Mexican pork carnitas tacos

Mexican pork carnitas tacos

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The pork carnitas tacos, or pulled pork, are among the most typical  street food in Mexico and you can find them in any taquerías, those little street food vendors that are so common in that country. This is famously where you will eat one of Mexico’s finest dishes, tacos being considered a very important element of Mexican culinary identity. They are made with a small corn tortilla stuffed with roasted meat, fish or vegetables (there are plenty of options) and seasoned with chopped coriander leaves and fresh vegetables such as onions, tomatoes or peppers, and at the end some cheese or sauce like sour cream.

The pork carnitas recipe is cooked with orange and lemon juice, that reminds me of a typical dish of the Yucatan peninsula in Southeastern Mexico, the Poc Chuc, roasted pork marinated with spices, orange juice, onions, tomatoes and cilantro. It also has a clear influence from the Tex Mex cuisine in United States. I discovered the pork carnitas tacos in Barcelona (!): my boss at that time was a North American guy, and a very good cook, so he made these pork carnitas tacos for a team meal. The dinner was very successful and I liked it so much that I asked for the recipe. Then I adapted it according to my taste, including some extra ingredients such as bacon or cinnamon, et voila!

The recipe is very simple: quickly fry the meat with the spices, add the orange and lemon juice, the rest of the ingredients, cover the pot and cook at low temperature in the oven for four hours, so that the meat will be stewing in the juice and spices mix. At the end of cooking the meat is slightly caramelized, and pulls very easily with a fork. Then place little portions of the meat in a corn tortilla along with fresh ingredients such as chopped vegetables, cheese, guacamole, etc …

I like it because:

  • The meat is extremely tender, saucy and flavoured thanks to the low temperature cooking.
  • It is very easy to prepare, and great when friends are over.


    • If you do not have a casserole with an oven-proof lid, just cover the pot hermetically with aluminium foil.
    • You can reduce the cooking time by starting with a higher temperature at the beginning, and slow down gradually: 1 hour at 200 °C, 1 hour at 100 °C and 1 hour in the oven turned-off.
  • For the tortillas, it is better to prepare them home-made of course, otherwise just buy those used for the fajitas, they would be ok also.
Mexican pork carnitas tacos

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 4 hours

Serving Size: 4

Mexican pork carnitas tacos

Mexican pork carnitas tacos


  • 7 oz (200g) smoked bacon
  • 2,2 lb (1kg) pork loin or shoulder
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • Seasoning: salt, ground black pepper, coriander seeds …
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • Dry oregano
  • 1 organic orange
  • 1 organic lemon
  • 1 or 2 Jalapeño peppers or 3 chillies
  • 2 bay leaves
  • For when you serve:
  • Corn tortillas
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red or green pepper
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 or 2 tomatoes
  • Grated cheese (cheddar, feta …)


    1. Pre-heat the oven at 210ºF (100 °C). Or 420ºF (200ºC) for if you want it done quicker.
    2. Fry the bacon in a large oven-proof casserole.
    3. In the meantime, cut the pork meat into large pieces, chop the garlic cloves and squeeze the orange juice and lemon.
    4. Put aside the bacon and quickly fry the pieces of pork in the same pot keeping the bacon fat, along with the cumin, salt, black pepper and crushed coriander seeds.
    5. Stir in the remaining ingredients – cinnamon stick, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, oregano, orange and lemon juice and zest, the jalapeños peppers and bay leaves. The liquid must hardly cover the meat, so add a little bit of water if needed.

    1. Mix well, cover the pan with a tight cover that goes to the oven or aluminum foil, and place it in the oven.
    2. Cook for 4 hours at 210ºF (100ºC) at least. Or 1 hour at 420ºF (200ºC), 1 hour at 210ºF (100ºC) and 1 hour resting in the oven off.
    3. At the end of cooking, chop the ingredients you will serve with the meat – fresh cilantro, peppers, onions, avocado, cheese …
    4. Remove the casserole from the oven and open it carefully because of the steam.

    1. Shred the meat with a fork.

  1. Warm the tortillas in a pan just before serving, put the meat in a large bowl and the other ingredients in separate little pots so that each one can prepare its own taco.

Bon appétit!

Mexican pork carnitas tacos
Mexican pork carnitas tacos


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