At every Taquería I have been in from the hills of Mexico to the dust roadsides of Texas my favorite taco is always the pork Carnitas. It is the most prefect pork taco you have every dreamed of: juicy yet crispy and flavorful but not too spicy, bliss in a tortilla. I had never really made them myself so I began the research on how to make this wonderful pork taco, and what I learned was they are not that hard to make. It just takes time. Traditionally a whole pork shoulder or fresh ham is used, we are a family of 4 and I have self-control issues when it comes to carnitas so that was way too much meat for us. I opted to use some boneless country style spareribs, only about 3 pounds, it was perfect amount for the 4 of us. This also means that I am making myself pork carnitas tacos whenever I want them because pork spareribs are like the cheapest cut of pork in all of Costco.
I served my carnitas as a taco, but they meat is prefect for topping a salad or filling a burrito. With a pork carnitas tacos I like to put away the standard taco toppings and go for lime juice, pickled onions, avocado, and a little fresh cilantro relish. You could add some Cotija cheese if you can’t go cheese-less on your taco. I wanted to put some chopped tomatillos into my cilantro relish but both my nearby grocery stores were all sold out…total bummer, but if you have them in your store add one or two if you like. I served these tacos with a side of black beans and rice, my mom who came for the pork carnitas taco dinner totally skipped the tortilla and just made a wonderful bean, rice and carnitas extravaganza on her plate. She was so happy with dinner, that she texted me after she got home to tell me it was her favorite meal I have made in a long time. That sounds like success to me.
How to Cook Pork Carnitas on the Stove
Letting the pork spareribs cook low and slow is key to making carnitas on the stove top. Braising country style pork spareribs helps to develop rich flavors and tender melt in your mouth pork carnitas taco meat. The low and slow cooking will yield tender flavorful meat that is then broiled to make crispy chard bits for extra pork flavor. rich but tough pork cuts like the country style spareribs are perfect for braising. Complete directions for cooking pork carnitas on the stove are below in the carnitias recipe.
Country Style Pork Spareribs Carnitas Tacos
- 3 lbs of country style spareribs
- 1 large onion quarter
- 4-6 smashed cloves of garlic
- Adobo Season Salt
- Bay leaf
- Black pepper
- Granulated garlic
- ½ cup lemon or lime juice
- ¼ cup orange juice
- Drizzle of olive oil
- Water to cover the meat
- One red onion thinly sliced
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- ¼ lemon juice from the jar is fine
- Half a jalapeno thinly sliced
- 6 black peppercorns
- 1-2 cloves of smashed garlic
- ½ cup Fresh cilantro chopped
- Half a Red onion diced
- 1 Fresh jalapeno diced
- 2-3 Avocado
- Lime wedges
- 6-8 Tortillas traditionally corn, but we like flour
Dust all sides of your pork with the dry spices, be generous this is where you meat is going to get most of its flavors. Then place the spareribs in a single layer in a big heavy bottomed Dutch oven. Add the bay leaf, garlic, and onion to the pot. Then add the braising liquid, only use enough water to just cover the meat. Put the meat on the stove top without a lid and let it simmer for at least 3-4 hours.
Don’t mess with the meat. Let the braising liquid reduce all day until only the fat from the pork remains in the bottom of the pan. At this point you can turn off the heat, put the lid on the meat and just let it sit on the stove top until you are ready to eat. You could even put the pot into the refrigerator overnight, just don’t discard the drippings in bottom of the pan.
Preheat your broiler to high. When you are ready to eat remove the meat from the pan and give it a rough chop. I also chopped up the onions but discarded the garlic.
Return the meat to the pan, salt for flavor, and stir it well coating it with the wonderful fat from the bottom of the pan. If you have stored your carnitas overnight in the fridge after braising you may need to heat the fat up on the stove top before you mix up the chopped meats and the fat. Place your pot of carnitas under the broiler until the top of the meat gets crispy and brown. When they come out they ready to eat!
Pickled Red Onion
In a microwave safe container mix all the sugar, salt, vinegar and lemon juice, heat in the microwave just until hot. Stir until sugar and salt dissolve. In a non-reactive bowl put you thinly sliced onion, pepper corns, hot peppers, and garlic. If you like spice feel free to add more jalapeño or switch it up and go with habanero peppers. Then pour the hot vinegar over the onions and stir. Pickled onions only get better with time so feel free to make them in advance and store them in the fridge. Don’t forget to fish out the peppercorns before you serve, someone could break a tooth.
Mix all the diced ingredients together and if you can find it feel free to add one or two tomatillos. I don’t add any lime juice or salt to this relish mostly because there is plenty of salt and lime on the carnitas, but if you use this for anything else you may want to add some of both.
Now you can just build a taco with all the accompaniments and enjoy pork bliss.
This recipe is a keeper. My whole family loves them – we’ve made them dozens of times. Don’t skip the pickled onions!
This is fantastic! All I added extra was some garlic powder. Definitely a keeper!!!
Juicy yet crispy and flavorful but not too spicy
Mine looked just like the picture but the meat was flavorful but dry! Haven’t figured out where I went wrong.
Best part we’re the pickled onions
You might need to add more liquid when braising. Or a few pats of butter before you brown the meat at the end. Also could have been lean pig??
Agree with others, this recipe is a keeper! Have made it twice. Added garlic and let it sit overnight. Crisping it up in a little vegetable oil in a skillet afterwards is the way to go!
Delicious! Used boneless country style pork ribs and added 1 teaspoon of cumin and 2 garlic cloves. Otherwise followed the recipe to the letter and it turned out perfectly. Meat was tender, onion basically dissolved. Tomatillo salsa is fantastic.
Hi! Love this recipe- would I be able to make this in a slow cooker? If so, how long & what setting would you suggest putting it on?
I made this last night and it was delicious!!!! My husband & I loved everything – the yummy pork, the pickled red onions and the cilantro relish. I’ve used lots of recipes from the internet before, but have never taken the time to comment on them. With this one, I had to – it’s that good! Thanks so much!! 🙂
I tweaked the recipie a little bit to fit my dieting needs and we are having these for dinner tonight song with black beans and rice!
A delicious recipe! Made it last night along with the pickled onions, my husband said the onions were his favorite part, but I loved the meat, I usually use a slow cooker (thinking it’s easier) but this is just as easy and way more flavorful. Thanks!
I’m making this right now….yum!
how much of the dry spices, it sounds good thanks
Just shake them on, no need to be exact!!
I’m confused on the ingredient list. Garlic cloves are listed twice. Is one for rub and other for the liquid??
Someone clarify for me pls
Sorry about that, I think my recipe plugin had a hiccup, I will fix it. They should be listed once.
I assume I can use bone in and just remove the bone later?
I think that would be fine, I have not tried it.
This was the best recipe for Carnitas that I’ve found yet! And the pickled red onions just topped it off…thank you so much for sharing!
So glad you enjoyed them, they are a favorite in our house too!