Easy Carnitas

Mexican pork carnitas, slow cooked, spicy, shredded pork shoulder, finished in the oven for browning, served with tortillas and salsa.

Elise Bauer

Enter any Mexican taqueria in California and you'll find carnitas on the menu, usually pork butt (the shoulder roast) braised first, pulled apart, and then roasted on high heat to caramelize.

This is my father's favorite recipe for pork carnitas which we put into fresh tortillas for tacos, with fresh tomato salsa. I think I could eat this carnitas recipe everyday for a week and not get tired of it.

Easy Carnitas

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 20 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Servings 6 to 8 servings


  • 4 pounds boned pork shoulder, cut into large cubes (remove any large chunks of excess fat, but do not remove all the fat or you'll have dry, unflavorful carnitas)

  • 1 quart beef broth

  • 2 cups chunky tomato salsa, store bought or homemade

  • Kosher salt

  • 2 cups fresh tomato salsa (pico de gallo)

  • 16 to 24 corn tortillas


  1. Combine the pork, broth, salsa in a large pot, cover and simmer several hours:

    In a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, combine pork, broth, and salsa. Add enough water to barely cover the pork.

    Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 3 to 4 hours (or longer) until meat pulls apart easily. Add salt to taste if needed.

  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  3. Break the meat into chunks and roast in oven until browned:

    Remove meat from liquid in pot (discard the liquid) and spread the meat out in a roasting pan. Break the meat into small chunks. Roast meat for 15 to 20 minutes until brown and crispy.

  4. Warm the tortillas:

    If you are using store-bought tortillas, heat the tortillas one-by-one either in a microwave or on a hot skillet.

    If you heat them on a skillet you may need to use a little butter or oil to help soften them. When air pockets form in the tortillas they are ready.

    To heat them in a microwave, place a paper towel on the floor of the microwave. Lay one or two tortillas on the paper towel (whatever will fit so there is only one layer). Microwave on high heat for 10 seconds per tortilla (some brands of tortillas require 20 seconds each).

    Keep warm tortillas wrapped in a clean cloth towel for serving.

  5. Serve:

    To serve, double up the tortillas and place a few spoonfuls of the carnitas on them. Top with salsa.

    To eat, remove half of the carnitas from one tortilla to another. Take one tortilla at a time with the carnitas and salsa, fold it over and enjoy. Or, keep them doubled up. Your choice.

    Simple Tip!

    Add optional toppings of your choice such as grated lettuce (that has been lightly salted and sprinkled with vinegar), beans, avocados, and/or grated cheese.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
730 Calories
44g Fat
30g Carbs
52g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 730
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 44g 57%
Saturated Fat 16g 80%
Cholesterol 179mg 60%
Sodium 1565mg 68%
Total Carbohydrate 30g 11%
Dietary Fiber 5g 20%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 52g
Vitamin C 3mg 17%
Calcium 133mg 10%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 1164mg 25%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.