Mexican Pulled Pork (Carnitas) – Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker

Mexican Pulled Pork (Carnitas) – Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker

I love a good kitchen multitasker! I follow Alton Brown’s motto in my kitchen: “No unitaskers allowed!” If an appliance or tool can’t be used for at least two different jobs, then it has no place taking up space in my kitchen. I just don’t have the room! Plus, I want to the get the biggest bang for my buck. I mean, don’t we all? So if one tool can do five jobs instead of just one – hooray! More bang for my buck!

So I think you’re really going to love today’s recipe – it is truly a multi-tasker! In fact, it is more like a multi-multi-tasker!!!

Mexican Pulled Pork Carnitas street tacos on plate

I bring you Mexican Pulled Pork, sometimes referred to as carnitas. It is an easy freezer dump meal and takes very little time to prep. Even better, it can be made in the slow cooker or a pressure cooker. And even better than that? You can cook one batch and then use the meat for multiple meals!! (Hallelujah!!)

We made some last week when pork shoulder roasts were on sale, and it fed us for four different meals – two nights of pulled pork street tacos, one night of pulled pork salads, and one night of pulled pork nachos! All from the same recipe.

Mexican Pulled Pork Carnitas used in salads

Best of all, you can freeze the pulled pork after it has been cooked and keep it in your freezer to pull out for any of those meals at a moments notice. It’s another great staple item to have in your freezer.

It’s easy, cheap and definitely versatile! What’s not to love about all of the best time and money savings tactics all together in one meal?!?

You can prep this one as a freezer meal, or just make right from scratch and freeze the leftovers. Traditionally, the pulled pork is browned in a skillet after it is cooked, to get a nice carmelized crust. I recommend you don’t skip this step, as it adds a great depth of flavor, but its totally doable and edible without.

 

Tray of Nachos topped with Mexican Pulled Pork

If you’re making up a large batch and intend to freeze some of this for later meals, you’ll want to freeze the pulled pork after it is cooked but before you brown it. Leave the browning until you’re ready to prepare your meal to eat.

You can use this pulled pork in tacos, on salads, in burritos or enchiladas, on nachos with some Freezer Cheese Sauce, or just serve it straight up with rice!  It goes great with some pico de gallo or Freezer Salsa, or garnished with a little extra lime juice and some chopped cilantro.  Give this great meal multitasker a try – you will not be disappointed!

Mexican Pulled Pork Carnitas shredded in bowl with garnishes

Mexican Pulled Pork shredded in bowl
Print
Mexican Pulled Pork (Carnitas)
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
1 hrs 15 mins
 

A great dinner multitasker, this Mexican Pulled Pork (Carnitas) can be cooked in the slow cooker or pressure cooker, and can be used in a variety of meals!  Cook once and eat all week!!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 12 servings
Author: Make-Ahead Meal Mom
Ingredients
  • 1 6lb pork shoulder (butt) roast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, coursely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil (needed at time of browning)
Instructions
  1. Remove bone from roast (if not boneless).  Remove excess fat.  Cut roast into large 2-inch cubes and place into gallon size freezer bag.

  2. Add salt, cumin, oregano, coriander, pepper, chile powder and paprika to bag.  Close bag and knead gently to mix and cover pork with spice rub.

  3. Add in olive oil and knead again to mix.

  4. Add in onion, garlic, orange juice and lime juice.

  5. Remove excess air and seal bag.  Label, date and place in freezer.

To cook in the slow cooker:
  1. Remove bag from freezer and place in refrigerator overnight to thaw.  Pour contents of bag into slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours until pork shreds easily.  Pour off cooking liquid and reserve.  Shred pork.  

  2. If freezing for future meals, separate pork into freezer bags.  Add in some of the cooking liquid to moisten.  Label, date and freeze.

  3. If using right away, proceed to browning step.

To cook in the pressure cooker:
  1. Remove bag from freezer and place in refrigerator overnight to thaw.  Pour contents of bag into pressure cooker and cook at high pressure for 60 minutes.  Allow pressure to release naturally for about 15 minutes, then proceed to quick release.  Once pressure has been released, pour off cooking liquid and reserve.  Shred pork.

  2. If freezing for future meals, separate pork into freezer bags.  Add in some of the cooking liquid to moisten.  Label, date and freeze.

  3. If using right away, proceed to browning step.

To brown:
  1. Heat a cast-iron skillet or large dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add olive oil and then some of the shredded pork.  Work in batches so as not to crowd the pan.  Allow the pork to cook undisturbed on one side for about 2 minutes.   Then add in about 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Pork should have a nice brown crust.  Be careful not to allow it to burn. Turn the pork (or stir) and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes more.  Remove from skillet.  Repeat with remaining batches of pork until all has been browned.  Serve as desired.

Recipe Notes
Use pulled pork in tacos, on salads, in enchiladas, in burritos, on nachos or serve it straight up! Great with pico de gallo or salsa, or garnished with a little extra lime juice and some chopped cilantro!
A great dinner multitasker, this Mexican Pulled Pork (Carnitas) can be cooked in the slow cooker or pressure cooker, and can be used in a variety of meals! Cook once and eat in different meals all week!!


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