Zesty Salsa Verde Pork Carnitas Recipe | What's Cookin' Chicago (2024)

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Bethanie Bate · | Last updated

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There’s something about Mexican cuisine we really love. Perhaps its how Mexican cuisine is somewhat similar to Filipino cuisine with the heavy use of meats and rice. In fact, we love the seasonings of Mexican meats and prefer eating them with steamed white or brown rice over tortillas. (I guess it’s the Asian thing in us where everything seems to taste better with rice- lol.) With that said, pork carnitas is one of our favorite Mexican dishes. Instead of the traditional preparation, I made this Salsa Verde Pork Carnitas recipe and it was a hit! The Baron loves salsa verde so it was a nice way to incorporate it as a flavoring instead of a condiment…

Zesty Salsa Verde Pork Carnitas Recipe | What's Cookin' Chicago (1)

Salsas are great as an accompaniment to chips or a condiment with Mexican fare. But using salsa verde in this recipe reminded me how great salsas can be to jump-start
a sauce or marinade. This recipe is super simple since everything gets placed in a slow cooker and cooks away with little effort on your part. The sauce is so flavorful and has a nice depth of smokiness, thanks to the salsa and the cumin in the dish. Pork shoulder and pork butt are perfect cuts to braise and slow cook, resulting in tender, juicy meat that soaks up the goodness in the salsa verde sauce. This is a great dish to kick off the fall slow cooker season… and makes for a nice change of pace from the usual pulled pork recipe!


Zesty Salsa Verde Pork Carnitas Recipe | What's Cookin' Chicago (2)

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Zesty Salsa Verde Pork Carnitas Recipe

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  • Total Time: 1 hour


Units Scale

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Sazon seasoning (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 1/4 pounds boneless Boston butt pork roast, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bottle (15 oz.) salsa verde + more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus some leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine the tomato paste, salt, pepper, Sazon, cumin, oregano and minced garlic in a large Dutch oven; add the pork roast and turn to coat in mixture.
  3. Pour chicken broth and salsa verde over coated pork mixture. Cover and bake at 350° for 1 1/2 hours or until pork is very tender.
  4. Transfer pork mixture to a 13 x 9-inch baking dish, and cool to room temperature. Cover and chill for 8 hours or overnight.
  5. Meanwhile, skim and discard fat from pan juices. Remove the pork from the dutch oven and tent with foil to keep warm.
  6. Pour juices into a sauce pan. Boil juices, stirring, until reduced to 2 3/4 cups, 8 to 10 minutes.
  7. With 2 forks, tear meat into large shreds. Add to sauce pan and stir in chopped cilantro. Season with salt. Spoon into a serving bowl and sprinkle with cilantro leaves. Serve with tortillas (or rice!) and more salsa verde.
  8. Alternately, you can cook this in a slow cooker. Simply place all the ingredients in the slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Chill, skim and discard fat from pan juices and shred. Continue preparing as called in the recipe.
  • Author: Jody Richards
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes

Keywords: pork carnitas

Preparing the Pork for Your Carnitas

Choosing the Right Cut

The pork shoulder is a crowd-pleaser, with its balanced mix of meat and fat.


A 3-lb (1.36 kg) cut should serve about 6 people.

Prepping Steps

Trim excess fat and cut the pork into 2-inch chunks.

Making the Salsa Verde

Fresh vs. Canned

Homemade is always best, but a jar from the store can also work in a pinch.


For homemade, you’ll need about 10 tomatillos, 2 green chilies, and 2 cloves of garlic.

The Spice Factor

Feeling brave? Add an extra chili.

Tips for Making The Perfect Pork Carnitas

Seasoning and Spices

Salt and Pepper

Start with the measurements listed, and adjust to taste.

Additional Flavors

Adding a bay leaf or a dash of paprika can elevate the dish.


Keep spices to about 1 tsp (5 mL) each for a balanced flavor profile.

Tenderizing the Meat

How Long to Cook

See the cooking methods section above.

Checking for Doneness

Your fork should go through the meat like butter.

Shredding the Pork

The Importance of Texture

Shredding helps the meat soak up all the flavors.


The classic two-fork method always works well.

Blending Flavors

Mixing Pork and Salsa

Combine in a pot and let them get cozy for about 20-30 minutes.

Resting Time

The longer you let it sit, the better it gets.

Serving Suggestions

Traditional Ways

Classic corn tortillas or rice are my go-tos.

Modern Twists

How about a Salsa Verde Pork Carnitas salad or quesadilla?

Nutritional Benefits of Pork Carnitas

Protein Content

A single serving can offer up to 22 grams of protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

Rich in Vitamin B6, zinc, and phosphorus.

Recipe Variations

Vegan Options

Believe it or not, jackfruit makes an excellent stand-in.

Low-Calorie Adaptations

Opt for a leaner cut and less oil.

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  • Tinga de Puerco Spicy Pork Tinga Enchiladas
  • The Perfect Pork Nilaga Recipe

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  1. Zesty Salsa Verde Pork Carnitas Recipe | What's Cookin' Chicago (3)Astalith says

    There appears to be a step missing from the recipe. It goes from chilling the pork to removing it from a slow cooker and keeping warm… there is no previous mention of a slow cooker. How do you reheat the pork? In the original recipe on Cooking Light, you reheat the pork in a skillet. Do you use a slow cooker instead?



  2. Zesty Salsa Verde Pork Carnitas Recipe | What's Cookin' Chicago (4)What's Cookin Chicago says

    @Erin – thanks for your comment! I've added the directions for the slow cooker to clarify. Hope this helps!


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