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These Carnitas Tacos Pack a Flavorful Protein Punch

Nutritional Info

35 grams
18 grams
48 grams
23 grams

Note: These values represent one serving of two tacos.

Carnitas tacos recipe
Carnitas tacos | Photo by Kinsy Rosati

By Kinsy Rosati

Getting lean doesn’t mean you have to cut out taco night—or that you have to make boring tacos that don’t include rich, flavorful ingredients. Case-in-point: these mouthwatering carnitas tacos. 

Carnitas translates to “little meats” and is a Mexican dish featuring pork shoulder that is slowly braised in its own juices and seasonings until it’s fork-tender. Once the pork shoulder has braised for a few hours and is shredded, the heat is then turned up, crisping the pork.  

With spices such as ancho chile to give this dish its earthy flavor and chipotle chile seasoning to add a hint of sweetness and smoke, these carnitas are a flavor bomb. You’ll wrap the carnitas in warm tortillas and top with fresh ingredients including tomatoes, red onions, and cilantro for a protein-packed meal.

To cut down on carbs, use low-carb tortillas such as these, or go further and serve them up in lettuce wraps, which will drop the overall carbs to just 23 grams and 446 calories per serving.

You’ll get a whopping 48 grams of protein per serving, along with 18 grams of fiber, a combo that will help keep you full off of just a couple of tacos. 

While the cook time is long, it’s just long enough that you can throw it in the oven while you’re doing other things around the house, and you don’t need to fuss over it. 

You’ll get eight servings out of this recipe, and you’ll be thankful for the leftovers. You can even double the recipe for extra leftovers that you can freeze and use later to top off salads, rice bowls, or wraps, giving your dishes a powerful punch of protein. Why not get more meals without putting in more effort?

Storing Your Leftovers

If you’re going to eat the leftovers within a few days, store them in an airtight container in the fridge, and heat up in the oven or microwave before serving.

For longer-term storage, vacuum-seal individual portions of carnitas and keep them in the freezer. Thaw in the fridge overnight or run the vacuum-sealed bag under cool water before heating in the oven or microwave. They’ll keep in the freezer for up to two months.

Carnitas Tacos with Lime Adobo Slaw Recipe

Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
4.5 hours


For the Carnitas
For the Slaw
For Serving


For the Carnitas

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine all seasonings and mix. Cut the pork shoulder into small fist size pieces. Coat all sides of pork with seasoning mix and place in a dutch oven. Reserve any remaining seasoning to sprinkle on the meat before it goes in the oven.

Add sliced onion, smashed garlic cloves, and bay leaves. Pour in orange juice, sparkling water, and chicken broth. 

Cook uncovered for 2 hours. Remove and flip all pieces and continue cooking an additional 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the meat is fork-tender. Pull out your meat, discard the bone, shred the pork shoulder, and turn up the oven to 400.  

Place the shredded meat on a sheet pan and put it back into the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the meat is crispy.

For the Lime Adobo Slaw

In a large bowl, add shredded cabbage, cilantro, extra virgin olive oil, and lime juice. Start with 2 teaspoons of adobo sauce and add in more as you prefer your spice level. Cut up some of the peppers and add them into your coleslaw to increase the spice. Sprinkle salt and pepper and toss to coat.

For Serving

Add coleslaw to warm tortillas or lettuce wraps. Add carnitas and top with cilantro, onion, and any other toppings you prefer.