Need a quick carnitas recipe without all that braising and simmering that can take hours? Look no further than our easy carnitas recipe using the best pre-cooked carnitas and savory salsa mix. Quick, easy, and so good!
Taco Tuesday anyone? This quick carnitas recipe can have you whip up some easy pork tacos without breaking a sweat! How does 15 minutes sound?
Using the best pre-made slow-cooked pork carnitas combined with some finishing touches, no one can tell you didn’t make the carnitas yourself!
Super easy to do during a weeknight with so much flavor! Literally, you can do the bare minimum and this carnitas recipe will totally be a favorite!
This post will go over everything you need to know to create this quick carnitas recipe.
Recipe difficulty: Beginner, beginner, beginner! (In case you had any doubt)
For this carnitas tacos recipe, we use 8 basic ingredients to get an easy salsa and meat mixture. (This includes pepper in the 8-ingredients…see how basic it is?) With minimal prep and only 15 minutes in the pot, hello to your new favorite recipe that taste SO GOOD!
Sam’s Pro Tips for this Quick Carnitas Recipe
The Best Carnitas
- Get the right kind of pre-made carnitas! While I’m sure braising and simmering your homemade carnitas will taste great, sometimes we all just need a quicker option! For this quick carnitas recipe, we love using the Del Real Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas and jazzing it up for the perfect taco mixture! These carnitas are perfectly seasoned, taste great, and pair perfectly with the El Pato Sauce we use. (Convinced yet?)
- The carnitas will break apart in the pan. You’ll notice the Del Real Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas comes in two pouches with each pouch almost a pound and a half. After everything is added, each pouch becomes very filling, so we usually only cook one in this recipe! When you put the carnitas from the pouch in your pan, it may look like it won’t break apart. Don’t worry, it will! Once you cook this over medium heat it will start to separate on its own in only 3 minutes.
Prepping the Habanero
- Try to leave the stem on when cutting the habaneros or use gloves. We love using habaneros in our food for its incredible spice and flavor. Similar to our Spicy Filipino Sardines Recipe and Filipino Beef Giniling, be very careful when prepping this hot pepper. Be sure to mince the habanero while leaving the stem on. Alternatively, you can place the habanero stem side down on the cutting board and cut around the seed pit. Or for added safety, use food gloves!
Easy, Time-Save Tip
- Buy your garlic already minced. For a simple time save tip, we love using the Trader Joe’s Minced Garlic. A half teaspoon is the equivalent to 1 garlic clove minced and you’re done! We totally used this in our Chicken and String Beans Recipe, and it works just as well as fresh garlic minus the peeling and the cutting.
Key Ingredients – Quick Carnitas Recipe
Below are some key ingredients for this recipe:
- Del Real Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas: As disused in the Tips section above, the Del Real Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas are the choice of meat we use in this easy carnitas recipe. Now are you convinced?
- Onion: One whole onion is used to add a nice, earthy flavor to the meat. Feel free to do a rough cut of the onion to toss right in!
- Garlic: 4 minced garlic cloves will be added to this carnitas tacos recipe and will simmer in the El Pato Sauce for a blend of yummy spices.
- El Pato Sauce: If you haven’t tried this before, this carnitas recipe pairs great with the El Pato Hot Tomato Sauce. TWO of these cans will be used for ONE pouch. This creates a great sauce for the carnitas and produces a tender mixture that is not at all dry!
- Lemon juice: The juice from ½ a lemon will be used for one pouch of these delicious carnitas. The tart flavor from the lemon will tame and balance all the spices. Have some extra lemon wedges on the side when serving for anyone that may want extra. Yum!
- Habanero: One habanero per one pouch! If you’re not used to the spicy nature of these pepper, start with ½ a habanero first before putting the whole thing in. It’s spicy, don’t say I didn’t warn you!
- Cilantro: A ½ cup of chopped cilantro will be tossed in at the end to really brighten this delicious meat mixture and give a fresh herbed taste.
More Variations to this Quick Carnitas Recipe
There are a few ways you can variate this quick carnitas recipe. Here’s how:
- Add different toppings to your carnitas tacos: Seriously, I keep this carnitas recipe quick and easy when making our tacos. As in, I don’t add that much else…maybe it’s more like a taquito? For a more filling taco, we like to add diced onion, chopped cilantro, and avocado. That’s it! Of course, you can add some Oaxaca cheese or even sour cream. However, the simple tacos are really the best! Make sure when plating to add some of these toppings on the side for friends that might want extra.
- What can I pair with this dish? While everyone loves some easy pork tacos, you can have some vegetables on the side for a well-rounded meal. Try our Spiced Honey Glazed Carrots Recipe with Pecans, as the sweetness of the carrots will be a nice pairing to the salsa or our 7-Minute Cilantro Cauliflower Lime Rice as a great addition to this recipe.
- Easy Shredded Chicken Tacos Recipe with Green Salsa
- 7-Minute Cilantro Cauliflower Lime Rice
- 5-Step Easy Garlic Baked French Fries Recipe
- Stovetop Honey Soy Chicken Wings with Ginger
Frequently Asked Questions
How is carnitas traditionally made?
An authentic pork carnitas recipe is typically made by braising the meat in an oil or lard mixture for a period of time to develop the rich flavor.
What do you put on top of carnitas?
You can add diced onion, chopped cilantro, avocado, Oaxaca cheese, or even sour cream on top of the carnitas.
What can you do with pork carnitas?
Pork carnitas are great with tacos, quesadillas, burritos, nachos, or even a burrito bowl. So many options!