Slow-Roasted Pork Carnitas

Carnitas de Puerco
Recipe from Season 7, Mexico —One Plate at a Time
Servings: 6Makes 1 3/4 to 2 pounds finished carnitas


  • 4pounds bone-in pork shoulder roast, cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch slabs
  • Salt


Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut each slab of pork in half and lay the pieces in a baking dish (they should fit into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish without being crowded). Liberally sprinkle with salt (about 1 teaspoon) on all sides. Pour 1/3 cup water around the meat, cover tightly with foil, and bake for 1 hour.

Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Uncover the meat and cook until the liquid has completely reduced and only the rendered fat remains, about 30 minutes. Now, roast, carefully turning the meat every 7 or 8 minutes, until lightly browned, about 20 minutes longer. Break the meat into large pieces and serve on a warm platter, sprinkled with salt.


  1. Making this recipe for dinner!


    Love your show! Follow you on Facebook, too!


    1. How did this turn out? A pork shoulder usually needs to cook at less that 300 for several hours as it’s a tough cut of meat.


      1. Shoulder is very moist and tender, not tough. It has a greater amount of fat than the loin. It comes out SO good! I’ve made this recipe twice and, both times, it’s come out rave worthy.

      2. This is fabulous exactly the way Rick says to do it. If you are still skeptical, I cut my pork in cubes season generously and put in a single layer on a roasting pan. cover with foil and cook at 300 for an hour and a half at least. then remove the foil and roast for another half hour to forty five minutes. only until crispy, take care with this step. you get it dried out quickly.

  2. Que bueno!! I substituted coarse ground a New Mexico Hatch red instead of water.
    Devoured it with warm flour tortillas.

  3. I saw this show yesterday and I’m making this dish today.
    Thanks, I share your love for Mexican food and so appreciate you bringing these dishes north.

  4. I ate this recipe at my parents’ house during the 4th of July weekend and I think it’s a great method of making carnitas. My folks may have lowered the temp just a bit, but the idea was basically the same: a low, slow covered braise followed by an uncovered high-temp roast. I’ve been lucky enough to eat great carnitas both here and in Mexico, and I even made carnitas once at home in the traditional style, where you twice-fry the meat in lard. This recipe is easier, less messy and more economical than the lard method, and the results measure up to the best carnitas I’ve had: tender, flavorful meat with crispy caramelized edges, delicious on its own and even better with green sauce and avocado.

  5. This has been a go to recipe for several years and each time we make it just gets better.
    With pork available for 99cents a pound when on sale this is a great way to feed family and friends and still have left overs for a egg carnitas scramble. Our friends are always impressed when we serve this up buffet style with all the sides and fixins. Enjoy.

  6. What other types of meat (specific cut too) would be appropriate for this method of cooking Rick? Thanks!!! We love your show, even our 2 1/2 yr old will watch from beginning to end. Good stuff!

  7. This is my go to recipe for carnitas. Whether the pork will be used in making tacos or as the meat portion of New Mexican green chile stew, I just love the way the pork comes out. When I’m separating the meat from the bone, I have a tough time keeping myself from nibbling. It’s so good. We love to get a glass of wine and pick at the freshly baked meat. This has been a problem because twice I didn’t have enough meat left to make the dish for which the carnitas was prepared. I had to make more, which started the same vicious cycle of nibbling and drinking.

    For this recipe I use a low profile, five quart, enameled cast iron Dutch oven, rather than a baking dish covered w/ foil.

  8. The method is there, all the seasonigs and garnishes are missing. I would rename this a poor man’s carnitas

      1. Exactly!! Figure out your own sides. Perhaps some pickled onions and jalapeños. Some Oaxaca cheese. A smear of frijoles refritos and your favorite salsa. Enjoy!!!!

  9. Rick, I caught this on a rerun the other night and gave it a try tonight. I’ve been looking for a good, reliable carnitas recipe, and I’ve tried several other methods and recipes that were supposedly for carnitas (but really weren’t; they were more like lame pulled pork,) and this is the hands-down winner of them all. It’s not even close. Beautiful tender, juicy meat on the inside, deeply browned and crispy on the outside – it is absolutely amazing, and best of all, it’s so simple! This is a home run. A grand-slam home run.

      1. My wife & I have made this dozens of times per year, since the episode aired. It will ruin average restaurants carnitas, for life. Once you use this recipe, never order it again, because the results are not the same! We’ve used different cuts of pork, & it’s always delicious! Make it a few times, & perfection is revealed through patience. Add whatever garnishes you enjoy,& you’ll be a happy lady the night this recipe rolls around in the menu.

  10. Made this recipe several times, as good as you would get in a fine mexican resturant. I love the quick version, very easy to make

  11. I have made this version on several occasions and it is devoured every time. This is NOT a poor man’s carnitas by any stretch of the imagination. I have traveled extensively in Mexico and this would rival any carnitas I’ve had. This brings out the very best of the pork. As far as garnish, the sky’s the limit!!!!!!!

    Personally, a healthy portion of the carnitas with a squeeze of lime, a little cilantro, some frijoles de la olla topped with some Cotija…. aye ya ya.

  12. In Mexico we cooked the pork over an open fire in a copper pot with lard and orange slices.
    It would be served with frijoles charro, corn tortillas, pico de gallo, and guacamole. Lemon slices were on the plate to be put on the Carnitas.

  13. Rick is an AWSOME chef. I’ve followed him for years through his shows for many years. I first saw him in LA. Wow!!! He has inspired me to cook Mexican.

  14. This is what I love about real Mexican. So simple and unbelievably good. This and correctly cooked beans. Honestly, find a more satisfying meal!

  15. I know u have resturant in chicago, is it near the airport, u c im gonna b on vacation, and the plane stops for 2 hrs to refuel in chicago, how far away is your restuarant from there?

    1. We wouldn’t recommend leaving the airport to come to the restaurant – it would take too long and you’d miss your flight!

      The good news is that we do have Tortas Frontera at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Locations are:

      Terminal 1, B11 (Monday–Sunday, 5:30am–9pm)
      Terminal 3, K4 (Monday–Sunday, 5:30am–9pm)
      Terminal 5, M12 (Monday–Sunday, 10am–9pm)

      1. My meat keeps coming out dry , I’m using boneless pork shoulder, the water seems to not evaporate a lot , so I drained most of it after the 1 hour , then after the last 30 min at 450 , most meat comes out dry , any ideas ?

        1. Use bone in pork.
          Also, when you uncover the meat after the first hour there will still be a lot of liquid in the pan — DO NOT POUR IT OFF. It will cook off during the next stage of cooking (the 30+ min at 450°). Once all the water is gone, then you are browning the meat in its own rendered fat.

  16. I must confess, I plan my flights to allow a two hour layover at O’Hare just so I can eat at Frontera. Best waitress/bartender in the world makes the meal exceptional!

  17. I’ve made this version and also using Rick’s Liquid flavor packet ‘Garlicky Carnitas Slow Cook Sauce with Lime and Chipotle’. Hubby likes the packet, I like it plain with the salt. So I always make a batch for me and a batch for him! LOL! Both are so, so good.

  18. OK, just made this. I added a generous tablespoon of Mr. Bayless’s red chile adobo sauce and the juice of one orange to the water before braising. So good. So doggone good. So easy. Served with corn tortillas, thinly sliced radishes, and salsa. (I had an avocado but I forgot!) Oh, and we used a boneless pork shoulder, about 3.75 pounds; I thought it would be way too much for two of us, and it was, but the prospect of leftovers is wonderful!
    I can’t wait to serve this to friends and family!

  19. I cooked this tonight and it was fabulous.
    I rubbed salsa ranchera over the pork, added good flavor and color.

  20. I’m ready to try this! We are hoping to make pork carnitas for 100 people in February for our wedding. Has anyone tried to do this and freeze it?

    1. Nicole, are you planning to make-then-freeze until the wedding? Or are you looking to freeze the leftovers from the wedding?

  21. Easy, and amazing! I added juice of one orange, but don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this recipe the flavor and carmilazation of the meat is PERFECT!!+

  22. I made this recipe using chicken legs……….Turned out perfecto. As Rick said, you can make anything into Carrnitas as he did with Tuna, Duck etc..

  23. I have made this as described, before. Delicious.
    It’s the “frying in it’s own lard”, uncovered the last 30 or so minutes is what makes it crispy,
    After you try it that way, then try it again adding orange peel and maybe orange juice instead of the water.
    I also have added a tiny piece of cinnamon, just a few allspice berries, whole garlic cloves, onion, Mexican oregano, large chunks of jalapeno, bay leaves, etc……. pick-and-chose………..your choice. Not too much…. the point it for it to still taste like pork.
    Topped with a good roasted tomatillo salsa works well when serving, and fresh lime.

  24. Followed the same recipe but with a couple of French-cut bone-in pork chops instead of shoulder, and replaced the water with fresh-squeezed orange juice. It came out amazing; crispy fat, the lean chop meat still pulled apart, and everything had a delicious orange glaze around it.

  25. One of my favorite recipes of all time from Rick Bayless!

    Quick pickled red onions, a good salsa, some tortillas and these carnitas and the whole family is happy.

    If you can’t find pork shoulder – “country ribs” which are usually portions of a pork should roast work well although the lack of a bone for the roasting is a downside and they do cook a little quicker.

  26. Ten hours faster than the recipe from Serious Eats (Kenji Alt López). As someone with barely any patience, this is now my go-to. I ran into the same problems as the other reviewers – I ate too much of it immediately and had barely enough for the actual meal. Will double next time and roast in two pans. Thanks.

  27. This is my favorite recipe for carnitas. So good, it turns out perfectly every time. So easy to make something fresh & delicious.

  28. I’ve made this several times before and love it. Tried it tonight with boneless county style ribs i had in the freezer. Even more fat and more flavor. Chopped it up for tacos with homemade guacamole. So easy and unbelievably good.

  29. Holy moly! Recipe (and comments) are spot on. So EASY and so delicious. Followed this easy recipe to a tee and was shocked with the perfect results. No question I’ll be making this over and over and over… the truest statements in the comments are about nibbling on it before supper because it’s so good. Step away from the carnitas! Better make my salsa and prepare my avocados and tortillas because this stuff is gonna be gone real quick. Fabulous!!!

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