Pork Carnitas – Delicious Without The Lard

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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