This simple recipe for making succulent morsels of carnitas requires nothing more than pork, salt, and water. Whereas braising usually calls for searing the meat before cooking slowly in liquid, this method is the exact opposite. The pieces of pork shoulder are slowly simmered first then browned in its own rendered fat.

recipe adapted from Diana Kennedy’s Essential Cuisines of Mexico

Little Pieces of Browned Pork

3 pounds skinless and boneless pork shoulder
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste


  • Make carnitas on your not-so-well-maintained cast iron skillet and it will be perfectly seasoned after a few times.

Cut the meat into small pieces. In a heavy pan, arrange the pieces of pork in a single layer and cover with water. It’s fine to crowd the pan initially –  the pieces of meat will shrink after some of the fat is rendered.

Bring to a boil then lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer while uncovered. It may take around 2 hours for the liquid to completely evaporate.

Once all of the water has evaporated, turn the pieces of meat until lightly crusty and browned all over. Serve immediately.

Carnitas in cast iron skillet

It doesn’t have to be served with guacamole, fresh salsa, and tacos. Since this carnitas is simply seasoned with salt, try adding it to anything that could use fork-tender bits of pork.

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25 Responses to “Carnitas”

  1. MyKitchenInHalfCups says:

    Diana Kennedy is just one of the best for wonderful Mexican!
    Such a simple dish that results in great flavor!

  2. [eatingclub vancouver] js says:

    Wow, a simple, down-to-earth carnitas recipe! Will have to try this one.


  3. Columbus Foodie » Blog Archive » June 2008 Roundup says:

    [...] and Prosciutto on Buttered Toast and Cold Peanut Sesame Noodles from Apartment Therapy: The Kitchn, Carnitas from Apple Pie, Patis and Pate, “California Roll” Salad from Artists in the Kitchen, [...]

  4. sweetbird says:

    Hmm…js and ts of eatingclub just sent me here. This looks outstanding. I really need to eat breakfast before I keep reading my food blogs.

  5. Booo! says:

    NO son carnitas!!!!

  6. carnitas?? no way!! says:

    mykitcheninhalfcups this is not the way to make carnitas. this is just simply cooked pork, there is a lot more work, and spices involved. I am making them right now by the way. It is not this simple, I can tell you really do not know Mexican food. Carnitas have a very distinguished flavor, any pork meat just doesn’t do. Perhaps this will help, I believe you can translate the page also. Copy and paste that link please, and it is best if served with salsas, tortillas, maybe some frijoles puercos (pig beans) also known as ranchero beans. Mixture of Mexican sausage, jalapeños, jack cheese, onions, garlic and stuff. Happy cooking

  7. Annamae Polit says:

    now see, this sort of stuff really doesn’t sound right

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  9. pinoy tees says:

    filipino pride!

  10. Enchilada Lover says:

    Sounds great! I just came back from mexico last week and find myself addicted to these incredible enchilada recipes now!! Must go back next year sometime, I think, and this time head off the beaten track a little. Looking to reading more!

  11. Josh Maragh says:

    Really good This really is one of the most informative sites I’ve ever read on this subject.

  12. Seymour Catapano says:

    Fascinating! We began purchasing whole steer from the local farm last year, and it’s working out really well for us. We found a great website with lots of great dishes like this meat recipe to keep us going.

  13. Lana Brockmeyer says:

    Hi there, long time reader and lurker here with my first comment! My only daughter is getting married to her lovely mexican gentleman soon, and I’m tasked with doing the wedding arrangements! I thought enchiladas would be a nice snack, so trying to find a good enchilada recipe. What do you think? Any more ideas?? Anyway, thanks for your hard work as ever…

  14. Renaldo Hollo says:

    Thanks, thats very useful to know! I must admit I’m a bit of a failure in the kitchen, but I’m trying my best to learn. Admitting is the first step to recovery right!!? I promised to cook something for my wife this weekend for the first time – very exciting! I found some simple recipes at this website, seems to be designed exactly for me, which is fantastic! Anyway, thanks for your tips, I’ll be sure to subscribe to your site to read more.

  15. Robin Stolcals says:

    Thank you. I’m supposed to cook for my new vegan girlfriend this week and have no idea what to make! I found a ton of recipes at this vegetarian recipe site but with so mnay to choose from I just got confused. Do you have any recommendations, like .. the tastiest vegetarian recipe, ever, or something?! Thanks in advance! I hope it goes well

  16. Britni Alvira says:

    Thanks very much for that. I was trying to find a meaty stew recipe to get me through the christmas month, and this looks just what I wanted. I found an entire stew recipe site here too that seems to have tons of good ideas, maybe you can get some more inspiration there. Anyway, thanks again, I will bookmark and read more another time ;)

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    What a great post – I thougt it was good stuff. Extremely intriguing.

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