4 cups (serving size: 1/2 cup)

This simple recipe, which uses inexpensive beef stew meat, garnered our highest rating for great flavor and versatility. To freeze the carnitas, wrap them tightly in heavy-duty plastic wrap or foil, and place in a zip-top plastic freezer bag; they will keep in the freezer for up to three months.

How to Make It

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add beef; sauté 5 minutes or until beef is browned on all sides. Stir in broth, sugar, salt, and pepper; nestle orange section into beef mixture. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 ½ hours or until beef is tender. Remove and discard orange. Continue simmering, uncovered, 8 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring frequently.

Chef's Notes

This recipe was updated for the November, 2012 25th anniversary issue.

Ratings & Reviews

fredtbn1gs's Review

May 24, 2014
With a few spice additions, this is one of my favorite recipes. I took what previous reviewers had recommended for spice additions (thanks for the ideas) and put numbers on them. When you add the spices, also add: 1/2 tbsp chili powder 1 tsp ground cumim 1 tsp ground coriander 1 tsp paprika 1 chipotle in adobo sauce (if you want it hotter, add more red pepper flakes. 1/2 tsp has noticeable kick and may be too hot for some) If you can get ahold of dried chiles, it's worth it to make your own chili powder. It's so much better than store bought. I use this recipe: http://amazingribs.com/recipes/rubs_pastes_marinades_and_brines/chili_powder.html Also I second a previous review that it's helpful to cut the beef up smaller than recommended so you don't end up with beef stew, or else shred it after cooking.

April 09, 2015
Thanks for the additional spice suggestions and amounts. Based on the smell coming from my pot, its going to be awesome!

Yummy - with fredtbn1gs' additions!

June 22, 2016
Thanks, Fred, we are on vacation and I don't have my usual Cooks Illustrated ground beef taco meat recipe with me, and your improvements to this recipe made for a delicious substitute! I think if I hadn't added your extra spices this would have been dull indeed. I only used just over a pound of stew meat (for two) and halved all ingredients and it was delicious! Back at home I'd love to try the full amount in my slow cooker per other readers - even more tender and enough to freeze! I'd also try getting a small chuck roast and trim/cut into 1-inch pieces, so much more reliable than packaged stew meat. A real winner, this will go into the rotation.


June 06, 2015
My family loves this recipe.  Next time I might up the garlic and red pepper flakes and maybe add some cumin.  My son likes it over brown rice.  For me, I heated up some corn tortillas on the grill, add cilantro and some Cotija cheese. Mexican Rice and black beans on the side. Simple and delicious.  I found the key to flavorful beef is to simmer until almost all liquid is gone, no matter how long it takes.  8 minutes in the recipe is not long enough.  

gatsby2's Review

March 01, 2015
I make this with 6 pounds of beef every year for my taco party. It's always a hit. It freezes well too, so it's worth making a large amount so that you can have it again later. I do it in a crock pot and it usually cooks for 6-8 hours, depending on the cut of meat I use. I also add a little lime juice. The orange isn't quite enough citrus.

gkd1029's Review

June 23, 2014

steponme's Review

March 21, 2014
Great tasting meat. I served like nachos with unsalted tortilla chips and a little jack cheese.

peaches09's Review

February 06, 2014
We thought this was just OK. I made it as written, and we felt it lacked spice and flavor. I noticed many reviewers added to the recipe to spice it up. There was too much liquid at the end, even after simmering uncovered for 10-15 min. The cubes of beef had the appearance of beef stew. I've always used a whole chuck roast for carnitas, and shredded the meat after cooking.

sarahjones123's Review

December 09, 2013
It was a very good base. I added a bay leaf, orange juice, cumin, roasted coriander, a whole orange, a scant of cloves and cumin.

CAgirlinIA's Review

June 13, 2013
This rates up there with one of the best things I've ever eaten (ok, ok out of say, 100). The flavor is exceptional and it's easy to put together. We had the tacos last night and tonight we're going to have the oriental-style salad. And I'm squeezing out some to make enchiladas on Friday. So much for not eating red meat! (At least mine was neighbor-raised ;) Next time I'm making double or triple this recipe to store in portions in the freezer. WHY DOESN'T THIS HAVE FIVE STARS??