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.
Is this to spisy from the pepper or can you taste the orange/lime to much ? I have 5 kids can’t make it to spicy and my husband would not like the orange taste… So I can’t make all this meat and noone eats it ! ? So how is the taste ladies?
It’s not spicy at all. You can leave out the orange if you like. Use more lime instead.
Samantha Hilliard says
Just made this…. Soooooo good! Made it in crock pot and used bacon grease instead of lard. Thank you for making my first attempt at carnitas so easy!
I made this last week and it was fabulous!! I can’t say enough about how delectable these carnitas were. My husband, who does not follow a low carb diet, also enjoyed them immensely. I made the Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice as a side dish and together with the carnitas it was a very delicious, satisfying meal. Thank you for this excellent recipe.
Elaine Markley says
Could I substitute a dried chipotle that I’ve ground into a powder, or does the adobo add a different flavor? I have both.
This sounds amazing!! Thank you. I just told my husband I found a recipe for carnitas. We are both so excited to try it. I love your blog. Thank you.
Hope you love it!
R Franklin says
I made this shortly after you posted the recipe, but being the type to never ask where something is (I couldn’t figure out where they kept lard to save my life!) I went with bacon fat. It was delicious. Literally JUST finished making it a second time, but this time I used the lard (located in a non-refrigerated section of the market, where I would never have looked and found completely by accident) and the difference kind of out of this world. I mean it was good before but something magical is sitting on my stove and I had to let you know this one is yet another winner! Thanks so much for all you do!
So glad you liked them. Now I want to make them again…
Christine | Mid-Life Croissant says
God that sounds incredible. Might be time to make carnitas!
This recipe blew my mind. It was some of the absolute best pork I’ve ever eaten. In fact, it could possibly be the best pork I’ve EVER had. Served it with the Cilantro Lime Cauli-Rice as suggested. Beyond delicious!!! TRY THIS OUT, EVERYONE!!!
So glad you liked it!
Great site! I want to try the carnitas soon and have printed it. But, in using the “Print” button, it didn’t come up “clean”. Is there a way to print without the extras? (e.g., the large blank space at top where it reads “advertisement”). I’d love a concise 1 or 2-page document as I’ve printed on some other sites; this one came up 3 pages. Have you heard of this issue before? Or is it me?
I don’t print out my own recipes. Let me look into it. But there’s always cute and paste!
thanks, carolyn! i tried to cut and paste but it pasted looking like code?????
What does one Chipotle pepper in adobo chopped mean?
These are chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Take one out and chop it. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00061DFEQ/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00061DFEQ&linkCode=as2&tag=aldaidrabfo05-20&linkId=PAEW5EPM2UA4V76V
Denise S. says
I went off the beaten path and put all the ingredients you suggested (except I used coconut oil and banana pepper instead of a chipotle pepper) in a pressure cooker. At first I cooked it for 85 min. After trying it, it was still tough….so, I put the lid on and cooked it for another 60 minutes. After this, it was extremely tender with a great flavor of orange with just the right amount of heat. I really could put it under the broiler to get it to crisp a little. The meat is so tender and perfect. I’ve never heard of carnitas before and so glad I made it!
My boyfriend’s mom is a big fan of carnitas. She mentioned it once, and up until that point I had never heard of the dish; so I asked (stupidly), “what’s a carnita?” LOL!
Do you think you could skip the oven and do this in the crock pot if you don’t have a dutch oven?
Yes, that should be fine. If you can brown the meat in a pan first, it will be better.
Elaine Markley says
Looks great! It would also be wonderful as tacos!
It would indeed!
I love carnitas, and this recipe looks fabulous ! I’m going to get the roast this weekend and try it out ! I’ve actually made your Cilantro-Lime Cauli-Rice before and it’s seriously great. It would be perfect with this as a topper. I’m drooling already, LOL.
Let me know what you think!
Erin M. says
Will definitely be trying this out soon. My husband is a huge carnitas fan and would gladly eat it every day. I’ve tried many recipes over the years but nothing has been perfect so I’m looking forward to trying yours out!
Hope you love it!
Sounds wonderful, can’t wait to try it!
Do you have the recipe for the cauliflower rice also?
Cauli rice: http://asweetlife.org/recipes/cilantro-lime-cauliflower-rice/
Carnitas is a favorite with us, and you must use lard to get the right flavor, well done!
sounds divine – think I will make this next week!
Sounds amazing.,I can’t wait to make it!