These Pulled Pork Carnitas Street Tacos makes a great recipe for Mexican night. You will feel like you are eating food from a taco truck with how amazing these pork tacos are! Perfect for Cinco de Mayo and Taco Tuesday.
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Why You Will Love This Recipe
Pulled Pork Carnitas Street Tacos are a delicious and popular Mexican street food that features tender and flavorful pulled pork served in small tortillas with fresh and vibrant toppings.
These pork street tacos are not only delicious but also customizable based on your preferences. Feel free to experiment with different toppings and enjoy the savory, citrus-infused goodness of the pulled pork in a convenient and handheld taco form.
Use any leftover carnitas in various Mexican recipes like a burrito bowl and enchiladas. See some of our favorites below, above the recipe card!
Pork Butt – or pork shoulder. Boneless pork shoulder or bone in is fine, whatever you prefer or have. I do not recommend pork tenderloin as it is an expensive cut of meat that is not needed for this recipe.
Yellow Onion – or white onion
Jalapeno Pepper – or spicier peppers if desired.
Orange Juice – fresh is best but bottled will work
Vegetable Oil – I do not recommend olive oil because we are cooking at high temperatures for searing which can burn the olive oil.
Corn Tortillas – corn tortillas are traditional but you can use flour tortillas if desired. Warm tortillas is key!
You will also need your favorite toppings as desired. Fresh cilantro and diced yellow onion with cotija cheese are the traditional selections. Some other options include:
- Escabeche (Pickled Mexican Vegetables)
- Salsa Chile de Arbol
- Sour Cream
- Lime Juice from lime wedges
- Queso Fresco
- Fresh or Pickled Jalapenos
- Pickled Red Onion
Find full instructions and recipe details in the recipe card below.
This recipe speaks to our Instant Pot Carnitas Recipe for cooking. You can also cook the pork with a slow cooker or in the oven if desired. I love the Instant Pot because you get amazing flavor and tender pork in a simple recipe with a quick cooking time.
Instant Pot Carnitas instructions:
In a small bowl combine the spices to make a dry rub mixture. Dry off your pork with paper towels to help with browning.
(While the browning will soften and dissipate when cooking, it is still bringing a ton of flavor that we want to capture!).
Rub the spice mixture on all sides of the meat to coat.
Heat your Instant Pot to simmer.
When hot, add the oil and the roast.
Sear the roast until golden brown on the 4 larger sides for about 3-5 minutes per side. Use tongs to flip the pork. The crust will be soft when cooked, but it is going to give us great flavor!
Remove the roast and add the orange juice. Stir the cooking liquid to loosen up the stuck on bits at the bottom of the pot.
Add the onion and jalapeno to the pot, and then put the pork roast back in on top.
Turn your pressure cooker on to manual high pressure setting for 90 minutes and let cook.
Natural release for 15 minutes, then manual release. The pork should be fork tender!
Slow Cooking Option: Add the rub to the meat, and sear in a skillet if desired (recommended). Add everything to a crock pot. Cook on low for 8 hours.
Oven: Add the rub to the meat, and sear in a skillet if desired (recommended). Add everything to a large covered baking dish or Dutch oven. Cook in the oven at 325°F (163°C) for 3-4 hours until the pork is fork-tender and easily shreds. If needed, add chicken stock or water to keep it moist.
Sear the Meat
Searing the meat is traditional for pork carnitas. It is not mandatory, but it is recommended because it will add a ton of flavor and some texture to the meat. I think it is the best part!
Shred the pork and toss with as much of the cooking liquid as desired.
If searing, do not add TOO much cooking liquid, just enough to coat.
Then heat a skillet over medium-high or high heat and sear the shredded pork in batches to develop a little crust and flavor on the pork with crispy edges.
Assemble the Tacos
You will want to warm the tortillas to make them easier to handle and give them flavor. Heat the tortillas on a hot griddle or in a dry skillet until they are pliable and warm. You can also do this over an open flame if you have a gas range with tongs.
Spoon a generous portion of the pulled pork carnitas onto each tortilla.
Top the pork tacos with your desired toppings. Authentic pork carnitas tacos are topped with diced yellow onion, fresh cilantro, cotija cheese, and a squeeze of lime.
Modifications and Substitutions
Want the meat to be spicier? Add more peppers, hotter peppers, chili powder, or cayenne as desired.
Top with our popular Homemade Escabeche (Mexican pickled vegetables), a classic taco topper!
Carnitas is a type of pulled pork. After cooking, carnitas is traditionally seared in a skillet for texture. Carnitas is also seasoned with Mexican spices and citrus.
Carnitas is shredded pork. Barbacoa is shredded beef.
Pork shoulder (pork butt) is the best cut tot use for carnitas.
The pork roast will release juices as it cooks. Add a little of this juice to the finished pulled pork for moisture. If needed, you can add a little stock or water during cooking.
More Pork Carnitas Recipes
Pulled Pork Carnitas Street Tacos
- Instant Pot (see notes for oven or slow cooker instructions)
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring Cups
- Combine the spices together in a small bowl to make a rub mixture.1 Tablespoon paprika, 1 Tablespoon ground cumin, 1 Tablespoon dried oregano, ½ Tablespoon garlic powder, 3 teaspoons salt
- Trim the pork roast of any excessive fat, if desired. Pat dry with paper towels.2 pounds pork shoulder
- Rub the pork on all sides with the dry rub, pressing into the meat.
- Heat your Instant Pot over the sauté function. (See notes for baking and slow cooker instructions)
- When hot, add the oil.2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- Add the pork roast and sear on all sides, approximately 3 minutes per side.
- Remove the pork from the pot and set aside.
- Add the orange juice and scrape up the bits on the bottom of the pot.¾ cup fresh orange juice
- Add the sliced onions and halved jalapeno to the liquid.1 yellow onion, 1 jalapeno
- Put the pork roast back into the pot.
- Turn off the sauté function. Put the lid on and set to manual pressure for 90 minutes.
- Once cooking is done, let sit on natural release for 15 minutes. Then use manual release to remove the remaining pressure.
- Shred the pork with forks or a hand mixer.
- To sear the pork, mix the shredded pork with a little of the juice, just enough to coat.
- Heat a large skillet over high heat.
- Add the shredded pork and cook to develop color and a crust, approximately 2 minutes. Flip if desired to sear the other side.
- Serve the pork as desired such as for tacos, burritos, nachos, or on its own.
- Warm your tortillas in a large skillet over medium heat until warm and starting to brown. (Alternatively, heat in the microwave in groups of 4-6 for 30 seconds).16 corn tortillas
- Add approximately 1/4 cup of meat (or more as desired) to each taco.
- Top with the cheese and desired toppings. Traditional street tacos use white onion and fresh cilantro. Serve.1 cup cotija cheese, toppings as desired (fresh cilantro, diced white onion, radishes, salsa, guacamole, jalapeno, etc)
- A 2 pound roast will give you around 1.25 pounds of cooked carnitas which is approximately 4 cups of shredded meat, enough for 12-16 tacos.