Simple + Flavorful Stovetop Pork Carnitas

Tons of flavor, super moist pork, and an easy, one-pot cooking method.

We love this as a filling for soft nachos, sprinkled on salad, or best of all, on carnitas nachos.

As a bonus, any leftovers freeze very well!

plate of shredded carnitas.

Simple Stovetop Pork Carnitas

The easiest and most delicious way to prepare flavorful, pull-apart pork carnitas. Versatile, delicious, and makes enough to freeze some for later.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Serving Size 8 servings

Equipment

  • Heavy bottomed pot with lid

Ingredients 

For the Rub

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seed
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 whole jalapenos
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Cooking the Pork

  • 4 pound pork shoulder trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 orange juice only
  • 2 limes juice only
  • 1 cup chicken broth

For Serving

  • warm tortillas, cilantro, diced onions, lime wedges

Instructions 

  • Prepare the pork. Pat the pork shoulder dry with paper towels and cut it in half to create 2 (2 pound) portions.
  • Season the pork. Combine the cumin, cumin seed, garlic, jalapeno, oregon, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until mixture is smooth and well combined.Rub the mixture all over the pork shoulder, ensuring to cover all sides.
    spicy herb rub in food processor rubbed on pork.
  • Brown the pork. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large , heavy- bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add the pork shoulder to the pan and brown on all sides, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  • Cook the pork. Pour the chicken broth into the pan. Squeeze the juice of the orange and limes over the pork. Cover and cook on your stovetop’s lowest setting for 2-3 hours, or until the pork is tender and shreds easily with a fork. If it isn't. tender, let it cook longer.
  • Shred the pork. Remove the pork from the pot and let it rest for 15-30 minutes. Using two forks, shred the pork into bite-sized pieces. Serve with tortillas and pico, or on salads or nachos.

Notes

No food processor?  You’ll just need to mince the garlic, jalapeno, and cumin seed with a sharp knife.  Mix everything else in by hand.
Want to use your slow cooker? (You can but it’s actually more difficult!) You’ll need to brown the meat on the stovetop and wash 2 pots. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4. 
Any pork shoulder in this weight range is fine.  Just cut it down into 2-3 pound pieces so it cooks through without drying out.  
If your pork shoulder seems tough, it is likely undercooked.  Let it cook a bit more.  😊

what you’ll need

ingredients on marble counter.
  • Pork shoulder: You want pork shoulder for this. Another cut will be too lean and will dry out.
  • Cumin seed: You might not have this on hand, but it’s worth a trip to the store.
  • Serving ideas: Tortillas, cilantro, diced onions, and lime wedges for serving

🍴Instructions

Step One: prepare the pork rub

spicy herb rub in food processor rubbed on pork.

Start off by cutting your pork shoulder in half. You want to create two roughly equal portions. Don’t forget to pat it dry with a paper towel before you begin.

In your food processor, throw in the cumin, cumin seeds, garlic, jalapenos, oregano, salt, and pepper. Blend it all together until you get a nice, smooth mixture. Spread this mixture all over your pork shoulder, covering all sides.

Step Two: brown the pork

pan with browning pork shoulder.

Next, you’re going to brown the pork. Add olive oil to your pot, get it nice and hot, and then drop in your seasoned pork shoulder. Get a nice brown sear on all sides; this will take about 3-4 minutes per side.

Now it’s time to add the liquids. Pour in the chicken broth, and squeeze in the juice of the orange and limes. These will mix with the spices and seared pork to create a delicious sauce as it cooks.

Step three: cook until tender

large pan with pork before and after shredding.

Cover the pot and cook on low heat for about 2-3 hours. You’re looking for that perfectly tender meat that just falls apart when you poke it with a fork. If it’s not there yet, be patient and let it cook a bit longer.

Once cooked, let your pork rest for a while (15-30 minutes should do it). Then, using two forks, shred it into bite-sized pieces.

🥫 Storage instructions

Let the carnitas cool completely before storing. You can refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.

If you want to freeze, portion the carnitas into freezer-safe containers or bags, and they’ll keep for up to 2 months. If you have a vacuum sealer, that will be perfect When you’re ready to enjoy again, just thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat.

plate of pulled stovetop carnitas.

👩🏻‍🍳 Expert tips

  • When browning your pork, don’t rush it. The browning adds great flavor.
  • If your pork seems tough, it’s likely undercooked. Be patient, and let it cook a little longer.
  • Remember, the longer you let the cooked pork rest, the easier it will be to shred.
  • For a spicier pork, add a teaspoon of cayenne to the rub.

📘 related Recipes

🍽 Serving ideas

  • Mix into a southwest salad.
  • Pile on top of warmed tortillas and top with thinly sliced onions and a squeeze of lime juice.
  • Don’t forget a Blue Pina Colada on the side!
close up view of carnitas.

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