Mexican Carnitas Recipe
Mexican Carnitas Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Mexican Carnitas Recipe

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Ever hear of "carnitas"? They're easy-to-make pork crisps that are very popular in Mexico. The secret to this recipe is the citrus and quick frying. Be sure the meat is well drained before it's place in oil, though, or it will splatter and pop. My husband works at a timber mill. Logging is an important industry here in the mountainous northeast part of our state, and there are also numerous wheat and grass seed farms. In addition to cooking and canning, I enjoy fishing, gardening and crafting. —Patricia Collins, Imbler, Oregon
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 40 min. Bake: 2 hours
MAKES:12-16 servings
Contest Winning Test Kitchen Approved
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 40 min. Bake: 2 hours
MAKES: 12-16 servings


  • 1 boneless pork shoulder butt roast (3 to 4 pounds), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 3 large oranges, divided
  • 1 large lemon
  • Oil for frying
  • 12 to 16 flour tortillas (8 inches), warmed
  • Optional toppings: chopped tomatoes, shredded cheddar cheese, sliced green onions, sour cream and avocado slices

Nutritional Facts

1 serving equals 341 calories, 19 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 50 mg cholesterol, 387 mg sodium, 24 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 18 g protein.


  1. Place meat in a medium-size roasting pan. Sprinkle with garlic and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice from one orange and the lemon over the meat. Slice the remaining oranges and place over the meat.
  2. Cover and bake at 350° for about 2 hours or until meat is tender. With a slotted spoon, remove meat and drain well on paper towels. Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet and fry meat in batches until browned and crispy.
  3. Serve warm in tortillas with toppings of your choice.
    Freeze option: Freeze cooled pork mixture in freezer containers. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Fry meat in batches as directed until crispy and brown. Serve as directed.
    Yield: 12-16 servings.
Originally published as Mexican Carnitas in Country Woman July/August 1991, p31

Sweet White Wine

Enjoy this recipe with a sweet white wine such as Moscato or a sweet Riesling.

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Reviewed Mar. 1, 2015

"This was really tasty. I agree the citrus was more subtle than I expected, but the frying really brought out the flavor. I served with chimichurri sauce on tacos."

Reviewed Jan. 2, 2011

"I expected the citrus to shine through in this meat, which it didn't really, but the overall taste was still quite delicious! Served it up with avocado slices & fresh cilantro in corn tortillas."

Reviewed Jun. 18, 2010

"I like that after the meat has baked it can be refrigerated (the taste actually improves) or even frozen. Later I only have to take what I need to fry, instead of frying it all for one meal and probably having leftovers."

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