I am looking for a good way to prepare carnitas. So far I have tried putting the pork in a slow cooker all day, shredding the meat and then pan frying it in one side in .5 inch of oil for about 2 minutes. This was ok, but the meat seemed a little chewy.

Can anyone recommend a good frying technique that will leave the meat crispy on the outside and tender everywhere else?

Note: I fried in vegetable oil on high heat in a cast iron skillet

  • 1
    If the meat is chewy on the inside after a day in the slow cooker, this sounds like not enough collagen in your cut to start with.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Apr 7, 2013 at 17:39
  • Oh interesting. I used a pork butt, is that the right cut?
    – Brh
    Commented Apr 7, 2013 at 20:46
  • Pork butt should be ideal for this application.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Apr 7, 2013 at 22:27
  • My preference both in terms of less total fat and working with it is a shoulder cut.
    – zanlok
    Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 7:08
  • Just FYI, pork butt IS shoulder.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Sep 26, 2013 at 11:46

2 Answers 2


Kenji Alt has devoted one of his Food Lab columns to carnitas.

The key to his method is he cooks the pork in a manner akin to confit, under fat in the oven. This low and slow method makes it tender and flavorful.

Then, he broils it before service to crisp up.

  • I absolutely agree about cooking under fat for a long time. I've found you can also do this on the stovetop with low heat, if you prefer that for some reason. (A saucepan full of pork fat and meat, slowly softening on the stove is really tempting though... you may find yourself snacking on it as it cooks.) Definitely broil to crisp, though.
    – Athanasius
    Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 2:54
  • Yes on broil. Noticed it on America's Test Kitchen to achieve crispy edges. (Show site requires registration, link is to blog which reproduced it.) Note they try orange instead, which is occasionally fun, too.
    – zanlok
    Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 7:13

When I make carnitas, I generally use my oven. I take a pork butt and slice it to the bone in about 3/4 to 1/2 inch widths, then I coat the whole thing in lard, making sure to work the lard down into those slices that you just cut. Season as per whichever recipe you're using (mine is just some salt and lime, served wtih pico and beans later), and pop into the oven low and slow (250-275ish for a couple hours or so does it for me). You want to do this in a small vessel that barely fits your pork butt like a dutch oven or something, unless you're filling your deep fryer with lard to do this, but I use my oven

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