There's nothing like carnitas. Cubes of fragrantly spiced pork are slowly cooked in lard until they're crispy on the outside while at the same time remaining soft and succulent inside. Bust some up on a warm tortilla, drizzle with braising liquid, top with a little salsa, onion, and cilantro, and you're probably enjoying the world's best taco.

Recipe Summary

prep:
15 mins
cook:
3 hrs 40 mins
total:
3 hrs 55 mins
Servings:
6
Yield:
6 servings
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Ingredients

6
Original recipe yields 6 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C).

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  • Remove fat from pork; cut pork meat into 2-inch cubes and roughly chop fat.

  • Mix pork, garlic, olive oil, orange peel, orange juice, salt, bay leaves, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, and 5-spice powder together in a bowl until pork is coated completely. Transfer mixture to a 9x13-inch baking dish. Place baking dish on a baking sheet and cover baking dish tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

  • Bake in the preheated oven until pork is fork-tender, about 3 1/2 hours.

  • Set oven rack about 6 inches from the heat source and preheat the oven's broiler.

  • Transfer meat to a colander set over a bowl. Remove garlic, bay leaves, and orange peels from baking dish and pour accumulated juices from the baking dish over meat in colander into the bowl. Return meat to the baking dish and drizzle accumulated juices over each piece of meat.

  • Cook meat under the preheated broiler for 3 minutes. Drizzle more accumulated juices over meat and continue broiling until crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer pork to a serving plate and drizzle more accumulated juices over the top.

Nutrition Facts

317 calories; protein 25.5g 51% DV; carbohydrates 2.1g 1% DV; fat 22.6g 35% DV; cholesterol 89.2mg 30% DV; sodium 1036mg 41% DV. Full Nutrition

Reviews (123)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
10/19/2014
I cannot believe that I am the first one to review this recipe. I have another carnitas recipe that I usually use but this one looked interesting and I have used another one of Chef John's recipes and loved it. I followed the directions and the ingredients except I didn't have the Chinese 5 spice. I substituted Goya Sazon sin achiote. The carnitas were juicy and crispy. Do not forget the drizzle at the end. I will be deleting my other carnitas recipe. Thanks Chef John. Read More
(30)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 3 stars
10/28/2014
Crispy Pork Carnitas Haiku: "Method is perfect, texture moist crispy heaven, but cinnamon? NO." The cinnamon totally wrecked this for us; b4 the broiling stage, my husband actually removed about half of the meat and rinsed it off under running water b4 returning it to a separate pan to broil on its own w/ bbq sauce. I decided to try to recipe as it was written by CJ, but my nostrils and my house were already permeating w/ the overwhelming scent of cinnamon that I had a feeling I was in for disappointment. W/ enough cilantro, salsa and colorful taco-toppings, the meal was salvaged for my daughter and I, but like I said, my husband had already separated, de-cinnamoned, and doctored his own pork. I did everything as written, and the method I will absolutely recreate for a pork butt again, but will not be using cinnamon. Oh, I also want to add that the directions never mentioned shredding, so we left ours in the 2" cubes, which did fall apart nicely anyways, but b/c the hunks were so large, there wasn't enough surface area to get crispy when broiling, so I would shred the pork after straining as well. Read More
(28)
162 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 123
  • 4 star values: 30
  • 3 star values: 5
  • 2 star values: 2
  • 1 star values: 2
Rating: 5 stars
10/18/2014
I cannot believe that I am the first one to review this recipe. I have another carnitas recipe that I usually use but this one looked interesting and I have used another one of Chef John's recipes and loved it. I followed the directions and the ingredients except I didn't have the Chinese 5 spice. I substituted Goya Sazon sin achiote. The carnitas were juicy and crispy. Do not forget the drizzle at the end. I will be deleting my other carnitas recipe. Thanks Chef John. Read More
(30)
Rating: 3 stars
10/28/2014
Crispy Pork Carnitas Haiku: "Method is perfect, texture moist crispy heaven, but cinnamon? NO." The cinnamon totally wrecked this for us; b4 the broiling stage, my husband actually removed about half of the meat and rinsed it off under running water b4 returning it to a separate pan to broil on its own w/ bbq sauce. I decided to try to recipe as it was written by CJ, but my nostrils and my house were already permeating w/ the overwhelming scent of cinnamon that I had a feeling I was in for disappointment. W/ enough cilantro, salsa and colorful taco-toppings, the meal was salvaged for my daughter and I, but like I said, my husband had already separated, de-cinnamoned, and doctored his own pork. I did everything as written, and the method I will absolutely recreate for a pork butt again, but will not be using cinnamon. Oh, I also want to add that the directions never mentioned shredding, so we left ours in the 2" cubes, which did fall apart nicely anyways, but b/c the hunks were so large, there wasn't enough surface area to get crispy when broiling, so I would shred the pork after straining as well. Read More
(28)
Rating: 4 stars
10/24/2014
I made two batches using this recipe today. The first I made as written but the second I left out the orange and cinnamon and added some thyme, oregano, and onion powder. The second batch was much more to our liking. Although the orange is okay, I think the cinnamon leaves a bad taste to the meat. I was very happy with the way both batches cooked. Both were juicy, tender and crispy. I may change the spices used, but I'll definitely continue to use the cooking method. Read More
(23)
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Rating: 5 stars
01/22/2016
This has become my favorite meal. Pro tip: if you like garlic, save the cloves and mash them into a delicious spread that you can put on the tortilla before loadin' it up. I tweaked the recipe a little bit -- instead of orange juice / orange peel, I use the juice from two limes. The orange peel ended up disintegrating the first time I made it, and, though I tried really hard not to get any pith, it gave it a sort of bitter taste. The lime juice goes really well and doesn't overpower it. I think I cut back on the cinnamon a little bit, too. I usually serve it with fajita stuffs - flash fried green peppers and onions with a tiny bit of seasoning in a warm tortilla, and sometimes over cilantro lime rice. Read More
(12)
Rating: 4 stars
05/15/2016
I made this as is I didn't care for the five spice & cinnamon. But the pork was tender and juicy so I made some substitutions to the spices. I used 2 tsp oregano 1 tsp cumin and 1/4 onion powder. I also have cooked this in my slow cooker for 4 & 1/2 hours on low it came out just as fantastic. Read More
(11)
Rating: 4 stars
04/08/2016
I love this cooking method perfect every time! I do take the liberty of adjusting spices to my taste (which means leaving out the cinnamon and five spice) and to what I have in my spice vault when I have New Mexico green chili look out! The trick is no peeking for the first part and baste baste baste for the finishIng touch!! Read More
(7)
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Rating: 5 stars
04/24/2017
Made this tonight and it was delicious. The meat was ender and juicy and the flavors worked great together. My only change was that I used 2 cinnamon sticks instead of the ground cinnamon. I made a slaw with fresh lime juice, cilantro and pinch of kosher salt and ate it all on corn tortillas and garnished with pico de gallo. We will definitely make this again! Read More
(6)
Rating: 4 stars
03/29/2015
This method is spot on. The pork was so tender! I'm not sure the cinnamon works here. I found that with the five spice powder the cinnamon was just a little over the top. When I make this again (and I will) I think I'll omit the cinnamon and maybe add 1/4 tsp of cayenne instead to balance the flavor of the five spice. Thank you for sharing your recipe! Read More
(5)
Rating: 5 stars
12/23/2018
Easily the best carnitas recipe you re going to find. It s super simple and is almost cool proof. I do add smoked paprika chipotle and ancho chili powder to the spice mixture for more complex flavors. Always a hit! Read More
(5)