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5 from 1 vote

Slow Cooker Carnitas

There are only three ingredients in this super simple recipe, but the outcome is delicious. Look for good-quality, bone-in pork shoulder or pork butt. Serve in corn or flour tortillas or on top of greens for an epic taco salad. 
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time7 hrs
Total Time7 hrs 5 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Author: Marcia W. Smart


  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil or other high smoke point/low flavor oil
  • 2 1/2 pound pork shoulder bone-in is more flavorful, but boneless is fine too
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 white or yellow onion halved and sliced thin into half moons


  • In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the oil and warm until shimmering. Sprinkle the pork generously with salt and add the meat to the pan. Sear the pork until a crust forms, about 4 minutes per side. After one side sears, rotate to sear all the sides and the ends. To do the ends, you may need to hold the pork with tongs and keep it in place.
  • Add the sliced onion and bay leaf to the slow cooker. Transfer the pork to a slow cooker and place it on top of the onions. Add any remaining salt and a few grindings of freshly ground pepper.
  • Cover and cook on high for 6-7 hours. After 6 hours, shred the pork with two forks or tongs. If the meat falls apart and shreds easily, change temperature setting to warm, and cover the slow cooker until ready to serve. If the meat doesn't fall apart, return it to the slow cooker, cover, and cook an additional 1-2 hours on low.
  • To crisp the pork, place the shredded meat in a single layer on a sheetpan and broil on high on the top rack of the oven until slightly browned and caramelized on the edges of the meat, about 1 minute.
  • Serve with corn tortillas, cilantro, avocado, jalapeños, tomatillo salsa, pickled red onions and hot sauce.