My Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Recipe comes together so quickly in the crock pot. It's great on rice bowls, cauli rice, or tortillas!
Carnitas is one of my favorite things to make. Even if you don't eat pork you can use the same recipe with chicken thighs…both make a beautiful dish.
This recipe comes together easily, which is always a win. Simply place seasoned pork in the slow cooker over a bed of onions and a bit of orange juice (or you can try peach nectar!). Cook all day until the meat falls off the bone. It's that simple! If you want those wonderful, toasty browned edges carnitas are known for, take the extra step in the instructions below and place your carnitas on a broiling pan and broil for a few minutes before serving! In my opinion…this step is worth the outcome!
I also love a meal where everyone at the table will be happy! You seriously can't go wrong. Just set out a variety of toppings (I gave you my standard toppings in the recipe below) and let everyone pick what they want. You can make this bowl with rice or change it up to cauliflower rice or quinoa. They all work!
One of my favorite time-saving strategies is to cook once, serve twice. I love to double up a recipe like this one and serve it two different ways because it saves me a ton of time while still keeping things interesting.
Try doubling this recipe and serving it one night as a bowl as written here and a second night as tacos, quesadillas, a hearty salad topper, or even on top of a baked potato or sweet potato!
Carnitas is a beautiful thing. Go get your ingredients this week and find out for yourself!
Slow Cooker Carnitas Bowl
- 1 red onion
- 1 naval orange
- .5 tsp salt
- .25 tsp pepper
- .5 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder*
- 1 tsp oregnano
- 2 lb pork shoulder
- 8 oz chicken broth* low sodium
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 tomato
- 1 cup rice uncooked
- 1 avocado
- Finely chop 1 red onion.
- Zest and juice one naval orange.
- In a small bowl mix together: 1/2tsp salt + 1/4tsp pepper + 1/2tsp garlic powder + 1tsp cumin + 1tsp chili powder + 1tsp oregano.
- Rub spice mix on all sides of pork shoulder.
- Place juice of one orange + 8oz chicken broth + chopped red onion in the bottom of a slow cooker.
- Add pork to slow cooker and sprinkle orange zest over the top.
- Cook on low for 8-10 hours, turning once during cooking.
- Once cooked, shred meat and remove any bones.
- Rough chop ~1/4 bunch of cilantro and chop 1 tomato.
- Place 1c rice + 2c water in a medium pot, bring water to a boil, lower to medium and cook for 18 min.
- Option to place shredded pork on broiler pan and broil to make crispy.
- Top rice bowl w/ carnitas, chopped tomato, sliced avocado and cilantro.
What is the nutrition like in this slow cooker pork carnitas recipe?
My slow cooker pork carnitas recipe is not only delicious, it's also full of so much nutritional goodness! Here's a rundown of the vitamins and nutrients this recipe provides:
Onions (Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium, Antioxidants)
Did you know that the humble onion is actually packed with antioxidants? Yellow onions and red onions, like the ones used here, are highest in antioxidants. A certain type of antioxidant, anthocyanins, is only found in red or purple onions, not other varieties. Eating onions may support bone health, stable blood sugar and reduced risk of cancer.
Oranges (Vitamin C, Folate, Thiamine (Vitamin B1), Potassium, Fiber)
In addition to being famously immune-boosting, oranges have flavonoids that may help protect against heart disease. Citric acid, found in abundance in oranges and other citrus fruits, helps prevent kidney stones.
Pork (Protein, B Vitamins, Selenium, Zinc, Iron, Beta-Alanine)
An excellent source of protein, consuming pork can help you maintain muscle mass. Pork's high levels of beta-alanine may also support improved athletic performance.
Cilantro (Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K)
Cilantro supports the health of your brain, possibly reducing the risk of Parkinson's and Alzheimers disease as well as anxiety. In addition, one of cilantro's biggest benefits is the prevention of blood sugar spikes. Finally, cilantro has antimicrobial elements and thus may help prevent food poisoning. It's worth noting that many studies on cilantro use cilantro extract, rather than the leaves.
Tomatoes (Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K1, Potassium, Folate)
Due to their high antioxidant content and their high lycopene content in particular, eating tomatoes may help reduce cancer risk. Redder tomatoes tend to have more lycopene so make sure yours are nice and ripe. Furthermore, eating tomatoes along with a source of fat, like the pork and avocado in this recipe, can help you absorb up to four times as much lycopene.
Avocado (Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Potassium, Folate, Healthy Fats)
Avocados are good for your heart, your eye health, and even your mood. Moreover, they also benefit your brain, bone density and blood sugar levels. Similar to olive oil, avocados also contain oleic acid which helps fight inflammation
How to Meal Prep This Easy Carnitas Recipe
This easy carnitas recipe is perfect for meal prep! With a bit of prep, you can easily toss everything in the slow cooker, even on a busy weekday. This recipe makes a lot so it's a great one to prep ahead when you know you'll have limited time to cook in the week ahead.
To prep ahead, dice the onion and chop the tomatoes and cilantro, storing each in a separate meal prep container. Next, zest and juice the orange, storing the zest and juice separately. Combines the salt, pepper and spices to make the pork rub. Lastly, make the rice if you're planning to serve the carnitas over rice.
On the day you plan to serve, rub the pork with the spices. Add the orange juice, chicken broth and dices onion to the slow cooker. Add the pork and sprinkle with orange zest. Cook the pork on low for 8-10 hours in the slow cooker, turning once in the middle of cooking. Take the pork out of the slow cooker and shred it, removing the bones. If you have time, broil the pork for 2-3 minutes. This step doesn't take long and it adds a crispiness that really takes this to the next level!
How to Serve & What to Serve with Pork Carnitas
As I mentioned above, these carnitas are super versatile! Here are a few suggestions for how to serve them and what to serve on the side.
How to Serve:
- Rice / Cauli Rice / Quinoa Bowls: I love anything in a bowl! The way the toppings and different textures come together is perfection.
- As tacos: Serve in corn tortillas, flour tortillas, rice flour tortillas or whatever your personal favorite type may be.
- On Lettuce Wraps: If you don't eat grains or want something a little lighter, serve in lettuce wraps! I love enjoying carnitas this way.
- Atop a Salad: Similar to the rice bowl, arrange your pork and toppings on a salad. This makes a great prep-ahead lunch option as well!
- Over Baked Potatoes / Baked Sweet Potatoes: This is such a good combo!
What to Serve with Carnitas:
Honestly, carnitas are so filling you don't necessarily need a side dish, especially if you have plenty of toppings. That said, here are a few that work well:
- Roasted sweet potatoes
- Roasted or grilled zucchini
- Corn – Either corn on the cob or this simple corn side would be great
- A simple green salad with a homemade vinaigrette
What are some other healthy slow cooker pork recipes?
I'm a big fan of slow cooker recipes and I know many of you are too! Here are a few of my favorite healthy slow cooker pork recipes:
Slow Cooker Mexican Pork Salad