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Tacos made with carnitas filling
Place of originMexico
Region or stateMichoacan
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsSimmering pork in oil

Carnitas, literally meaning "little meats", is a dish of Mexican cuisine that originated in the state of Michoacán. Carnitas are made by braising or simmering pork in oil or preferably lard until tender. The process takes three to four hours, and the result is very tender and juicy meat, which is then typically served with chopped cilantro (coriander leaves), diced onion, salsa, guacamole, tortillas, and refried beans (frijoles refritos).


Pork carnitas are traditionally made using the heavily marbled, rich Boston butt or picnic ham cuts of pork[1] which is seasoned heavily before slow braising or deep frying. Carnitas can also be made of chicken, using breasts or thighs, and cooking in a similar manner.

The traditional way to cook carnitas is in a thick-bottomed pot with seasonings simmered in lard until tender over a very low heat. When the meat is tender enough the heat is turned up and the outside of the pork begins to crisp. At this stage, the collagen in the meat has broken down sufficiently to allow it to be pulled apart by hand or fork or chopped with a cleaver. The meat can then be used as an ingredient in tamales, tacos, tortas, and burritos.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Carnitas" Archived 2011-09-27 at the Wayback Machine. Food Resource, Oregon State University. Accessed June 2011.

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