Crispy Pork Carnitas Recipe

This crispy pork carnitas recipe is slow oven roasted marinated pork cubes with a crispy caramelized crust. Rich, moist, flavorful and so tender it melts in your mouth!

Crispy pork carnitas on a white platter garnished with chopped cilantro.

Yes, crispy pork carnitas can be achieved by the home cook! Do you wish you could make pork carnitas at home in your oven?

If you are like me you don’t want to cook carnitas the authentic way, which is slow cooking pork fully submerged in lard. This confit method of cooking produces pork that’s rich and so tender. But who wants to deal with a pot full of lard? While delicious, the cleanup process is arduous at best.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t have amazing, rich, and tender pork carnitas at home! This carnitas recipe was inspired by our favorite local Mexican restaurant. ANYTIME we want the real deal we go there.

They serve the pork carnitas cut into cubes not shredded and it’s our favorite way to eat pork carnitas tacos. Topped with fresh pico de gallo and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. PERFECTION!

Our method is marinating the pork butt and then slow oven roasting it. This produces rich, moist, flavorful and so tender crispy caramelized pork pieces that it melts in your mouth! 

It’s not overseasoned, the citrus comes out, and you get bits and pieces of char on the pork … it’s just amazing!

Crispy pork carnitas on a white platter garnished with chopped cilantro.

Why You’ll Love This

An easy method for cooking pork carnitas that is crispy on the outside and packed with authentic flavor!

Key Ingredients

  • Pork – You want to use a higher fat content cut for carnitas such as pork butt or pork shoulder. This help keeps the meat tender and juicy during the long cooking time.
  • Seasoning – The secret to carnitas is the citrus juice! Marinating the pork in fresh orange and lime juice helps tenderize and break down the meat. It also adds a bright fresh flavor!

Tips

  • Don’t trim the fat, you want the fat to help keep the meat moist during the long slow cooking process.
  • Marinating the meat helps infuse those Mexican flavors you expect from pork carnitas.
  • You can shred the pork if you like, but this cubed method is how we enjoy carnitas the most!
  • Skip the tortillas and this is a low carb/keto meal.
Meat and marinade in a zip lock bag.

How To Make Crispy Pork Carnitas In The Oven

Cube the pork shoulder or butt into large 2″ x 2″ cubes. Whisk together fresh orange juice, fresh lime juice, olive oil, garlic cloves, cilantro, cumin, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.

Place the cubed pork in a large zip-top bag and pour the marinade over it. Remove the air from the bag and zip closed. Massage the meat around so the marinade covers it thoroughly. Place the bag on a large plate or platter (just in case it leaks) and refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight.

Marinated meat on a foil lined baking sheet.

Preheat the oven to 275ºF.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Place the cubed pork on the baking sheet in a single layer.

Cover with foil and slow roast for 2 hours.

Increase the oven temperature to 300ºF.

Remove the foil and continue to cook another 45 minutes to one hour, until the pork is fork tender.

Closeup of the crispy pork carnitas on a white plate garnish with chopped cilantro.

Once the pork is falling apart tender, drain the juices from the baking pan. Broil until desired crispiness is acquired. For us, it’s about 5-8 minutes. Remember every oven is different.

Pork carnitas on a white plate garnished with cilantro, with tortillas, lime wedges and pico de gallo.

How to Serve Carnitas

Serve with flour tortillas and your favorite toppings as carnitas tacos, in a burrito, or on a salad. Some great toppings are sour cream, pico de Gallo, shredded cheddar cheese, guacamole, and lime wedges.

Crispy pork carnitas on a white plate garnished with cilantro, with tortillas, lime wedges and pico de gallo.

You will swoon when you taste the moistest, flavorful, tender pork carnitas you have ever cooked at home! 

Top this off with some pico de gallo and some cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. You will have made probably one of your new favorite meals!

What goes good with carnitas tacos?

We also recommend serving this with a very tasty rice dish, such as our Cilantro Lime rice. You can even do up some Black Bean dip and make it a full-on party with enough to feed a family or your group of friends!

Storing and Reheating

Place leftover carnitas in an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Warm in an air fryer at high heat for just a few minutes or in the oven under the broiler. You don’t want to bake them and dry them out.

Freezing

Place the carnitas in a freezer-safe container or bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

More Mexican Recipes

Crispy pork carnitas on a white platter garnished with chopped cilantro.

Crispy Pork Carnitas Recipe

Slow oven roasted marinated pork cubes with a crispy caramelized crust. Rich, moist, flavorful and so tender it melts in your mouth!
4.23 from 18 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main, Main Course, Pork
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: carnitas, crispy, pork
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Marinade Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 35 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 357kcal
Author: Brad Harris

Equipment

  • Baking Sheet

Ingredients
 

  • 4-5lb pork butt or shoulder, cut into 2″ cubes

Marinade

  • 2 oranges juice of fresh
  • 2 limes juice of fresh
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves , peeled and cracked
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro , chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper fresh ground

Instructions

  • Cut the pork butt into 2″ cubes. Place in a large zip-top bag or bowl.
  • Mix together the orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, garlic cloves, cilantro, cumin, salt, and pepper.  Pour over the pork and massage or stir to cover thoroughly with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 275F degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil.
  • Place the pork in a single layer on the baking sheet. Cover with foil and slow roast for 2 hours.
  • Increase the oven temperature to 300ºF.
  • Remove the foil and continue to cook another 45 minutes to one hour, until the pork is fork tender.
  • Once the pork is falling apart tender, drain the juices from the baking pan. Broil until desired crispiness is acquired. For us, it’s about 5-8 minutes.
  • Serve with flour tortillas and your favorite toppings.

Notes

 

 

Nutrition

Calories: 357kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 135mg | Sodium: 730mg | Potassium: 873mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 150IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 3mg

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6 Comments

  1. I used this marinade for 30 lbs. cubed pork butt, which I marauded for 48 hours. Also did 20 lbs. of cubed chicken thighs & 40 lbs. of chicken wings with this marinade, but changed the spices to better suit poultry. All went on my vertical smokers at the same temp. & time. After 3 hours, seared the cubed chicken & pork on a 48″ discarda. Served them to my guest street taco style with four different pico de gallo mixtures pineapple, mango, watermelon, apple. The wings were seared over hot apple wood coals and served with a honey cilantro lime dipping sauce. I would recommend this marinade.5 stars

  2. Just realized that step 4 does not instruct you to cover the pork with foil. It would be helpful if you added it since I did not remember reading it in your story above. Hoping my carnitas do not come out too dry :(. They smell so good.

      1. Do you remove the juices before the last hour, or right before broiling? The recipe says one thing but the story says another? Thanks!4 stars

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