Delicious Carnitas Tacos

Rating: 5.00
By Dave
September 23, 2021

Carnitas Tacos made from pork shoulder that is first braised then seared. It just makes the ultimate taco.

Carnitas Tacos

Carnitas tacos are very easy to make and will feed a lot of hungry people. Just sear a bit of braised carnitas meat and put out a stack of warmed tortillas and you have a party. Don’t forget the beans. Smoked charro beans go great with carnitas tacos

Soft Carnitas Tacos on Homemade Corn Tortillas
Soft Carnitas Tacos on Homemade Corn Tortillas

Select a Pork Shoulder

This particular cut of meat has a bit of an identity crisis and goes by more than one name, Boston Butt and pork shoulder. Don’t let the name fool you they are same thing.

Use a bone-in pork shoulder for pulled pork where the roast is smoked whole. The bone will literally fall out after cooking. Cook a boneless roast if the meat is going to be cut into cubes before cooking. For carnitas tacos, go boneless. It’s just too much work to trim out and remove the bone before cooking.

Pork Shoulder Ready to Trim
Pork Shoulder Ready to Trim

Braise the Pork Shoulder

Trim off some of the big ugly pieces of fat and cut the roast into 2″ strips. Then cut each strip into 2″ pieces. Lightly brown the pork pieces then add the spices and extra liquid if needed. Cover and braise for about two hours. Count on the whole house smelling great.

Cut Pork Shoulder into 2" Cubes
Cut Pork Shoulder into 2″ Cubes
Carnitas After Braising in the Oven
Carnitas After Braising in the Oven

Sear the Carnitas Meat

After the carnitas meat has braised for a few hours, chop a small portion and sear it in a hot pan covered by a cast iron burger press. This helps maximize the contact between the meat and the hot pan resulting in a better sear. Serve it with fresh corn or flour tortillas, preferably homemade.

Carnitas Meat in a Pan Under a Press
Carnitas Meat in a Pan Under a Press

For a real treat, take one of the soft tacos in a corn tortilla and close the top with a toothpick. Fry the whole thing in 350˚F oil for about one minute. Enjoy!

Deep Frying a Carnitas Taco
Deep Frying a Carnitas Taco
Deep Fried Carnitas Tacos
Deep Fried Carnitas Tacos

Other Great Dishes

Watch How to Make Carnitas Tacos on YouTube

Delicious Carnitas Tacos

5 from 1 vote
Carnitas Tacos made from pork shoulder that is braised then fried crispy. Carnitas makes the ultimate taco.
Servings 12 servings
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 15 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins


  • 3 tbs olive oil divided
  • 5 lbs boneless pork shoulder trimmed and cut into 2” chunks
  • 12 oz bacon sliced, cut in half
  • 2 tsp Mexican oregano dried
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp black pepper freshly ground
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes or chopped dried chile de árbol


  • Preheat oven to 350°. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until just softened (about 3 minutes). Add the pork shoulder and lightly brown on all sides (about 10 minutes).
    Soften the Bacon
  • Add water (about 3 cups) until the pork pieces are half submerged. Add the oregano, cumin black pepper, salt and dried chiles. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and place in the oven until tender (about 2 hours). Stir every 30 minutes.
    Add the Spices to the Pork Shoulder
  • Carefully remove the pot from the oven and transfer some of the pork shoulder to a cutting board with tongs or a slotted spoon. Chop the pork and discard the bacon.
    Rough Chop Some of the Carnitas Meat
  • Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add enough chopped pork to cover the bottom of the pan to a depth of about 1/2”. Press down with a spatula or weight it down with a cast-iron grill press. Cook until crisp and lightly browned (about 5 minutes) Turn over half way through cooking.
    Carnitas Meat in a Pan Under a Press



BBQ Tools & Supplies


Serving: 8ozCalories: 529kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 43gFat: 38gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 140mgSodium: 538mgPotassium: 736mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 111IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 25mgIron: 2mg
Calories: 529kcal
Cost: $22
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: carnitas, tacos

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