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Carnitas For Easy Pulled Pork Tacos

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As one of my most requested recipes, these are not your ordinary pulled pork tacos, I assure you! This juicy carnitas rubbed with earthy spices, slow-cooked, and then caramelized for texture is quickly served as pulled pork tacos that are simply delicious. Then they go next level when they are topped with some sweet chili-dressed cabbage slaw, a dollop of avocado crema, and a little sprinkle of cotija cheese. These tacos are indeed a work of art. I guarantee you will not be able to stop at one taco.

What are Carnitas?

Carnitas is a spanish word for “little meats” and is commonly made from cheaper cuts of pork that heavily marbled with fat. As a mexican pork dish, carnitas can be served on its own with a salsa, and rice for instance or uses as a filling for taco, burritos enchiladas or a topping for tostitos.

This recipe is a take on a traditional carnita that uses your favorite beer instead of a fruit based juice for the acid. It is slow cooked to perfection and served in a taco topped with a sweet chili slaw and dollop of avocado creme. I guarantee you will not be able to stop at one taco!

What Cut Of Meat To Make Pork Carnitas With?

For our carnitas, we are using pork butt, for two reasons.

The first is with these insane food prices these days, pork butt can be purchased as low as .99 a pound in my area on sale. That means a 6 pound pork butt this easy carnitas recipe calls for is only $6.00 and will feed 12 people protein is amazing!

The second reason to use pork butt for carnitas is that is pork butt is a fat marbled meat, that adds a tremendous amount of flavor. It also needs to simmer for several hours to become tender and be shredded apart. It is perfect for this mexican slow cooker pulled pork recipe.

While our choice is to use a pork butt, keep in mind that you can also use pork shoulder or pork ham. Ironically, a pork butt does not actually come from the back end of the pig as the name suggests. It actually is from the shoulder, but is different than a pork shoulder. Clear as mud right? If your interested in learning more about the differences in the two, then head over to this Masterclass Pork vs. Pork Butt article to gain a better perspective.

Now let’s get started on these delicious Carnitas that we are going to serve in tacos for dinner tonight!

Carnitas Ingredients

Carnitas Ingredients - Pork Butt, spices and beer.
Carnitas Ingredients – Pork Butt, spices and beer.

Carnitas 

  • 6 pound pork butt or pork shoulder
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 teaspoon pepper
  • 1.5 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1.5 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 16 ounces of favorite beer. 
Sweet Chilli Slaw Ingredients to go with the Carnitas Pork Tacos
Sweet Chilli Slaw Ingredients to go with the Carnitas Pork Tacos

Sweet Chilli Slaw

  • 3 cups of green cabbage, sliced thin
  • 3 tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 lime, juiced 
  • 4-6 inch tortillas for serving 
  • cotija cheese, for crumbling
Avocado Cilantro Crema Ingredients that top the pork Carnitas
Avocado Cilantro Crema Ingredients that top the pork Carnitas

Avocado Cilantro Crema 

  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 3 tablespoons greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons, fresh cilantro 

How To make Carnitas Served In Tacos?

Since you need to let the pork butt simmer for several hours, it just makes perfect sense to make these Carnitas in the slow cooker. I am old school when it comes to my Carnitas, so no instapot for me on this recipe! I like the idea of the melding of the spices and beer over many hours to bring the full flavor to the finished product.

Before we start the crock pot however we have some work to do. First, heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil.  Remove the pork butt from the packaging.  Give it a quick rinse, and then pat it dry to be sure you will get a good sear on the meat. 

Combine the seasonings, cover the pork butt  with them, and rub them on the top surface as best as possible. I actually use gloves when I do this or I end up smelling like a plate of tacos all day with red stained hands. Now, Add the pork to the hot skillet to get a good sear.  Let the pork sit about 2-3 minutes per side to get a nice brown color. 

Carefully, so you do not get burned, take the pork carefully to the slow cooker.  I stab the pork butt with two forks to securely grab it and drop it into the crockpot.

Most carnitas use a juice based acid like lime or orange juice. This recipe uses your favorite beer! So crack open the beer of choice and pour the beer over the pork. Again, you can use any beer you happen to have on hand. This was in the fridge, so it was what i used.

A pork butt that has been seared on all sides and put in the slower cooker with beer added to simmer in.
A pork butt that has been seared on all sides and put in the slower cooker with beer added to simmer in.

Cover the slow cooker, set to the low temperature and cook for at least 8 hours.  I have known to leave this cooking for up to 10 hours and it perfectly fine. Again, another fantastic feature of a slow cooker!

Remove from the slow cooker, and pull apart the pork with two forks to shred the meat.  Take a moment to taste for seasoning here. It may need a pinch of salt but better to add later than to too much at the start.  

Now you have two choice on how to serve the pork, you can add the pork to the slow cooker and mix it well with the juices.  Cook another 15-20 minutes in the juices and serve. A second option is that if you want that crispy charred edges of your pork, then dry off some pieces of the pork well and take them to a heat pan with a little oil in it. Fry up the pork until you get that crispy texture as seen in the picture below. I have served both, it really comes down to the amount of time I want to put forth.

Slow cooked pork butt is put in a cast iron to crisp up the edges for bite full of texture.
Slow cooked pork butt is put in a cast iron to crisp up the edges for bite full of texture.

While the final stages of the carnitas are in play, start to make the final two ingredients for serving.

To make the slaw by combining the cabbage, chili sauce, lime juice, and a pinch of salt in a bowl.  Toss well and put in the refrigerator to chill. 

To make the avocado crema, add the avocado, lime, zest, yogurt, and cilantro into a food processor and blend until creamy. 

Once the carnitas is finished, assemble your pork tacos with some of the pork in the tortillas. Add the sweet chili slaw and top it with cotija cheese, a dollop of the avocado crème, and jalapenos if desired.

Ways To Eat Slow Cooker Carnitas

There are so many ways you can use your carnitas to make delicious meals throughout the week.

✔Create mexican bowls with authentic mexican rice on the bottom, topped with carnitas and all of the fixings. Yum!

✔Make pork carnita topped baked nachos with cheese, green pepper, and onions served with your favorite salsa!

✔Serve the carnitas on top of tostada shells with refried beans!

If you are looking for other mexican recipes then check out my Easy Mexican Dip as a starter for this meal, or for a totally different take on a taco, head over to my best crispy fish tacos!

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