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Pork Carnitas Street Tacos

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Pork Carnitas Street Tacos is a great way to feed a crowd. The incredibly tender pulled pork is well seasoned and charred at the end, and the tacos are garnished simply with onion and cilantro

This recipe was featured in Stillwater Living Magazine
overhead shot of 3 finished tacos with cilantro and lime wedges on the side

Let’s face it…Taco Tuesday can–and is–any day of the week! I love all kinds of tacos, but honestly don’t make them at home nearly enough. And of course, there is no good reason why not.

I love pulled pork, but don’t make it very often since it’s just me in the house. But when I do, and I make it in the slow cooker, my kitchen smells amazing and all I want to do is eat the entire batch at once!

So for a delicious meal from a crockpot, I created Pork Carnitas Street Tacos

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
  • You only need a few ingredients, and the slow cooker does 95% of the work
  • This is a great recipe for a crowd
  • You can make other recipes with the pork
overhead shot of 3 finished street tacos laying flat on a board with lime wedges on the side

BEST PORK CUT FOR PORK CARNITAS STREET TACOS

I use pork shoulder, also called pork butt. It has nice marbling throughout, which results in very tender meat.

Bone-in or boneless pork shoulder? I prefer bone-in because the bones add more flavor, and it’s less expensive than boneless.

Do I cut off the fat cap on the back before cooking? No. That fat cap adds amazing flavor, and it easily peels off at the end.

INGREDIENT TIPS FOR PORK CARNITAS STREET TACOS

Generously season the pork with the salt and pepper first.

The combination of ground cumin and dried oregano creates an incredibly flavorful rub. The traditional recipes use lard, but I just can’t bring myself to buy it. So I use either avocado or canola oil.

Garlic, orange juice, and onion round out the seasonings.

close up angled shot of 3 finished street tacos with lime wedges on the side
COOKING AND FINISHING PORK CARNITAS

A slow cooker is ideal, and you can cook it while at work or even overnight. 10 hours on low, or 6 hours on high, results in fall-apart tender meat.

What about that fat cap? Transfer the pork to a cutting board, and remove the fat cap. It will pull off easily with tongs, and you can remove any other excess chunks of fat too.

Using 2 forks, pull the pork apart. Don’t shred it too finely, as you want to still have small chunks of meat.

PRO TIP: strain the juices through a fine-mesh strainer, to reduce the amount of fat. Save the juices and store with the leftover pork, to help retain moisture.

ONE MORE STEP FOR PORK CARNITAS

You need to get that trademark char on the meat for pork carnitas, and there are 2 options

  • Cast-iron skillet – heat oil over medium-high heat, add pork in one layer, heat for 3 minutes, flip with a spatula and heat for another 2 minutes
  • Broiler – place pork on a lightly oiled baking sheet, place under the broiler for 5 minutes

The cast-iron skillet method is best for smaller portions, while the broiler method is better when you’re feeding a crowd.

overhead shot of street taco ingredients: pork in a skillet, onions and cilantro in bowls, and tortillas and lime wedges on a board
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS

Rinse the pork shoulder and pat dry with paper towels. Season the pork generously with salt and pepper.

Combine cumin and oregano, add oil and mix together well. Brush the rub onto the pork, and then massage it into the meat with your hands

overhead process shot: pork with seasonings rubbed in on a cutting board

Transfer the pork into the slow cooker, with the fat cap up. Add garlic, onion, and orange juice.

overhead process shot: pork, onion, garlic, and orange juice in a crock pot

Cover and cook on high for 6 hours or on low for 10 hours.

overhead process shot: finished pork inside a slow cooker

Use tongs to pull off the fat cap, which should remove very easily. Pull the bones out, and remove excess fat. Pull off the chunks of pork and transfer them to a cutting board.

Take 2 forks and shred the pork. Don’t completely shred into fine pieces.

overhead close up shot of shredded pork

Add a little oil to a large skillet, and heat to medium-high. Add pork and allow it cook for 2-3 minutes without touching it.

overhead process shot: cooked pork, charring in a skillet

Use a spatula to turn over the pork and cook for another 2 minutes.

SERVING PORK CARNITAS STREET TACOS

Pork Carnitas Street Tacos are great for a crowd! Serve them family-style, and let everyone make their own.

PRO TIP: Only char what you plan to eat right then! Keep the extra pork with the reserved juices, and do the second cook immediately before serving. If you try to reheat the charred meat it will get really dry.

I use the small corn or flour tortillas, and 3-4 Pork Carnitas Street Tacos is a good serving.

  • Add carnitas to tortillas
  • Top with diced white onion and chopped cilantro
  • Pour over a little of the reserved liquid, if desired
  • Finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice
close up shot of 2 finished street tacos
LEFTOVERS

Pork Carnitas Street Tacos are perfect for leftovers and great to use for creating other recipes.

To prepare for leftovers:

  • Allow the crockpot to come to room temperature
  • Cover and store in the fridge overnight
  • Remove from fridge, and spoon off the layer of fat

To reheat in the crockpot: rest the crockpot at room temperature for 1 hour, and then heat on low for 30 minutes

Storing leftovers: transfer the meat to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to one week. You can also portion into freezer bags, lay flat, and freeze. They will last for up to 3 months.

MORE DELICIOUS RECIPES WITH PORK
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overhead shot of 3 finished pork carnitas street tacos on a board, with cilantro and lime wedges on the side

Pork Carnitas Street Tacos

Yield: 2 1/4 lbs pulled pork
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 30 minutes

Pork Carnitas Street Tacos is a great way to feed a crowd. The incredibly tender pulled pork is well seasoned and charred at the end, and the tacos are garnished simply with onion and cilantro

Ingredients

  • 4lbs Pork Shoulder (boneless or bone-in)
  • 1 teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup yellow onion, cut into large slices or chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons avocado or canola oil

Street Taco Ingredients

  • 18 small tortillas (corn or flour)
  • Diced white onion
  • Chopped cilantro
  • 4 limes, quartered

Instructions

    1. Rinse the pork shoulder and pat dry with paper towels. Cut off any excess fat, but keep fat cap intact!
    2. Season the pork generously with salt and
      pepper.
    3. Combine cumin and oregano, add oil and combine well. Brush the rub onto the pork, and then massage it into the meat with your hands
    4. Transfer the pork into the slow cooker, with the fat cap up. Add garlic, onion, and orange juice
    5. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours or on low for 10 hours.
    6. Transfer pork to a cutting board. Pull the bones out. Use tongs to pull off the fat cap and any excess fat chunks.
    7. Take 2 forks and shred the meat. Don’t completely shred into fine pieces, as you still want some small chunks
    8. CHAR THE MEAT
    9. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large cast-iron skillet
    10. Add pork to the skillet in one layer and leave it alone for 3 minutes so the meat will char properly
    11. Flip meat with a spatula and char for another 2 minutes
    12. MAKE THE STREET TACOS
    13. Add carnitas to tortillas
    14. Top with diced white onion and chopped cilantro
    15. Pour over a little of the reserved liquid
    16. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice

Notes

Bone-in or boneless pork shoulder? I prefer bone-in because the bones add more flavor, and it’s less expensive than boneless.

Do I cut off the fat cap on the back before cooking? No. That fat cap adds amazing flavor, and it easily peels off at the end with tongs.

PRO TIP: Save the juices and store with the leftover pork, to help retain moisture.

PRO TIP: Only char what you plan to eat right then! Keep the extra pork with the reserved juices and do the second cook immediately before serving. If you try to reheat the charred meat it will get really dry.


To prepare for leftovers:

  • Allow the crockpot to come to room temperature
  • Cover and store in the fridge overnight
  • Remove from the fridge, and spoon off the layer of fat


To reheat in the crockpot: rest the crockpot at room temperature for 1 hour, and then heat on low for 30 minutes. Char the meat and serve

Storing leftovers: transfer the meat to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to one week. You can also portion into freezer bags, lay them flat, and freeze. They will last for up to 3 months.









Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 3 tacos
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 726Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 136mgSodium: 810mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 4gSugar: 3gProtein: 43g

Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, etc

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