Pork Tenderloin Carnitas Tacos – Feasting not Fasting

Slow cooker pork loin recipes mexican

Juicy, crispy shredded pork loin carnitas use a leaner cut of meat than traditional healthy and delicious shredded pork taco carnitas recipes made in a clay pot.

square side view of pork loin taco

I think all pork eaters can agree that there is something inexplicably intoxicating about carnitas. Traditionally, carnitas are made with a fatty cut of meat like pork butt or pork shoulder, and the extra fat is part of what gives it that appealing blend of juiciness and crispy concentrated flavor. The grease dripping down the back of the cue is part of the whole experience… But it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you’re looking for other healthy crockpot taco recipes, my crockpot chicken tacos and cilantro and lime chicken are phenomenal too! Making a large batch of this chicken taco seasoning makes taco night as easy as it can be and works on pork as well as it does on chicken.

close-up of a shredded pork taco

Why make this

pork loin taco recipe?

This pork loin taco recipe successfully lightens things with healthier lean meat. Using lomo helps maintain that salty pork flavor and texture that are critical elements of good Mexican pork carnitas, but this great recipe has almost half the calories of traditional carnitas. Don’t worry, it’s still as tender as the original.

Plus, it’s easy with minimal prep work! Where other recipes require burning the meat first, there is no need when using the crispy grill afterwards. Using a clay pot makes this an easy weekday meal, as the preparation can be done the night before and can be cooked while you’re away. Coming home with the smell of this will make all your problems fade quickly. Trust me, carnitas therapy works.


It is such an easy recipe to make. I’m not just saying that, it really is. Half of the ingredients are just spices that can be poured quickly. This section describes the simple ingredients you will need to prepare this delicious meal.

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<img src="×988.jpg" alt="pork loin taco ingredients"


Main ingredients

  • pork loin – you may end up needing two to get to 2 – 2 1/2 lbs. If you have larger loins, adjust the rest of your spice blends accordingly. You can substitute pork loin or if you’re not interested in making it lean, pig’s shoulder or pork butt also work great, of course.
  • Chipotle Chilis in adobo sauce: These canned chilies add great flavor and a hint of spice. However, if you don’t have them, you can substitute them for more chili powder.
  • Lemon juice – fresh

  • is best as citrus juices are essential for a good pork loin carnitas orange juice – as
  • with lime, squeeze it fresh!
  • beer (optional but recommended) –

  • adding some Pacific or Corona or any light beer you are drinking adds depth of flavor and extra cooking liquid to make it juicy like cilantro – (optional but recommended) –
  • ¿

  • Is there any complete Mexican food without cilantro?



  • : I used Himalaya, but any good salt will serve here and you can adjust the level to your preferences by adding a little more at the end if you prefer
  • . Pepper –

  • standard ground black pepper
  • .

  • cumin – a staple of taco ingredients
  • . Oregano –

  • The Mexican variety is preferred, but any oregano works!
  • Chile en powder

  • – a Mexican blend of chili powder. These vary depending on the level of spices, so if you know yours has a kick, you can adjust it accordingly.
  • Onion powder: Alternatively, you can add finely chopped onion.
  • Garlic powder: you can replace it with pressed garlic.
Pork loin carnitas spice mix ingredients with labels on top

What tools do I need to do this?

A slow cooker is the main piece of equipment you need. I have this clay pot, but any slow cooker should do. Just keep in mind that if you are using a slow cooker, with the heating element only at the bottom instead of surrounding the entire pot, it will take longer to cook. The recipe is relatively forgiving, so you may need to adjust the cooking time if yours cooks faster or slower, as each model is somewhat different.

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I got and used one of these baking sheets. They bake evenly and clean easily, but any bordered baking sheet will serve to roast.

How to make

pork loin carnitas

Using a

clay pot makes this shredded pork loin very easy to make

. Add ingredients to a cooking pot

  1. pork loins in a slow cooker with seasonings
  2. Cook for 6-8 hours over low heat or 4 hours over high heat
  3. .

  4. Shred the roast pork with two forks, adjust the seasonings to your preference and let simmer for another half hour.
  5. Mix with leftover juices in the cooking pot, add cilantro and serve!
  6. Use a slotted spoon to place the pork on a large baking sheet and roast the shredded taco meat until crispy. pork loin carnitas arranged in a pan

In the past, I only made carnitas in a Dutch oven baked in the oven, but this is now my favorite way. To get the texture right, you basically have to roast it slowly all day and yet you can’t leave your oven on all day when you’re not home, so this ruled out carnitas for a weekday night of tacos. The crockpot broiler combo is the magic solution. The grill makes it perfectly crispy without all the slow roasting process.

To make pork loin carnitas in the oven, place the ingredients in a Dutch oven. Rub the pork with a little olive oil before placing it in the center. Bake covered at 300°F for 2.5 to 3.5 hours and then crunch on a tray and follow the rest of the instructions in this recipe. Don’t be tempted to bake uncovered as the cut is too lean.

To make it an Instant Pot recipe, add the ingredients to the pressure cooker and cook under high pressure for 35 minutes. Let the pressure cooker release naturally and then crumble and crunch in the oven following the rest of the recipe instructions as if it had been cooked in a cooking pot.

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Head of plate with 3 pork loin tacos


Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To freeze, let cool completely and freeze in freezer-safe airtight containers for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight or in the defrost settings in the microwave making sure to stir frequently.

Why use carnitas

I use pork loin carnitas

on anything from Mexican food to tortilla filling. Leftovers reheat well and freeze fabulously, making it ideal for meal preparation. Here are a few ways to use taco meat:

  • Tacos
  • Enchiladas
  • Burritos
  • Taco salads
  • Toastadas
  • Burrito bowls
  • Cake sandwiches
  • Huevos rancheros
  • About polenta
  • Tortillas Quesadillas
  • Nachos
  • Casseroles

The options are so limitless that I need to stop here before the list takes up the entire page. Since this recipe is a lean version of pork carnitas, you can continue the pork revelry while experimenting with using it in whatever you can dream of. It is very versatile.

<img src="×653.jpg" alt="three


pork tacos in a serving dish” />


crispy carnitas on a baking sheet

What to serve with pork loin tacos

Taco Ideas:

  • Pickled Red Onions – I highly recommend preparing a batch while preparing
  • the pork to go to fresh cheese sauce

  • , shredded cheddar cheese or cotija cheese sauce –
  • my

  • fresh blender sauce recipe is as easy as it can be and a step up from
  • the

  • Pico de gallo
  • mango avocado sauce

  • adds a juicy and fun fruity touch that pairs so well with
  • Pork limes to squeeze over top
  • guacamole
  • cream or

  • tomato sour cream Chopped
  • lettuce
  • or

  • grated black cabbage olives



  • Mexican-flavored
  • rice

  • refried beans or black beans
  • cilantro and lime salad
  • A layered taco sauce: a great appetizer for guests while pork finishes
  • Wrap it all with dairy-free piña colada ice cream for dessert
pork loin carnitas taco on a plate with other tacos

Recipe originally published in 2014, revised May 2019

to make beer optional and add new images, then revised again in February 2023 for content.

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