An easy slow cooker recipe for carnitas with a unique way to enjoy them! These slow cooker pork carnitas are served in crispy sweet potato skins to make them Whole30 and Paleo compliant!
Hello again! Did you all have a nice 3-day weekend? I know it wasn’t a 3-day weekend for everyone, but since Kyle was off yesterday, I decided to take the day off, too! We spent the day driving around to different Pier 1 stores for gold-hammered wine glasses to complete our bar in the dining room. 😬
I didn’t actually plan on buying new wine glasses, but while in Pier 1 for a completely different reason, I stumbled on beautiful hammered-gold wine glasses. I really don’t need another wine glass, but I have an amazing wine rack made out of a pallet that my dad and I constructed. Well, my dad did all of the work, I basically watched.
Anyway, it has slots to hang four wine glasses underneath where the bottles go. I’ve been working on decorating our dining room for months now, so when I saw these wine glasses I just had to have them! The glasses that I had in there were colorful ones that didn’t go with my new color scheme.. which is cream, black, and gold. If you can’t tell, I love me some neutrals!
Of course the local store only had two glasses in stock. No big deal… I’ll look online. We leave and I start looking. Nothing. Not available on their website and nothing similar anywhere. Well, then I started to obsess over these darn wine glasses. I checked every store within reasonable distance and none of them had the glasses! I finally found one that was an hour away and my incredibly understanding husband agreed to go and get them. So, we drove an hour to pick up the glasses and drove right back home. But, the glasses look perfect in the dining room, so I’d say it was totally worth it!
Now let’s talk about slow cooker pork carnitas!
This recipe is insanely easy you guys. Plus, it uses very few ingredients! Pork shoulder is cut up into large chunks and tossed in the slow cooker with orange zest, orange juice, cumin, salt, and pepper. Set it to low and forget about it for 8 hours. So easy and so darn tasty!
A few notes about the recipe:
- One of the best characteristics of carnitas is the crunchy, caramelized bits of pork. Obviously you won’t have that in a slow cooker. My solution to that is to broil the shredded pork! It’s SO delicious! Now, before you think it’s too much work, just trust me here. You have to shred to the pork anyway, so just do it on a baking sheet while you preheat your broiler. Pop it under the broiler for a few minutes and you’ve got crispy bits.
- You can use a pork shoulder or a pork loin for this recipe. I recommend a pork shoulder for best results and flavor as it has more fat. However, the one I photographed is a pork loin. Still very tasty, but since it’s lacking some fat, you will want to drizzle the shredded pork with some olive oil before you complete the broiling step.
- You can keep things traditional and serve the carnitas with corn tortillas, or you can go the fun route and try the sweet potato skins! Basically, you bake off some sweet potatoes until they are tender throughout. Then, hollow them out (save the potatoes for another use!) and crisp up the skins. Pile ’em high with the pork and top them with salsa, avocado, and red onion. If you aren’t doing a Whole30, you can top them with cheese or sour cream, too!
We enjoyed these slow cooker pork carnitas for dinner with a side of sautéed green beans, but they would also make a great game-day snack! The leftovers are just as tasty the next day, too.
Have a great week, friends! 😊
- 1 (2-4 lb.) Pork Shoulder or Pork Loin*, cut into large chunks
- ¾ Cup Fresh Orange Juice, plus the zest of 1 orange
- ¼ Cup Water
- 1 ½ Teaspoons Ground Cumin
- 1 ½ Teaspoons Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 4 Medium/Large Sweet Potatoes, scrubbed well and pricked a few times with a fork
- Extra-Light Olive Oil, for drizzling
- Salsa, homemade or your favorite store-bought
- Avocado, or guacamole if you’re feeling ambitious!
- Finely Diced Red Onion, optional
- Fresh Limes and Cilantro
- Place the pork chunks in your slow cooker and add in the orange zest, orange juice, water, cumin, salt, and pepper. Set the slow cooker to low and allow the pork to cook until it shreds easily, about 8 hours.
- About an hour and a half before you’re ready to eat, preheat the oven to 400º. Rub the sweet potatoes with olive oil and a few pinches of salt. Bake the potatoes until they are tender throughout, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cut each potato in half and when you can handle them, scoop out the flesh leaving a thin layer of sweet potato so the skins stay in tact. Return the hollowed out skins to the baking sheet and drizzle very lightly with oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the potatoes and set aside.
- Preheat the broiler.
- Remove the pork chunks to a baking sheet. Shred it apart with two forks and pour over half of the cooking liquid. Place the baking sheet under the broiler in 3-5 minutes increments, stirring it each time. I did this 3 times to get the desired color and crispness. Before serving, toss the pork with the remainder of the cooking liquid.
- Pile the pork into the sweet potato skins and top as desired.
- *If you use a pork loin (NOT a tenderloin), keep in mind there won't be as much fat as in a pork shoulder. Before you complete the broiling, drizzle the pork with olive oil.