Recipe: Easy oven baked carnitas

Like most of my recipes, this one was cobbled together from reading various websites and crafting what sounded easy and delicious. And it couldn’t be easier. This one takes barely 15 minutes to prep – then it’s into the oven and it essentially cooks itself. Perfect for a Winter afternoon. A few notes..

use a boneless pork shoulder (probably called pork butt or Boston Butt in your grocery store) to make things as easy as possible. You’ll see I cut the pork into smaller quarters, this helps speed up the cooking time a smidge.

Unless you’re feeding a small army, this recipe makes a lot of delicious roasted pork, that means a lot of leftovers. Once cooled, I find it freezes well for re-use later. When defrosted, you just need to heat it at high heat again (oven, broiler, air fryer) to re-develop the crisp finish.

Carnitas with pico de gallo
Carnitas with pico de gallo

I don’t serve these with much more than pico de gallo and a side of guacamole. The tomatoes/lime/onion acidity balances the pork’s fattiness beautifully.

Easy oven baked carnitas
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
4 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
  • 3-4 lbs boneless pork shoulder
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 limes
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp oregano
  1. Set oven to 300F.

  2. Mix together spices into a rub for the pork

  3. Quarter the oranges and limes, squeeze juice into a baking pan or dish. Add remaining fruit to the dish once jucied too.

  4. Halve the onion, crush the garlic, add to baking dish.

  5. Cut pork shoulder into quarters, rub with the spice blend and add to baking dish.

  6. Cover tightly with foil or lid and place in oven.

  7. Cook for three hours at 300F. I like to cut the pork into further smaller pieces around the two to three hour mark.

  8. At three hours, remove the pork from the baking dish. Discard onion, lime and oranges.

  9. Increase oven to 450F.

  10. Pour off braising liquid. Skim excess fat off the top of the the liquid and reserve.

  11. Transfer pork to a large bowl and roughly shred with two forks. Remove any excess fat chunks that haven't cooked.

  12. Transfer pork back to the baking dish and pour over one cup of reserved braising liquid.

  13. Put back in the oven uncovered this time for 45 minutes or until meat develops an enjoyable crisp and fat is mostly rendered. Be careful to not overcook.

  14. During this last cooking phase, I like to check every 15-20 minutes so as to not overcook, and also shred the meat a little more – and yes – taste it along the way!

Carnitas with pico de gallo close up
Carnitas with pico de gallo close up
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