Carnitas de Lia

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These carnitas are based on a recipe by Michele Anna Jordan that I’ve been using for years. Because the pork is braised in its own juice, these carnitas are much lighter than the traditional version, which is cooked in ample fat. Serve this Mexican-style pulled pork with guacamole, lime wedges, salsa and a basket of hot tortillas.


2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground chipotle powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (3–4 pound) boneless pork shoulder roast (may be labeled “pork butt” or “Boston butt”)

Preheat oven to 275°F. Mix together salt and spices in a small bowl. Take pork out of its netting, pat pork dry with paper towels, and rub the spice mixture all over, getting it into the nooks and crannies.

Place pork in a Dutch oven, cover and bake in the oven for 3–1/2 to 4 hours, until pork falls apart with the touch of a fork.

That’s it. The easiest recipe you can imagine. Shred the pork and serve the carnitas on a platter along with the suggested accompaniments, or freeze until later.

Serves 12

Note: If you’d like to crisp up either medium-sized chunks or fully shredded pork, saute it in a bit of the pork fat or canola oil.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 3-1/2 to 4 hours

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  • Would this work in a crock pot?? I’m loving the idea of this recipe and will definitely try it. – Donna

  • It would . . . cook on high for 8 hours. The caveat is, I find the meat to be a bit drier in a crock pot.

  • Have our version in oven now. House is smelling mighty fine…

  • Doesn’t it though? After making all these batches of carnitas (first for this piece, then for the ABC segment) and freezing them, we FINALLY ate a meal with them last night. It was fabulous, and a great way to welcome family who had flown all the way across the country.

  • Just had the last of of our carnitas for lunch today. The way they re-heat in a saute pan and get all crispy (no added oil of any kind) is just perfect. The sizzling sounds thankfully drowned out our daughter’s blood-curdling screams that she didn’t want to take a nap.

  • We are making these carnitas today for our New Year’s party. Thanks for the delicious recipe!

  • Christopher — I just found some more in the freezer too :-).

    Jamie . . . enjoy!!!

  • Looking forward to trying this – been wondering what to do with the pork shoulder I have in the freezer. Seems like a perfect recipe to try!

  • I’ll tell you, I’ve been getting “this changed my life” raves on it lately. Hope you enjoy it just as much!

  • Kim

    O-M-G, I am so trying this recipe. I can almost smell it cooking in my house. Thank you so much for sharing!! 🙂

  • liahuber

    You’ll love it!

  • Marie

    Hi Lia, Could this be cooked in a crockpot as well? It’s beginning to get hot down here in Florida and we won’t be using the oven if we can possibly help it. 🙂

  • savvy

    Would absolutely do it in crock pot!! Would be perfect way to beat the heat, and still have the dinner you want!! YUM!!