With just 6 ingredients, you can make your own batch of authentic pork carnitas, right at home! Today's recipe will teach how to make carnitas in 2 different ways. With one batch of these pork carnitas, you can make tacos, tortas, and even some tamales!
If you've never had Mexican pork carnitas, I'd have to say you are missing out.
Pork carnitas is made of pieces of pork meat slow-cooked in copper cauldrons in an open fire.
Traditionally, you would buy a whole piece of pork and use all the parts in different recipes. Some will be cooked until tender and golden outside like these juicy chunks of meat. Other parts of the pork will sometimes be used in stews (like this Pork Stew with Purslane) or fried up crispy like Chicharrones (pork skin).
To cook pork carnitas at home is actually a very easy task. There are lots of recipes that use herbs, and some of them even add milk or orange rinds. And, of course, they can be added.
But, as a friend of mine from Quiroga, Michoacán (a small town famous for its carnitas) told me some time ago: “People here just add salt, lard, and the pork meat. Those pork carnitas are always the best ones!".
I'd have to say I agree.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pork Carnitas
Before I share my carnitas recipe, here are a few questions I've been asked about homemade pork carnitas.
What cut of pork is used for carnitas?
For this specific recipe, I went with pork loin and pork butt. When cooked low and slow, these pork carnitas are tender and juicy.
How do you cook pork carnitas?
I have two ways to cook these pork carnitas:
The reason for cooking it in an oven bag is because I live in a small apartment and cooking it in the bag will keep the grease smell contained in the bag.
Please note: This is not the traditional way to cook pork carnitas, but rather just an alternate method I developed in absence of a copper cauldron and to avoid the greasy smell.
Are carnitas spicy?
Not really. They are usually packed with flavor but not very spicy unless cooked with some type of pepper or mixed with spicy salsa. But, that is not a traditional way to make carnitas. However, you eat carnitas topped with spicy salsa and warm corn tortillas.
How many servings of carnitas does this recipe make?
This recipe makes 6 servings as a main dish! If you want leftovers, I highly recommend that you double or triple the ingredients.
Pork Carnitas Recipe
Here is a list of ingredients you will need:
- Pork loin
- Pork butt
- 3 cloves of garlic
Please note: For exact measurements of the ingredients listed above, scroll down to the recipe card located at the bottom of this post!
How To Make Carnitas: Step By Step Tutorial
To make things easier for you, I am going to breakdown the directions to this recipe into sections.
Method #1: Cast Iron Pot
- In a large Dutch oven or cast iron pot, place the pork, lard, water, garlic, and salt.
- Cook the pork covered on medium heat, bringing everything to a boil.
- Uncover and turn the heat to medium-high to reduce the liquid. The meat will start frying in its own fat and lard at this point.
- Carefully brown the meat at medium-low heat stirring frequently until pork is evenly browned.
Method #2: Oven Bag
- Place the pork, lard, water, and salt in an oven bag.
- Cook the pork in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 2 hours. I place this package on a baking sheet or glass baking ware.
- Take the bag out of the oven to drain must of the juices released by the meat, close the bag and place back in the oven for another hour or so until the meat is golden brown.
What To Make With Pork Carnitas
This recipe is very versatile and you can make a lot of different recipes with it.
More Pork Recipes To Enjoy
If you enjoyed this recipe for pork carnitas, take a look at some of these other authentic Mexican recipes:
- Mexican Pork Ribs In Adobo
- Roasted Pork Leg Recipe
- Chile Colorado With Pork and Nopales
- Seasoned Pork Chops
- Pork in Tomato Sauce
I hope you make this recipe for pork carnitas! If this recipe was of any help to you, come back to let me know your experience. Please leave us a comment done below and tell us all about it!
Pork Carnitas Recipe
- 2 Lbs. pork loin and pork butt in large cubes about 2 inches.
- ¼ cup of Lard vegetable oil is OK
- About 6-8 cups of water enough to cover the meat
- 1 Tablespoon of salt
- Optional: 3 cloves of garlic
- Place the pork, lard, water, garlic and salt in a large Dutch oven or Cast Iron Pot. Cook covered on medium heat to a boil. Reduce to simmer for about 45 minutes until the pork is almost tender.
- Uncover and turn the heat to medium-high to reduce the liquid. The meat will start frying in its own fat and lard at this point. Carefully brown the meat at medium low heat, frequently stirring until the pork is crispy and browned evenly.
- Browning the pork will take about 15 to 20 minutes. At this point, do not over brown it, or will get very dry meat.
- Serve with hot tortillas and green salsa.
Now, when you do not have the time to be watching the meat or have another thing to do here is my oven baked carnitas.
- Place the meat, ¼ cup lard, 1 cup of water and 1 Tablespoon of salt in an Oven Bag , and cook in a preheated oven at 350 for 2 hours. I place this package on a baking sheet or glass baking ware.
- Take the bag out of the oven to drain must of the juices released by the meat, close the bag and place back in the range for another hour or so until the meat is golden brown. Byusing this method the meat will be tender and juicy.