Weeknight Recipe Rescue—Real Kitchen Insights on Easy Carnitas
We love Mexican food and try to both support our local restaurants and make our own version of our favorite dishes at home.
Which means we eat A LOT of Mexican food.
So, when I find a recipe my family drools over, I know I’ve found a winner.
This Easy Carnitas recipe knocked that ball out of the park.
Not only did the smell bring them to the kitchen to see what was cooking, they wanted seconds and thirds once they tasted the carnitas!
AND they ate the leftovers! Mind blown.
That’s a win in my book every day of the week.
And speaking of every day of the week, this meal comes together with such minimal effort that it’s perfect for when you have a crazy week ahead.
So, what’s the catch?
There isn’t one! It literally takes 5 minutes to prep and get the ingredients in the crock pot or the instant pot. That’s it. The rest is passive time.
The biggest decision you’ll have to make is whether you want to use the carnitas in tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, on tostadas, or in a quesadilla or salad. Yup! It’s that versatile.
Weeknight Recipe Rescue–Real Kitchen Insights
Simple to Make−Easy Carnitas
Get the recipe from: Isabel Eats
So, what are carnitas? Think of carnitas, which translates as “little meats,” as Mexican pulled pork. To make carnitas, you braise a pork butt or pork shoulder with spices for several hours until the meat is tender enough to shred.
If you’re not a huge fan of spicy food and are worried this will be too intense, rest assured the flavor of these carnitas is more smoky than spicy thanks to the cumin.
We like things hot in our house, so I normally have six chili powder (shown below) on hand. If you’re worried about heat, you can usually find a less aggressive chili powder blend.
Eight things to know about the Easy Carnitas Recipe:
- The aroma of the carnitas will draw your family to the kitchen. I think it’s a combination of the slow cooking and the warm spices that fills the house with an irresistible smell that have your family wanting to know when dinner will be ready. Heck, I was asking myself how much longer it would be. These carnitas smell THAT GOOD.
- This recipe (including the pork) is a pantry pull for me. There really isn’t that much out of the ordinary on the ingredient list. So, in addition to being a super Simple to Make recipe, I know I will likely have all the necessary ingredients on hand whenever I want to make this. Win-win!
- Everyone needs this recipe in their weeknight arsenal because it’s a set-it-and-forget-it meal! If you can cut the pork, measure the spices, juice a lime, and operate a crock pot or instant pot, you can make this meal! It literally only takes 5 minutes to prep this because you’re cutting the pork into big chunks.
- If you’re making this in the crock pot, do NOT give in to the temptation to add liquid. You might think you need to add some liquid, but you really don’t. Pork butt and pork shoulder are fatty cuts of meat and that fat will render, providing all the liquid you need.
- If you’re making this in an Instant Pot, you WILL need to add some additional liquid. I don’t have an Instant Pot and didn’t make my carnitas this way, but if you follow the directions for Instant Pot cooking, you should be fine.
- This is perfect for a hungry and, dare I say, lazy college student. If your college student owns a crock pot or an instant pot, this super Simple to Make recipe is a must-make. For just a five-minute investment, they’ll have a meal they’ll want to make again and again. And it might just get them more interested in cooking. Bonus!
- This recipe is also perfect for a party and can easily be doubled (or tripled). This set-it-and-forget-it recipe offers a bang for your buck AND your time by providing a come-back-for-seconds main course that takes very little time to prepare. If you do double or triple the recipe, be sure you follow Isabel Eats’ notes and do NOT double or triple the salt. You can always add more salt at the end after the pork is fully cooked.
- Countless serving and topping options. Once the pork is cooked, there are so many different ways to serve it. Think tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, quesadillas, tostadas, salads, or just on its own. You can also add whatever toppings you like, including, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole, avocado, olives, jalapenos, onions, cilantro, black or refried beans, grilled corn, salsa, pico de gallo, rice, sour cream, crème fraiche, sriracha, and lime juice.
These Easy Carnitas have become on of the most requested meals in our house and I think it will be in your house as well.
Drop us a note and a photo when you make this!