The Best Pork Carnitas

If you love Mexican food, then you need to make the Best Pork Carnitas! They are so simple to throw together and more delicious than what you might find at the taqueria. 

If I had to pick my favorite type of food, when it comes right down to it, it would have to be Mexican cuisine. I do enjoy so many types of food, but the fresh flavors of the salsas, onions and avocado, homemade refried beans and I could just go on and on. I love it.

Living in Southern California for over thirty years gave me countless opportunities to enjoy Mexican cuisine. Celebrating Cinco de Mayo every year on May 5th was always a tradition. We would usually go out for dinner on this festive night, but this year, with the outbreak of the Swine Flu or excuse me the H1N1 Influenza A virus (which is what they want us to call it now and that really rolls off the tongue right, sheesh), I am not too keen on having other people prepare my meals. I'll make my own dinner right here at home thank you.

Anyway, this meant I needed to make my own carnitas I knew would taste good and be easy to prepare. And just like that (with a little bit of tweaking), The Best Pork Carnitas came to life.

While the carnitas were cooking, my oldest son kept asking me what I was making and when was it going to be done. It smelled delicious and was spot on in taste. The meat was so tender it literally melted in my mouth.

A big batch of this for a crowd would disappear quickly, it's addictive when topped with green salsa, avocado, onions and wrapped up in a warm tortilla. To die for...let's make it....

Here's what you will need: Boneless pork shoulder, garlic, olive oil, fresh orange juice, milk, cilantro, red onion, lime wedges, cilantro, avocado, white corn tortillas, salt and pepper.

In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, combine pork, garlic and 8 cups water; season with salt and pepper.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 45 minutes. Drain well. 

In a large nonstick skillet (or the same Dutch oven) heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add pork, 1/2 cup fresh orange juice and 1/2 cup milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and pork has browned, 8 to 12 minutes. The pork will start browning after liquid has evaporated. Season well with salt and pepper.

Serve carnitas in tortillas with cilantro, onion, avocado, green salsa and squeeze some lime juice over the meat.

These are mouthwatering.

Excuse me while I have a bite.


The Best Pork Carnitas from

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The Best Pork Carnitas

Recipe from: Created by Cathy Pollak for | Serves: 12 carnitas tacos


  • 2 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • coarse salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 12 white corn tortillas, warmed
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, thinly sliced onion, diced avocado, green salsa and lime wedges for serving


  • In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, combine pork, garlic and 8 cups water; season with salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 45 minutes. Drain well.
  • In a large nonstick skillet (or the same Dutch oven) heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add pork, 1/2 cup fresh orange juice and 1/2 cup milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and pork has browned, 8 to 12 minutes. The pork will start browning after liquid has evaporated. Season well with salt and pepper.
  • Serve carnitas in tortillas with cilantro, onion, avocado, green salsa and squeeze some lime juice over the meat.

There are so many tasty ways to make Pork Carnitas. These Beer Braised Pork Carnitas have definitely peeked my interest along with these gorgeous Pork Carnitas Burrito Bowls. Have you ever tried making Slow Cooked Pulled Pork Carnitas? It sounds like a great idea. And why not make Carnitas Pizza or Slow Cooked Sangria Carnitas if you're feeling adventurous or these 

One year ago today I shared with you my recipe for The Best Peach Margarita's. I highly suggest you try them, I won a margarita contest with this recipe!

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68 Comments and 1 Reply

  1. Sophia 1

    you’re gonna be shocked. I’ve never tried Mexican, except Taco bells, which I seriously doubt is true Mexican fare. This recipe looks freaking amazing, with the rich, perfectly seasoned pork and the additional fresh topping ingredients. I’m bookmarking this recipe to try! finally I won’t be a virgin to mexican fare!

  2. Debi 2

    This recipe is a delicious, festive, and budget friendly recipe!

  3. Debbie 3

    The carnitas look so delicious. Love the chunks of avocado. My husband and I always go out on the 5th of May for Mexican….

  4. My freezer in the kitchen just died so I have a pork tenderloin this may work with?! Got to eat it up somehow! Happy May Day!

  5. Mmmm, that looks wonderful. I will have to check it out.

  6. Debi 6

    Pork shoulder is a very economical cut of meat, and when simmered slowly (as in this recipe), it becomes melt in your mouth tender. Terrific budget friendly menu for entertaining!

  7. snowmoonelk 7

    Looks delicious! How do you make that wonderful-looking green salsa? Just looking at it is making my mouth water!

  8. Oh that looks so wonderful!

  9. Pork Carnitas look scrumptious and perfect for Cinco de Mayo!

  10. Mexican food is the single biggest thing I miss about Southern California. There aren’t a lot of Mexican restaurants here in MA.

    There look unreal. I think I may have to make these on Cinco de Mayo. What did you serve with them?

  11. Great idea to make Mexican before you renounce your California citizenship for the crispy Pacific Northwest. That looks very fresh and tasty!

  12. Julie 12

    It looks muy delicioso! Is it okay if I wear a sombrero anyway :P

  13. Melynda 13

    Yum, homemade is best; especially now. As always, great shots!

  14. Suzette 14

    I can smell ’em from here! And they’re so pretty! You really do need to write a cookbook!

  15. Donna 15

    Perfect.. This looks perfect. I love Mexican food also and I have got to start cooking it more. I see much mention of you writing a cookbook, is this so?? I would buy a few, one for me, few as gifts.

  16. With you on the mexican food! I’m having a breakfast burrito right now. I’ll have to give these a try next week for the celebration! Paired with a nice margarita, of course.

  17. Wow, that does sound really good! I love pork shoulder!

  18. Sara 18

    This looks delicious, perfect for cinco de mayo!

  19. These look amazing! I absolutely LOVE Mexican food. Growing up in southern California, there was no end to the nearby authentic eateries, sometimes little more than a hole in the wall. I really miss having that kind of awesome Mexican food nearby. Maine is not exactly hip to authentic Mexican food. It’s a little outside of the traditional hardcore Maine-ah dietary comfort zone.

    These are definitely going to be on the menu on the 5th!

    Thanks so much!

  20. Marjie 20

    Lime juice with pork sounds interesting. I’m usually more liable to offer meat and fillings on a grinder roll, but that’s probably the northeasterner in me. Hey, it’s what makes the world tick, right?

  21. dawn 21

    Those look amazing and I agree, no eating out right now. I don’t need a sneeze in my food. I am going to make these tonight…I can’t wait for the weekend!

  22. LilSis 22

    Perfecto!I could eat Mexican food every day! And, I do consider myself lucky to live in So Cal where there are many choices for authentic Mexican.

    Oh, how I wish I had one of those lovely Pork Carnitas right now!

  23. This looks really amazing. It’s always good when the kids start clamoring for more!

  24. I could eat Mexican food everyday, yum! I am definately gonna make this! Thanks!

  25. I love Mexican food! Thanks for the recipe it looks wonderful!

  26. Pam 26

    You are not alone – my favorite food is Mexican too. I love this recipe, I’ve always wanted to make carnitas but was afraid of all the recipes using lard. This looks healthy and tasty… bookmarked!

  27. Oh heavens, those look tasty! I’ll be making this on Sunday!

  28. Cathy–You’ve made my day with both these recipes. This one is 100% gluten free as is and the one in the Davis life magazine just needs gluten-free Hoisin and soy sauce to be safe. :-) Yum!

    Thanks and happy Friday!

  29. Mmm I love mexican too! Nice pics!

  30. Mary 30

    Wow? These look good and seem very easy to do. It’s hard to argue with fast and fabulous.

  31. Savor 31

    I just made these last weekend but used leftover pork tenderloin-they were great.

  32. Wow–I will definitely try those!

  33. Lisa 33

    That does look so delicious! I surely miss the Tex Mex from our Dallas days.

  34. Katrina 34

    Love Mexican food! These look great!

  35. Bob 35

    Oh wow. Those look so good. I’ve never had carnitas before, I need to try them.

  36. Cathy, i’ll try this one: it must be sooo good!
    I’ll let you know then. :)

  37. Alisa 37

    Mexican is my favorite. My mouth is watering, I can smell it from here. Can’t wait to make these! Must make these now.

  38. Maureen 38

    Living in the southwest it’s hard not to celebrate cinco de Mayo. It’s also our anniversary!


  39. We will still wear our sombrero and drink Coronas for this. Yum and yay for Cinco de Mayo!

  40. KathyB. 40

    I am so pleasantly and deliciously surprised! I usually don’t find Mexican food recipes appealing because of the beans….I just don’t like them, but here, Yes here is a recipe that looks very tasty right now!

  41. Muy Bueno! Of course these are carnitas “light”. Real carnitas are simmered in lard – I can’t even describe the wonderful, crunchy, creamy texture! I’ve had them prepared by vineyard workers, in a large copper pot over a grapevine fire, with the addition of coca-cola and fresh oranges. They used the entire pig too – I was very afraid I would get the snout, but didn’t! They were to die for – literally, considering the lard!

  42. annbb 42

    Now that’s my kind of food! And it looks delicious.

  43. You won’t eat out, but you’ll eat pork? ;-) Good thing it’s now swine flu anymore! :-D

    Very delicious looking recipe. I’m a huge fan of Mexican too. I think I should get myself in a little Cinco De Mayo mood. A margariata or two can’t hurt, right?

    Is it okay to wear a sombrero?

  44. Landing on your blog and being greeted by the beautiful photo at the top was such a pleasant experience. I have never before made this, but I think it’s about time.

  45. Suzanne 45

    Those look absolutely amazing!

  46. Ben won’t eat pork–swine flu or no swine flu–do you have a cut of beef you’d recommend?

  47. Paula 47

    Aaaah, carnitas! LOVE THEM! This recipe looks terrific. I love that close up shot there at the end of your post. You made these exactly how I love them … green salsa, avocado, lime, little bit of onion, all wrapped in a white corn tortilla. I think my tummy just rumbled. Carnitas time!

  48. Kate 48

    Now I am hungry. I was going to go out and pick up dinner to go. But I took a pain pill for my stupid finger and I don’t think it would be smart to drive. I’ll just drool over your recipe. With my sombrero on.

  49. elra 49

    Delicious Cathy! But I can only make this if my husband is on a business trip.

  50. i love some swine flu in my margarita! next time you do these delicious looking tostadas, try pickling your red onion – it’s sooo easy and very tasty. here’s a good recipe: link to

  51. Kayola 51

    OLE!!!!! I could eat mexican food three meals a day everyday!!!! This is much better than ‘YO QUIRO TACO BELL’…definitely giving it a try…

  52. Tami 52

    I’m so white bread and potatoes,but carnitas are my favorite. Now I can try them at home! Super :)

  53. Amber 53

    Poof! That was pretty funny.
    I live by myself so I go on non cooking binges sometimes because I get tired of eating the same thing until it is gone and I am not good at cooking for one. Sophie would eat it but then she would be really fat.
    I love carnitas. It is what I always get at taco truck which are all over where I live but I do have my favorite one. Your tacos look great, simple like they should be and always with fresh lime. I am so thankful that living in California I grew up on Mexican food too.
    And I prefer the term “Pig Flu” it just has a better sound.
    Oh and it is raining, can you believe it? Painting stools will have to wait.

  54. grace 54

    mexican for me, too. i love the heat, i love the cool components, i love the textures, i love the seasonings. your carnitas have me drooling in my chair. :)

  55. Whitney 55

    I really hope it was sarcasm about the staying in part (cant tell with you sometimes).

    The biggest thing I miss about Texas in Chicago, is the Tex-Mex. Nothing compares.

  56. Jordan 56

    Mm, I love carnitas! (And pretty much any other Mexican taco! :))

  57. HoneyB 57

    They look delicious to me…but Grumpy and his no “Mexican” food policy kills me every time. I might have to make him just suffer one night very soon though!

  58. Hilary 58

    Hi Cathy .. I didn’t know about the Cinco de Mayo celebration – so that’s interesting .. & the pork carnitas smell delicious from the website!

    Your Surf & Turf variation in the Davislife magazine .. looks fabulous too .. your pics are so good …

    Thanks- Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters

  59. imom 59

    Ok, now I want Mexican food!

  60. I’m definitely trying this version of carnitas!!

  61. Mrs. L 61

    I went back and forth between this recipe from the magazine or the pulled pork one I eventually made. Suffice it to say, I bought two pork shoulders and this recipe will be on the menu next week!

  62. Pam 62

    I made these tacos and loved them. Thanks for the recipe!

  63. BCBev 63

    I’m so lucky to live in a small town with 2 authentic Mexican restaurants but I make it quite often at home. This is going to be one of my staple recipes from now on! Well, until I convince my DH to make me that trompo…

  64. Jessica 64


    What does the milk do?

  65. I was talking with a friend about a relative on life support. As we spoke, vivid memories of my own mother’s passing flooded my consciousness.

  66. Is eating non veg foods good for the diabetics patient?

  67. Making these tonight! Can’t wait :)
    Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  68. Maggie 68

    I have leftover pork roast in the fridge. Can I use that or will it be tough?
    Love your recipes!

    • Cathy 69

      Leftover Pork? What kind? And I really can’t say that it will be good used in this recipe. Leaving out the boiling step is what makes the carnitas meat very tender.


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