gluten-free crispy pork carnitas in a pan with condiments and gluten-free tortillas next to it
Crispy Pork Carnitas

Crispy Pork Carnitas is basically Mexican Pulled Pork with layers of subtle flavours, using Mexican spices, beer, orange juice and onions.

How do you cook pork carnitas?

In the recipe card, I have listed three different cooking methods for you to choose from to cook the pork to a very tender stage:

  • Oven-method
  • Slow cooker/Crockpot
  • Instant Pot

Once the pork is cooked and tender, it is shredded and grilled to a golden crisp, creating the most amazing carnitas that is so full of flavour and spice. By combining my homemade fajita seasoning along with extra spices, the flavours of the pork turn out authentic and smoky.

Where do Carnitas come from?

Carnitas originated from Mexico with each region around the country adding slightly different variations of liquid seasoning either using beer, Coca-Cola, orange juice, lime juice, chicken broth or condensed milk. I’m not sure if I agree with the last one, but as I haven’t tried that combination, it may taste amazing. Something to try another day!

How do you serve Carnitas?

Pork carnitas are very versatile. You can serve them either in warm flour tortillas or corn tortillas, similar to how I serve my Fajitas. They also go great in taco shells, with rice, on top of warm tortilla chips or simply on its own as a poke bowl with various salad ingredients and cooked beans of your choice.

Adobe photo of a platter of crispy pork carniatas
gluten-free crispy pork carnitas in a pan with condiments and gluten-free tortillas next to it

Crispy Pork Carnitas

by Sandra, Fun Without Gluten
Crispy Pork Carnitas is basically Mexican Pulled Pork with layers of subtle flavours, using Mexican spices, beer, orange juice and onions. Choose your prefered cooking method to produce tender pork to finish off under the grill for a crispy finish. Serve in gluten-free flour or corn tortillas and plenty of suggested condiments.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican, Tex-Mex
Servings 8


  • 1 deep oven-proof casserole dish with a secure lid
  • or
  • 1 slow cooker/crockpot
  • or


  • kg boneless pork shoulder or pork Boston butt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 onion, chopped roughly
  • 200 ml gluten-free beer or Coca-Cola


  • 2 oranges, juiced
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 2 tbsp store-bought fajita or homemade fajita seasoning
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp  chilli powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • a few dashes of chipotle or Tabasco sauce (optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced



  • Remove the pork from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature for 20 mins.
  • Mix all the ingredients for the carnitas sauce in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • Cut the pork shoulder into several large pieces. Using paper towels, pat any moisture off and sprinkle the salt and pepper over the pork pieces.
  • Heat a heavy-bottom pan to medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to sear the pork on all sides, turning often until the pork has browned all over.
  • Turn the heat down to medium and add the onions, stirring for 2 mins.

OVEN-METHOD (2-3 hours cooking time)

  • Preheat the oven to 150°C/ 300°F
  • Transfer the pork and onions from the heavy-bottom pan to a deep oven-proof casserole dish. Set aside.
  • Add the beer to the heavy-bottom pan, scraping the bottom to release all the residue bits, then add this to the pork and onion mixture.
  • Pour the prepared carnitas sauce over the pork and onion mixture.
  • Cover with a secure lid and transfer to the preheated oven. Allow to cook “low n’ slow” for 2 to 3 hours, checking every now and then, stirring the sauce and flipping the pork over on different sides. 

SLOW COOKER METHOD (4-6 hours cooking time)

  • Follow steps 1-5 and slow cook for 4 to 6 hours on LOW.

INSTANT POT METHOD (2 hours 35 mins cooking time)

  • Select Sauté and fry the pork pieces. Add the onions, followed by the beer and carnitas sauce.
  • Place the HPC lid on, set the vent to “Sealing" and select the Meat/Stew button. This takes approximately 35 mins to complete.
  • Allow the steam to release naturally for about 15 minutes. Remove the lid.
  • Switch to the slow cooker function and select 2 hours for extra-tender carnitas.


  • Whichever cooking method is used, the pork is ready when the meat easily falls apart by shredding it with two forks in opposite directions.
  • Preheat the grill/broiler to medium-high.
  • Place the shredded pork on a large baking tray, covering it slightly with the carnitas sauce and mix well. Leave the coarsely chopped onions and large garlic slivers out. These were used to add flavour. If added, they will burn and give a bitter flavour to the sauce.
  • Grill the pork for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it appears crispy and golden. Stir the carnitas often. Add more carnitas sauce to the pork if it starts to evaporate too much.
    The carnitas pork after it has been grilled for 5 to 10 minutes


  • Once you are happy with the crispiness of the pork, transfer it to a serving platter, drizzling it with some of the carnitas sauce from the grilling tray.
  • On a large platter, arrange plenty of fresh salad leaves, avocado pieces, sour cream, chipotle sauce, tomatoes, shredded cheese and fresh lime pieces.
    shredded pork carnita ready
  • Heat up your chosen gluten-free tortilla or corn tacos to fill the pork carnitas and condiments with.


  • Keeps for 3 days chilled
  • Any leftover pork carnitas are suitable for freezing
Keyword #porkcarnitas, #porkdish, #pulledpork, #shreddedpork, #slowcookedmeal, #streetfood
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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