Pork Carnitas Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa

If you don’t have a slow cooker I think this recipe alone is worth the $25 or $30 investment (we use this basic, inexpensive slow cooker).

We have tested these pork tacos on quite a lot of people (including our dinner club guests), and it gets rave reviews every time!

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Tacos on 100 Days of Real Food

I’ve also already shared another slow cooker favorite of ours “The Best Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot,” which can easily be turned into overnight homemade chicken stock. There is no better way than a slow cooker to make inexpensive cuts of meat delish.

Pork Carnitas Tacos Recipe from 100 Days of Real Food

Pork Carnitas Tacos

Adapted from Marcela Valladolid
4.8 from 26 votes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 6 hrs
Total Time: 6 hrs 15 mins
Print Recipe
Servings: 8 tacos

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lbs pork shoulder (or Boston butt roast) cut into 5 or 6 small pieces (in Charlotte we use pork from Grateful Growers Farm, which is sold at the Matthews Farmers’ Market and Hillbilly Produce)
  • 3 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 onion cut into 6 or 8 chunks
  • 3 cloves garlic whole
  • 1 recipe salsa Tomatillo (Link in notes. Use this recipe or can be purchased at Trader Joe’s, though theirs is a bit salty)
  • 1 ½ recipe corn tortillas See recipe link in notes
  • 2 avocados sliced
  • cilantro

Instructions
 

  • Mix together oregano, pepper, salt, and cumin and rub on outside of pork pieces in bottom of slow cooker.
  • Throw onion and garlic on top of pork.
  • Slow cook on low for 6 – 8 hours or until meat is falling apart.
  • When finished discard the onion and garlic. Drain meat and shred with a fork.
  • Serve warm with tortillas, tomatillo salsa, avocados and cilantro.

Notes

Recipe – Tomatillo Salsa
Recipe – Whole-Grain Corn Tortillas
We recommend organic ingredients when feasible.
Nutrition Facts
Nutrition Facts
Pork Carnitas Tacos
Amount Per Serving
Calories 194 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat 12g18%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 46mg15%
Sodium 349mg15%
Potassium 520mg15%
Carbohydrates 7g2%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 15g30%
Vitamin A 85IU2%
Vitamin C 6.9mg8%
Calcium 35mg4%
Iron 1.5mg8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
 

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144 thoughts on “Pork Carnitas Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa”

  1. 5 stars
    Hello there!!!
    I have made this carnitas recipe several times, A family and friends favorite pork Carnitas. I just do it slightly diferent. I add orange juice from the fruit and a laurel leave. It add the flavor that I remember from my childhood in México.

  2. Do you think I could substituted chicken thighs? I’m making one batch pork and then looking for an alternative for a few non pork eaters.

  3. Genevieve Rodrigue

    5 stars
    These carnitas were simply amazing!!! Made them for a birthday fiesta and everyone was raving about their goodness!!! Thank you for such a simple yet delicious recipe!

  4. Does anyone have recommendations on what to substitute for the avocado? I love it, but I have a severe avocado allergy.

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      While the avocado is admittedly hard to replace :) , I’d say any other of your favorite taco-style toppings would do.

  5. Makes a great pulled pork. Very tender and easy to shred! I did add some cayenne and ancho chili powders for some heat.
    Good to snack on cold too.

  6. 5 stars
    I made this today, along with the whole-grain corn tortillas and the tomatillo sauce. Wow!!! We loved it! My husband and son requested that I make this again! It is a definite keeper!

  7. 5 stars
    Made these last night. Sooooo easy and yummy! My 3 year old came home from school and said “What’s that smell? It smells good! I’ll eat lots!” And she did! I kept the onion and put it on the tortilla along with the home made tomatillo salsa, avocado slice, and some sour cream. My husband also put his rice on his. Yum!

  8. 4 stars
    I am just curious why you discard the garlic and onion? I minced the garlic so didn’t take it out. I sliced the onions but took them out, but thought about adding them back to the leftovers I am going to freeze.

  9. Hi. I’m planning to make this on Friday (today is Sunday). Can I make the salsa early and freeze? Or how long will it keep in the fridge? I’ll do the pork the day of.

  10. ive made this before and love it! i slacked today and started it a little late. id rather not eat at 9pm, can it be cooked on high? or maybe high part of the time? or do you think that would dry it out too much?

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Delmara. So sorry that we are not able to answer recipe questions in real time. How did it turn out?

  11. How much tomatillo sauce do you need for the recipe? I like that you suggest using store bought if you don’t have time to make fresh, but I seldom see what the quantity should be.

  12. I saw that a few people have used pork tenderloin. I have a pork tenderloin tip, and was wondering if this would work for this recipe?

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Michelle. It is the higher fat content of the shoulder/butt that makes this recipe moist and juicy. A tenderloin is a very lean cut.

  13. 5 stars
    My husband looked at me after a couple of bites and said ‘I could eat this ALL the time!’ Great, easy recipe! I’ve never made carnitas before, and this couldn’t be more simple and flavorful! I used Frontera tomatillo salsa – local company in Chicago, no crazy chems and salt is one of the last ingredients so not as salty as others. I also used Whole Foods corn tortillas. This is going into our permanent meal rotation, thanks Lisa!

  14. This recipe was so easy to make and absolutely delicious. Instead of throwing the onions away I ate them. I would have like to save the flavorful grease to do something with later, but didn’t know whether to refrigerate it or not, so I threw it out.
    I am definitely going to put this on my monthly meal plan. Yum!!

  15. Hi! I have never cooked pork shoulder before. Do you trim fat off of pork shoulder or leave for moisture? Thank you. I

  16. Yummy! I make a Mexican Soup very similar to this. BUT, I recently took a food safety certification course, and you should never put frozen meat into a crock pot. With the low heat, the bacteria can build up during the slow thawing to cooking time. Just thought I’d share that info!

  17. I squeezed 1 small Valencia orange in with the meat. It turned out a amazing and the Orange adds the sweetness found in the authentic recipes (which includes brown sugar and oranges) huge hit. Portions may appear too small but only feels that way because you are left wanting more of a good thing.

  18. I shop at thrift stores. If your thrift store has kitchen things, sooner or later there will be cheap slow cookers. Mine comes from a thrift store and has been doing yeoman service for eight years.

    Just saying.

  19. This is my favorite recipe to use when we invite people over for dinner. They love the pork carnitas and always ask for the recipe. This makes enough to feed 3-4 families. I also make cilantro-lime rice and spelt flour tortillas. Thank you so much for the recipe 100 days of real food!!!

  20. Made these last night, and we could not wait for the leftovers at lunch today! Spoiler alert: they were just as tasty-maybe even better-after one day. Such a great recipe!

  21. 5 stars
    I made this carnitas recipe today for a family get-together and I don’t think I’ve ever received so many compliments. The best part is that the pork took all of 5 minutes to put together and then I could walk away and hit the pool with the rest of the family. Thanks for all that you do to make clean eating easy and delicious!

  22. “Oh My”, These haven’t even made it to the table yet and I can’t stop grabbing bites every time I walk by!! Started to double the recipe, Kicking myself now!! Hopefully there will be some left for the supper table tonight!! If not, Oh Well, I got to enjoy it!!

  23. 5 stars
    These were amazing!!! The whole family really enjoyed these and couldn’t get enough. Needless to say there were no leftovers. Will definitely be making these again very soon!!

  24. 5 stars
    This is the first 100 days of real food recipe I have made. It was fantastic. Even my picky 2 year old ate the pork. My 1 year old goobled it up and my husband fist bumped me. All in all a rounding success.

  25. 5 stars
    Yummy! Made them for a dinner party. huge success. The tomatillo salsa really adds a wonderful component. Because I am paleo, I used cabbage leaves instead of tortillas. It gave a real nice crunch, although lettuce leaves would be good too!

  26. 5 stars
    I can’t even describe how amazing and easy this recipe is! And the smell…oh my goodness! I could smell the deliciousness when I pulled into the garage. We made some pickled red onions to go on top, which I highly suggest for an added touch. This will be a regular meal in my household! Thank you!!

  27. 5 stars
    I made these last night and used 3 pounds of meat (including the bone which was discarded after cooking) for 6 adults. I didn’t think our portions were too large but we could have used more. I definitely don’t think that 2-2.5 pounds of meat would feed 8-10 people as the recipe says. Just my experience!

  28. I made this and it is so good. Very easy and fast to put together in the morning. Its not spicey so I might add a touch of cheyanne pepper to the rub next time. Thank you!

  29. 5 stars
    Made this last night and it was AMAZING! I wasn’t sure about all the oregano but I’m glad I included it. We also used a pork tenderloin because we had one in the freezer already. I added 1/2 c of water as well, because I was worried it might be a tad dry since I was using the tenderloin. Will definitely be making this again!!!

  30. 5 stars
    I made these tonight for my family (husband, 12 yo, 9 yo and 7 yo). Super duper yummy! They all slurped it up! Trying to keep it real (foods)!

  31. 5 stars
    Great recipe. My guy was stationed in California and loves carnitas and said he hasn’t had good ones since he left there. I made it with pork roast with the tomatilla salsa as well and it was a hit. This will be a regular meal at our house.

  32. Making this tonight in the Dutch oven in the oven ( don’t own a slow cooker).Browned the pork first though. Smells delish. Can’t wait to try it!

  33. Mary Catherin Martin

    5 stars
    We love this recipe & I am trying to make it even easier by making multiple batches ahead of time & freezing so I can just dump it in the crockpot in the morning. Have you ever done this? What changes would you suggest with cooking? I was thinking 10 hours on low?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Mary. We’ve not tried it with frozen ingredients. 10 hours sounds about right. Let us know how it turns out! :) ~Amy

  34. Hi Lisa. I know you like “short cuts” in the kitchen – I make a recipe very similar to this but instead of preparing the tomatillo salsa separately and adding to the crock pot, you can just add quartered tomatillos directly into the crock pot with the meat, onions, etc. They cook down substantially and create a salsa right in the pot with the meat :)

  35. 5 stars
    As the managing editor of a food and restaurant magazine here in Canada, I get inundated with recipes. But when I saw this on my Facebook feed, I knew I had to try it. All I can say is WOW! This recipe was so delicious and easy to make. A few minutes in the morning before work and my wife and I came home to the most amazing dinner. I served this with a homemade cabbage and celeriac coleslaw. Even though I am not a fan of avocado, this carnitas recipe could make me a believer. If you are used to having cheese on any kind of taco, the avocado eliminates that need. Keep these fantastic ideas coming!

  36. Hi! I made this yesterday – the pork and the tomatillo sauce. We really liked the tomatillo sauce. The pork kind of came out dry. I realize this has nothing to do with your recipe, but I have this problem a lot when making pork in the crockpot. It seems like maybe my crockpot runs a little extra hot… Any suggestions??? Thanks for an awesome recipe!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Bridget. Did you have it on the low setting? It is true, crockpots can run hot. If you try again, I would keep a close eye on it to make sure you turn it off as soon as the meat is falling apart. ~Amy

  37. Do you add any water when cooking the pork in the crock pot? You just toss it in the crock pot with onions, garlic, and spices?

  38. I like to make carnitas on the stove, take the pork, cut it into 1 inch chunks, leave some of the fat on, cut any of the tough fat off, sprinkle with a tablespoon of salt, enough water to just cover. bring to a boil, turn it down to simmer, when the water evaporates, the pork will cook in its own fat, mmm the crispy bits are great.

    1. The Trader Joe’s tomatillo salsa is pretty mild. My 5 year old loves it. You could easily sub any fresh or jarred salsa in the recipe, however, as it’s just a topping.
      I added a half cup of chicken broth and the juice from half a lime to the bottom of my crockpot. Increased cumin to 2 tsp, and added a few dashes of chili pepper for a subtle kick. Came out perfectly!

    1. Venison can be used with excellent results! I’ve used lots of different cuts of venison too with this recipe all turn out great.

  39. Thanks for this – my husband and 2-yr-old are both carnitas fiends. I used pork tenderloin and cooked on high in the slowcooker for 6 hours — came out kind of dry but tasty. I’m guessing I need to get the pork shoulder and cook it on low to get it juicier? And onions and garlic don’t agree with us — any ideas about substitutes?

    1. If the flavor of onion and garlic bother you, then I don’t know of a substitution. My husband is aggravated by the oil/juice in onions, so onion powder is a good sub for us.

  40. I love your recipes–easy to make and absolutely delicious! I want to double this recipe for a party I’m having, but I’m not sure how much cooking time I should add to the crock pot. Any idea?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Jennifer. We’ve not doubled the recipe but typically with crock pot recipes you shouldn’t have to up the cooking time much if any. Maybe aim for the latter end of the 6-8 hours recommendation. Just keep an eye on it and adjust accordingly. ~Amy

  41. 2 stars
    I was worried about not adding any extra liquid, but I stuck to the directions. Which were correct in that the recipe works fine with no extra liquid in the crock pot, and as it cooks it makes plenty of liquid. When I make slow cooked meat in the crock pot, I usually take it out 60 to 90 minutes before we plan to eat, do the shredding at that point, and return the shredded meat to the pot and stir into the liquid. Gets even more tender and usually the interior of the meat that wasn’t in contact with the seasoning then gets a chance to absorb the seasoning. However, even with doing that, this dish was incredibly bland to me, although my 7 year old daughter and husband liked it. Any time I don’t have to make multiple meals to account for different tastes is worth it though and I’d make it again since they both like it.

  42. 5 stars
    Made this tonight and really enjoyed it. Used a sirloin pork roast I had in the freezer. I am sure the other cuts would have shredded better, but I just sliced it small an put it back in the broth for about an hour. My jarred green salsa was so hot I had to cool it with a little sour cream and mango salsa. Delicious. Will be enjoying the leftovers.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Yadida. While we haven’t tried this with pork chops, I think it might work with a boneless cut. Let us know how it turns out. ~Amy

  43. 4 stars
    Made the tacos, salsa, and refried beans for Father’s Day (along with fresh blueberry margaritas), and was enjoyed by all! And with the leftovers, I made an awesome Mexican pizza. (home made whole wheat crust, refried beans, salsa, tomato, onion, cheddar, avacado, cilantro)

  44. My slow cooker instructions read there should always be liquid in the recipe (like 2/3 the way up the sides, i think)? Do you add liquid to the pork or cook it dry in the slow cooker? Does it burn the sides of the crockpot? Looks delicious I just don’t want to wreck my pot. Thanks!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Shyron. We’ve not tried this recipe with chicken. If you do, let us know how it turns out. ~Amy

      1. Just me, but I think you could use chicken if you cooked it (thawed) for a much shorter time. Like 3 hours on high. And add some butter if it’s breasts.

        Just be sure to use a meat thermometer before you take the chicken out!

  45. I wish I was eating this right now. Love your recipes. I’m a bit of a floundering mom, but I find when I do get a good dinner on the table and we can all sit and enjoy it together, it’s a really great feeling. Thanks for the inspiration.

      1. The photo of crock pot on today’s Facebook page looks like there are other liquid ingredients. When we made, it was super dry.

      2. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

        Hi Eileen. Maybe your crock pot cooks a bit hot? There is a lack of consistency in crock pot temperature controls. ~Amy

  46. Made this the other day and they were FANTASTIC!!! I am making my own “chipotle” style bowl with quinoa and the left over carnitas, the tomatillo salsa, sour cream, tomatoes, cheese and guacamole. So looking forward to dinner tonight! :)

  47. We’re not fans of Cilantro. Can it just be left out of the Salsa or, since there is so much of it in the recipe, should we substitute something else?
    BTW: Love your site. The menus and recipes are fantastic!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Cinda. I think I would just leave it out. Of course if there is another spice you like, you can always substitute that. Jill

  48. I’d really love to make this as a freezer meal (I’m about to have a baby). Would it be better if I put if I did the rub on the pork and froze it to dump in the crockpot for later, or cooked it completely and then froze it? Or….neither?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Tamara. The salsa is used as a garnish for serving, so, you can use as much or little as you like. Jill

  49. Just made the carnitas! I had to alter it slightly…used pork sirloin tip roast (that’s what was at costco, unless I wanted to buy 14 pounds of pork shoulder!). I didn’t cut it up, just put it in there whole. IT IS DELICIOUS!! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  50. Teresa Hoggard

    These are absolutely the best! My family devoured them and I went back to the farmers market to get a larger Boston butt so I could make them again. Thank you so much for all your wonderful recipes and the great information (even the hard to hear stuff like Chick-fil-a is no better than any other fast food!) to help figure out the best foods to feed my family.

  51. Wow – Thanks for the reminder. I have “taco meat” and tomatillo salsa in my freezer right now! At another time, I’ll do the pork one, but thanks for the recipe and giving me the opportunity to eat something from my freezer!

  52. So glad you added the “FRESH” tomatillo salsa recipe. After almost of year of clean eating the any market brand store bought green sauce is horribly salty and ruins the meal. We made the home made salsa but also added peppers when making chicken enchilada’s a few weeks back. Here is the downside it was the first meal I made after being on a fresh veggie juice and green smoothie week long de tox…not the best choice for the first supper, thought it was going to be the last supper. /sarcasm

  53. These were really good! I added a little apple cider vinegar in the bottom for moisture but otherwise followed the recipe. My kids wanted more!

  54. I make a larger amount of pork without any seasoning. When it’s falling apart, I shred it with two forks and divide it into meal-sized portions. Most gets frozen, and when it comes out of the freezer some of it gets Mexican seasoning for dishes like this, and some gets BBQ sauce. Some just gets frazzled around in a skillet, maybe with a bit of red pepper flakes, and served with fried eggs.

  55. hi lisa,
    oh my goodness, this is AWESOME!! made it for dinner this weekend. Followed directions exactly but cooked on high for 4 hours (that’s all the time i had). the flavor was absolutely divine. we made soft tacos with a little salsa verde, avocado, cherry tomatoes and mont. jack cheese. i served with an arugula & tomato salad. simple yet perfect for perfect for entertaining. i can’t tell you how delicious it was.
    thank you so much!

  56. Your post mentions “The Best Whole Chicken in a Crockpot” but the link is broken, which makes me want it all the more. Can you help? Thanks.

  57. I took 10 minutes this morning to prep this and throw it in the crockpot. Yum! I didn’t make the salsa b/c I had a ton of pico de gallo, guacamole, etc. in the fridge, but the meat came out perfectly! I didn’t add water, and it was definitely juicy enough on its own. Thanks for another great recipe!

  58. Lisa,

    I wanted you to know that my husband made this recipe for dinner tonight. Not only was it simple, but it was delicious. We made a large amount and are already discussing how we are going to use the leftovers. I made guacamole and refried beans to go with the carnitas, and the meal was a hit.

    Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      So glad it was a hit! We used our leftovers in quesadillas for the next two days and it was awesome!

  59. Oh my gosh, this just finished in the crockpot after 6 hours on low (my crockpot is a little aggressive, so it only took 6 hours) and it is AMAZING. The only thing I did different was added the juice of one orange and then put the whole orange in to cook, then discarded. I just saw that on a cooking show, something about the acid of the orange with pork. Might be too spicy for my 3 and 5 year old, but we’ll give it a try. Anyway, thank you so much! I am new to the whole foods thing and am absolutely loving your website!

  60. Marcela,
    When I saw this I almost fell off my chair!!! I live in Los Angeles, and it made me want to run out & get some tacos. All I can say is way to go!!! Keep the recipes going it’s tough to find good authentic!!! Are you going to put up anymore???

    P.S.
    I’ve already bookmarked your post.
    Thanks,
    Ben

  61. I have a recipe similar to this I use as well but would love to find one that uses beef rather then pork….. have you tried beef instead of pork and what cut would be best?
    thanks!

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      I did made a beef fajita recipe in the slow cooker recently using flank steak and it was awesome!

  62. Can I ask which brand slow cooker you use?

    My husband and I are in the market to buy a new one, but I’ve been reading that most brands leak lead and other chemicals into the food. I would love to find a safe brand to purchase, but will likely go with a cast iron dutch oven as an alternative.

    Thank you for another delicious recipe! I can’t wait to try this one.

  63. Yummy- I am always looking for slow cooker recipes, especially in the summer! We have Mexican every Thurs. or Sat. depending on our schedule. I can’t wait to try this. Thanks!

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