Keto carnitas are naturally low carb and paleo friendly. This slow roasted pork is seasoned with orange, lime, and spices, then broiled to crispy perfection. It’s absolutely luscious!
Pair it with Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice for a fantastic keto meal!
I’m a carnitas fanatic, and you will be too after you take one bite of this Mexican-style pulled pork. If I could give you a money back guarantee on that statement, I would. It’s just that good.
I’ve been working behind the scenes here at All Day I Dream About Food to perfect my own carnitas recipe and I have to say, it’s pretty close to perfect.
How do I describe these keto carnitas for the uninitiated? It’s like a study in contrasts: slow braised, shredded pork that is somehow both juicy and crisp at the same time. They are mouthwateringly delicious and easy to make.
They may just be the perfect keto food. You need to add pork carnitas to your list of easy keto meals. Welcome to your new addiction, my friends!
Why we love keto pork carnitas
There’s so much to love about carnitas, I hardly know where to start.
- Easy preparation: this recipe requires only about 15 minutes prep time.
- Basic ingredients: you should be able to find all you need at your local grocery store.
- Perfectly seasoned: the flavors are balanced and not too spicy. But you can increase the spice if you like!
- Tender and juicy: slow braising the carnitas results in melt-in-your-mouth texture.
- Crispy and caramelized: broiling helps caramelize the meat and add crispness.
- Freezer friendly: it’s a perfect make-ahead dish for meal preppers!
How to make Keto Carnitas
I did a lot of research into cooking carnitas before venturing out on my own. These are my best tips for a truly fantastic experience.
- Cooking with lard – Authentic carnitas are slow cooked in lard, but good pasture-raised lard can be expensive. I recommend using about ¼ cup of lard and looking for a pork roast with a good fat cap on it, for extra juiciness.
- Best cuts of meat – Pork shoulder, also known as pork butt, is the ideal cut of meat for carnitas. You can use bone in or bone out, it doesn’t matter. Once the pork shoulder is cooked, the bone just falls right out.
- Cook it whole – Don’t bother cutting the meat into chunks, as it adds unnecessary work and time to your recipe. Braising the roast at low heat with plenty of liquids results in such succulent tenderness, it practically falls apart when you touch it.
- Brown the meat first – Season with salt and pepper and brown on all sides before braising.
- Dump in the seasonings – There is also no need to rub the roast with seasonings, since it all falls off during the braising process. I find it simpler to just add it all in on top. The meat will absorb the flavors as it cooks.
- Broiling required – Don’t skip this step! Broiling the shredded pork helps crisp it up and give the carnitas their unique texture and flavor.
- Reserve the liquids – Don’t discard the wonderful juices after cooking. Bring them to a boil and reduce them, and then add the carnitas back in. It adds flavor and juiciness.
Can you make keto carnitas in the Instant Pot?
Yes, you absolutely can. While I prefer braising them slowly in the oven, I’ve used my Instant Pot when short on time.
Don’t skip the step of browning the meat first, as it brings out better flavor. You also need to cut back on the liquids, since a pressure cooker releases a lot of liquid from the meat itself. I recommend using only ½ cup of water.
Set the Instant Pot for about 90 minutes on the meat/stew function and let the pressure release naturally.
How to serve keto carnitas?
Carnitas are delicious in any number of ways. Personally, I enjoy them most in a bowl with cauliflower rice and toppings like guacamole. You can also serve them as a salad or in lettuce wraps.
If you want to make tacos with them, I have a few suggestions! Try the cauliflower thins from Outer Aisle, or use some of the KBosh crusts as a wrap. You could even use the crusts to make a tasty Keto Quesadilla!
More delicious keto pork recipes
- Instant Pot Keto Pulled Pork
- Easy Air Fryer Pork Chops
- The Best Keto Ribs
- Smothered Pork Chops
- Keto Cheesy Sausage Dip
- Slow Cooker Pork Loin
Easy Keto Carnitas
- 4 lb boneless pork butt
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ cup pure lard or bacon grease
- 1 cup water
- ½ medium orange cut into quarters
- 1 medium lime cut into quarters
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- Additional salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 300F. Season the pork butt all over with salt and pepper.
- In a large dutch oven, melt the lard over medium heat. Once hot, add the pork roast and brown well on all sides.
- Add the water to the bottom of the pan. Hand squeeze the juice of the orange sections and lime sections into the pan and add the rind as well. Add the cumin, oregano, chipotle, and garlic. Bring to a simmer, then cover and transfer the pot to the oven.
- Let cook 5 hours, until the pork is tender and can easily be pierced with a fork. Remove from the liquids onto a foil lined cookie sheet and let stand until cool enough to shred.
- Spread the pork out over the cookie sheet and set under the broiler for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to get the pork pieces nice and crisp. Watch carefully!
- Meanwhile, remove the orange and lime rinds from the liquids in the pot and discard. Set over medium high heat and bring a boil. Cook until the liquids are reduced by half.
- Add the crispy pork back into the liquids and toss to combine. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
- Serve over cauliflower rice and top with your favourite fixings like cheese, guacamole, and cilantro.