Crispy Baked Carnitas Recipe: It's Time to Change Up Taco Night by Donna John

Pork Dinner
a year ago

Crispy Baked Carnitas Recipe: It's Time to Change Up Taco Night

Some meats just bake in the oven, but some dance with the other ingredients, mingling, creating an intoxicating aroma throughout the house. This easy oven-baked pork carnitas recipe is the latter. The smell is so heavenly you'll have trouble waiting for dinner. But don't peek! Let them get tender, succulent and ready for those tortillas, taco shells of Mexican rice bowls. 

Buy pre-cut pork for carnitas to speed up the prep process. After seasoning the pork with a blend of brown sugar, sea salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, coriander and cayenne, it is bathed in citrus juices, garlic, onion and bay leaves. After baking for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, the fork-tender meat is shredded. Juicy pork perfection for perfect taco night. 

To make the perfect Mexican bowl, fill a bowl with shredded carnitas, rice, pico de gallo, guacamole, beans, sour cream, lettuce and shredded cheese. If you have leftovers try my carnitas omelette recipe or use it for sandwiches or a tasty pizza topping.

Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 1/2 to 3 hours
Total Time: 2 hours ad 40 minutes to 3 hours and 10 minutes

Servings: 4 to 6


  • 2 - 3 pounds pre-cut carnitas pork meat cubes
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 limes
  • 3 bay leaves


  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ground cayenne pepper, to taste

Here's how to make it:

  1. Combine all the seasoning ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Put the pork cubes into a baking pan.
  3. Sprinkle the seasoning all over the meat.
  4. Juice the oranges and limes over the meat. (You want at least 1/3 cup of orange juice.) Add the spent orange halves, onion, garlic and bay leaves.
  5. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 300-degree F oven for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until meat is very tender.
  6. Remove the meat from the oven. Put the meat onto a  baking sheet and pop it under the broiler until meat is crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Serve whole with the pan drippings or shred and use in tacos.

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Baking Pans $9 & Up
Baking Sheets $8 & Up
Bay Leaves $3 & Up
Brown Sugar $3 & Up
Ground Cumin $3 & Up
Dried Oregano $3 & Up
Ground Cayenne $3 & Up
Sea Salt $2 & Up
Black Pepper $2 & Up

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Donna John
This is an absolutely delicious recipe. Enjoyed every bite. I served them with black beans and guacamole. My husband shredded and made tacos out of them.
This sounds so good! 😋
Elisa Schmitz
I want these dancing in my oven right now, Donna John ! YUM!
Donna John
This was the best recipe I made last week. A keeper. Elisa A. Schmitz 30Seconds
David Nila-Arroyo
Please, stop calling carnitas what is not carnitas. As a Mexican, you will not find these "carnitas" in a restaurant or in the streets. You cannot called carnitas something if they are not made with pork lard. If you want the real deal, go to the state of Michoacán, mainly to the town of Quiroga.
Donna John
David Nila-Arroyo There are so many versions of recipes now. I know a lot of people avoid cooking with lard these days because they're wanting to eat healthier, so this is a version of carnitas. I made it last week and it was delicious. Not everyone can travel abroad to try the real deal, so we do what we can in our own kitchens. Appreciate your insights! Would love if you'd share your authentic recipe with us. Here's how you can do that: mom: Submit Your Recipes to 30Seconds: How to Share Your Favorite Recipes With Others

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