It's time for a taco night upgrade, and this one won't cost you a penny more. Budget-friendly Slow-Cooker Carnitas are juicy, full of flavor, and perfect for filling up your Pulled Pork Tacos.
Made with a simple spice rub, it all comes together with incredible ease and takes 10 minutes to prep! A fuss-free recipe great for weeknight dinners and stress-free entertaining. Top your tacos with a quick and easy Chipotle Sauce and serve them alongside dips, salsas, rice, and beans for a full Mexican spread!
If Taco Tuesday finds itself at your table more than once a week, add these Tacos de Camaron to your recipe lineup!
WHAT CUT OF MEAT IS CARNITAS?
Carnitas can be made with either pork shoulder or pork butt. Both are hunky, inexpensive, tough cuts of meat with a decent amount of connective tissue running through. Actually, the only difference between a pork butt and a pork shoulder is that the pork butt can consist of the neck, shoulder, and upper arm of the pig, whereas the pork shoulder is further down.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PORK LOIN AND PORK SHOULDER?
Do not attempt to sub in a pork loin roast for a pork shoulder or pork butt. They are not built the same and they will not cook the same. The pork loin is much more tender and hails from the back of the pig.
When pork butt or pork shoulder is cooked over low heat for an extended period of time, they turn into juicy, tender, shredded bites of pork perfection, known as Carnitas. Or, in this case, Slow-Cooker Carnitas. If you're looking for crispy carnitas, this is the recipe you want!
Carnitas are typically seasoned with a flavorful rub, and then slowly cooked in a small amount of liquid. The slow-cooker is an ideal vessel for braising pork butt (or pork shoulder) and makes for extremely easy work in the kitchen.
Once cooked, serve Slow-Cooker Carnitas alongside corn tortillas (or flour tortillas, if you'd prefer), pile the toppings on high and it's Pulled Pork Tacos all around!
- Boneless Pork Butt - You can use either pork butt or pork shoulder for your Slow-Cooker Carnitas. Either one will work for making the filling for your Pulled Pork Tacos!
- Orange Juice and Lime Juice - Only fresh squeezed, please. Don't worry -- it's not going to require that much squeezing. Fresh juice vs. the bottled stuff is really not even the same product. Like, at all. You'll need about 3 large oranges and about 2 limes.
- Seasoning - The rub is where Slow-Cooker Carnitas gets almost all of its flavor. For the rub, you will need Kosher salt, chili powder, black pepper, onion powder, cumin, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. Once your pork butt is in the slow cooker, throw in a couple of bay leaves as well.
- Tortillas - Corn tortillas are customarily served with these tacos, however, if you'd prefer flour tortillas you can use those as well.
PULLED PORK TACO TOPPINGS
- Coleslaw or Sliced Red Cabbage
- Sliced Avocado or Guacamole
- Crumbled Cotija Cheese or Shredded Monterrey Jack
- Thinly Sliced Red Onions
- Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
- Chopped Cilantro
- Red Salsa
- Green Salsa
- Sour Cream or Crema
- BBQ Sauce
Traditionally, Mexican Pulled Pork Tacos are topped with a sprinkle of Cotija cheese, thinly sliced red onion, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime, but the fun doesn't have to stop there. Use the list above to come up with your favorite topping medley for Slow-Cooker Carnitas!
HOW TO MAKE PULLED PORK TACOS IN THE CROCK-POT
- Trim the Pork Butt - When you cook carnitas in the slow cooker, the fat just kind of hangs around. And, trust us -- there’s plenty of fat within the pork butt. So be sure to trim away any excess fat from across the top of the pork butt before you season it.
- Make the Rub - Add all of the dried spices to a small mixing bowl and stir to combine. Rub the pork butt with about two-thirds of the rub.
- Add Ingredients to the Crockpot - Add the orange juice and lime juice to the slow cooker, along with the remaining spice mix. Place the pork butt in the slow cooker and cover.
- Cook - Your Slow Cooker Carnitas will take 5 hours on the high setting or 7 hours on the low setting. Once the pork tender, shred it with two forks and stir so that it is coated in the sauce.
- Make the Tacos - Assemble your tacos with your favorite toppings and serve!
HOW TO REHEAT THEM?
The easiest way to reheat Pulled Pork Tacos is to heat the pulled pork and tortillas separately. Add the desired amount of Carnitas to a microwave-safe bowl, cover with a damp paper towel, and microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Then, check to see if it is heated through. If not, microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute more. The time it takes to warm through will be dependent upon how much pork you are reheating.
Transfer the heated Carnitas to the tortillas and top with desired toppings!
WHAT TO SERVE WITH PULLED PORK TACOS?
Serve them with a side of Mexican Charro Beans (or Black Beans, if you'd prefer) and Spanish Rice for a full-course Mexican meal! If you'd like something fresh and zingy to serve alongside Slow-Cooker Carnitas, try this Mexican Bean Salad.
5 MORE PULLED PORK RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Leftover Pulled Pork Salad turns pulled pork into an easy salad featuring shredded lettuce, cabbage, french fried onions. Top it with a tangy barbecue dressing!
- Pulled Pork Sliders are great for using up pulled pork leftovers! A great kid-friendly dinner idea or an inexpensive way to feed a crowd!
- Pulled Pork Quesadillas are loaded with flavor, over-the-top easy, and require all of 20 minutes to make!
- Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork features perfectly tender shredded pork coated in an easy, flavorful BBQ sauce.
- Pulled Pork Nachos is where BBQ meets Mexican food and the results are everything you could want them to be…and then some more!
LOVE TACOS? 9 MORE TACO RECIPES TO TRY!
Easy Seasoned Chicken Tacos
Chicken Tinga Tacos
Pan Seared Steak Tacos
Grilled Sirloin Steak Tacos
Slow Cooker Chipotle Chicken & Poblano Street Tacos
Shrimp Tacos with Spicy Coleslaw
BBQ Meatball Street Tacos
Flavorful and juicy Slow-Cooker Carnitas made with a simple spice rub is a fuss-free recipe perfect filling up your Pulled Pork Tacos!
- 3 ½ pound boneless pork butt
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 ¼ teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ cup orange juice (freshly squeezed)
- ¼ cup lime juice (freshly squeezed)
- 2 bay leaves
- Flour or corn tortillas (1-2 per person)
- Topping Suggestions: red onion, cilantro, Cotija cheese, freshly squeezed lime juice
Trim away any excess fat from the pork butt. Pat the pork butt dry with a paper towel and make the rub.
Add all of the dried spices to a small mixing bowl and stir to combine. Rub the pork butt with about ⅔'s of the rub.
Add the orange juice and lime juice to the slow cooker, along with the remaining spice mix. Place the pork butt in the slow cooker and cover.
Cook for 5 hours on the high setting or 7 hours on the low setting. Shred with two forks, stir the pulled pork so that it is coated in the sauce, roll in tortillas and serve!
Source: The Spruce Eats | What is Pork Butt?, Cooks Illustrated | Difference Between Pork Butt and Pork Shoulder