Carnitas for Cinco de Mayo

Carnitas are the best. Here, I simply cooked them long and slow in the oven, basting occasionally. Traditionally, the pork roasts cook in a huge copper pot filled with bubbling lard (see photo). Our way is easier, less messy, healthier, and really delicious. I like that you can cook and shred the pork, then pile it on an oven safe platter, pouring a little of the basting liquid over the top. Then cover with foil and keep warm in a low oven until ready to serve. These carnitas are one of three tacos I will make for our Cinco de Mayo party. I highly recommend that you wash this meal down with an ice cold Mexican beer or a Margarita (see recipe below).

Carnitas for Cinco de Mayo

Carnitas My Way

Serves 10-12

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

4 or 5 pound pork shoulder or butt roast

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup kosher salt (I prefer Diamond Crystal)

Fresh ground pepper

25 corn tortillas*

½ white onion chopped and soaked in water for 20 minutes

½ cup whole cilantro leaves


Brine: Combine the sugar and salt in a small bowl and smother the entire pork with the mixture. Now place the pork in a large casserole dish and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.


Cooking:  After the pork has finished brining, rinse off the excess salt and sugar mixture off and dry the meat very well with clean kitchen towels. Place the pork in a large roasting pan and sprinkle liberally with ground pepper. Next, place the roast into the oven and bake for 6 hours. Throughout the cooking process, the pork will render fat from the roast. From time to time spoon this liquefied pork fat over the entire roast, basting it, if you will. After the pork is soft, and pulls off easily with a fork, it is done.


Serving:  Shred the pork by moving two forks in opposite direction and mound the meat onto a large serving platter. Taste and season to your liking with salt and pepper – you can keep warm in a low (200 degree) oven while you prepare the tortillas and cilantro mixture. In a separate bowl mix the pre-soaked onions and cilantro together. Warm the tortillas in a cast iron skillet or “comal” and keep warm in a basket with a clean linen napkin or cloth.


To make a taco; spoon the prepared pork meat in to a warm tortilla and sprinkle with onion and cilantro.


*I make my own tortillas; I have a fantastic wooden tortilla press, which is fun to use.   When I am in a pinch and I need to buy tortillas, I always buy Guerrero’s corn tortillas. Rica says they are the most authentic tasting in a package and I agree.