Slow Cooker

Slow-Cooker Carnitas Tacos With Peach & Tomato Salsas

August 17, 2016
2 Ratings
Photo by Elizabeth Cecil
  • Cook time 8 minutes
  • Serves 10 to 15
Author Notes

As this recipe feeds a crowd, you are likely to have leftover carnitas, which taste just as good the next day at the beach, packed into a sandwich or atop greens. —Sarah Waldman

What You'll Need
  • Carnitas tacos
  • 4 to 5 pounds boneless pork butt or shoulder
  • 5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Juice of 2 limes plus 1 lime cut into wedges, for serving
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 12 ounces beer
  • Corn tortillas
  • Peach and tomato salsas (recipes below)
  • Hot sauce of your choice (I like green pepper sauce on these)
  • Salsas
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons minced jalapeño (with or without seeds and membranes)
  • A few big pinches kosher salt
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • Big squirt of lime juice
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes (any color or size)
  • 2 cups peeled and diced peaches
  1. Carnitas tacos
  2. Place the pork shoulder and chopped garlic into a big bowl. Sprinkle the meat with salt, cumin, chili powder, black pepper, cinnamon, and cayenne. With your hands, rub the seasonings into the meat.
  3. Transfer seasoned pork to the slow cooker. Add in lime juice, orange juice, and beer. Cover the pot and cook on low for 8 hours.
  4. After 8 hours, transfer the meat to a large bowl and shred it apart using two forks. The pork should fall apart easily.
  5. Next, preheat broiler and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread the pork into an even layer and broil for 5 to 10 minutes, rotating the pan, until the pork is evenly crisped.
  6. While the pork crisps up, mix together the ingredients for Summer Peach and Garden Tomato Salsas.
  7. When ready to eat, warm each tortilla individually by grabbing with a set of tongs and placing directly over an open flame (a gas stove or grill works great). When warming, carefully rotate the tortilla charring the edges evenly. If you don’t have access to a gas stove or hot grill, dampen each tortilla with water and heat in a hot skillet, flipping once. Wrap warmed tortillas in a kitchen towel until serving time.
  8. Wrap carnitas in charred tortillas and top with peach or tomato salsa, a squirt of fresh lime juice, and a hit of hot sauce.
  1. Salsas
  2. Mix together all the ingredients but the tomatoes and peaches together in a big bowl, then divide in two.
  3. To one bowl, add tomatoes. To the other, add the peaches. Serve with the tacos.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Mandy Sunde
    Mandy Sunde
  • Denise Jacobs
    Denise Jacobs
  • Sari Nickelsburg
    Sari Nickelsburg
  • Jan Weber
    Jan Weber
  • Sarah Waldman
    Sarah Waldman
Sarah Waldman is a food writer and recipe developer living on Martha’s Vineyard. She is the author of, Feeding a Family: A Real-Life Plan for Making Dinner Work.

14 Reviews

Emily May 16, 2021
Omg. This was so good. I was trying to figure out how to modify Smitten Kitchen’s Homesick Texan carnitas for the slow cooker. This recipe was extremely helpful. For seasoning, I used only cumin and salt, and also subbed water for beer in the broth. I wanted it done sooner, so I cooked my 3.2 lb shoulder roast on high for 6 hrs. Then I wasn’t ready for it (though it was done) and left it on low for another 1.5 hrs. It was falling off the bone. I shredded some and left some in chunks before broiling. I think the chunked pieces were better - crispy outside, tender inside. Thank you! This is makes food prep for a crowd so easy and flexible.
Mandy S. January 2, 2019
Love this recipe. Usually cut it in half because it is so much pork for our family. Use a pork butt with a good fat cap on it, never fails. Also during the dead of winter in the Midwest, Aldi has a great peach mango pico de gallo, which is a great substitute.
Denise J. January 10, 2017
I have put these ingredients in my slow cooker already this morning. It's the second time I've used the recipe. The first time was a huge success. The house smells wonderful, and the meat is delicious. I love mixing the salt and spices and rubbing them on the meat and juicing the orange and limes; it's easy and feels creative. I don't eat mine as tacos, however. I cook some rice and eat it that way.
Sarah W. January 10, 2017
Denise - that sounds wonderful! I am having fun imagining what your house smells like. Enjoy your yummy dinner tonight.
Sari N. December 17, 2016
I usually never comment but I am b/c I hate for anybody to buy such a big cut of meat and run into problems. I followed this recipe exactly, and the pork shoulder in my slow cooker did NOT fall apart tender to the touch at all. It was tough, dry and almost impossible to shred. No idea what went wrong here, but I am never cooking pork shoulder this way again after this.
Emily H. December 18, 2016
I have made this recipe several times following it almost exactly. It results in tender, falling apart meat.
I believe you probably used the wrong cut of meat for it to turn out dry. Also, dryness is a result of overcooking, not undercooking, so the large size of meat is probably not the cause. You have to use a cut with fat like a pork shoulder - if you use something lean it will definitely be dry.
Just don't want this comment to deter others from making this fantastic recipe!
Sari N. December 19, 2016
I used a 5.5 pound pork shoulder cooked on low for eight hours. I was shocked as you that something went wrong here which made me think that maybe using a slow cooker to cook pork like this might be not as straightforward as I think. I'm linking out to the cut of meat I used. If that's why this went awry for me personally, let me know. My husband and son are big fans of carnitas so we were all bummed to come home to my first slow cooking disaster.
Emily H. December 19, 2016
Hmm.. Maybe 5.5 was too big? The recipe says 4-5 lbs and I actually used less than 4 last time. Now that I think of it it could be that more than 5 lbs requires more liquid to keep from drying? The link you posted looks just like what I use!
Sarah W. December 19, 2016
Sari I'm so sorry to hear that the carnitas didn't work out - I feel your frustration! I wish I could tell you what went wrong. I use this technique often and it works for me. I like Emily 's idea of trying a small piece of pork. Best of luck and happy holidays.
Sari N. December 19, 2016
Thanks Emily and Sarah for the feedback. I'll give it a whirl in the future with a smaller piece of meat, but with just a little bit of fear in my heart! And I might also try to do it on a day when I know I'll be home part way through to check in on it. I was out all day when I threw this in. :(
les C. August 28, 2018
Garbage in garbage out, please use the best quality meat you can afford and be sure their is a fat cap or better yet with skin attached. You will be rewarded I promise.Good Luck!
Jan W. August 22, 2016
I just want to say that this is a great recipe - however - I don't own a slow cooker. So I searched the interweb and came to the conclusion that if you have a regular cast iron dutch oven, you should braise your pork shoulder about 3-3 1/2 hours. I used mostly boneless pork shoulder "ribs" (also called country-style pork ribs) and two bone-in ones. Also I am using a 5.5 qt dutch oven for this so I needed to use double the amount of braising liquid (basically upped to two 12 oz bottles of beer). When you use a dutch oven, put it your oven *uncovered* for the entire duration of the cooking time. The pieces of pork above the liquid will start to brown - when that happens sufficiently, about 1 hr in, just take the dutch oven out and turn all of the pieces over. You can do that one more time during cooking but it's likely unnecessary. You'll end up with a small amount of braising liquid left in the dutch oven when time is up. You should make sure to shred the carnitas as soon as possible after extricating from the dutch oven to lay on the sheet pan to broil for browning because this will allow the tips to brown and get crispy without losing too much moisture anywhere else.

Final note - if you use Diamond Crystal kosher salt like I and many others do on Food52 (there was an article about this a few months ago) - you will need more than 1 tbsp of the stuff. I think I used about 3 or 4 tbsp at least of DC kosher salt to adequately season the pork.
Jan W. August 22, 2016
Oh, and your oven should be set to 350F for this.
Sarah W. August 24, 2016
Thank you Jan! Your testing has resulted in a wonderful technique for those without a slow cooker! I'm glad you enjoyed the tacos. Happy summer to you.