This is a slow cooker copycat of Chipotle’s carnitas recipe. The end result is succulent shredded pork that’s then broiled in the oven until crisp. Being low-carb, paleo, whole30, keto and more, you can use this carnitas meat in so many ways.
Anyone else love Chipotle? They’ve taken some beatings in the press over the last couple years (remember that salmonella outbreak) but I still love them. Whether or not to call them healthy is debatable but to me, Chipotle is as healthy as you make it. Some days I get a salad (yes, they have salads), other days a burrito bowl. The one thing that stays constant is the protein of choice which is always carnitas.
Chipotle keeps the ingredients in their recipes simple and they’re transparent about it. On their website, they list the ingredients for their carnitas as: pork, bay leaf, salt, black pepper, thyme, juniper berries, sunflower oil. Sounded easy enough until it came time to find juniper berries. After a bit of Google research, I found that a suitable juniper berry substitute is mince a small sprig of rosemary in lieu of each juniper berry OR add a large rosemary sprig to the dish and remove it at the end of cooking. I went with the latter.
While the rosemary stays whole on the spring, I didn’t leave the thyme leaves on their spring, I removed them after taking the pic. You can use dried thyme if you don’t have fresh. I did something you shouldn’t do. I put the rosemary on top of the pork and let it cook. As a result, I ended up picking out what looked like black sticks (cooked rosemary) from the meat. Don’t put the rosemary spring on top of the pork, just add it to the slow cooker on the side.
I used a pork loin because that’s what I had but you can use loin, shoulder or butt. The pork should shred easily when it’s done. If it doesn’t then cook it a bit longer. I know it might not look like much when it’s done but who cares as long as it tastes good.
I’m listing this as an optional step but you should really do it. After the carnitas are cooked and shredded, add them to a baking sheet then BROIL them in the oven for 3-5 minutes or until the edges are crisp.
If your meat gets overcooked or dry, toss in a couple of tablespoons or so of low-sodium broth. Directly the slow cooker with the meat or stir it in after broiling.
- 2 lb. pork loin
- ¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 3 springs thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 large spring of rosemary
- Season pork with salt & pepper and add to the slow cooker.
- Add thyme, bay leaves and broth to the slow cooker.
- Add rosemary spring into the slow cooker.
- Cook HIGH 3-4, LOW 6-8.
- Remove rosemary spring and bay leaves
- Remove meat from the slow cooker and shred. Place back in the slow cooker until ready to use.
What do to with this meat?? Sky is the limit! Tacos, burritos, enchiladas, burrito bowls, etc.
Double this recipe to feed a larger crowd.