These Slow Cooker Chipotle Carnitas are a super simple copycat recipe that results in tender juicy pork that's perfect for filling tacos, burritos, bowls, and more!
Slow Cooker Chipotle Carnitas
This Slow Cooker Chipotle Carnitas recipe is a super easy copycat version of the restaurant favorite. Don't be fooled by the simplicity of this recipe. It lacks absolutely nothing in flavor.
Spiced pork that's simmered slowly results in a tender, juicy, melt-in-your-mouth bites of carnitas perfection.
Use your copycat Chipotle carnitas as filler for tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, and salads.
What is the Difference Between Carnitas and Barbacoa at Chipotle?
The most notable and obvious difference between the two is that carnitas is pork and barbacoa is beef.
Carnitas is seasoned pork shoulder, slow cooked until tender, then pulled.
Barbacoa is also seasoned and slow cooked. It is traditionally made from beef cheek (or sometimes goat or lamb). In America, barbacoa generally refers to a spicy, shredded slow cooked beef.
What Cut of Pork Should I Use?
Carnitas are traditionally made with pork shoulder. You can also use pork butt, as it comes from the same part of the pig (believe it or not), just slightly higher. They are both tough, fatty meat cuts that benefit from slow cooking.
Where Can I Get Juniper Berries?
You will probably find juniper berries in the spices section at the grocery store. If you can't find them in the store, you can grab them here on Amazon.
More Chipotle Inspired Recipes You'll Love
- Chipotle Barbacoa - slow cooked spiced shredded beef perfect for a burrito or burrito bowl.
- Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice - another copycat recipe that you'll want to gobble up with your carnitas!
- Restaurant-Style Salsa - super easy to make and turns out fresh and zesty like your favorite restaurant.
- Homemade Refried Black Beans - a great dish to have on hand because they are so much better than the canned version.
- Authentic Guacamole - You can't have carnitas or a burrito bowl without this drool-worthy guac!
Slow Cooker Chipotle Carnitas
- 1 pork shoulder or butt roast (about 3.5-4 pounds)
- Salt and pepper
- ½ cup water or chicken broth
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves)
- Juice from 1 lime about 1-2 tablespoons
- 2 teaspoons whole juniper berries
- Season all sides of pork liberally with salt and pepper. Place in the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Add water or broth, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, lemon juice, and juniper berries. Stir to combine.
- Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
- When pork is done cooking, transfer to a large plate or bowl and shred with 2 forks.
- Skim fat off the surface of the juices in the slow cooker and remove bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and juniper berries, and discard.
- Return shredded pork to slow cooker and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve warm on tortillas, in a burrito, in a burrito bowl, or on a salad.
- You can brown your roast on all sides before adding to the slow cooker. I just don't find the flavor to be changed enough to be worth the extra effort.
- You can also be cooked on HIGH for 4-6 hours, if you're short on time. However, longer and slower is better and more tender.
- For crispy carnitas: after cooking in the slow cooker, heat 1 tablespoon cooking oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add carnitas in batches and cook until slightly browned. Flip and repeat for remaining carnitas.
- Storage: Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days. Reheat in the microwave, in a skillet, or in the oven on a baking sheet at 400°F for about 15 minutes.
- Freezer: Transfer cooked and cooled pork to a freezer bag or container. Store for up to 3-6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
- Reheat in the microwave, in a skillet, or in the oven on a baking sheet at 400°F for about 15 minutes.
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Wow! Love this recipe. Carnitas are so good and I love that I can make it in my slow cooker. Thanks for the amazing recipe!
Melinda Fewless says
This had so much flavor and was so juicy!!
This is mouth melting delicious. Flavorful and juicy and perfect as a topping or as a sandwich spread too.
Claudia Lamascolo says
I love how tender this came, it surely is perfect in any sub, on rice and for so many uses great recipe
Jessica Formicola says
I am so obsessed with these carnitas! So juicy and full of flavor, we will definitely be making them over and over!
Tawnie Kroll says
I've been looking for more slow cooker recipes and this one was amazing! Adding to our menu rotation, thank you!
Love making carnitas in the slow cooker -- I couldn't find juniper berries in my grocery store, but ended up ordering online! Makes such a difference!
Jeff Albom says
What a great recipe. I love making burritos with this.
I can't believe how easy this is!! The texture and flavor is spot-on, and it was seriously so easy to make. Gonna be lots more carnitas in my family's future!
The meat looks so tender, I can't wait to make it!