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!


  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. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

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

  13. 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)

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