Crispy Carnitas

Crispy Carnitas

Crispy Carnitas

The secret to perfect carnitas: a crispy crust on one side and tender meat on the other side. You need two tools to achieve this – a crock pot and a cast iron skillet. Together, these two can make magic happen on your taste buds. Make my 3-ingredient Paleo Naan – use it as a tortilla – and you’ve got one tasty taco.

carnitas-cast-ironI make carnitas all the time and they’re always a huge hit. This recipe though is by far my favorite. I think the it’s the combination of orange and lime juice mixed with spices like cinnamon and bay leaf that make it extra awesome. This is a great dish to make when you have guests visiting – because the crock pot does all the cooking. Once you’re ready to serve, just fry the meat on high heat in your cast iron skillet and then squeeze a little fresh lime juice on top. Perfection.

I recently made these carnitas when my in-laws came to visit us in Morgantown. They’re not paleo-eaters but they loved the dish! Roby and I took the fam to Coopers Rock and to Fallingwater in nearby Union Mill, PA. It was such a lovely weekend.



When we first moved to West Virginia, we weren’t sure what to expect. We had heard all these negative things – ‘there’s nothing to do,’ ‘just a bunch of rednecks’, etc. To all our friends who have and continue to make jokes… West Virginians are the brilliant ones – they’re probably starting these rumors to keep people like us from invading this beautiful and breathtaking state.

Coopers Rock

Coopers Rock

I’m looking forward to having more friends/family visit, so that we can show them around the area and also so that we can eat these carnitas again.

Crispy Carnitas
  • 3 pounds pork loin roast (you can also use pork shoulder or pork butt)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, adjust to taste
  • ½ teaspoon pepper, adjust to taste
  • 2 teaspoons Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin Powder
  • ½ teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced (I used my garlic press)
  • 1 serrano pepper, chopped
  • 2 oranges, juice
  • 1 lime, juice
  • 3 tbs Grassfed Organic Ghee (or as much as you need to fry your meat)
  1. Rinse and dry the pork loin roast or pork shoulder.
  2. Put the pork in your crock pot and add salt, pepper, oregano, cumin and chili powder to both sides of the meat.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, serrano pepper, bay leaf and cinnamon stick on top.
  4. Squeeze the oranges and lime on top and then cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8.
  5. Shred the meat with two forks. Heat ghee in a skillet and fry the meat on one side until golden and crispy.
  6. Reserve the juices in the crockpot and pour some on top of the meat. Squeeze lime juice on top and serve.


  1. GreenMonkey says

    I have a great carnita recipe but I think I want to try yours tonight. I just took the pork butt out to thaw.

    I love Cooper’s Rock; my brother arranged to have his wedding there and I photographed the event. What a beautiful experience all around. I spend many hours tromping around in those woods and climbing the rocks. Sounds like you and your family got a kick start on the Fall season in Morgantown. But we won’t talk about how beautiful the area can be at this time of the year… it could attract others.

    Do you know the story of how Cooper’s Rock got it’s name? Legend has it a man who was a cooper (barrel maker) by trade was wanted for some crime and hid out in that area to elude the authorities. You can imagine it took some time to find him (if they ever did).

    I am excited to try this recipe and will report back.

    • says

      Coopers Rock seems like the perfect place for an outdoor wedding! I’m sure it was a beautiful event. I can’t imagine how gorgeous it’s going to look in the fall when the leaves start changing colors. I think we’ll have to start going to Coopers on a regular basis. I’m already looking forward to going back and hiking some of the trails. I’ve heard the Rattlesnake trail is a fun one – are there any you suggest?

      Also, I hadn’t heard how Coopers Rock got its name. Thanks for sharing – that will be a fun story to tell when we have visitors come over!

      I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of the recipe. I hope you like it!

  2. GreenMonkey says

    Hello Ashley,
    Just wanted to follow up on my experience with this recipe. I am still enjoying the roast I made using this recipe. I had never used the orange and lime juice in past recipes and I found it tended to brighten the flavor profile. I do not take the extra step to crisp the meat after it has roasted; I just partially shred it and eat it that way. I like the juices that are produced from a slow and low roast and store them with the shredded meat.
    This recipe will be a keeper; I am thinking of trying it with a beef roast sometime.

  3. Janet says

    I just made this recipe, and it was amazing. Worth the bit of extra time to crisp it on the cast iron. I used coconut oil as I didn’t have ghee, and that worked great too. Keep the recipes coming!

  4. Erin says

    Excited to try this!
    I also live in Morgantown and love that you are doing this! My husband and I have been eating paleo for nearly a year now and it has made a huge difference in our life. As a Crohn’s patient for several years, I was amazed at how much better I felt after the switch! Morgantown needs a paleo restaurant! Keep it up!

    • says

      Erin, that’s awesome! I agree, Morgantown does need a paleo restaurant! I think Atomic Grill is probably the closest thing we’ve got to it. Have you been to Street Meatz (food truck near Ace hardware) yet? They sell grassfed burgers and they’ll make them into a salad for you.

  5. says

    Hi Sarah, we usually just eat it with paleo naan and top it with lettuce, salsa and avocado. If I do make something to go along with it, it’s usually just a salad. Hope that helps!


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