This is going to become your new go-to on taco night. Pork shoulder becomes meltingly tender as it slow-cooks in the chile- and garlic-infused citrus sauce. Searing the pork in a skillet for just a minute adds a depth of flavor you don't otherwise get in a slow cooker. Mildly spicy ancho chile (dried poblano peppers) adds authentic chile flavor to the sauce. Look for dried chiles in the produce or bulk spice department in large supermarkets. To serve taco truck–style, tuck the carnitas into warm corn tortillas and keep the toppings simple with diced white onion, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. Pair with slaw on the side.

Emily Nabors Hall
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Credit: Victor Protasio

Recipe Summary test

20 mins
15 hrs 30 mins
Serves 6 (serving size: 2 tacos)


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Cut pork into 3-inch pieces, and place in a large ziplock bag. Sprinkle with brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Add 2 tablespoons lime juice and 2 tablespoons orange juice to bag, and seal, removing as much air as possible. Refrigerate 8 to 24 hours.

  • Place 2 cups hot water and dried ancho chile in a bowl, and let stand 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup soaking liquid. Transfer pork to a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, and discard marinade. Add garlic, sliced onion, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, oregano, ancho chile, reserved 1/4 cup soaking liquid, remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice, and remaining 2 tablespoons orange juice. Cover and cook on low until meat is very tender, 7 to 8 hours.

  • Remove pork to a bowl, and pour cooking liquid through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a separate bowl. Discard solids. Heat canola oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add pork, and sear 1 minute without stirring. Return pork to bowl. Add 1/2 cup cooking liquid to skillet. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits of pork stuck to bottom of skillet. Pour over pork; add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Shred pork. Divide pork evenly among tortillas; top each with 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped onion. Serve with cilantro and lime wedges, if desired.

Nutrition Facts

392 calories; fat 14g; saturated fat 3g; protein 30g; carbohydrates 40g; fiber 5g; sugars 6g; added sugar 2g; sodium 441mg.