Carnitas! The name is cute but this recipe is tender and crunchy. First cousin to chicharrones, this recipe is to be eaten without stopping but with care because otherwise the liver will send you a document letter.

The carnitas recipe is very easy to make and can be used for a wide variety of dishes. In Mexico and various places in the world they are eaten at any time of the day and with whatever accompaniment they like. It’s fried pork fat! The only thing missing would be the cold beer.

About the carnitas

Carnitas are a traditional dish of Mexican cuisine which is characterized by its delicious flavor and tender and crunchy texture. They are prepared from pieces of pork, which can be of different cuts, slowly cooked in their own fat until they become golden and very tasty.

They are an important part of Mexican cuisine and are enjoyed in tacos, cakes, burritos, and a variety of other dishes.

Tips to make the perfect carnitas

The choice of meat and fat is essential to achieve delicious carnitas, as different cuts of pork and types of fat can affect the final result. Additionally, cooking technique is essential to achieving the desired texture, so patience and time are needed to obtain the perfect result.

The tradition of adding milk has its roots in Mexican cuisine, especially in the Michoacán region. Milk is used as an ingredient that helps soften the texture of the meat and give it a more delicate flavor. By adding milk to the preparation, the meat is achieved with a balance between soft and crunchy, which makes it more pleasant to the palate. Milk also contributes to giving them a characteristic golden hue on the outside when cooked over low heat.

What do carnitas have?

The carnitas recipe is made mainly from pork. What characterizes them is their slow, deep cooking process in fat, which gives them their crispy texture on the outside and tender on the inside.

The basic ingredients of carnitas include pork, pork fat, garlic, onion, bay leaves, salt and pepper. These seasonings are essential to flavor the meat and enhance its taste profile. Pork fat is what allows the meat to cook evenly and acquire that characteristic texture.

They are served in tacos with onion, cilantro and salsa but you can also accompany them with tortillas, guacamole or whatever you prefer. Ideal for breakfast with divorced eggs, motuleños eggs or as a zacahuil filling.

What meat to use to make carnitas?

Carnitas are mainly prepared using various parts of the pigand the choice of meat cuts is essential to achieve the characteristic texture and flavor of this Mexican dish.

The cuts of pork typically used vary, but some of the most common include the shoulder, leg, loin, and pancetta.

  • The shoulder is one of the most popular cuts due to its balance between lean and fat meat. This allows them to have a tender, juicy texture on the inside and a crispy coating on the outside. Pork shank is another common option and is usually quite lean, making it suitable for those who prefer a less fatty dish.
  • The loin, known for its tenderness, is also used in some carnitas recipes., although its lower fat content may require the addition of extra fat during cooking to achieve the desired texture. Bacon, with its generous amount of fat, is a choice that ensures they are juicy and full of flavor.

Why are they called carnitas?

Making carnitas is a traditional culinary process in Mexican cuisine that involves slowly cooking pieces of pork in their own fat until they become crisp-tender.

The word “carnitas” in Spanish literally translates to “little meats” or “little carnitas.”, which reflects the cooking and presentation technique. This slow cooking process is what gives it its unique texture and deeply savory flavor.

The first step in making them usually involves cutting the pork into smaller pieces, which can vary in size depending on the cook’s preference. These pieces are then simmered in a large, deep pot, often accompanied by seasonings such as garlic, onion, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Pork fat melts during cooking and becomes the medium in which the meat is cooked, contributing to its unique flavor and texture.

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Carnitas recipe

Yield: 6 servings

Preparation time: 2 hours 25 minutes


  • 1 kg of pork
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup lard or cooking oil
  • 1 orange (juice)
  • 1 cup of water

How to make carnitas

  1. Cut the pork into 5cm pieces. In a saucepan, heat the lard or oil over high heat and fry the pork for about 5-7 minutes until golden.
  2. Add the coarsely chopped onion and finely chopped garlic. Stir and cook for a few minutes until the onion becomes translucent.
  3. Add the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper, mixing well. Pour the orange juice and the cup of water.
  4. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours or until meat is very tender and liquids have reduced considerably. Stir occasionally during cooking.
  5. Once the meat is tender and has browned in its own fat, remove the bay leaves and adjust the seasoning. Serve the carnitas hot and crispy.
cook with carnitas


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