Carnitas is a traditional Mexican dish made of pork seasoned with herbs and spices.

It’s slow-cooked or braised until it becomes tender, then shredded and crisped, making it delicious to use in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, or even alongside rice and beans.

From its modest start in roadside kitchens, to its lively presence in urban restaurants and home kitchens, carnitas embodies the spirit of Mexican culture.


Having eaten our share of carnitas in Mexico, we enjoy making tacos, using warmed tortillas and an assortment of taco toppers, including fresh-made guacamole and Pico de Gallo.
Servings 8
Author Wanda Baker


  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp Mexican oregano, or regular oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 3-4 lb boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into 2-3 inch pieces
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 small onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs cilantro
  • 1 tbsp chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • small flour or corn tortillas

Taco Toppers

  • white onion, diced
  • Pico de Gallo or salsa
  • Guacamole or avocado slices
  • sour cream
  • pickled onion
  • corn
  • cilantro, chopped
  • radishes, sliced
  • lime wedges


  • In a small bowl, mix together herbs and spices with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Toss the cubes of meat with the spice mixture making sure to cover all sides.
  • In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add oil. Once the oil is hot, add pork pieces to the pot. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Turn pieces using tongs as they brown, and once browned on all sides, remove to a plate. Continue until all the pork is used.
  • Preheat oven to 325 F.
  • Add orange juice and broth to the Dutch oven and scrape up any brown bits left on the bottom. Stir in onion, garlic, bay leaves, cilantro, chipotle peppers and lime juice, nestle in all the pork cubes, and bring to a boil.
  • Cover the pot, put it in the oven for 1½ hours. Start checking the pork after about an hour; look for it to shred easily. Once cooked, turn off the oven, leaving the pot inside while you prepare the ingredients for tacos.
  • Preheat oven to 400 F.
  • Remove pot from the oven and with a slotted spoon, scoop out pork to a plate and shred with two forks, or your fingers if not too hot. Strain the remaining liquid.
  • Spread the shredded pork on a rimmed baking sheet lined with tin foil. Put the sheet pan in the oven, pour in a couple of cups of the liquid and cook for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. The liquid will evaporate and the meat start to crisp.
  • Remove the carnitas from the oven and put in a bowl. Cover with tin foil to keep warm until ready to serve with your favourite toppers.


Guacamole: With a fork, mash together 2-3 ripe avocados and combine with 1 small diced tomato, 1/3 cup diced white onion, 2 tbsp lime juice, 1 tsp finely diced jalapeno, 1 tbsp chopped cilantro and a pinch of salt. Mix well and taste, adjusting salt and lime juice as needed. Keep one avocado pit in the guacamole to help with discolouring.
Pico de Gallo: Mix together 3 medium diced tomatoes, ½ cup diced white onion, ½ diced jalapeno (seeded if you want it less spicy), ½ cup chopped cilantro, 2 tbsp lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Taste and adjust salt and lemon juice as needed.