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Pork Carnitas

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My favourite taco! Give this pork carnitas a try today!

Pork carnitas is simply amazing! I used to order it from taco trucks as a kid in California and still do when I go back to visit. This is an authentic Mexican to cook pork carnitas. It’s done by simmering the pork in pork lard for about 3 hours until it’s so tender it melts in your mouth. No, this isn’t a light taco but the cooking fat does get discarded after it has served its purpose so you really aren’t eating all the fat.

pork carnitas taco

Just look at that! You can make pork carnitas at home that is just as good as you find at the best taco trucks.

Is carnitas healthy to eat?

Not really. It’s one of those things you treat yourself to every so often. Nowadays, there are lighter versions where the pork is simmered in water or stock but they simply don’t compare. I will post a lighter version on my blog soon but for now, just enjoy this as pork carnitas is meant to be.

Can I substitute vegetable or olive oil for the pork lard?

No! Don’t do that. This is a warning! Along with the pork lard, the pork carnitas is also stewed in other liquids such as coke, milk and orange juice.

If you were to add these liquids to hot normal cooking oil, your kitchen would probably catch fire or worse. Your pan would burst into flames so stick with the pork lard and enjoy pork carnitas as it’s meant to be.

What is pork carnitas?

Pork carnitas is Mexico’s answer to pulled pork. That said, I normally don’t pull it into shreds. Instead, I just break the succulent, tender pork into small pieces.

Once the pork has cooked and been torn to pieces, you fry it in hot oil until it caramelises. Are you getting the picture here? Tender pieces of caramelised pork all stuffed into a corn or flour tortilla? I want to make this all over again. 

Which type of tortillas are used for pork carnitas?

I’m in the UK where corn tortillas need to be ordered online or at specialty shops. I highly recommend sourcing some as these are what are used at the best Mexican restaurants and taco trucks.

That said, you could use flour tortillas. That’s good too. They are of course a lot easier to find in some countries. 

Step by step photographs of pork carnitas…

Ingredients for pork carnitas

Get your ingredients together before starting cooking. It’s easier that way.

Pork meat cooking in pork lard

Sprinkle the salt over the pork. Then heat the pork lard and add the meat to it. Brown it all over.

Adding coke, milk, orange juice and spices to the wok

Add the coke, milk and orange juice along with the spices and herbs.

Adding garlic, onion and bay leaves to the pan

Stir in the garlic, onions and bay leaves.

Simmering pork

You will need to simmer this on low to medium heat for about 3 hours.

Pork torn into small pieces

When tender, break the pork into small pieces and discard everything else.

Frying pork until caramelised and crisp

Fry the pork until caramelised and crisp.

Pork carnitas tacos

Serve wrapped in fried or warmed tortillas, topped with your salsa and other ingredients of choice.

Pork carnitas

So good! Try this at your next taco feast!

Yield: 8

Pork Carnitas

pork carnitas taco


  • 3 pounds (1.5kg) skinless, boneless pork butt (or shoulder)
  • 500g pork lard
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp dried oregano (Mexican oregano is best for this)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 large white onion , cut into wedges
  • 8 cloves garlic , smashed
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) orange juice
  • 1 cup (250ml) coke (don't use diet coke)
  • 1 cup (250ml) milk
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Juice of two limes
  • 16 corn tortillas - lightly fried in oil
  • Salsa of choice
  • Diced red onion to ganish


  1. Cut the pork into large chunks and sprinkle with the salt. Melt the lard in a large pan and the add the pork.
  2. Fry in the hot lard until lightly browed. About ten minutes should do.
  3. Now add the black pepper, oregano and cumin and stir well before adding the onion and garlic. Again stir it all up to combine.
  4. Pour in the coke, milk and orange juice and add just enough water to cover if needed. Add the bay leaves.
  5. Simmer over a low heat for 2.5 to 3 hours. When the meat is fork tender, remove it from the liquid and chop it up into small pieces. Discard the cooking liquid.
  6. Heat a frying pan over medium high heat and fry the meat until crispy on the exterior. Squeeze the lime juice in.
  7. Top your tortillas with the pork carnitas and add your salsa and other toppings of choice.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 417Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 84mgSodium: 404mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 4gSugar: 7gProtein: 27g

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I was sent some pork shoulder by online butcher, Swaledale Butchers to try. I’ve been using them for about a year now and the quality of their meat and their service is second to none! You can find more information here. I was under no obligation to give them a mention or to endorse their products and service. 

I hope you enjoy this pork carnitas recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. 

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