slowcooker carnitas featured image

Slow Cooker Carnitas

In Lifestyle, Recipes by Tom @ Abroad American2 Comments

Most Americans I have met in Germany have agreed that Mexican food here is mostly just disappointing. Sure, there are some restaurants here and there that actually know how to make a good taco/burrito/anything, but for the most part, they don’t. Back home, Mexican food was a big part of my weekly cuisine. Here, without restaurants to satiate my needs, I’ve had to learn to make somewhat “Mexican” food for myself. I suppose what I am referring to as Mexican food really is Mexican-American fusion. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, the weather started to turn for the better, and a wonderful Saturday stood before us. Seize the day, eh? Seize the day with these Slow Cooker Carnitas.

slowcooker carnitas featured image

A couple of weeks ago, the weather started to finally turn for the better, and we got a whole weekend of 70+ degree Fahrenheit weather and lots of sun. It was not a weekend for meat and potatoes. Somehow, I got the idea to bring out the slow cooker again, but this time, to help me whip up some carnitas instead of BBQ Pulled Pork. My inspiration came from this recipe for carnitas from Pinch of Yum. I followed it pretty closely but did some edits and additions here and there.  Luckily, with this recipe, I didn’t have nearly as much of an issue finding the right ingredients for this recipe! Sometimes, that can really be a challenge in Munich, especially if you’re in a rush. This time, I had most of the ingredients already. Ohh, the advantages of an established kitchen. Let’s dig in!

Slow Cooker Carnitas

Pork Dry Rub

  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ tablespoon of brown sugar

Mix together, then spread onto and pat into the meat, to ensure flavor optimization.

Other Ingredients

  • a nice big cut of pork. Shoulder, or whatever’s on cheap will work. 4 to 5 lbs. (that’s 1.8 to 2.2 kg for us outside the States)
  • a couple of medium-sized onions, quartered and split
  • 4 to 5 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 limes worth of juice
  • ½ cup of freeeeshly squeezed orange juice
  • ½ cup of your favorite salsa
  • 1 to 1½ tablespoons of chipotle-flavored hot sauce, if you want. I certainly put on a good couple of dashes extra.
  • a beer (12 oz.). preferably something with taste, sorry no fratty Natty here! Go for a pale ale or something with a refreshing, summery, hoppy taste.
  • another beer (to drink while you’re prepping)


After applying the dry rub to the meat, I really should have browned it in a pan for 15 seconds or so a side. I failed to remember this until about 2 hours into cooking the meat. I also made idiotic mistake of pouring the beer on top of the dry-rubbed meat, washing away lots of the spices. Do not do this. Luckily, I had some leftover dry rub and used it to regain some of the lost spices.

To magically transform your pork into slow cooker carnitas, cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or on high for 3 to 4 hours.

I was in a rush to get the food done for a nice lunch in the garden while the sun was still shining, so I cooked it on high. After about 3½ hours, I took the meat out and shredded it on a cutting board which was far too small. A new one is on my list! After shredding the whole chunk of meat apart, I placed the bits back into the crockpot to cook through for another half hour and then to keep warm while everything else was prepared.

Bringing it all together

Your slow cooker carnitas are essentially done! Place your desired serving of carnitas in the oven with the broiler on. We want to crisp up the tips of the pulled meat to provide a little bit of crunchy texture to the tacos. To prepare the dish, we placed it on heated corn tortillas and topped with a little bit of white aged cheddar, jalapeno guac, fresh limes and fresh cilantro. See the finished products in the gallery below!


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  1. My big question — did you make the tortillas yourself? Those look pretty good, but I’ve never seen decent looking tortillas in Germany and always make the myself (I even imported a cast iron tortilla press last Christmas ) Looks delicious! If you haven’t yet, Berlin has some decent Mexican food, as well as California-style burritos. It’s because foreigners make them, instead of Germans

    1. Author

      Actually, no! I have been meaning to try and make my own here for some time, however. I have a couple of good recipes to try and all the ingredients, but I don’t have a nice cast iron pan at the moment so I don’t really think it’s worth it. I think these were bought at real – that big supermarket style store with a big international aisle. There are a couple in Munich I think, but since I moved I’m not near one 🙁

      If I’m remembering correctly, and I bought them at real, they were corn tortillas, if not, it’s likely I bought them at Rewe, and they were wheat or flour. Either way, I put them in a pan with a tiny bit of oil to heat them up and add a bit of flavor before using them! It added a nice crunch, too.

      Unfortunately, I haven’t been to Berlin yet! I had planned to a while ago, back in April, but plans fell through. Maybe next month, though, when I’m finally free from final papers and exams and can relax. I have been looking forward to the more international cuisine there for a while! 🙂

      Thanks for the feedback!!

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