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How You Can Make Legit Carnitas At Home

Making Carnitas at home has been a particularly involved process. You often need large amounts of lard to achieve something remotely close to what you would find at a traditional spot. People often make these at home by cooking them in a crockpot or pressure cooker, but instead of using lard, they use broth or water. That gives you something much closer to pulled pork; that's delicious but ultimately very different than carnitas. Using a sheet tray allows you to cook the pork in a very small amount of lard, while still achieving a tender and crunchy final dish.


3-5 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cubed

8 crushed garlic cloves

4 bay leaves

4 strips orange peel

Juice of an orange

1-2 jalapeño (optional)

Oregano, Salt, and Pepper

6-8 tablespoons lard

We'll want to start with the aromatics, which means you need to peel an orange and slice it in half. Crush and remove the skin from the garlic cloves, and if you're going a little spicy, be sure to slice the jalapeño as well. This is a great time to preheat your oven to 300f and move a rack to the middle position.

If you have a bone in pork shoulder like I did, use the video above as a walkthrough to debone and cube the pork. This much meat will need to be split between 2 sheet trays. To each tray, add 4 cloves of garlic, 2 bay leaves, 2 orange peels, 3 tablespoons of lard, the juice of half an orange, and a splash of water. Both trays will also get a heavy seasoning of salt, pepper and oregano. Add your optional jalapeño as well. Mix everything together with your hands and wrap tightly with foil.

This will go into the oven for around 2-3 hours, depending on your oven. Check it for tenderness at the 2 hour mark and adjust from there. Once tender, crank your oven up to 375 and place the trays back in without the foil. Stir this every 15 minutes until brown and crunchy, usually 30-45 minutes. Taste the pork for final seasoning and add salt as needed (this is a fatty dish, so it can take a good amount of salt).

This pork is amazing in a simple taco with onion and salsa, but also works really well in a bowl with rice.




Hey, I'm Cameron, and I'm glad you're here. I post new recipes every week, all intended to build your confidence in the kitchen, each one with video tutorials to help. Craving something specific? Drop me a note in my contact form! 

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