Crispy Mexican Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas with Escabeche

These Crispy Mexican Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas are the best, easiest carnitas you will ever make! Pile them into warm corn tortillas for tacos, or use them for burritos, nachos, salads, and more.

That crispy outer texture with the tender juicy interior is what really makes these pork carnitas and not just slow roasted Mexican pork, so definitely do not skip this step!

 

What Is Escabeche?

Escabeche is a pickled vegetable dish typically made with onions and peppers. It originated in Spain, but it’s served throughout Latin America and it’s super easy to make. I particularly love the slightly sweet, tangy taste of the quick pickled red onions that are used as a condiment in Mexico, especially the Yucatán peninsula.

This Yucatán red onion version of escabeche (also known as Escabeche de Cebolla) can be served with a lot more than tacos, but I find that the sweet and sour flavor pairs perfectly with the crispy carnitas, and the acidity helps balance the richness of the pork.

What Cut of Pork Is Used for Carnitas?

You can make this with either a boneless or bone-in pork shoulder, or pork butt, and it will turn out amazing. Some people feel that boneless is easier to work with, but by the time the meat is done cooking, it literally just falls right off the bone so if that is the cheaper cut of meat or all you can find, then definitely go for it!

Just pay attention to weight because the bone will add some extra weight to the meat before cooking. Instead of a 4-5 pound boneless pork shoulder or pork butt, you might want to watch for a 6-7 pound bone-in pork shoulder or pork butt.

Crispy Mexican Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas with Escabeche

These Crispy Mexican Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas are the best, easiest carnitas you will ever make! Pile them into warm corn tortillas for tacos, or use them for burritos, nachos, salads, and more.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican

Ingredients
  

For the Pork Carnitas

  • 4-5 pounds boneless pork shoulder or pork butt
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 2 tbl freshly squeezed lime juice about 2 limes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup green salsa
  • 2 tbl brown sugar
  • 1 tbl ground cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 jalapeño seeds removed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

Escabeche

  • 1 red onion thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup white vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 tbl sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp whole black peppercorns
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • 1 garlic clove thinly sliced
  • pinch red pepper flakes

Instructions
 

Carnitas

  • Place the pork in a large slow cooker. Add in the orange juice, lime juice, diced tomatoes and salsa.
  • Mix together the brown sugar, cumin, salt, pepper, oregano, and chili powder in a small bowl and rub it into the meat. Add the chopped onion, jalapeño, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks, then cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 5-6 hours.
  • At the 8 hour mark (or the 5 hour mark if cooking on high), remove the meat from the crock pot (do NOT discard all of the juices from the slow cooker) and place it in a large baking dish (so juices don't run all over your counter). Remove any fat from the meat and then shred the meat into bite-size pieces with a fork. Return the pork to the slow cooker with all of the juices from cooking and let it cook an additional 30 minutes while you prep garnishes and all the things you want to serve with your pork carnitas.
  • Turn on the oven to broil.
  • Transfer the shredded pork to a large baking sheet covered in tinfoil and spread into an even, single layer. Broil in the oven for 5-8 minutes, then give the meat a good toss with some tongs so other parts can get hit by the broiler and return to the oven for another 5-8 minutes under the broiler. This will give some of the pork a bit of char and create the crispy texture that really makes amazing carnitas even more amazing (and authentic). Serve in corn or flour tortillas with cilantro, fresh avocado, maybe some thinly sliced radishes or chopped white onion and cotija cheese, and homemade escabeche. Or add it to salads, nachos, soups, etc.

Escabeche

  • In a small saucepan, combine all of the escabeche ingredients except the sliced onion and bring to a boil. Add the red onion and stir for about 30 seconds to combine and for the onion to be coated in the vinegar brine. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in a container and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Notes

Leftover carnitas will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days when stored in an airtight container. Reheat on a baking sheet in a 350ºF oven until warmed through, in a skillet on the stovetop, or in the microwave.
Keyword carnitas, pork, tacos
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