Here’s a pork carnitas recipe that’s not only kid-friendly but also foodie-friendly. This pork carnitas 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 🦄
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. 🌮
For this pork carnitas recipe, over time and through making it again and again I have altered and perfected this recipe from Damn Delicious by removing a couple ingredients to make it more kid-friendly, reduce the salt, and really reduce the proportion of meat to seasoning to give it much more flavor. Then I added toppings inspired by the pork carnitas tacos at Antique Taco (bacon, avocado, shredded spinach or kale).
Another bonus? It’s all done in a slow cooker so it makes dinnertime so easy. You can do a lot of this pork carnitas 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 pork carnitas tacos to my family a bazillion times so far and made some adjustments to make this pork carnitas recipe more kid-friendly. 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 teaspoon salt (you can add more per taste but I think the bacon topping makes it salty enough)
- 2.5 pounds boneless pork butt shoulder or 3 pounds bone-in, trim off excess fat
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup bottled lime juice, or juice from 2 fresh limes
- 6” Tortillas
- Bacon, cooked and crumbled
- Kale or spinach, cut into long thin strips
- Queso fresco (or mild feta cheese in a pinch)
- Avocado, cubed
- First, buy the best quality pork butt shoulder or pork shoulder that you can and trim off as much fat as you can. Trust me, there will be enough fat on it even if you trim some off.
- 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 -- only cooking it on high for 4 hours if you're short on time but know that it won't be as good.
- 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 pork carnitas taco like the ones at Antique 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.
Tell me in the comments below: What are your favorite tacos toppings for this pork carnitas recipe? 🌮🌮🌮
Be sure to also try one of these popular easy family-friendly recipes: