This pork carnitas recipe is versatile and delicious. Serve your Mexican pulled pork in tacos, burritos, over Mexican rice, even on top of burgers or mixed in with delicious mac and cheese.
- Pork Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork) Recipe for the Pellet Grills
- Pork Carnitas or Mexican Pulled Pork Marinade
- Pork Carnitas Dry Rub
- How to Smoke Pork Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)
- Homemade Corn Tacos
- Pork Carnitas in the Oven
- Pork Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork) in the Slow Cooker
- Carnitas Near Me
- Is Pork Carnitas Spicy?
- Pork Carnitas with Coke
- Authentic Pork Carnitas
Pork Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork) Recipe for the Pellet Grills
For this famous and vibrant Mexican pulled pork dish we are going to use pork shoulder. Carnitas literally means ‘small meats,’ and that’s how we are going to smoke the pork shoulder – in smaller chunks of meat.
This will reduce cooking time and ultimately make it easier to get nice, crispy pork carnitas just like the way Mexican pulled pork should be.
A 4-6 lbs cut of pork shoulder is ideal here and this will feed 4-6 people.
Pork Carnitas or Mexican Pulled Pork Marinade
For best results we are going to marinade the whole pork shoulder overnight in a coolbox or brining bucket. If you have a large enough ziplock bag that would work as well. Once you have squeezed the limes and orange place them in the marinade for extra flavour.
Marinade the pork for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight in the fridge.
- 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil (Optional – Use Chilli Oil for Extra Heat and Taste)
- 1 Tablespoon of Coarse Salt
- Juice of 2 Limes
- Juice of 1 Large Orange
- 3-4 Peeled Whole Cloves of Garlic
Pork Carnitas Dry Rub
- 1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons of coarse salt
- 2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of chilli powder (use hot or extra hot if you like heat)
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon of onion powder
- ½ teaspoon of chipotle chilli powder
- ½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (dried oregano is fine too)
- ½ teaspoon comino (cumin)
- ½ teaspoon canela (Mexican cinnamon) – substitute cinnamon but canela is more authentic and tastes different
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and use a whisk to break up any lumps.
How to Smoke Pork Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)
- Get your smoker up to 250°F and add Hickory wood pellets or chunks (or wood of your choice)
- Remove pork from fridge, pat dry and cut into palm-sized chunks
- Cover each piece of pork liberally in dry rub mixture
- Place pork meat chunks on the grills and smoke for 3 hours until a dark bark has formed
- Put your pork meat into an disposable aluminium tray with 1 large chopped onion & a splash of Tequila, cider or apple juice – cover with foil and return to the smoker for 2 hours
- When the internal temperature of the pork is 203°F and the pork pulls apart easily remove from heat
- Rest for 15-20 minutes and then fry in a hot pan to crisp up pork for 5-10 minutes – use the juice from the tray to help with this
You can use store bought tacos, but these homemade ones are tasty, quick and easy!
Ingredients For Corn Tacos
- 2 cups or 240 grams of Masa Harina
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups warm water
- 1 Teaspoon Finely Ground Sea Salt
- Optional – a little melted butter
Combine the ingredients in a bowl, using your hands to mix.
Begin working the masa dough with your hands. Knead the dough for a few minutes.
The dough will be a gritty to start with, but will quickly become more pliable because of the friction of kneading. If you think the dough is too wet or dry add a little more Masa Harina or some water to it.
Smooth the dough into a large ball and then leave for 10-15 mins to rise.
Divide the dough into golf ball sized pieces.
For best results use a taco press. You will need to put baking or parchment paper on the taco press, a sheet above and 1 below to stop the dough sticking.
You can use a heavy bottomed pan to press your tacos, but a taco press is cheap and much more effective.
When you have pressed your taco turn it upside down and carefully let it fall into your hands to avoid sticking.
For more help with this, try this video.
The use of butter in this video is interesting too!
For Carne Asada with homemade tacos try here:
Pork Carnitas in the Oven
If you want to cook pork carnitas in the oven simply place your dry rubbed pork shoulder in an oven safe tray at a temperature of 300F for around 4-5 hours until you reach an internal temperature of 203°F at the thickest point of the meat.
Pork Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork) in the Slow Cooker
To cook pork carnitas in the slow cooker, cover it liberally with the rub of your choice, add a small glass of fresh orange juice or apple cider, and cook on a low setting for 10 hours or on high for 7 hours, until it can be pulled apart easily with a fork.
For more on this try here:
Carnitas Near Me
If you want to find BBQ restaurants, street food or takeaway carnitas try here:
Is Pork Carnitas Spicy?
It’s as spicy as you want to make it! Dial down the chilli powder or leave it out if you don’t like heat.
Pork Carnitas with Coke
Pork takes on sweetness well so marinading it in Coke can definitely work well. It’s totally up to you, but we prefer a healthier and more authentic approach.
Authentic Pork Carnitas
Authentic pork carnitas is historically cooked in lard. Aside from the health concerns, this is largely impractical for home cooks. While the extra fat certainly helps to keep the pork tender and crispy, few of us have access to such large vats of lard. That may be a good thing!
Related recipes – Mexican Recipes Collection.