Pork Carnitas - Delicious Without The Lard

If you have never tried pork carnitas then you are in for a pleasant surprise. Think tender pork simmered slowly in red wine, orange juice for a hint of citrus, coke for a unique sweetness and our surprise ingredient, milk.

Many recipes call for cooking the carnitas in lard and for some reason I just can't bring myself to do that even if it does taste good. My dad never used lard in the restaurant because of its lack of health benefits so I probably picked it up from him.

The milk in this recipe really does make a delicious sauce which you can use if you like. I have even used it over mashed potatoes for gravy.

How Do You Serve Carnitas?

Wondering how you serve  carnitas? There are many ways to do it. You can make pork tacos, topped with lettuce, salsa, and guacamole. Or take some warm flour tortillas and place a couple of spoonfuls of carnitas, refried beans, Spanish rice and cheese and roll it up and top with salsa.

Carnitas can also be spooned on top of your tostada or stuffed in your homemade tamales.

I even serve them with mashed potatoes when the mood strikes.

Wondering what carnitas means in Spanish? "Little meats". Now let's get to cooking.

Pork Carnitas


  • 3 1/2 to 4 lb. pork butt, cut into large chunks (1 inch)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 cups fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • small handfull of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup coke


Cut pork into large chunks (remove some of the fat) and place in a large frying pan or stock pot. Add the garlic, wine, orange juice, salt, chili powder, cumin, cilantro, and bay leaf. Add water if needed to cover most of the pork.

Stir ingredients and place on high heat. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low, partially cover and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. You want the pork to be very tender and easy to break apart.

Keep an eye open so the liquid doesn't boil completely away. Add more water if needed.

Then add the milk and continue to simmer(without the lid) for 20 minutes or until the liquid cooks down to half. Add the coke and bring to a boil again, then lower heat to simmer and cook an additional 15 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf and spoon the pork into a roasting pan. Shred the pork with a couple of forks and spread the meat out in a thin layer. Set the gravy aside and keep warm.

Broil low in the oven for 10 to 15 until the meat browns and becomes crispy. You can pour the sauce back over the carnitas or use as a gravy.

Make sure you warm some tortillas. They are a must for our pork carnitas.

I've got more delicious mexican recipes for you to try. Check out more Mexican food recipes in addition to our pork carnitas recipe. 

More Pork Recipes

Chile Verde
Pork Tamales
Pork Chalupa
Pork Enchiladas

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New! Comments

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Made your apple pie recipe yesterday. Absolutely the best!! And no gap! Your spice mixture was just right.

I have the apple/corer/peeler and it made perfect slices in no time. Thank you so much for your wonderful step by step instructions and for the video. Much appreciated. Lucky me! :)

-B.A. from 

Hi! I just wanted to say that your tortilla recipe/video is pretty much the greatest thing ever! I'm a college student, so it's a really great/cheap thing to make. They're especially good with butter, honey, and brown sugar.

I just have to make sure my family doesn't find out I stopped using the family tortilla recipe! Ha! Thanks again!

-C.M. from 
Queens, New York

I just have to write to you and admit something! I'm preparing your spanish rice recipe at the moment AND....I want to thank you!

I had actually given up on making Spanish rice! No one, or no recipe, until YOURS, ever said to actually BROWN the rice so much.! I think thats the taste difference!

Thank YOU so much.  I followed your recipe exactly,..and it is absolutely wonderful!

-Martha MacDonald from 
Karlovac Croatia

Just to let you know that I found your website and love it. We have very limited Mexican produce in Australia and I am enjoying making your recipes.

I have made your enchilada sauce a few times now.  We all love it and have managed to find pinto beans at our central markets. Good Job. Well done.

-Wendy Sachse from 
Adelaide Australia

Rockin' Robin, you truly rock! I live in china right now, far, far away from my beloved Mexican food. Finding ingredients is hard enough, learning how to make everything from scratch no longer is with your recipes.

Though I've only tried your tortilla recipe, I will certainly be coming back to your site to make retried beans and Spanish rice!

My tortillas were awesome, best yet, thanks for giving us a night of Mexican food all the way over here in China!

-Erin from Santa Barbara, California

THANK YOU, THANK YOU!! I stumbled upon your website today as I searched the web for flour tortilla recipes. I made these just after viewing your video, and five of us devoured them.

SO DELICIOUS. And easy to make! I am most grateful to you for this simple, tasty recipe. Your video was a useful tutorial.

I've not attempted to make tortillas prior to making yours, though we often eat tortillas. We're vegetarians, so I was looking for a recipe which used canola oil instead of lard. You delivered. Merci.

-Frances Bolte

WOW! What a great website. Love how you show what to do and how it is supposed to look. Definitely in my favorites folder.

-Terri M from Florida Keys
Where good Mexican food is hard to find.

Just made your enchilada sauce recipe and that's what I've been looking for. I like the fact it has a little heat but not too much so my kids will eat it. Thank you for posting the recipe. i am turning leftover turkey into turkey enchiladas tonight but the star is really the sauce. Thanks again.

-Tony Starks, California