Pork carnitas are healthy and nutritious, easy to make, and taste heavenly, so if you are looking for a new tradition for Taco Tuesday, you will be amazed by this dish!
You’ll love the blending of the pork and the cilantro, jalapeño, taco seasoning, onion and orange juice as everything cooks together in the air fryer. The pork is marinated to bring out its full flavor, and then cooked in the air fryer that makes the meat tender and juicy and ready to serve in your favorite meal. Traditionally, carnitas are slow cooked, but this air fryer version makes your meal quick and easy while still being full of flavor.
How do you eat Pork Carnitas?
Serve with rice, tortillas, Mexican side dishes or black beans. Carnitas can also be put on pizza, made into a pulled pork sandwich, added to a wrap, enjoyed in a breakfast burrito, or in a taco salad. Carnitas can be served as a topping for baked potatoes.
You may wish to add guacamole, sour cream, extra onion or cilantro as a topping to your carnitas.
Carnitas are perfect for Taco Tuesday, for a taco bar anytime, to serve at parties or at cookouts.
What is pork carnitas?
Carnitas, literally meaning “little meats” is a Mexican dish made by slow cooking pork, typically in oil or lard, until tender and the meat falls apart.
You can make these carnitas ahead of time!
Carnitas can be prepared a day or two earlier than when you plan to use them. Shred the pork and then add a small amount of the juice to the pork before storing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
If there are any leftovers, here is the best way to store them!
Your cooked carnitas can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat in the air fryer at 400 degrees for 2-3 minutes or until warm.
Here are additional ways to prepare your carnitas in case you don’t want to cook in the Air Fryer, or don’t own an Air Fryer!
Add the pork and other ingredients to the instant pot. Cook on high for 1 hour for 2 pounds of pork (1.5 hours for 4 pounds of pork). Allow to pressure release naturally. If the meat isn’t tender or at least 170 degrees with a meat thermometer, turn the meat over and repeat the process for another 7-10 minutes.
Cut the pork into 4″ chunks, then add the pork and other ingredients to the slow cooker, pouring the orange juice over the pork. Cook for 8 hours on low or 6 hours on high.
In a 9×13″ pan add enough aluminum foil to cover the pork. Center the meat and spices in the foil, then pour the orange juice over them. Fold the foil over the pork. Cook at 275 degrees for a minimum 4 hours. Internal temperature when cooked through should be 170 degrees.
How to make your carnitas crispy!
Some people prefer to have their carnitas crispier by putting the cooked meat under the broiler for a few minutes or by cooking in a skillet in a small amount of oil until the bottom of a single layer of pork is crispy.
Pork shoulder – The higher fat content in pork shoulder/pork butt works best as this cut gives the carnitas the most flavor and works best for the fall-apart tender shredded pork. You can use bone-in, but the meat will take longer to cook.
Orange juice – adds a great citrus flavor to the carnitas.
Cilantro – adds a lemony and peppery flavor.
Oil – I use olive oil. But if you only have vegetable oil, that can be substituted.
Jalapeno – adds spiciness yet sweetness. If you want to omit, you can! You can also remove the seeds to eliminate it being too spicy for you or your family’s liking.
Taco seasoning – you can use your favorite store brand or make your own.
Purple onion – provides a spicy-to-mild flavor as well as adding nutrients. A white onion can be a great alternative too.
Yellow corn tortillas – filled with authentic flavor that compliments the carnitas.
In a mixing bowl add the pork and the spices (2 tablespoons taco seasoning). Top with the oil, juice from the orange, jalapeño, and cilantro. Mix and add pork and mixture to a storage bag. Place in the fridge overnight or for 6 hours.
Create a foil catch tray for the air fryer basket and add the pork shoulder. Pour over the remaining marinade…
…and cook at 350°f for 45 minutes. Turn the pork at 30 minutes.
Remove the pork and shred the meat. Add the remaining taco seasoning…
… and mix.
Dice the onion. Warm the tortillas and load with the pork, onion, and cilantro.
My grocery list!
Supplies I used:
As mentioned before, you do not need an Air Fryer for this recipe. However, if you are searching for a new air fryer, this is the one our family has! It works well, is an 8 quart with a great size for our family of 4, and has a viewing window.
If you love this recipe, you check out these other great recipes! Please like, share, and Pin!
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Air Fryer Carnitas
- Air Fryer
- 2 lb pork shoulder/butt
- 1 juice of an orange
- 1/4 bunch of cilantro diced
- 3 tbsp oil extra virgin
- 1 jalapeño fresh and diced
- 4 tbsp taco seasoning
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 12 yellow corn tortillas
- 1 purple onion diced
- In a mixing bowl add the pork and the spices (2 tablespoons taco seasoning). Top with the oil, juice from the orange, jalapeño, and cilantro. Mix and add pork and mixture to a storage bag. Place in the fridge overnight or for 6 hours.
- Create a foil catch tray for the air fryer basket and add the pork shoulder. Pour over the remaining marinade and cook at 350°f for 45 minutes. Turn the pork at 30 minutes.
- Remove the pork and shred the meat. Add the remaining taco seasoning and mix.
- Dice the onion. Warm the tortillas and load with the pork, onion, and cilantro.