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    Cheddar Witches Fingers - Cheese straws in the shape of fingers, complete with a black almond "finger nail." Delicious and totally spooky.

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Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

My slow cooker is probably one of the most underutilized tools in my kitchen. (Side note: do you call yours a slow cooker or Crock Pot? Growing up, it was always referred to as a Crock Pot even if it wasn’t the brand. Then again, I’m from Alabama and grew up calling most soda beverages Coke.) Every time I use it, I think “Why the heck don’t I use this more often?” Having a meal cook itself while I’m doing something else like playing with Clara (or reading her Pride and Prejudice board book to her for the 16th time) is a total win.

A long time ago, I assumed all slow cooker meals involved a bunch of ingredients thrown into a vessel and cooked into some agglomeration of things that don’t belong together. I don’t know what gave me that idea, but I’m glad I discovered how awesome slow cooker meals are. Take this recipe, for example. The pork is cut and seared. Onion, beer and spices are added, and you end up with flavorful, juicy pork that is so tender it practically shreds itself. It cooks while you’re doing other things, and it makes your house smell fantastic. All of that for the small amount of effort it took to chop and sear.

We’ve been making these carnitas for several months now, yet I’m still finding new ways to use them. Our favorite way is to serve them on corn tortillas with diced onion, fresh cilantro and a generous squeeze of lime juice. This pork is also fantastic as part of DIY burrito bowls, on top of nachos, mixed with barbecue sauce and served on buns, in place of chicken as filling for taquitos, on top of a loaded baked potato. You get my point. Heck, I bet you could even serve these carnitas on top of scrambled eggs with pepper jack cheese and have a fantastic breakfast.

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas

Cook Time: 5 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: 8-10 servings

Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas

Don't be tempted to halve this recipe. The pork freezes beautifully, so make the full batch and save some for another day.


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 (4-5 pound) lean boneless pork roast, excess fat trimmed, cut into 3-inch chunks
1 cup beer (or chicken broth)
1 large white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chipotle powder (or 1 chipotle in adobo sauce, minced)
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper


Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the pork and sear on each side until browned (about 2 minutes per side). Transfer pork to the slow cooker.

Stir in the remaining ingredients and cover. Cook on low for 5-8 hours until the pork is completely tender and shreds easily. Shred all of the meat with tongs or a fork.

Once the pork has finished cooking, heat your broiler to high. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pork to the prepared baking sheet, spreading it in a single layer. Reserve the liquid in the slow cooker.

Place the pork under the broiler for about 5 minutes, or until the edges begin to crisp. Use tongs to toss the pork, then ladle about ¼ cup of broth over the pork. Continue broiling for another 5 minutes, or until the edges are nice and crispy. Ladle another ¼ cup of broth over the pork and serve immediately.

I usually only broil as much as we're going to eat that night and then freeze or refrigerate the rest. When I cook from frozen, I thaw in the refrigerator and then broil as directed once it's thawed. You can broil all of it (you'll need two baking sheets) and then freeze, if desired.


  • Eileen

    Somehow I never make carnitas at home–but that may change now! Stashing a bunch of the batch in the freezer is such a good idea. Instant tacos later! :)

  • Joanne (eats well with others)

    I gave away my slow cooker a few years ago because there aren’t that many excited vegetarian things one can do with it…but I bet the.boy would have been quite happy if I had surprised him with a big platter of this!

  • Courtney

    Good question! I pour the broth over the pork before storing it and just broil it all together. If it looks dry after the first few minutes under the broiler, I just add a bit of chicken broth (we always seem to have some in the fridge) before finishing it off. Sometimes there’s enough liquid without adding any extra.