Carnitas is one of our family’s favorite taco meals. The pork is ultra tender, flavorful, and super simple to make!

Carnitas in a large red pot

You’re going to want to hold on to this baby. Our family and friends LOVE this recipe!!

Carnitas, literally “little meats”, is braised or roasted pork in Mexican cuisine. It is essentially pork pot roast – a chunk of inexpensive heavily marbled shoulder meat braised in a Le Creuset French oven until it falls apart.

The pork is absolutely fantastico…tender, flavorful, and so super simple to make. I’m confident that nobody could mess up this recipe for Carnitas with Sautéed Sweet Peppers!

shredded Carnitas

Carnitas Night is a family favorite

“Carnitas Night” is one of my family’s all-time favorite home cooked meals. And, yes, we really do refer to it as Carnitas Night!

Our oldest daughter, Hatti, has even begged to stay home from school on days that I’m making this, saying she wants to smell it cooking all afternoon. Now if that isn’t a testimony, I don’t know what is.

We especially like to make this meal around Cinco de Mayo, but it’s great all year ’round.

Carnitas tacos with fresh salsa

Carnitas is great for larger gatherings

We also like to host Carnitas Night for friends and visiting family. It’s one of those meals that gets the house smelling all awesome before guests arrive. And if you want to prepare the pork and sweet peppers ahead of time, this recipe totally works that way also.

We always offer plenty of warm tortillas to fill with the tender seasoned pork. I also make sure to have a big pot of rice and a bowl of crisp, chopped Romaine lettuce, for those who would rather eat a taco bowl or taco salad.


Carnitas Night is extra fabulous with a variety of toppings and condiments to play with.

Our table always involves sautéed sweet peppers, pickled red onions, guacamole, sour cream, chopped cilantro, and a variety of salsas. Fresh lime wedges are abundant, too, as a squeeze of that bright and lively acidity makes the whole combination burst in your mouth.

Traditional Margarita in a glass

And I can’t help but mention that margaritas are optional with this meal, but highly recommended.

Here’s my go-to recipe for a traditional margarita. And this recipe for Prosecco margaritas is great for entertaining, as it’s a big-batch recipe. No mixing up single drinks!

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pinterest image of Carnitas
shredded pork Carnitas in a large red pot

Carnitas with Sautéed Sweet Peppers

Yield: 16 servings
Cook Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes

Pork is seasoned with oregano, cumin, and paprika, and then braised nice and slow, until it's fall-apart tender. Serve with warm tortillas and your favorite taco toppings and condiments.


  • 5 lb. bone-in pork shoulder (Boston butt)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 3 c. low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 white or yellow onion, peeled & quartered
  • 1 T. dried oregano leaves
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 4 sweet bell peppers – I like 1 each of green, red, orange and yellow
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 T. olive oil


  1. Remove pork from refrigerator one hour before starting to cook. Rinse and pat dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper, fairly generously.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  3. Heat a 5 to 7 quart French oven over medium to medium-high heat. Add oil. When oil is hot and starts to shimmer, add pork. Cook until nicely browned and then turn, repeating that same process until all sides are browned. Add broth, onion, oregano, cumin, and paprika. Turn heat up a bit to bring liquid to a boil. Then spoon some of the hot liquid over the top of the meat.
  4. Place the cover on and transfer to preheated oven. Cook until meat is literally falling apart, about 4 hours, spooning liquid over meat once or twice during cooking.
  5. About half an hour before the meat will be done, prepare the sweet peppers. Cut into long slices, about 1/4″ wide or so. Heat a wide skillet over medium heat - I like to use a large cast iron skillet. Add butter and olive oil. When the butter has melted, add the peppers, stirring to coat. Cook for about 10 minutes, letting them soften up. Then turn up the heat to medium-high. Let the peppers start to darken and char, stirring every couple minutes. When peppers reach your desired doneness, remove pan from heat. Transfer peppers to serving dish.
  6. When the pork has finished cooking, remove pot from the oven and place on stove top. Transfer meat to a platter. With a large spoon, push meat off the bone in chunks; discard bone and any large pieces of fat. Transfer pork back to French oven and turn on heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring with a large wooden spoon to break up pork, until liquid in French oven has almost entirely evaporated and meat begins to sizzle and caramelize, 5 to 10 minutes (the meat should pull into shreds very easily as you work). Serve with small (taco or fajita size) warm tortillas, the sauteed peppers, and your choice of condiments. A great alternative is to skip the tortillas and serve everything over white rice or fresh chopped Romaine lettuce.


Adapted from Braises and Stews by Tori Ritchie (a really great overall cookbook, by the way!)

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 459Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 129mgSodium: 153mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 34g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.

Did you make this recipe?

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shredded pork Carnitas in a large red pot

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This post was previously published May 2010, one of the first recipes on the blog, and a tried and true reader favorite. Photographs and some of the text were updated in 2016 and 2018.