These Keto Carnitas are crispy & tender at the same time, while remaining low carb and keto friendly! They’re so easy to make and packed full of flavor. They’re first slow cooked to make them and easy to shred, then finished in a frying pan with the leftover pan juices to brown, caramelize, and infuse them with more delicious flavor (THIS gives them their crispy exterior!). The leftovers, if you follow storage instructions, taste so fresh, you’ll never even know they were previously cooked days or even months (for frozen) before! There’s an endless number of ways to EAT your carnitas, even when you’re on a low carb diet (ideas listed below!).
Once I finally perfected my Keto Corn Tortilla recipe (these tortillas are featured in ALL my pictures here ????), I had to make the perfect Keto Carnitas to go with them! Since I’m a big fan of the set and forget mindset, I was sure I needed to make these in my Instant Pot or slow cooker! A quick note about Instant Pots – if you don’t have one yet, you are SERIOUSLY missing out the easiest, fastest, and low mess ways to cook meat. It’s a NECESSITY for me when I’m doing meal preps! There’s tons of different versions and frankly, any version will work (just look for the right SIZE based on how much food you want to cook in it at once). This instant pot has been a lifesaver, and it cooks these Carnitas so that they’re shredable and tender in ONLY 40 minutes (haaaaaaaaaaaa, cue miraclulous music)….. and I digress.. back to the carnitas!
There’s a few key things to making the BEST Keto Carnitas- with just the right amount of juiciness tenderness AND the perfect amount of crispy caramelized edges…..
What makes these Keto Carnitas PERFECT Every Time:
1.) The Cut Of Pork: It’s imperative that you use a pork cut that is appropriate for slow cooking. In this case, that is going to be Pork Butt or Pork Shoulder. You do NOT want to use a loin, chop, or any other kind of ‘leaner’ pork because they will result in tough, unshredable, dry pork! You need to EMBRACE IN THE LARD if you’re making keto carnitas, or ANY kind of carnitas for that matter. You need all the fat caps on it to make it juicy.
2.) The Cooking Method : First, these need to be either slow cooked in a crockpot or pressure cooked in an instant pot. Technically you could slow cook them in the oven, but that takes hours and hours of being home near your hot oven, so I’m not even listing it as an option (honestly, WHO has time for that!!?!?). After Cooking the pork in all the seasonings and goodness and then shredding it, you NEED TO SAVE THE PAN JUICES. This is a 100% MUST!!!! Then, to get these crispy on the outside like traditional carnitas, you pan fry them with all those beloved juices and leftover fats…. and VOILA!!! THE PERFECT KETO CARNITAS 🙂
3.) The Lard: Carnitas are traditionally made cooked in LOADS of Lard. That’s the big secret to authentic Carnitas. 😉 This recipe uses either bacon grease (my favorite option since I always have some on hand- it’s basically a free byproduct of my excessive bacon addiction), Lard, or Avacado Oil. It helps keep the Carnitas extra tender and juicy when it’s slowcooking. Do you NEED all the extra fats/lard to cook this? Actually, no. I’ve made it before without (completely on accident, I just forgot to put it in) and it was still good; however, it’s MORE THAN GOOD when you actually DO use the additional fats. By more than good, I mean it’s FREAKING AMAZING when the additional fat is added (errrr NOT ‘forgotten’ in my case)…..
If you’re meal prepping these, or planning on having leftovers from the batch, the just follow the storage instructions listed in the notes on the recipe to ensure these taste JUST as good as the first day you made it 🙂 I will some up what you need to know about leftovers though:
*DO NOT pan fry any carnitas that you want to have for leftovers. You want to pan fry (with the saved juices) JUST before eating instead.*
Pan frying your carnitas in the leftover juices from the slowcooker/instantpot is what makes such a juicy and tender carnitas, but cripsy and flavorful outside! If you pan fry your remaining leftovers BEFORE storing them in the fridge (or freezer!), then your keto carnitas will be much too dry when you go to reheat them AGAIN. Instead, the best way to save leftovers, is to store your shredded meat in a separate air tight container, from the juices ( but do NOT forget to save the juices too, just seperately!!!). That way, when you go reheat leftovers, you scoop out some shredded pork, pan fry in a tiny bit of oil for short time (to brown them slightly), then douse them with a spoonful of juices, and you carnitas taste AS GOOD AS NEW! No texture lost & no dry, crusty over-cooked carnitas. The leftovers are seriously JUST as good and fresh tasting as the night you made them originally.
What do you eat your Keto Carnitas WITH?
Just because you’re eating low carb doesn’t mean there is ANY shortage of ways to go about eating your keto carnitas! In fact, I think that being low carb gives us even MORE options of ways to eat these keto carnitas- simply because we have to be a bit more creative than the general population. Making them into Tacos is the most traditional, but I’ve eaten my keto carnitas in a number of other ways- all equally as delicious! Let’s Look at ALL YOUR OPTIONS 🙂
Keto Tortilla Options:
1.) Make Your Own Keto Tortillas.
- My Keto CORN Tortillas Recipe (featured in my photos here with the carnitas!)
- Gnom Gnom’s Super Pliable ‘Flour’ Tortillas Recipe
- Keto Diet App’s Keto Tortillas & Taco Shells Recipe
- Make an ALL CHEESE Taco Shell (melted cheese tortilla). The link is for an oven baked version, but you can also just melt cheese on a hot skillet in the shape of a tortilla and then let cool 🙂
2.) Purchase Low Carb Pre-Made Tortillas (below are links if you want to find them easy on Amazon).
- A La Madre Low Carb Corn Tortillas (TASTE 100% like regular corn tortillas – 3 g net carbs)
- Mama Lupe’s Tortillas (only 3 g net carbs per 7 inch tortilla)
- Mission Carb Balance Tortillas (5 g net carbs per large tortilla)
- Extreme Wellness High Fiber Wraps (5 g net carbs per lrg tortilla)
3.) Get Creative:
- Use lettuce wraps as a tortilla
- Use Half a baked Bell Pepper to make a taco shell/cup.
Other (Non-Taco) Ideas For Using Your Keto Carnitas Meat:
- Make Carnitas Breakfast Tacos Or a Breakfast Burrito. Whip up up a batch of scrambled eggs to add to the carnitas and any fixings you want on top of any keto tortilla option you like! THIS IS MY ALL TIME FAVORITE breakfast meal. ( Oh.my. lard. with carnitas in it, they will be the BEST breakfast tacos you’ve EVER HAD).
- Make a Carnitas Taco Salad. Basically a Taco in a Bowl. Make a dressing with 2 Tablespoons salsa (or pico) and 1.5 Tablespoons Sour cream mixed well and poured as a dressing. Add chipotle seasoning, , lime, and/or cilantro to jazz up your dressing further.
- Make a Deconunstructed Burrito bowl. Just a burrito without the bowl – on a bed of Mexican cauliflower rice!
- Make Nachos – Brush oil on a cut up pre-bought tortilla & bake until crispy to make tortilla chips. OR, use a homemade keto tortilla recipe like this one from Gnom Gnom to make into chips and then nachos!
- Make A Burrito – Use Diet App’s Keto Tortillas & Taco Shells recipe because you can make these low carb tortillas nice and BIG without too many carbs! Or just use big store bought keto tortillas 😉
- Make a Wet burrito – use the above burrito recipe, but then after filling your burrito and wrapping it up, bake it in the oven with enchilada sauce and cheese shreds on top!
- Make Enchiladas
- Make a Carnitas Sandwich – Use any low carb hamburger bun and add chipotle mayo or chipotle flavored sour cream, add some onions and cilantro. (DROOOL). Maybe even a mexican cabbage mix.
- Make A Carnitas Quesadilla– with both cheese AND carnitas in it!
- Make a Mexican Carnitas pizza or Tostada! You can use a tortilla as the crispy base or actually make a keto pizza crust with THIS RECIPE.
- Make Carnitas Empanadas
The possibilities for these delicious keto carnitas recipe are endless. Make a big batch. Save some in the fridge, save some in the freezer (and don’t forget to seperate the sauce and the shredded pork BEFORE saving and then crisping later). Any way you eat them- this Keto Carnitas recipe will not disapoint! They’re low carb, flavorful, crispy but tender, and OH SO DANG DELICIOUS!!!!!!
This recipe was adapted from the amazing RECIPE TIN EATS Carnitas Recipe.Print
These Keto Pork Carnitas are easy to make and FULL of flavor. They’re first slow cooked to make them tender and easy to shred, then finished in a frying pan with the leftover pan juices to brown, caramelize, and infuse them with more delicious flavor while adding a hint of crispiness!! The leftovers (if you follow storage instructions in Notes) taste so fresh, you’ll never even know they were previously cooked days or even months (for frozen) before!
- 2 – 2.5 lbs Pork Shoulder or Pork Butt (these are the only cuts of pork you should use!)
- 2–3 Tablespoons of Avocado Oil (or leftover BACON GREASE or lard)
- The juice of 1 Fresh Squeezed Orange
- 1/2 Large Sweet Onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (1 Tablespoon of pre-minced, but fresh tastes BEST)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- few dashes of Chipotle chili powder (optional, but recommended!)
- 4 oz can of fire roasted diced green chilis (A MUST! make sure they’re fire roasted)
- 2 –3 Tablespoons of Water Or Chicken Stock
Pork Shoulder Rub:
- 1/2 – 1 Tablespoon Avocado Oil
- 1/2 Tablespoon Oregano
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
*****Feel free to DOUBLE this recipe (and all ingredients!). I generally always make 4 lbs of carnitas and I like using my instant pot best.
1.) Rinse the Pork Shoulder off and pat dry. Rub all over Avocado Oil, then sprinkle all the other spices (mixed together) all over and rub them in so you have a nice seasoned coating.
2.) Place the rubbed Pork Shoulder (or pork butt) into the bottom of your Instant pot or Crockpot with the fattiest side (the fat cap) of the pork shoulder facing up. Pour in your Avacado Oil (or bacon grease or lard) on top of the fatty cap. Dump in with ALL the rest of the ingredients. It doesn’t matter if it’s evenly coated/ dispersed, because it will all cook down into a flavorful sauce at the end that we will DEFINITELY be saving and using when we pan fry these later!
4.) Cook In the Instant Pot 1 hour and 30 minutes on meat setting (high) and allow slow, natural release of pressure at the end (this means you do NOT manually release the pressure) before opening it! Mine usually takes 15-20 minutes to naturally release the pressure after it’s done cooking. If you’re using a Crockpot, then slow cook on low for low for 8 hours, or high for 3.5-4 hours ( until cooked and tender!!).
4.) Remove the meat from the instant pot or crock pot and shred it using two forks. Save the juices and set aside (this is liquid gold we’re going to use when we pan fry the carnitas!). Set Shredded meat aside until you’re ready to pan fry!
5.) When ready to eat (***see note 1 for storage methods if not eating right away) heat a large skillet on Medium-High Heat. When the Pan is hot, add a light spray of avocado oil or a drizzle of oil, then some of the shredded pork (don’t overcrowd the pan too much, heat in batches of how much you’ll be eating for dinner!). Allow the pork shreds to lightly brown for 20-30 seconds, then stir around to brown the other sides of the meat pieces for another 20-30 seconds. Once they’ve brown and crisped up a bit around the edges, spoon out some (a few tablespoons) of the s leftover juices from the Instant Pot/Crockpot (chunks of onion included!) into the pan and mix into your pork shreds. Let Crisp, Brown, and caramelize for a minute or so! Careful not to overbrown the pork or it will be too crispy. Remove from heat & serve immediately!
6.) Enjoy!! 🙂 See post for all the things you can make with your low carb pork carnitas meat!
**NOTE 1: It is best to fry the shredded carnitas (make them crispy in the juices) RIGHT before eating otherwise you’ll have dry and crispy carnitas when eating later. Just SAVE the leftover pan juices ( to use for frying) and the plain shredded pork separately (in separate container!), so that you can pan fry them at a later time just prior to eating! You can also freeze leftovers in the same manner – pan juices and shredded pork in two seperate containers. In either case, when you’re ready to reheat/crisp the carnitas to eat, follow step 5 in the directions again =reheat in pan, brown lightly, then add a spoonful or two of juices to finish browning and finish the flavors. If cooking from frozend
A Note about nutritional info: the nutritional info listed is for ALL of the ingredients and ALL of the leftover juices juices in the pan. This is NO WHERE CLOSE to what you actually ingest. Since we don’t use all the leftover juices/ fats/oils (really only a 1/4-1/2 cup of them) but it’s really hard to calculate this! So I’ve entered nutritional date for the whole batch and ALL instantpot leftover juices. Just know there’s actually quite a bit less carbs and quite a bit less fat for what you’re actually EATING. The protein is correct though 😉
Nutritional information in this recipe is calculated for the specific brands I have used. May vary slightly.
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 1 hour up to 8 hrs(diff method)
- Method: Slow Cooked & Pan Fried
- Serving Size: Entire Batch including ALL juices which you don’t actually EAT all of(6-8 servings)
- Calories: 2247
- Fat: 150 g
- Carbohydrates: 30 g
- Protein: 176 g