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Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas w/ Caramelized Onions and Green Chiles

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I love using my slow cooker.  Being able to toss the ingredients in to the crock pot early in the day and come out with a pretty darn good dish just in time for dinner, ranks pretty high on my happy list.  This recipe for Slow Cooker Carnitas is definitely one of the good ones.  (That’s not to say I haven’t had a couple of failures in my time… I once tried an overnight, cook in the crock pot, french toast dish that was the most disappointing failure ever! )

I just finished reading an article on Yahoo shine that identified the top 6 mistakes people make when using their slow cooker.   The article reminded me, I’d made and photographed my Carnitas recipe back in August when I had all the roasted Hatch Chiles, and never posted it!

Easy and delicious, Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe #Slowcooker #carnitas #pork

I’m happy to report, according to their list, I’ve only been doing one thing wrong – not searing my cuts of meat before placing them in the slow cooker.  Sorry guys, but I don’t plan on correcting that error any time soon.  If it’s not good enough to make without browning the meat before-hand, I probably just wont bother with the dish…  (We’re no gourmet foodies over here…)

Now that I’ve kicked up the fuss about searing your meat first, I should probably mention:  I’ve seen many carnitas recipes where they instruct you to sear your pork roast first.  So if you don’t mind that extra step,  go for it… 😉

If you’ve never made carnitas before, ( and even if you have) you are going to love this recipe!  The caramelized onions and chiles are optional, but they sure do make the dish.  (You can also just top the carnitas with your favorite taco toppings.)

Slow Cooker Carnitas


  • 1 to 2 lb pork shoulder roast, cut in to 2 pieces 
  • juice from on lime or equivalent from bottled lime juice
  • 3 garlic cloves minced (I swear by the pampered chef garlic press – I’ve been using it for almost 10 years.  I you don’t have one, add it to your wish list.)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 tbs olive oil for roast plus more for the caramelized onions 
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • fresh or canned diced green chiles
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (for quick caramelazation method)


  1. Rub pork roast pieces with olive oil and season with 1 tsp of cumin and chili powder plus several dashes of salt and pepper.  Place pork into the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. In a separate bowl mix together water, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, 1 tsp of cumin and chili powder.
  3. Pour mixture into the crock pot.
  4. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  5. Remove pork from the crock pot and let rest for a few minutes.  Shred with two forks.  Add a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid back to the shredded meat.  

Meanwhile, for the onions:

  1. Coat a large skillet with olive oil. (Use a cast-iron pan for the best caramelization.)
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, chiles and 1/4 tsp of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the sugar and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the onions are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Assemble carnitas, top with caramelized onions and chiles, queso fresco, avocados or your favorite tex-mex toppings.


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  1. I'm a huge fan of carnitas and use several different recipes to vary results from time to time — but all of them share one thing: browning/searing/crisping up edges of the meat at some point (before, during or after primary cooking, before or after shredding, on stovetop or in oven) — the flavor and textures this step adds is almost mandatory in true carnitas! And really, it's virtually NO trouble and makes a huge positive difference in flavor. You should give it a try, once at least — it is SO worth it! That said, I am going to try your recipe the next time I have a carnitas attack — I've used orange juice before but never lime, also never caramelized onions, and it all sounds delish!

  2. Oh those look delicious!