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Carnitas Time!
5 from 4 votes

Tastiest Carnitas North of the Border

Pork shoulder braised slowly in a Dutch oven until it becomes tasty and juicy shredded pork.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time5 hrs 45 mins
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 8 people
Author: Belgian Foodie


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onion
  • 2 kg pork shoulder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ancho chile grounded
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 110 ml orange juice
  • 110 ml lime juice
  • 500 ml water


Prepare Pork

  • Cut off excess fat of pork. Cut pork into pieces about the 1 inch / 2 cm long.
  • Put the cut pork pieces along with the bones into a bowl with a cover. Add the salt and make sure that all pieces are covered. Watch out to remove small bones as these can get lost in the cooked pork. Cover the bowl and put in the refrigerator for a couple of hours (up to 8 - 10 hours at most). You can skip this part (as I have many times).
  • About 15 minutes before cooking the meat, remove the pork from the refrigerator. Pat the pork with a paper towel to remove excess salt.

Cooking the pork

  • Put the oil in the Dutch oven (or large cast iron skillet with a cover). Turn on the heat to medium -high. Add the onions and simmer about 5 minutes until the onions are softer and golden.
  • Add the cut pork (along with the bones) and brown the meat for 5-8 minutes. You want the meat to be brown on the outside.
  • Reduce the heat to low. Add the garlic and let cook about 30 seconds. Add all the spices (ancho chile, chili powder, cinnamon, and cumin) as well as the bay leaves. Mix and let simmer for about 1 minute.
  • Add the orange and/or lime juice(s) with the water. Mix well. Cover and let cook about 2 hours. Mix from time to time. If it becomes a bit dry, add more water. Start checking if it's done after 1 1/2 hours, as it may take less time. It's ready when the meat starts falling off of the bones. If you have too much water, remove cover and continue cooking at low heat to let water evaporate.
  • Remove all the bones. Make sure to remove any small bones remaining. Although adding the bones creates a bit of extra work, I think the flavor they give as well as the health benefits of cooking meals with bones at least once a week are well worth the trouble.
  • The carnitas will be ready to serve at this point. However, if you like your carnitas more crispy or caramelized, you can spread the meat out on a baking pan and put it under the broiler about 5 minutes. This step is optional.
  • Serve the carnitas as you wish, with the side dishes put on the table for everyone to serve. Enjoy!
    Carnitas with side dishes


Nutrition Facts
Tastiest Carnitas North of the Border
Amount Per Serving
Calories 424 Calories from Fat 198
% Daily Value*
Fat 22g34%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 11g
Cholesterol 168mg56%
Sodium 684mg30%
Potassium 933mg27%
Carbohydrates 5g2%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 49g98%
Vitamin A 0IU0%
Vitamin C 0mg0%
Calcium 0mg0%
Iron 0mg0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.