Crock Pot Carnitas (Whole30)

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This recipe is technically Whole30, but even my non-Whole30, meat-loving husband couldn't get enough of this pork!  We probably would have had enough for like 5 more meals, but we both kept picking at it straight from the slow cooker.

I adapted this recipe from one I found on Recipe Tin Eats, and though it was my first time making carnitas, it certainly will NOT be my last.


Crock Pot Carnitas



~6lb bone-in pork shoulder (sometimes called pork butt)

1 1/2 Tbsp table salt or 2 1/4 Tbsp sea salt flakes

2 tsp black pepper

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp ground cumin

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 onion, finely diced

1 green bell pepper, finely diced

2 Tbsp minced garlic

3 oranges, juice of

2 bay leaves



  1. Line slow cooker stoneware insert with a Reynolds Slow Cooker Liner.  You will be glad you did, but if you don't have any, this step is totally optional :)
  2. Place your giant hunk of pork into the slower cooker and sprinkle with the salt and pepper, rubbing it around to coat the pork evenly.
  3. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, cumin, and smoked paprika.  Pour that combo over the pork and massage it in, flipping the pork over and making sure the entire surface is coated.  Flip it back over so that the fat cap side is up.
  4. Top the meat with the chopped onions, pepper, and garlic.
  5. Squeeze orange juice over everything and throw 2 bay leaves into the bottom of the slow cooker.
  6. Set your slow cooker to cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 6 hours.  I actually cooked it on high for 4 hours to get it going, then dropped it to low for another 3 hours until it came up to temperature.
  7. At this point, the bone should come right out and the meat should be falling apart.  Internal temperature should be at least 195 degrees -- which is WAY above the safe eating temperature, but that's when the meat is really fall-apart tender.
  8. Remove the pork from the slow cooker in large chunks, placing in a bowl to shred it with two forks.  Discard the bay leaves and reserve the broth.

  9. Heat a drizzle of oil or ghee in a skillet over medium high heat.  Add some pork and DON'T TOUCH IT.  Let it cook, without stirring or moving it around, for a few minutes until the bottom is nice and crispy.
  10. Pour some of the juices over to season the meat (the juices should be nice and salty). 
  11. Enjoy however you wish.  In tacos, on a salad, in scrambled eggs, straight from the pan... we don't judge.


  1. As you can tell, this makes a TON of pork.  If you want to freeze some, portion it out into freezer-safe plastic containers, add some of the cooking juices for flavor, allow to cool completely, then freeze.  To serve it later, just allow it to thaw out completely then re-heat in a skillet following the above instructions.
  2. Even though this is a Mexican recipe (adapted), the meat ends up being super flavorful yet non-flavor-specific, so feel free to get creative!  I fried some up and ate it with sauerkraut and mustard and it was killer.

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