Here’s a pork carnitas taco recipe that’s not only kid-friendly but also foodie-friendly.
Our Chicago home is within walking distance to Antique Taco, the home of amazing tacos and salads set in a throwback antique restaurant. I just love this place so much.
We’ve eaten at Antique Taco so often that I thought I could try to pull off some tacos at home during the week when there’s not enough time to go out. There’s nothing like the real thing, of course, but this is a pretty great substitute.
To make the pork I altered this pork carnitas recipe from Damn Delicious just a bit to be more kid-friendly. Then I added toppings inspired by the pork carnitas tacos at Antique Taco, plus some shredded spinach to add a little green veggie to it. This recipe works for my picky toddler, my adventurous five-year-old, and my foodie husband and I tell you, finding a meal that pleases them all is like finding a tiny unicorn.
Another bonus? It’s all done in a slow cooker so it makes dinnertime so easy. You can do a lot of this recipe the night before – I like to measure and mix all the spices, cook the bacon, and slice the spinach. You can also put the toppings into small bowls and the kids can top their own.
I’ve served the tacos five times so far and made some adjustments. It makes plenty of pork carnitas for at least three dinners for four people, usually more. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1-2 teaspoons salt (I use 1tsp because I think the bacon makes it salty enough)
2.5 pounds boneless pork butt shoulder or 3 pounds bone-in, trim off excess fat
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup bottled lime juice, or juice from 2 fresh limes
6” Tortillas – I like the chia ones at Trader Joe’s
Bacon, cooked and crumbled
Spinach, cut into long strips
Queso fresco (or mild feta in a pinch)
2 more limes, cut into wedges for serving
First, buy the best quality pork butt shoulder or pork shoulder that you can. We like to get ours from Butcher and Larder.
See the full instructions in this pork carnitas slow cooker recipe to make pork carnitas in a slow cooker. It’s easy – basically all you do is mix the spices and salt together and rub it all over the pork and place it in the slow cooker. I like to pour the orange juice and lime juice around the sides to keep the spices on the pork. Then I add minced garlic to the juice.
I recommend slow cooking on low for 8 hours if you can and only cooking it on high for 4 hours if you’re short on time. Remove any bone and any large chunks of fat. Then shred the pork using forks and warm for another 30 minutes. Taste the pork and add any more salt that you’d like to taste.
When you’re ready to eat, you can crisp up the pork; I think this is optional but it is nice to have some crispy pork bits texture in the tacos. My son Liam prefers his pork not crispy so you’ll want to test it with your kids. Only crisp what you’re planning to eat immediately. I cover a baking sheet with foil, put enough pork on it for dinner, and store the rest of the pork for leftovers (we like to make pork nachos).
At the same time, put the tortillas into the oven (on the side rather than under the broiler) to warm them up a bit.
Now it’s time to make a taco. Put a tortilla down first, then layer on the pork and add toppings – small pieces of bacon, queso fresco, sliced avocado and spinach. Drizzle with a wedge of lime.
What do you think? Do they taste like Antique Taco to you?