Inside: A stupid easy recipe for my family’s favorite crockpot carnitas. This recipe makes a LARGE batch so it’s great to stock up for quick freezer meals throughout the month. If you’re a busy mom who wants to save time, money, and your sanity – this is the slow cooker pork recipe for you!
Stupid Easy Crockpot Carnitas
I have a little one starting FIRST grade in a few weeks and I can hardly believe it. Just yesterday, it seems, we were enjoying scoops of salted caramel ice cream (in waffle cones, of course) with grandparents in the backyard to celebrate her kindergarten graduation.
And then I blinked.
I really need to stop blinking.
We’ve had a relaxing summer full of family, friends, lazy days at the lake, and short weekend trips.
But the time is coming for hectic schedules, carpooling, after-school activities and earlier bed times. Which doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for family dinner.
And I loooooooove family dinner.
And that time spent connecting with the people I love is important, but if I’m being totally honest, so is the food I’m eating and serving to my family.
Fast food may be super convenient, but isn’t that great for my body or my wallet. Also, it doesn’t taste all that great to me either. So it’s not a viable option for me to rely on, even when I don’t have a ton of time to cook something.
Which is why I totally love this recipe for crockpot carnitas. It’s stupid easy to make and takes very little effort to stock up on these easy freezer meals.
Plus, slow cooker pork tastes DELICIOUS! Ready to get started?
Helpful Tools For Making Easy Crockpot Carnitas
Please note, that NONE of these are a requirement. You can make a giant batch of carnitas in your oven, and freeze in simple Ziplock freezer bags. But the following tools are what I used to make it “stupid easy.”
And if you’re a busy mom trying to keep your sanity during the crazy school year, you want recipes in your arsenal that are stupid easy.
Any brand of slow cooker will do, but this is the one I have and it’s super cheap and a true workhorse. I have multiple because a) I’m obsessed and b) I host a lot of parties and these babies are a lifesaver.
These can vary a bit in price, but honestly, all you need is a basic model like this one. While this is a bit of an initial investment, it has saved me SO MUCH money that it’s totally worth it. I’m able to take advantage of sales and buy fruit and vegetables when they are in season (and super affordable!) and eat them all year long. In fact, the pork I’m using in this crockpot carnitas freezer meal was a bought on sale at an incredible price!
I find that food stays fresh so much longer when I use a vacuum sealer.
How to Use Carnitas
This recipe made 6 family-size portions of slow cooker carnitas which makes me happy because there are countless ways to use up your bounty. I’ll add our favorite recipes as we make them, but just to give you an idea, here’s just a few of our favorite ideas.
Carnitas Bowl: Top your favorite base (salad greens, Mexican-style rice, or beans) with shredded carnitas, and finish with guacamole, cheese, fresh pico de gallo and some sour cream. Super easy to whip up and great for picky eaters as everyone can assemble their own bowl.
Carnitas Enchiladas: Stuff tortillas with shredded pork, cheese, and beans. Roll, smother in enchilada sauce and top with cheese.
Mexican Carnitas Street Tacos: We love wrapping these crockpot carnitas in soft taco shells and finishing them off with cabbage, chile verde and some crumbled queso blanco. Sprinkle on some cilantro and red onion for a super tasty and quick weeknight dinner.
Slow Cooked Carnitas by the Scoop: This shredded pork is really good just on its own – we’ll often cook up a side of rice and beans and add a healthy scoop of the carnitas on top.
Mexican Salad: Sometimes we’ll just top fresh greens with carnitas, avocado, cheese, and a bit of pico and call it dinner. Yum
Found another way to use up your freezer carnitas stash? Leave a comment and let me know how!
Stupid Easy Crockpot Carnitas Freezer Meals
A stupid easy recipe that makes a HUGE batch of slow cooker carnitas. Great for stocking your freezer!
- 8 lbs pork shoulder (also called pork butt) Don't trim the fat layer as this provides tons of flavor and keeps the pork juicy as it cooks. We will skim the fat later.
- 2 tsp salt, divided
- 2 tbl olive oil, optional
- 2 tbl chili powder
- 1 tbl garlic powder
- 1 tbl cumin
- 2 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
- 1 14 oz can peeled, diced tomatoes
- 1 small can diced chilis or jalapeno (optional)
- 1 large onion, quartered
**This step is totally optional. I think it adds a nice layer of flavor but I've also skipped this step before when I've been feeling lazy**
Heat oil in stainless steel pan. Pat pork shoulder dry, sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt and rub into the meat. Brown on all sides, about 1 min each side, and set aside to cool slightly. Add a small splash of water to deglaze pan and scrape up all the browned bits to add into the slow cooker. MMMMM flavor.
Once pork has slightly cooled, or if you've skipped the browning step - add dry spices to a small bowl and mix. (Use 2 tsp of salt if you did not brown meat, or 1 tsp if you've already salted and browned the meat) Rub spice mixture into the pork on all sides.
Add quartered onion, can of peeled tomatoes and jalapeños (if using). Stir in one can of water, and place pork should on top, fat layer facing you.
Cook on slow for 8-10 hours. I honestly tuck the pork into the slow cooker right before I go to bed. It cooks while I sleep. The ultimate comfort food.
Once it's done cooking, I let the meat rest and cool. Separate out the cooking liquid and refrigerate so you can easily skim off the layer of fat that raises to the top.
When I'm ready to portion, I shred the carnitas using two forks, while I cook down the broth for about 10 minutes. You should be left with about 3 cups of liquid.
I portioned the pork into 6 bags. This is right amount for a dinner for my family of 3, with some leftovers. You may want to portion more or less, depending on the size of your family.
Add about 1/2 cup liquid to each portion and vacuum seal.
Stupid Easy Crockpot Carnitas Freezer Meals in Pictures
This is for all you visual peeps out there. Plus, how delicious does this look? Stupid easy AND delicious? Sign me up. Right?
Brown pork shoulder (optional) and season with dry rub.
Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Preferably while you get your beauty sleep. When it’s done, shred meat, reserving the broth.
Reduce broth to concentrate delicious flavor.
Portion shredded pork into FoodSaver bags.
Add a scoop of seasoned broth. Mmmm flavor.
Vacuum seal, label and freeze. Genius.