Tacos de Carnitas holds a special place in Mexican cuisine, renowned for its rich flavors and tender pork wrapped in soft corn tortillas. This dish has traveled far from its Michoacán roots to become a beloved meal worldwide. If you're a home cook, a Mexican food enthusiast, or a food blogger looking to master the art of making authentic Tacos de Carnitas, this guide is for you.

Tacos de Carnitas

Ingredients List

To start, gather the following ingredients for your Tacos de Carnitas:

  • 3 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into large chunks
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 orange, cut into wedges
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • Water, as needed
  • Corn tortillas, for serving

For the Salsa and Toppings:

  • 2 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, minced (optional)
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • Salt to taste

Step-by-Step Instructions

Preparing the Pork

  1. Selecting the Meat: Look for a pork shoulder (also known as pork butt) with a good amount of marbling. This fat makes the carnitas tender and flavorful.
  2. Preparation: Trim off any excess fat from the pork shoulder and cut the meat into 2-inch chunks.

Cooking the Pork

  1. Combine Ingredients: In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, combine the pork chunks, quartered onion, minced garlic, salt, pepper, ground cumin, orange wedges, bay leaves, and fresh orange juice. Add enough water to just cover the ingredients.
  2. Slow Cook: Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for about 2-3 hours, or until the pork is very tender.
  3. Crisp the Pork: Once the pork is tender, remove the lid and increase the heat to medium-high. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the liquid has evaporated and the pork becomes golden and crispy on the outside. Remove the bay leaves and orange wedges.

Making the Salsa and Other Toppings

  1. Salsa: Mix chopped tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and jalapeño (if using) in a bowl. Squeeze the juice of one lime and season with salt. Adjust to taste.
  2. Prepare Toppings: Have your chopped cilantro, lime wedges, and any other desired toppings ready for assembly.

Assembling the Tacos

  1. Warm Tortillas: Heat the corn tortillas on a dry skillet or directly over a gas flame until warm and slightly charred.
  2. Assemble Tacos: Place a generous amount of carnitas on each tortilla. Top with salsa, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.

Tips for the Perfect Tacos de Carnitas

  • For an even more authentic flavor, cook the pork lard instead of water.
  • Don't rush the crisping process; allowing the pork to caramelize in its own fat adds depth to the flavor.
  • Experiment with toppings like diced avocado, pickled red onions, or queso fresco to customize your tacos.


Tacos de Carnitas are more than just a meal; they're a cultural experience. By following this guide, you can bring a taste of Mexico into your kitchen and share it with friends and family. Don't be afraid to experiment with different toppings and cooking techniques to make this dish uniquely yours. Enjoy the process and the delicious results!

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