your first cook book? I have your new one and didn’t see it in there.

  7. Gaby - these look amazing - could I just put the whole pork shoulder in the Dutch oven uncut? And shred when cooked?

    1. it would take way longer to make it that way! But also there's a whole pork butt carnitas recipe in the new cookbook and it's AMAZING

    2. Thanks - made them yesterday - posted them on IG - sorry I didn’t make the cut on your story but they were delicious.

  8. Such a good recipe. The onions are a must. Husband raved about them all night. I made avocado crema for them, which was good, but I’d stick to guacamole or avocado slices in the futures.

    1. thanks Gaby! on my menu for next week! have made several of your recipes lately
      and they are all keepers!!! Told my coworker about you and she was sharing with me yesterday about several that her family has loved as well!!! thanks 🙂

    1. Actually I just did tenderloin and cooked it for about 6 hours on 200° and it was amazeballs! It shredded just like a pork shoulder but way less fat! I've never had more flavorful pork actually!

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