Quick Look_______________

When you want Mexican food, there's nothing like carnitas, chips, and salsa. When pork shoulder is on sale, I'd recommend making these. There are tons of different carnitas recipes out there. Tradition calls for slow simmering in lard and coke. I've come up with a similar recipe without the lard...
  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 90-120 minutes
  • Difficulty: Intermediate/Easy. You may have to adjust oven temperature/time as there are variances among different ovens. Just make sure it is cooked to tenderness, but not too tender.
  • Labor Intensity: Easy enough to do on your own, though an extra hand or two would be nice to help cut all the meat
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.


  • 12-15 lbs pork shoulder [about $18-$22 on sale]
  • 90 count bag of palm sized corn tortillas [$3-$4 at costco, safeway, wherever] or you can get flour tortillas
  • salt
  • oil
  • coke/pepsi
  • paprika
  • cumin (optional)
  • chili powder (optional)
  • cliantro (optional)
  • Dash of soy sauce (optional)
  • 1-2 onions [under $1]
  • 2-3 limes [about $1]
  • sour cream [$3-4 safeway]
  • shredded cheese [$5 safeway]
  • Total: about $35.00


  • Preheat oven to 425 F
  • Cut the pork into pieces no larger than 2-3 inches on any side
  • Sear all sides of the meat on a hot pan or skillet (while other person cuts meat)
  • Place pork in a baking tray/aluminum tray
  • Pour a little oil to coat the pieces and sprinkle on paprika, cumin, chili powder and whatever seasonings you like
  • Pour in 2-3 cans of coke. It should be about 1/4 inch deep. You may need more or less cans.
  • Cover with foil tightly and place in oven
  • While meat is cooking, dice onions and chop cilantro into 1/2 inch pieces
  • Remove foil after 45 min
  • After 1 hr 30 min, check on the meat, it should be tender. If it is not tender, put back in oven (up to 2.5 hrs total). Add 1 cup water if the pan is dry.
  • Remove from oven, drain, and tear apart the meat.
  • Add seasonings, salt, and pepper to taste (about 1/4 cup salt read here)
  • Squeeze lime over the meat to taste, or you can slice and place wedges on the side
  • Add a dash of soy sauce to make it more savory (optional)
  • Serve with tortillas, sour cream, cheese

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

The coke will add sweetness to the meat, but will be mild as it carmelizes.

There may be alot of oil in the pan at the very end. Drain prior to serving. Leave it in while cooking to keep it moist and prevent it from drying out. For this reason DO NOT trim the fat off when cutting the meat. It will all render into oil which you can drain later. By removing fat, you have a higher chance of undercooked or overcooked meat. You can trim off fat after cooking if it is still there.

The cooking temp/time is largely dependant on how much you are cooking and the type of oven. I can do 6lbs at 375F at my home oven in 1.5 hours. It takes about 3 hours at 550F at the North Loop oven to cook 55lbs. You may need to adjust based on your quantity and oven strength.

You can steam or microwave the tortillas to soften them prior to serving.

[Possible side dish] Serve with salsa, chipotle sauce and tortilla chips


Anonymous said…
Awesome. Simply awesome
Anonymous said…
Conrad Chu said…
I'm using this recipe this Saturday at acts2fellowship's christmas party!


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