This Tacos De Carnitas recipe may well be the most tender, moist, and flavorful you’ve ever had! High returns for minimal effort. The pork is cooked in the oven (versus deep fried in lard) until the meat pulls apart effortlessly.

Two tacos de carnitas on a small brown plate with a lime on the side and a bowl of red salsa.

Carnitas

Carnitas get a bad rap for being very fatty as traditionally they’re deep fried in oil. They are delicious of course but if I can cook something without frying, I’m game!

Let me tell you that Carnitas don’t have to be fried in oil in order to make them juicy, tender and delicious. I’m so excited to share how easy it is to get yourself from zero to amazing, crowd-pleasing, finger-licking Mexican pulled pork glory.

This recipe has been adapted from my favorite chef in the U.S. at Elote Cafe in Sedona; Chef Jeff Smedstad. Everything I’ve eaten from him is top notch with true authentic Mexican flavors.

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Healthier version – It’s packed with protein and lower in fat than the classic carnitas. There is no deep frying involved!
  • Simple ingredients – This easy recipe only uses 7 ingredients that most likely you already have handy.
  • Perfect for meal prep – The carnitas keep in the fridge for a few days or freeze leftovers for later.

***This post was originally published on Dec 2015. It has been updated to be more helpful.

A table with pork carnitas tacos on a plate and all garnishes on the side.

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Ingredients

One of the reasons I love this recipe so much is that it only uses 7 ingredients. That’s it! No fancy spices or additional oils.

  • The pork – 4 lbs pork shoulder or boston butt (with some fat on it) cut into 4-inch chunks.
  • The seasoning – All you need is kosher salt, fresh ground pepper (always better) and granulated garlic or garlic powder.
  • For the juices – Coca-cola, whole milk and orange juice. This combination of ingredients may seem a little strange but you have to trust the process. The results are delicious!
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How To Make The Carnitas

  • Season the pork on all sides with the kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and garlic, then place it in a roasting pan.
  • Pour the coke, milk, and orange juice over the pork.
  • Roast uncovered for 2 hours at 350, turning occasionally until it is fork tender. Remove most of the juices, along any large pieces of fat from the roast if any. (keep some pork juice in the pan to prevent it from drying out too much).
  • Place some of the pork chunks in a bowl and shred with two forks (or your hands!).
  • Return the shredded pork to the pan and repeat with the remainder of the pork.
  • Brush the shredded pork with the remaining pan juices and slide the roasting pan under the broiler until crisp and browned. About 15 minutes.

Serve on warm corn tortillas with your favorite toppings like chopped raw white onion, cilantro or Mexican Pickled Onions and a good salsa like Chile De Arbol Or Tomatillo Salsa. Don’t forget to add a squeeze of lime to your tacos!

Adding more layers of flavors and textures does make a difference when eating carnitas.

A table with pork carnitas in a plate and all garnishes on the side.

What to serve with Tacos De Carnitas

Tacos De Carnitas are such a great main course or party food option, requiring only a few ingredients and minimal effort. But what do you serve alongside these flavorful tacos? The toppings alone make a great companion but a side or two would not hurt.

Here are some pairing ideas:



How to Store

The first step once you’ve made your salsa is to cool it down. Do not place a hot salsa in the fridge or freezer.

  • Fridge– Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight storage container for 2-3 days..
  • Freezer – Freeze in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container or freezer bags for up to 3 months.
  • To Thaw – Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

To reheat:

On the stove: Place pork on a nonstick pan and heat over medium heat until warmed through. Stir often to heat the meat evenly.

To reheat in the Microwave: Add the pork and leftover juices to a microwave safe bowl. Place a damp paper towel over the meat and heat in one minute increments until warmed through to 165°F.

Two carnita tacos on a small brown plate with a lime on the side.

I hope you like this recipe! Share it, or leave a rating and comment below. For questions that need an answer right away, please contact  me and I’ll get back to you asap. Gracias!!!! xx, Ana

Print Recipe

Two carnita tacos on a small brown plate with a lime on the side and a bowl of red salsa.

Tacos De Carnitas

Servings 10 people
Ana Frias
4.60 from 5 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes
This Tacos De Carnitas recipe may well be the most tender, moist, and flavorful you’ve ever had! High returns for minimal effort. The pork is cooked in the oven (versus deep fried in lard) until the meat pulls apart effortlessly. 
10 people

Ingredients  

  • 4 lbs pork shoulder or boston butt (with some fat on it) cut into 4-inch chunks
  • tablespoon kosher salt
  • teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • 1 cup coca-cola
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup orange juice
Garnishes
  • Pickled onions, chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice are a must!
  • Also chile de arbol or tomatillo salsa.
  • Chopped avocado.

Instructions 

  • Season the pork on all sides with the kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and garlic, then place it in a roasting pan. Pour the coke, milk, and orange juice over the pork.
    4 lbs pork shoulder or boston butt (with some fat on it), 1½ tablespoon kosher salt, 1½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper, 2 teaspoons granulated garlic or garlic powder, 1 cup coca-cola, 1 cup whole milk, 1 cup orange juice
  • Roast uncovered for 2 hours at 350, turning occasionally until it is fork tender. Remove most of the juices, along any large pieces of fat from the roast if any. (keep some pork juice in the pan to prevent it from drying out too much).
  • Place some of the pork chunks in a bowl and shred with two forks (or your hands!). Return the shredded pork to the pan and repeat with the remaining of the pork.
  • Brush the shredded pork with the remaining pan juices and slide the roasting pan under the broiler until crisp and browned. About 15 minutes.
  • Serve on tacos with your favorite toppings and side dishes.

Add Your Own Private Notes

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Nutrition

Serving: 4oz | Calories: 154kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 497mg | Potassium: 65mg | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 3IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 9mg

The nutritional information and US conversions are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this data. If this is important to you, please verify with your favourite nutrition calculator and/or unit conversion tool.

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Recipe Rating




6 Comments

  1. 3 stars
    I was a little surprised at how unseasoned this recipe was.

    In addition to garlic and salt/pepper in the beginning, I also added cumin, onion flakes, and the zest and juice of one lemon. A few hours later, when I took it out of the oven to shred it, I was disappointed at how bland it was. I could taste traces of cumin but little else.

    To fix, after I drained the pan I added more garlic powder (no idea how much I actually used but it was enough to coat the whole roast – I like garlic), and about 2 teaspoons each of onion powder, ancho chile powder, paprika paste, turmeric, oregano, red pepper flakes, and coriander. If I’d had juniper berries, I definitely would have added those too, but alas.

    This recipe has a good base but definitely needs some doctoring.

  2. 5 stars
    OMG! Amazing! I’ve been wanting to make pork carnitas forever but it seemed too complicated. This recipe was so easy. At first I was skeptical with the whole oven thing and when I saw the ingredients (milk, orange juice, Coke). Plus I love the crispiness of carnitas and wasn’t sure if this recipe would get that.

    Well, no reason to worry. Everything turned out sooooo good – full of flavor & crispy. Just the way I like it!

    Leftovers kept well too. I will be adding this to my rotation.

    THANK YOU!

  3. Hi Ana – This recipe looks so great! I write for ParentMap.com and would love to include this idea in a roundup article of Farmer’s Market Recipes. We would describe the recipe in our own words, and link back/credit your site for the recipe and use one image. Would you be OK with this?

    1. Hi Sharlyn! Sorry I’m just seeing your comment. Of course you may link to this. I really appreciate your consideration! I’ll check out your website 🙂 Have a great day!