Restaurant Style Carnitas Tacos

Restaurant Style Carnitas Tacos

One of my step daughters favorite meals is tacos. If it were up to her we would have them daily. Now don’t get me wrong, a classic ground beef taco with cheese, sour cream, and all the fixin’s will satisfy that taco spot. BUT sometimes you want something AMPED UP. Something restaurant worthy. You want your taco to feel fancy, look fancy and taste fancy too. Enter these carnitas tacos. I’m telling you…these are LEGIT. They taste like they came straight from your favorite taco joint and will definitely get you out of your taco rut!

Four white corn tortillas loaded with carnitas meat and topped with cilantro, quest fresco, white onion and green salsa on a round white plate with lime slices on the side

The Inspiration

The idea for these tacos came to me gradually. My step daughter had been asking for tacos weekly, like normal, but each time I found myself saying “sorry not this week”. I was making more and more simple dinners with stuff I knew she would eat just so I could avoid tacos!! Stuff like a whole roasted chicken with veggies and rice, or simple buttered noodles with chicken cutlets on the side. All things I knew she would eat that would keep the “T” word from coming up around dinner time. Was I losing my love for tacos?! That would just be a travesty wouldn’t it??

Then one day it hit me. It wasn’t that I was losing my love for tacos, it was that I was craving a taco that was out of my norm.


It was perfect. I knew they had to be perfect. How do I make them perfect? Tender flavorful meat-absolutely. Tortilla type- corn for sure. Topping options- keep it clean and simple. I was inspired by one of my favorite tacos from a restaurant called Don Juans. The taco is so simple its absurd that it could taste that good. Shredded chicken on a corn tortilla with cilantro and onion. THATS IT! Thats exactly what I was going for and these carnitas tacos are it!!

Make those tacos, NOW!

You would be surprised how easy the process is. First, you want to start with a nice sized pork shoulder. Then you start as you do most meat recipes, with salt and pepper. Make sure you season the pork nicely and add it to a pan with some oil. Now you’ll want to get it a nice color on all sides…this helps to develop the flavor in the meat. Next add in all the spices, seasonings and beer, put a lid on it and let it go. The pork will cook for multiple hours on low heat before it becomes carnitas.

Three white corn tortillas loaded with carnitas meat and topped with cilantro, quest fresco, white onion and green salsa.

Watch the clock…tick tick tick…just kidding! Go occupy yourself. Set and forget people!

Now that multiple hours have passed, you’re ready to shred it! The pork should easily pull apart. The juices that were released while it was cooking will slowly be absorbed back into the shredded meat so don’t worry if it looks like a lot. Remove the pieces of jalapeño and bay leaves and you’re ready to go! Add the meat to a warmed corn tortilla and add chopped cilantro, diced white onion, quest fresco, and some salsa if you’d like. But honestly, the carnitas are SO FLAVORFUL that they could be eaten alone.

That’s all she wrote

That’s it! Surprisingly simple but restaurant worthy carnitas tacos that will become part of your dinner repertoire in no time.

Restaurant Style Carnitas Tacos

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time6 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: carnitas, tacos


  • 4 lb pork shoulder
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • juice of 1 orange
  • juice of 1 lime zested
  • 5 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 large onion quartered
  • 1 jalapeno halved and seeded
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp adobo
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • tsp aleppo pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp marjoram
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste for the outter layer of the pork
  • 6 oz beer


  • Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add in the EVOO
  • Liberally season the outside of the pork with salt and pepper.
  • Add the pork into the dutch oven and brown on all sides
  • Once all sides are browned, remove the pork from the dutch oven and set aside.
  • Add all the seasonings, citrus and veggies to the hot dutch oven and toast for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the pork back into the dutch oven and top with the beer. Make sure that all the seasonings are incorporated
  • Turn the heat down to low, put the lid on the dutch oven, and let it sit on low for 5-6 hours. You'll know it is done when it is easily shredding with a fork.
  • Once done, shred the meat with two forks. Pull out the pieces of jalapeño and bay leaves.
  • Allow to cook 30 minutes more just to absorb some of the juices that cooked out. Lid off, low heat.
  • Meanwhile, prep whatever taco toppings you're using and heat your shells
  • Add the meat to the shells, top with your toppings and ENJOY!


I kept my toppings simple- cilantro, raw onion, crumbled quest fresco and a green salsa and loaded it onto white corn tortillas. 
This recipe makes a crap ton of tacos but that’s okay because the leftovers are even better.

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