Introduction: Simplest Carnitas

About: Cooking is what sparks joy and creativity in my life. Food is my passion and my way of sharing my culture with you. I love eating, cooking, and learning about your culture through food.

Carnitas tacos are one of my favorite tacos. If you are ever in the bay area check out Taqueria San Bruno in San Bruno, CA. They have the best carnitas tacos. When I passed by this post on Reddit, it inspired me to make carnitas at home. The results? It turned out way too good not to share. Even though it didn’t beat Taqueria San Bruno carnitas, the flavor is amazing and best of all it is so easy to make. I modified the original recipe, added more flavor to mimic my favorite carnitas.

And of course, we will also be making our own salsa and corn tortilla from scratch. :)

For those who like to print out recipes and keep them, here is a link to a printable copy.

Step 1: Ingredients

Note: Don't be intimidated by the list of ingredients. The cooking process is very simple. The Salsa Verde and corn tortilla recipes are optional, so feel free to cut time with store bought ones. Although, corn tortilla taste way better when they are made fresh.


  • 1 tbsp of Chili powder
  • ½ tbsp of ground cinnamon
  • ½ tbsp of dried cumin
  • ¾ tbsp of dried oregano
  • ½ tbsp of salt
  • A lot of black pepper
  • 2 dried ancho chili
  • 3 orange or 1 ½ cups of orange juice
  • ½ cup of water
  • 3 jalapenos
  • 2 limes
  • 6 lbs of pork shoulder (ask the butcher for carnitas pork)
  • 1 can of pineapple rings (or more if you like more pineapple)

Salsa Verde — optional, can be subs. with store bought salsa

  • 9 tomatillos
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 3–5 garlic cloves
  • ⅓ of cilantro bunch
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • Juice of 2–3 limes
  • 2 avocado

Fresh Corn tortilla (Unfortunately, I eyeball this and didn’t measured) — optional

  • Masa flour
  • Olive oil
  • Water


  • Limes wedges
  • Valentina hot sauce ( A must for this dish. This sauce can be found at Mexican stores)
  • Cilantro
  • Cojita cheese

Step 2: Prepping the Meat

Rinse the pork with salt and water. Use a lot of salt. This step helps remove the pork smell when cooked. Pat the pork dried with a paper towel. Mix all the dried spices up. Rub the pork with the spices. Make sure to get it into every crack and corner. Place the pork into the slow cooker.

Step 3: Making the Secret Cooking Marinade

Soak the 2 dried ancho chili in hot water until it soften, ~ 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, drain and add it to a blender. Squeeze oranges and limes. Add the juices into the blender plus ½ cup of water. Blend everything up and pour it over the top of the pork into the slow cooker. Cut the onion in half and the jalapenos. Toss them into the slow cooker. Set the slower cooker on high heat and cook for 5 hours with the lid on.

Step 4: Final Carnitas Touches

After 5 hours, remove the lid. Shred the pork with forks. Add in 1 can of pineapple juice and continue cooking until all the liquid are absorb into the pork. Once all the liquid is gone, the pork is done! Taste and season with additional salt if needed. My tasted perfectly, so I didn’t have to add any salt. Grill the pineapple rings on a stove top or broil them on high heat until golden brown. Try to avoid burning them like I did . Chop them into tiny chunks and add them to the carnitas. Mix the carnitas.

Note: the reason why the meat is sitting in a stove top pot is because my slow cooker of 30+ years finally broke. We blamed the pork as the pork was too heavy for the pot hahaha...Anyway, I really enjoyed and love this slow cooker, so hopefully I can get it working soon.

Step 5: Making the Salsa Verde

To make the salsa verde, peel and half the onion. Broil the onion, garlic, and tomatillo on high until lightly burned. Flip the tomatillo and onion over and broil the other side. Cut the jalapenos in half and remove the seed. Remove all the seeds from jalapenos unless you are down for the spice challenge. Add the rest of the salsa ingredients into the blender and blend it up. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Step 6: Making the Tortilla

For the corn tortilla, add in the olive oil and massage the dough. I used roughly about 3 tbsp of oil for about 3 cups of masa flour. Add in the water slowly while mixing until a dough ball is form. To test if the dough is perfect, take a pit and press it on the tortilla press. If the dough crack then add more water to the dough. The perfect dough should flatten without any crack. Let the dough rest for 5–10 minutes and then form them into balls. Flatten them with a tortilla press or rolling pin. Cook them in a skillet and make sure to flip them. Put the cook ones in a foil pouch to keep them warm.

Step 7: Serve!

Throw some pork into a hot cast iron skillet and crisp up the meat. Put some on the tortilla. Top the tortilla with some cotija cheese and the salsa verde. Enjoy with the Valentina sauce.

For any additional tips check out the original post on my blog.

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