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Noshing on Pork Carnitas

I’m so excited to announce today’s guest post. Vijay and I “met” through twitter, as most “blogships” happen these days. Vijay is a pro in the kitchen and online, so I hurried to sign up for NoshOn.It  where I receive newsletters with amazing recipes and cooking tips according to my interests. It’s pretty much awesome, and you should probably sign yourself up too. Oh, and I’ve totally had this pork, it’s to die for.

Want to connect with Vijay? You can “like” on Facebook, follow on Twitter, and Pinterest

And moving on to that which is delicious, here’s Vijay to tell you more…

My name is Vijay and I’m the Editor and “Chief Nosher” at NoshOn.It, a daily email to inspire you to cook just a little bit better each and every day. We feature hand-picked recipes and expert cooking tips from amazing up-and-coming bloggers so you don’t have to think about what to make for dinner. If you want to try out our emails, just head over here: http://www.noshon.it

For some reason, during this time of year, I can’t seem to get the song “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner out of my head. Do you remember it? Any other 1980s power ballad lovers out there? It went something like this: I want to know what love is / I want you to show me / I want to feel what love is / I know you can show me / Aaaah woah-oh-ooh.

Well, I want to show you what my idea of love is…and it’s called Pork Carnitas with Pickled Red Onions.

Pork carnitas with pickled red onions ohsweetbasil.com

Chunks of pork shoulder are slow cooked in the oven until they render out and start frying in their own fat, turning them fall-apart tender and crispy on the edges. It’s salty, sticky, savory, and just a little sweet. Stuffed into a couple of tortillas with the tangy bite of the pickled onions to offset the richness of the pork, this really is my my perfect meal. And I can almost promise that it will make you go Aaaah woah-oh-ooh!

Pork carnitas with pickled red onions ohsweetbasil.com

There’s something about the combination of flavors and textures that really makes it irresistible. After a sprinkling of salt, pepper, and cumin, toss in a few chunks of onions and garlic for extra flavor and pour over a mixture of orange juice and chicken broth until the liquid comes about 3/4 of the way up the side of the pork.

As the hours progress, something magical happens. The liquids start to evaporate with the sweetness and acidity of the orange juice infusing into the meat. As the pork braises, the fat renders out so the meat essentially fries in it’s own fat. Now let’s be real. How bad can that be?

Pork carnitas with pickled red onions ohsweetbasil.com

Crispy on the outside, meltingly tender on the inside and filled with smoky, sweet, and savory flavors. The first time I made these carnitas, I was actually really surprised how just a few ingredients could turn into something this good! When you shred the pork, you’re left with little crunchy bits (my favorite part) mixed in with the meat. A texture and flavor sensation.

I like to serve these in a DIY taco bar with warm corn tortillas (doubled up for extra sturdiness), slices of avocado, pickled red onions, a squeeze of lime, and some cilantro. You can of course use whatever taco accompaniments that you love (salsa verde is especially good).

carnitas taco bar ohsweetbasil.com Pork carnitas with pickled red onions ohsweetbasil.com

What is Carnitas?

Carnitas are a Mexican dish made by braising or simmering pork in oil or preferably lard until tender.

Carnitas are served with tortillas.

Are Carnitas Different Than Tacos?

Carnitas is a method of preparing pork.

The meat can be used in tacos.

Can Carnitas Be Frozen?

Carnitas can be frozen for longer storage time.

Cool completely, then place the meat in heavy duty freezer bag and freeze.

Noshing on Pork Carnitas


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carnitas taco bar ohsweetbasil.com

Pork Carnitas

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 4 -6 servings
Chunks of pork shoulder are slow cooked in the oven until they render out and start frying in their own fat, turning them fall-apart tender and crispy on the edges. It's salty, sticky, savory, and just a little sweet.


For the Pickled Red Onions

  • 1/2 large red onion cut into thin slices
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

For the Carnitas

  • 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder Boston Butt, pork shoulder roast
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup water or chicken broth
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion cut into small pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp pepper


For the Pickled Red Onions

  • To make the pickled onions: Add all of the juices, sugar, and salt to a jar and shake to combine.
  • Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the onions, cooking for 20-30 seconds to soften.
  • Drain and add to the jar of liquid while still warm.
  • Cover, shake, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (but it's better after 4).

For the Carnitas

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  • Cut pork into 3" chunks, discarding any big pieces of connective tissue, but keeping all of the fat.
  • In a large, wide oven-proof pot, dutch oven, or cast iron skillet, put the pork chunks into 1 layer.
  • Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cumin powder.
  • Scatter the garlic and onions on top.
  • On the side, combine orange juice and chicken broth (or water).
  • Pour over the pork until 3/4 submerged.
  • You want to be able to see pork on the top so you may not use all of the liquid.
  • Pour over the vegetable oil.
  • Place pot into oven on middle rack or so there is even space all around it.
  • Let cook for 4-5 hours, checking every 30 minutes or so. It should take about 1.5 hours for the liquid to start simmering and the fat to start rendering out of the pork.
  • After 1.5 hours, if the liquid is not simmering, turn up the oven by 50 degrees to kick start the process then turn it back down after it is simmering.
  • Turn the pieces over every 30 minutes. Eventually, you want the pork to be frying in its own fat with some of the liquid reduced. If it looks too dry, add some more chicken broth/water or OJ. Keep checking it with 2 forks to see how easily it pulls apart. When it falls apart, it is done. But make sure the fat has rendered out! The one thing you don't want is a bit chunk of fat on top of the pieces of pork.
  • Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly then shred with 2 forks or tongs, adding a bit of orange juice if it looks too dry.
  • Serve with corn tortillas, pickled red onions, slices of avocado, or your favorite taco toppings.


to freeze: place in a zip lock bag, pour a little liquid in, seal and freeze for up to 3 months
Nutrition Facts
Pork Carnitas
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 646 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Fat 16g25%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 7g
Cholesterol 272mg91%
Sodium 2581mg112%
Potassium 1992mg57%
Carbohydrates 15g5%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 104g208%
Vitamin A 204IU4%
Vitamin C 45mg55%
Calcium 86mg9%
Iron 6mg33%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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About the authors

carrian feik cheney oh sweet basil

Cade and Carrian have three children and love to spend time together whether it’s vacationing or snuggled up on the couch for a good movie.

And this family especially loves to eat.

They love everything from the keep you fit and healthy to the get out your sweat pants indulgent and everything in between.

But most of all, they love the memories made, shared and treasured and it’s all thanks to a meal shared together with loved ones.

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Recipe Rating


  • Made this last night and it was delicious. The pork came out so tender and flavorful. We will definitely make this again.

    • Reply
    • Hurray! Love to hear that!!

      • Reply
  • This recipe was absolutely delicious! Unfortunately it was gobbled up so I don’t have any pictures to share. I highly recommend, if you have the time, make this!

    • Reply
    • Thank you thank you thank you, Heather! We never have any leftovers either!

      • Reply
  • wow, these look amazing….can’t wait to try them.

    • Reply
  • Wow! These tacos look so moist and tender!

    • Reply
    • Thanks Kelly! They certainly are =)

      • Reply
  • Starting prep for this now! So excited to have this for dinner tonight!

    • WOOHOO!! It looked like it turned out awesome!

      • Reply
  • Awesome guest post….way to start out strong Vijay! These carnitas look absolutely amazing!

    • Reply
    • Haha, thanks Kelli! They are corner kitchen friendly so we’ll have to cook them up together sometime =)

      • Reply
  • Those look so amazing!

    • Reply
    • Hope you get the chance to make them Carla!

      • Reply
  • Those look and sound fabulous Carrie!

    • Reply
  • I knew I should not open your page this late)) even though I am not a fan of Mexican, the meat looks so good!

    • Reply
    • Marina – hopefully we can convince you with this recipe! You could probably change up the flavors of the spices and liquid and turn this into a non-Mexican dish using the same technique.

      • Reply
  • This is going in our Taco Tuesday rotation. Mmm…

    • Reply
    • Hope you enjoy it Emily! Let us know how it turns out.

      • Reply
  • OMG this is making me drool! YUMMY!

    • Reply
    • It is indeed drool-worthy Dorothy, thanks =)

      • Reply
  • Love it love it love it – I hope you’re not tired hearing me saying this. 🙂 I’ll definitely give this a try.

    • Reply
    • Never! Best commenter ever 😉

      • Reply
  • Those might be the most delicious carnitas I’ve ever seen. So crispy and gorgeous!!

    • Reply
    • Wow, thank you so much Kelley. That means so much coming from you! It’s one of my first real photoshoots with my new camera.

      • Reply
  • Oh yes, this looks amazing.

    • Reply
    • Kalyn – thanks! I bet you could do wonders with this in the slow cooker =)

      • Reply
  • I love everything about this recipe. And pickled onions….my FAVORITE! heading over to check out your site right now!

    • Reply
    • Awesome, thank you!

      • Reply
  • Yes, yes, yes. I adore carnitas like nothing else. So good! Can’t wait to try them with pickled onions!

    • Reply
    • Same here! We ended up using the leftovers in omelettes for breakfast. The pickled onions are so easy and I really like the flavor/color contrast to the pork.

      • Reply
  • I did slow cooker shredded pork this weekend – trying this next and it will be ASAP!

    • Reply
    • @Cassie – I’m admittedly a newbie to slow cooking but I’m sure this would be delicious in there as well! I just really like how all of the liquid evaporates and the pork gets crispy in this method. Plus, my Mexican friends tell me it’s the authentic way =)

      • Reply
      • I’m all about the crispiness. It’s just like the world’s best pork we had in San Fran one time, and I’ve tried recreating it forever. Now I can! Booyah!

  • Thank you so much for having me!

    • Reply
  • Love seeing Vijay over here!! And I am now officially craving carnitas!! YUM!!

    • Reply

4 Things You Should STOP Doing When Grilling!