Looking for a different way to prepare pork while camping? Try out this Dutch Oven Carnitas recipe.
We have another great recipe for you today. It is a Mexican pulled pork, aka carnitas.
Carnitas means “little meats” and is a popular meat used in pork tacos, enchiladas, burrito bowls, or other Mexican food. We like to make carnitas tacos with corn tortillas topped with chopped red onion, pico de gallo with fresh cilantro, sour cream, and hot sauce.
Like our Dutch Oven Wet Tacos, this pork carnitas recipe is a little more involved than our usual recipes. Preparation is still relatively easy but there is a long cook time. You will find that the extra step is well worth the effort.
Dutch Oven Carnitas
You and your family will love this recipe because it:
- is made from an inexpensive cut of pork
- goes together easily
- gives off the best aroma
- taste delicious
- is an alternative to the same old camping dinners
You will enjoy eating this shredded meat on a flour tortilla or on top of a rice bowl.
Pork Carnitas Ingredients
The following ingredients are used in this easy carnitas recipe.
- Boneless pork shoulder
- Mexican carnitas spice blend*
- Lemons or Limes
*You can purchase a Street Taco Carnitas Seasoning Mix or make your own. I used ground cumin, chipotle chili powder, dried Mexican oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and ground black pepper as seen in this Carnitas Seasoning Mix recipe.
How to Make Carnitas in a Dutch Oven
The cooking process steps for this recipe are:
- Rub the roast with the carnitas seasoning blend
- Cook the chopped bacon and onions in the bottom of the Dutch oven
- Brown the sides of the pork roast in the bacon grease
- Pour the salsa and beer over the roast
- Add sliced oranges and lemons to the pot
- Cover and cook for 20 minutes per pound
Detailed directions are found at the bottom of this post.
Best Cut of Meat for Dutch Oven Carnitas
The preferred cut of pork for this recipe is Boston Butt. This fatty pork comes from the shoulder and not the rear of the pig. Pork loin does not work for this recipe because it is too lean.
A pork butt might come with pork pieces wrapped in an elastic band, which you cut away before cooking. Just make sure to rub seasoning and brown all sides of all the pieces.
I do the meal prep at home by rubbing the seasoning on the pork in my kitchen and then storing it in an airtight container in my cooler to take out to the campground.
Use of Lard or Bacon?
Traditionally lard is used in homemade carnitas. This recipe uses bacon instead.
Cut the bacon up into bite-size pieces and cook them in the cast iron pot along with the chopped onion. For best results, do not drain the bacon grease.
The liquids in this recipe not only provide the moisture to cook the meat, but they also add much flavor. Salsa, beer, and the orange juice from the citrus provide amazing flavors.
If you do not want to use beer, chicken broth is a great alternative. The first time I made this recipe the heat was too high and it evaporated the liquid. I have adjusted the recipe since then.
Dutch Oven Cooking Tip
Since this is a long cook, you will need to prepare a lot of coal briquettes. The target temperature is 325°. A 10-inch cast iron oven will need approximately 19 coals and a 12-inch will need 23.
Coals will die out and lose their heat, so prepare more coals to add or substitute when needed.
While we made this carnitas recipe in a large Dutch oven while camping, it can be made in a slow cooker or instant pot at home.
|Crock Pot Directions|
Cook the bacon and onions in a skillet on the stove top. Brown the pork in the skillet, then transfer the ingredients to the crock. Add the remaining ingredients. Pork cooks in a slow cooker for 2 hours per pound on low and 1 hour per pound on high.
|Pork in an Instant Pot|
Cook the bacon and onions in the bottom of the pot in Saute mode. Brown the pork in cooked bacon and onion. Add the remaining ingredients. Hit the cancel button, put the lid on the IP in sealing mode, and cook on high pressure for 60 minutes.
Either of these appliances will produce very moist pork due to it sitting in the cooking liquid. Remove the pork with a slotted spoon. Shred and place the pork in a large baking sheet pan, and put it under a broiler for 3-5 minutes to create crispy carnitas.
Whichever method you choose to prepare this Dutch Oven Carnitas recipe, you will love the results. You just might create the best tacos you have ever had.
More Dutch Oven Main Dishes
- Macaroni & Cheese
- Salisbury Steak
- Chicken & Veggies
- Chicken & Pasta
- Chicken & Rice
- Beef Stew
- Shepherd’s Pie
- 3-5 pound boneless pork butt
- 2-3 TBSP of Mexican carnitas spice blend
- 1 pound of bacon
- 2 onions
- 1 jar salsa (16 oz)
- 1 can of beer (24 oz)
- 2 oranges
- 2 lemons
- Prepare charcoal briquettes for a 325° bake. Dutch Oven Temperature Chart
- Rub the pork roast with the carnitas seasoning mix.
- Chop the bacon and onion and cook in the bottom of the Dutch oven.
- Brown all the sides of the pork in the bacon grease.
- Add pork to the pot.
- Cover the meat with the salsa and beer.
- Slice the oranges and lemons/limes and add to the pot.
- Cover and cook for 20 minutes per pound. Add time as necessary. The pork is done when it easily shreds.
- Remove the coals, shred the pork, pour off the liquid, and let it crisp up in the hot oven for a few minutes.
Crock Pot Carnitas: Do steps 3 & 4 above in a hot skillet. Brown the pork in the skillet, then transfer the ingredients to the crock. Pork cooks in a slow cooker for 1 hour per pound on high and 2 hours per pound on low.
Instant Pot Carnitas: Do steps 3 & 4 above in the bottom of the pot on Saute mode. Brown the pork in cooked bacon and onion. Hit the cancel button, put the lid on the IP in sealing mode, and cook on high pressure for 60 minutes.