Home » All Recipes » Dinner Recipes » Dutch Oven Carnitas

Dutch Oven Carnitas

5 from 4 votes

Easy, inexpensive, and so good in many ways, Dutch Oven Carnitas is the best of slow cooking. Take a cheap cut of meat and turn it into something fabulous with this effortless and flavor-packed pork carnitas recipe!

dutch oven carnitas in a cast iron serving dish

This post may contain affiliate link(s). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. See Disclosure.

I made this recipe in the Instant Precision Dutch Oven by Instant Pot, a small appliance that blends the best of stove-top cooking and oven roasting without needing a stove or oven. You can use a regular Dutch oven for this recipe, too, but I love my IP Dutch oven, and if you’re a fan of Dutch oven cooking, you may want to snag one.

What you’ll love about This Dutch Oven Carnitas Recipe


  • It’s perfect for meal prepping – it makes a good-sized batch of carnitas!
  • Uses an inexpensive cut of meat.
  • Carnitas are SO versatile.
  • It cooks low and slow for the very best flavor.

What Are Carnitas?

Carnitas, which means “little meats,” is a traditional Mexican pork recipe. It starts with a tough, fatty cut of pork, and it’s braised in bold spices until it is fork-tender. It is so tender that you can shred it easily with a fork or meat claws.

Are Carnitas The Same As Pulled Pork?

No, carnitas and pulled pork are not the same. They start with similar cuts of meat – pork butt or pork shoulder – but pulled pork is smoked until tender, while Mexican carnitas are simmered or braised in a flavorful liquid.

instant precision dutch oven carnitas on a cast iron skillet with taco fixings

Ingredients

  • Pork picnic shoulder roast – See my notes below for alternate cuts of pork.
  • Cooking oil – I use olive oil but use whatever you have.
  • Onion – Yellow or white onion.
  • Garlic – Fresh is best.
  • Dried cumin
  • Chipotle powder
  • Chili powder – Make your own blend or use store-bought.
  • Mexican oregano – This is not the same as Mediterranean oregano but if that’s all you have, use it.
  • Salt and pepper – Kosher salt (or another coarse salt) and freshly ground black pepper for the best flavor.
  • Orange juice
  • Lime juice
  • Bay leaf

Recommended

What Cut Of Pork Do You Need For Carnitas?

Carnitas are braised low and slow for hours, so they benefit from tough, fatty cuts of pork with lots of connective tissues. This all breaks down during the cooking process, flavoring the meat and the juice. These are the best cuts of pork to make Dutch oven pork carnitas:

  • Pork butt – Also known as Boston butt or pork shoulder. This is cut from the upper part of the front shoulder. You can use boneless or bone-in.
  • Picnic shoulder – Cut from the lower part of the front shoulder; this is typically a smaller cut of meat which is perfect in carnitas.

How to Make Dutch Oven Carnitas

For a complete list of ingredients and instructions, please scroll down to the recipe at the bottom of this page.

  1. Preheat your Instant Precision Dutch Oven to saute 20 minutes. It won’t take 20 minutes.
  2. Mix the cumin, chili powder, chipotle powder, Mexican oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Add the oil when your IP Dutch oven has finished preheating.
  4. Rub the meat all over with the spice rub, then add it to the Dutch oven, searing it on all sides.
  5. Set the IP Dutch Oven to manual mode 2, 325-F for 2.5 hours.
  6. Add the orange juice, lime juice, onion, garlic, and bay leaf to the Dutch oven, pop the lid on it and let it do its thing.
  7. Flip the meat over halfway through the cooking time.
  8. Remove the pork from the cooking liquid and let cool until cool enough to handle.
  9. Shred the meat with meat claws or two forks, discarding any fat, sinewy bits, or the bone.
  10. Put the meat into a skillet and 1/4 cup of the cooking juice and turn the heat to medium-high, letting the meat crisp up on the bottom. Don’t disturb it for 3-4 minutes, then check to see if the meat has started caramelizing.
  11. Serve with all your favorite garnishes!

To Make Carnitas In A Dutch Oven (regular dutch oven):

  1. Preheat the Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-high heat.
  2. Rub the pork with the spice blend, then sear it in the oil.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, then pop the covered Dutch oven into a 300-F oven for 2.5 hours.
  4. Continue with steps 7-11.

How To Use Carnitas

This carnitas Dutch oven recipe is so easy, and the results are so versatile. Eat the carnitas plain, or try them in a variety of ways. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Straight up – Serve carnitas on a plate with a side of Spanish or Mexican rice, refried beans, avocado salad, and shredded lettuce – just like your favorite Mexican restaurant.
  • Tacos – Carnitas are amazing in tacos. Top them with pico de gallo, pickled onion, coleslaw, and all your favourite toppings.
  • Nachos – Go meaty with your next nacho feast! Carnitas are perfect on top of nachos.
  • Quesadillas – Add some cheese and crisp up those quesadillas!
dutch oven carnitas in tacos

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use pork loin for carnitas?

No, I don’t recommend it. Pork loin is very lean and doesn’t have the fat or connective tissue that breaks down while cooking. Pork loin will result in dry, tough, and tasteless meat that won’t shred easily.

Are carnitas easy to make?

Yes, super easy! You sear the meat and then let it braise. It couldn’t be any easier!

How do you get the crunchy bits on carnitas?

You can broil the carnitas in the oven, but my favorite way is to put the carnitas meat in a skillet with some cooking liquid and let it crisp up over medium-high heat.

Step By Step Process

instant precision dutch oven carnitas on a cast iron skillet with taco fixings
Print Pin
5 from 4 votes

Dutch Oven Carnitas

Meaty, juicy, and packed with flavor, fall-apart-tender Dutch Oven Carnitas are so easy to make! Sure to become a household favorite, make a batch today!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword carnitas, dutch oven carnitas, instant precision dutch oven, pork, pork carnitas
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 256kcal
Author Chef Jenn

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 pound picnic pork shoulder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tabelspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 bay leaves

Instructions

  • Preheat your Instant Precision Dutch Oven to saute, 20 minutes. It won't take 20 minutes.
  • Mix the cumin, chili powder, chipotle powder, Mexican oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Add the oil when your IP Dutch oven has finished preheating.
  • Rub the meat all over with the spice rub, then add it to the Dutch oven, searing it on all sides.
  • Set the IP Dutch Oven to manual mode 2, 325-F for 2.5 hours.
  • Add the orange juice, lime juice, onion, garlic, and bay leaf to the Dutch oven, pop the lid on it and let it do its thing.
  • Flip the meat over halfway through the cooking time.
  • Remove the pork from the cooking liquid and let cool until cool enough to handle.
  • Shred the meat with meat claws or two forks, discarding any fat, sinewy bits, or the bone.
  • Put the meat into a skillet along with 1/4 cup of the cooking juice and turn the heat to medium-high, letting the meat crisp up on the bottom. Don't disturb it for 3-4 minutes, then check to see if the meat has started to caramelize.
  • Serve with all your favorite garnishes!

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 256kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 93mg | Sodium: 404mg | Potassium: 558mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 180IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 3mg

A Note on Nutritional Information

Nutritional information for this recipe is provided as a courtesy and is calculated based on available online ingredient information. It is only an approximate value. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site cannot be guaranteed.

Want More Delicious and Easy Recipes?

By Chef Jenn

4 thoughts on “Dutch Oven Carnitas”

  1. 5 stars
    My mouth was watering as I read this recipe and I had to try it – and I was not disappointed! I especially loved your tip on crisping up the meat in a skillet. So tasty, thank you!

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.