Authentic Homemade Mexican Carnitas for Family Dinners











Dive into the heart of Mexico with our authentic homemade Mexican Carnitas recipe. Juicy, tender, and bursting with flavors, this dish will be the star of your family dinners.


Step 1: Preparation and Baking

Start by positioning your oven rack to the middle and preheating the oven to 350°F. Take a medium-sized roasting pan and lovingly place your shoulder roast in the center. This will be the heart of your carnitas, so make sure it settles in comfortably. Next, take your garlic cloves and, after giving them a fine chop, sprinkle them evenly over the meat. Doing this will begin infusing the roast with those mouth-watering, garlicky aromas from the get-go.
Pro Tip: Crushing the garlic before chopping releases more flavor.

Step 2: Seasoning and Juicing

After the garlic, it's time for the cilantro, a staple in Mexican cuisine, to join the party. Chop the cilantro roughly - no need for precision here, as its purpose is to infuse flavor rather than serve as a garnish at this point. Season the roast with a generous helping of salt and freshly ground pepper to your taste; this will enhance all the natural flavors of the meat and the herbs. Now, the citrus duo makes its entrance. Squeeze the juice of one orange and the lemon evenly over the roast. The acidity will tenderize the meat and add a subtly sweet and tangy flavor that's characteristic of carnitas. With the remaining orange, slice it and tuck the slices around the meat, ensuring every bit of the roast will bask in that citrusy goodness during baking.
Pro Tip: Roll the citrus fruits on your counter before slicing to maximize juice extraction.

Step 3: Baking

Cover the pan with aluminum foil to keep all the flavorful steam encased with the meat, ensuring it cooks to tender perfection. Place the pan in the preheated oven and let the magic happen for about 2 hours. The wait is a small price to pay for the delight that is slowly cooking carnitas. The meat will become fork-tender, infused with the garlic, cilantro, and citrus flavors, melding into a taste that will transport you straight to Mexico from the comfort of your own kitchen. After 2 hours, take the pan out and, using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess fat.
Pro Tip: Resist the urge to peek! Keeping the foil on ensures a moist result.

Step 4: Frying to Perfection

In the final step, heat a small amount of cooking oil in a skillet over medium heat. Fry the meat in batches, if necessary, allowing about 1 lb at a time. This step is where the outer edges of the meat get that irresistible crunch, contrasting beautifully with the tender inside. The carnitas should be browned and crispy on the edges yet succulent and mouth-wateringly juicy inside. This texture contrast is what makes carnitas such a beloved dish. Fry until you've achieved the perfect level of crispiness, then it's ready to serve.
Pro Tip: Don't overcrowd the skillet to ensure each piece gets perfectly crispy.

Step 5: Serving Suggestions

Serve your homemade Mexican Carnitas warm, nestled in soft flour tortillas, and garnish with your choice of cheese, salsa, and guacamole. The tender, flavorful meat wrapped in a soft tortilla and accented with the freshness of the salsa and the creaminess of the guacamole creates a symphony of flavors in your mouth, a true testament to the traditional tastes of Mexico. This dish isn't just a meal; it's an experience. An experience that brings family and friends together, making any dinner special.
Pro Tip: Offer a variety of garnishes so everyone can customize their taco.