Crispy Paleo Slow Cooker Carnitas will explode with flavor in your mouth! Made in either a slow cooker or Instant Pot and pan-fried to crispy perfection. These healthy carnitas are whole30, paleo, and keto-friendly, and perfect in salad bowls, tacos, burritos, nachos, and any of your other favorite Mexican bites!
This post was originally published on February 21st, 2020.
Living in Austin, TX, I was privy to authentic Mexican street food. Pretty sure it was mostly made by Grandmas who were taught by their Grandmas. Street food came from many places – food trucks, small carts at junctions, and gas stations. Yes, gas stations had a whole cafeteria section just for tacos. My favorites were the Texaco at Dittmar & S 1st, and the Texaco on Davis Ln & Westage, in case you feel like swinging by (78745, what’s up!). Was it greasy? Absolutely. Did I want more? Always. Did it cure a hangover? Certainly did! Just add a Topo Chico or Mint Yerba Mate and yer flyin’.
I miss authentic tacos so much that I decided to make my own recipe. These are the BEST carnitas. A perfect marriage of Texas Brisket and classic pork carnitas, these paleo slow cooker carnitas are so simple and can also be made in an instant pot.
❤️ Why you will love this recipe
- Simple ingredients: The ingredients for this recipe are simple and natural ingredients that you’ll find in your pantry.
- Easy: Stick it all into your slow cooker or instant pot, cook, and then optionally you can fry it in a pan to make it nice and crispy!
- Versatile: Carnitas go with so many things! Salsa, guacamole, taco bowls, lettuce wraps. Serve them as you please.
- Meal prep: This recipe makes plenty of leftover meat making meal prep so easy! Add it to an airtight container along with cilantro-lime cauliflower rice, guacamole, and spicy salsa, and save it for lunch throughout the week.
🗝️ Key Ingredients for Slow Cooker Carnitas
- Beef: I used 2lb of beef brisket. Feel free to substitute pork shoulder or pork butt if desired.
- Onion and garlic: An onion and fresh garlic add so much flavor! I usually use red onion as that’s what I have on hand, however, white or yellow onion would work just as well.
- Beef broth: Homemade or store-bought beef stock really pumps up the delicious beefy flavor in this beef carnitas recipe.
- Seasoning: I added ground black pepper, salt, oregano, and my Homemade Taco Seasoning spice mix however, a store-bought taco seasoning would be just fine as well.
- Chilis: These are totally optional but I love the kick of heat they add to the dish.
- Olive oil: To crisp up the paleo slow cooker carnitas I pan-fried them in a little solidified fat skimmed from the top of my homemade beef stock until they got nice and crispy. Olive oil, refined coconut oil, avocado oil, or butter would be a good option as well.
🥣 How to make Paleo Slow Cooker Carnitas
1. Add to the appliance: Place meat in the slow cooker or Instant Pot.
2. Rub the meat: Sprinkle dry spices and seasonings all over the meat and rub in, making sure most of the spices are on the meat.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients: Add the onion, garlic, beef stock, and optional chili peppers.
4. Slow cooker carnitas: Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours. Instant Pot carnitas: Use meat/stew setting in your instant pot or electric pressure cooker. Set it on high pressure for 30 minutes, then allow it to release naturally for 10 minutes before switching to quick release for the remaining pressure.
5. Remove from heat: When tender, remove the whole roast from the crock pot or Instant Pot and place the meat into a large bowl.
6. Shred: Shred meat with 2 forks.
7. Crisp up the meat (optional step): Heat oil/fat in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the brisket when the oil is hot and stir fry it for 10 minutes, or until the carnitas begin to have nice crispy edges.
How to store crispy carnitas
- Store in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
- You can also freeze paleo slow cooker carnitas for up to 3 months in and freezer bag or airtight container. Thaw completely before reheating.
- Reheat in a large skillet on the stove until heated through.
❓ Can I add anything extra to these Crispy Carnitas?
Yes! You can add:
- Extra chilis, chili powder, or cayenne pepper for heat.
- Liquid smoke for smokiness.
🍽️ How to serve this Crockpot Carnitas Recipe
- Make Whole30 Burrito Bowls with cauliflower rice, pico de gallo, salsa verde, or Taco Truck Green Sauce, avocado, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.
- Make Keto Carnitas Burrito Bowls with cauliflower rice, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, a squeeze of fresh lime, and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.
- Make a regular burrito bowl with white rice (cilantro lime rice is great!), black beans, corn salsa
- In lettuce wraps with all of the usual paleo taco fixings.
- You can serve this slow cooker carnitas recipe in grain-free tortillas, or if you’re not on a paleo or whole30 diet you can use flour tortillas, corn tortillas, low carb tortillas, or in a taco shell.
🤔 What kind of meat is carnitas?
Carnitas meat is traditionally made with pork shoulder or pork butt, however, you can easily imitate the style of cooking the carnitas until they are brown with a nice crispy texture using beef brisket instead.
😋 Other Mexican-inspired recipes:
- Easy Homemade Taco Seasoning
- Loaded Vegan Queso Dip
- Dark Cherry Frozen Margaritas
- Authentic Mexican Fajitas
- Vegan Keto Instant Pot Chili
Have you made this recipe? I’d love to know <3 Tag me (@makehealthyrecipes) on Facebook and Instagram, Pin it on Pinterest, and please leave a star rating review below! Don’t forget to subscribe to the email list (top right of this page) for sparkly new recipes in your inbox.
Easy Paleo Carnitas Recipe (slow cooker or instant pot)
- 2 lb beef brisket pork butt or pork shoulder, fat removed
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp oregano
- 1 tsp Easy Homemade Taco Seasoning see note 1 below for link, or a store bought taco seasoning
- 1 onion quartered
- 2 garlic cloves halved
- 100 ml about 1/2 cup beef stock, homemade or store bought
- 2 hot chili peppers optional
- 1 tbsp oil see note 2 for options
- Place the meat in the slow cooker or Instant Pot.
- Sprinkle dry spices and seasonings all over the meat and rub in, making sure most of the spices are on the beef or pork.
- Add the onion, garlic, beef stock, and optional chili peppers.
- Slow cooker carnitas: Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours. Instant Pot carnitas: Use meat/stew setting in your instant pot or electric pressure cooker. Set it on high pressure for 30 minutes, then allow it to release naturally for 10 minutes before switching to quick release for the remaining pressure.Set it on high pressure for 30 minutes.
- When tender, remove the whole roast from the crock pot or Instant Pot and place the meat into a large bowl.
- Shred the meat with 2 forks.
- Crisp up the meat (optional step): Heat oil/fat in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the shredded meat when the oil is hot and stir fry it for 10 minutes, or until the carnitas begin to have nice crispy edges.