FINALLY, a carnitas recipe that I can’t wait to make again and again. I’ve been searching for the perfect recipe for quite some time now and I’m so happy that I’ve finally landed on a recipe that I’m happy with. A lot of recipe’s that I’ve tried in the past were either too dry or lacking that authentic flavor that you get in restaurants. But not this recipe! The pork comes out juicy, tender and flavorful every time and is perfect for parties or entertaining!
My favorite thing about carnitas is how versatile they are! You can use them in tacos, burritos, nachos, or even on pizza if that’s what you’re in to. The list goes on and on…
One of the main ingredients that really makes this recipe pop is real Coke (pun intended!). Yes, Coca-Cola. But not the kind with corn syrup; the REAL stuff with cane sugar (sometimes called Mexican Coke). That mixed with fresh OJ and lime juice help add the necessary sweetness and caramelization to keep the meat moist and tender while braising.
And the best thing about this recipe is how well it saves for left-overs! You can make a big batch on Sunday night and enjoy it for the rest of the week in a variety of recipes.
- 4 pounds boneless pork butt or shoulder
- 3-4 tsp coarse salt
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 large onion, cut into wedges
- 8 cloves garlic , smashed
- 2 limes, juiced
- 1 cup natural orange juice
- 1 12oz. bottle of coke (Coke with real sugar is ideal)
- Hand full of cilantro, chopped for garnish
- Create the rub. Combine all dry ingredients (salt, pepper, brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, dried oregano, and cumin) together in a bowl and mix evenly.
- Use half of the rub to season the pork and save the other half for later.
- In a large dutch oven, sear the meat evenly on all sides until a nice crust has formed. Remove from the pot and set aside.
- Add in the rest of the rub, onion, garlic, orange juice, lime juice, and coke and bring to a boil. Add the pork back in and cover.
- Place in the oven at 350 degrees F for 3 hours or until meat is tender enough to shred easily with a fork. Using tongs or a fork, shred the meat into even chunks.
- (optional): Crisp up the pork in the oven or on the stove.
- On the stove: In a large cast iron skillet or non-stick pan on high heat, working in batches, add in 1 tbsp of olive oil and pork, searing the meat on all sides until a nice crispy crust has formed.
- In the oven: Using the broiler on high, place the pork evenly on a non-stick baking sheet and broil for 5-10 minutes, or until a crust has formed.
- Coke with real sugar vs. corn syrup works best. You can usually find this in the ethnic food isle of your grocery store.