Pork, Taco Recipes

Homemade Healthy Carnitas Tacos Recipe

Make your own Carnitas Tacos Recipe

Well I started working on this when you could dine in restaurants, due to Covid-19 those days are put on hold. Today many people are more than likely putting their chef hats on in their apartments and homes. So there’s no better time than right now to work on your home workouts and healthy cooking.  My carnitas are a little healthier as they use less fat being made with the leaner part of the pig, the tenderloin. Carnitas have a long history of not really being the most healthiest taco option but damn are they good. So here’s my recipe versus what’s in a traditional style taco. Also I want to point out I see chicken and beef selling out much quicker than pork in the stores, there’s a good chance you still find these ingredients in store or online if your’e getting deliveries to your door.

What’s in Carnitas?

True carnitas tend to use fat for the cooking and meat stays juicy due to the higher fat content in the pork shoulder cut from the pig. In Mexico it’s pretty common to see carnitas made with almost every part (yes every “part”) of the pig. While these tacos are absolutely delicious and are almost tied as my favorite taco next to al pastor they are not always the best taco option for you. Below is my recipe for a healthier, high protein, and gluten free option (gf* if you use corn tortillas). This is a fairly easy option as it will be made using a crockpot. Surprisingly we’ll use orange juice and its higher sugar content to break down the tissue of the pork.

No need to worry about a strong orange flavor, with our seasonings and slow cooking. This recipe is fairly simple with around a 10 minute prep time and another 10 minutes if your’e making your own tortillas. This dish should serve around six people. If you don’t have six people to feed the pork can be used for some great left overs like cuban style sandwiches and quesadillas.

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Everything you need to make Crockpot Pork Loin Carnitas Tacos

  • Crockpot (I use a 3 quart)
  • pork tenderloins (roughly 2-3 lbs)
  • Taco press to make fresh tortillas or use store bought. Check out my “how to” on finding an affordable tortilla press.
  • Again store bought already made tortillas or instant corn masa flour I use the Mescal brand mix.
  • 1 can of Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce 7 oz. (used Goya brand) (just use two peppers if you want a milder flavor*)
  • one small diced Jalapeño pepper with seeds (optional – avoid for a mild taco**)
  • 1 tsp. Oregano
  • 1/2 Cup Orange Juice (concentrate is fine)
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tbsp Lime Juice
  • 1 Small Onion Diced
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Paprika Smoked Spanish Style (optional – will add more heat)
  • 1 lime (garnish)
  •  Mexican style sour cream (crema) you can use Sour cream but the flavor is different, be sure to buy a good brand avoid Tropical brand, it will be rubbery, and avoid the better known Mexican brand La La. I prefer crema made by Gro Mex, a distributer in Passaic, NJ, it can be found at most Mexican grocers in Northern NJ.
  • Cilantro (garnish) you can either add it before or use on the tacos after (some people are picky!).
  • Radishes (garnish)


Cooking Instructions

  1. Place the pork tenderloins in the crockpot, throw in all your spices, lime juice, orange juice and dump the whole 7oz can of adobo chili’s (milder carnitas just add two adobo peppers from the can. Cut up the small jalapeño pepper with seeds and throw that in. Again for a milder carnitas, just add the two adobo peppers and avoid the jalapeño.
  2. Put the lid on your crockpot and either put the setting at low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. After cooking take a fork and the pork should come apart easy.
  3. Take two forks and get to work shredding the pork.
  4. You’ll notice theres a good amount of juice in the crockpot and the carnitas at this point resemble pulled pork and will be missing the crispy look and texture of carnitas. There’s two options here to get them a little crispy. I have used the second option.
    1. Throw some of the carnitas into a hot pan and brown them, there should enough sugar to get some caramelization going. you really want to be careful not to dry them out.
    2.  Spread the carnitas on a baking sheet and place them under the broiler for no more than 5 minutes, they can dry out quickly.
  5. If you feel that the carnitas have dried out, just add some of the juice back to them.
  6. Here’s my guide to making the tortillas or use pre-made. Dress up your tacos with cilantro, crema, avocado or queso fresco. Slice thin radishes to serve with your carnitas. Cut up some lime wedges to squeeze over each taco to break up the heat.

Please share and enjoy this recipe. Leave any comments or questions you may have. Be safe and kind to each other!


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