Slow-Cooker Chipotle Beef Carnitas

Total Time

Prep: 40 min. Cook: 8 hours


16 servings plus 1/4 cup leftover spice mixture

Updated: Jun. 30, 2023
I came up with this beef carnitas recipe while trying to figure out what I could do with a pot roast that had been in the freezer. Now I keep the rub in a plastic bag, ready and waiting in my cupboard, and I can get the roast in the slow cooker in less than 15 minutes. —Ann Piscitelli, Nokomis, Florida
Slow-Cooker Chipotle Beef Carnitas Recipe photo by Taste of Home


  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 boneless beef chuck roast (3 pounds)
  • 2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 poblano peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) salsa
  • 16 flour tortillas (8 inches), warmed
  • 3 cups crumbled queso fresco or shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Optional toppings: cubed avocado, sour cream and minced fresh cilantro


  1. Mix the first nine ingredients. Cut roast in half; rub with 1/4 cup spice mixture. Cover and store remaining mixture in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year.
  2. Place onions and peppers in a 4-qt. slow cooker. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Brown roast on all sides. Transfer meat and drippings to slow cooker. Top with salsa. Cook, covered, on low until meat is tender, 8-10 hours.
  3. Remove roast; shred with two forks. Skim fat from cooking juices. Return meat to slow cooker; heat through. Using a slotted spoon, place 1/2 cup meat mixture on each tortilla. Sprinkle with cheese. Add toppings of your choice.
Beef Carnitas Tips

What cut of meat is best for beef carnitas?

Tougher cuts of meat that benefit from low and slow cooking are ideal for slow-cooker beef recipes. Consider chuck roast, like our recipe calls for, or chuck steak, bottom round or brisket. Pork shoulder, as used in our pork carnitas tacos recipe, is another delicious option.

What toppings can you put on beef carnitas?

Go crazy with your favorite taco toppings! Besides the suggested toppings of avocado, sour cream and cilantro, consider a squeeze of lime, your favorite salsa, or even a homemade queso for over-the-top indulgence. You can also make pickled onions to lend a sweet-tart surprise.

What do you serve with beef carnitas?

Rice, refried beans, salad, guacamole, chips, or any of these Mexican side dishes would be a great sidekick to your beef carnitas.

Can you freeze beef carnitas?

You bet. Fully cool the beef mixture, then place in covered freezer containers, leaving a little room at the top for the meat to expand as it freezes. You can freeze the beef for up to 6 months.

Christine Rukavena, Taste of Home Senior Book Editor
Peppers (Hot)
Wear disposable gloves when cutting hot peppers; the oils can burn skin. Avoid touching your face.

Nutrition Facts

1 carnita (calculated without optional toppings): 415 calories, 18g fat (6g saturated fat), 70mg cholesterol, 830mg sodium, 35g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 1g fiber), 27g protein.