Healthy Recipes

Slow Cooker Chipotle Carnitas

A classic Mexican dish with a healthier twist.

Calories 370
Protein 29g
Fat 26g
Carbs 4g

I could eat carnitas every single day. Traditional carnitas, like the kind you can find in my favorite San Antonio restaurants, are braised for hours in lard (also known as a “confit”). The method I use is much easier and requires way less fat. Instead of braising in fat, I braise a seasoned pork shoulder in broth after browning it in a pan. The dish is then finished off in a traditional carnitas style by tossing in more fat and then roasting it to a slight crisp in the oven. You can enjoy this delicious meat alongside any vegetable, in some jicama tortillas, or stuffed in a loaded sweet potato.

Slow Cooker Chipotle Carnitas Servings: 10 to 15
Prep time: 15 min   |   Cook time: 4 hours 15 min (minimum)
You'll need
  • 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp fine sea salt, divided
  • 2 tbsp dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 (4 lb) bone-in pork butt (aka shoulder), rinsed and patted dry
  • 4 tbsp salted butter, ghee, or coconut oil divided
  • 1 orange, cut into 4 wedges
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion cut into 4 wedges (omit for low-FODMAP)
  • 2 cups chicken broth, store-bought or homemade
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Tip: Leftovers will keep refrigerated for up to five days, or can be frozen for up to five months. Note, if you plan to freeze leftovers, I recommend holding off on adding the fresh cilantro until the day you reheat and serve.

1. Mix 2 tablespoons of the salt with the oregano, garlic powder, chipotle powder, cumin, and pepper. Rub the spice blend all over the pork shoulder.
2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in either the stove top-safe insert of your slow cooker or a large frying pan over high heat. Once melted, add the seasoned pork and sear on four sides for 3 minutes each, or until a crust starts to form.
3. Transfer the pork to the slow cooker, and place the orange and onion wedges around the side. Add the broth, cover, and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 6 hours. You know the pork is done when it falls apart easily when prodded with a fork.
4. Preheat the oven to 425º. Transfer the cooked shoulder to a large mixing bowl, and shred it into small chunks using two forks.
5. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and pour it over the shredded pork. Spread the pork out on a rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of salt, and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the tops just start to crisp. Remove from the oven, add the fresh lime juice and cilantro, then serve.