This Smoked Carnitas Recipe is a little non-traditional but has a smoky flavor; trust me, it will be love at first bite! The pork is smoked and braised low and slow, making it super tender. Then it gets a little crispy just before serving. It’s perfect for feeding a crowd, whether watching the game or heading out for a summer picnic.
Looking for some other great smoked recipe ideas? Why not check out this simple amazing Italian Marinated Smoked Steak? If you are in the mood for chicken, these Smoked Chicken Thighs are one of our most popular recipes!
Carnitas is the Mexican version of pulled pork. The pork cooks low and slow and braises as it cooks in the smoker. It is so easy to prepare, and the taste, simply fantastic! The meat soaks up all these amazing flavors of the smoker and is perfectly tender and juicy!
HELPFUL ITEMS FOR THIS RECIPE
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Stainless Steel Taco Stand – 4 Pack
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO MAKE smoked carnitas?
You will want a nice pork shoulder roast. This recipe calls for a boneless pork shoulder roast. Just a note: You can use a bone-in roast but make sure it is a little larger. The bone does add flavor as the meat braises and smokes, but you still want about 3 pounds of meat going into the pot to start.
- Pork shoulder roast
- Wheat ale beer
- Fresh limes
- Garlic cloves
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- Fresh rosemary
- Red onion
- Pica de Gallo (or Salsa)
- Spicy mayo
- Corn tortillas
HOW TO PREPARE Smoked Carnitas
It really only takes a few minutes to prepare the pork shoulder for the smoker. And you only need a handful of ingredients too!
Start by preheating your smoker to about 300 degrees F. I like to use hickory or apple wood to smoke pork. Even a combination of the two types of wood, I find, produces a great-tasting result.
Slice the pork into 3-inch to 4-inch pieces. Remove any excess fat as you are dicing the pork. Place the pork pieces into a large dutch oven.
Next, add the garlic, Kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper to the pot. Pour the beer and lime juice over the meat and stir, making sure that everything is mixed well.
Add a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary to the pot and place uncovered on the grill of your preheated smoker. Smoke for about 3 1/2 hours, or until the pork easily shreds and is fall apart tender.
Remove the dutch oven from the smoker and increase the temperature to 375 degrees F. Take the pork out of the dutch oven and place it into a large bowl. Using a pair of forks, pull the pork apart into bite-sized pieces.
Drain and discard the cooking liquid from the dutch oven but do not wash it out. Return the shredded pork to the pot and add the butter, stirring to combine. Return the pot to the smoker and smoke uncovered for an additional 25 – 30 minutes. Make sure that you stir the pork 2 to 3 times so that it cooks and the butter is distributed evenly.
Remove the pork from the smoker and let it rest for about 10 minutes. This will allow the juices from the meat to redistribute, and your pork will be tender and juicy.
Preparing to serve the smoked carnitas
While the pork is resting, you can prepare all the toppings for your smoked pork carnitas tacos. I like to wrap the corn tortilla in foil and heat them on the grill or in a toaster oven for a few minutes. This helps to soften them up and brings out more of that wonderful corn flavor.
Next, thinly slice the red onion and radishes and place them into small bowls so everyone can top their carnitas tacos the way that they like. If you find the red onions and radishes a bit too strong, you can always do a quick pickle for both the RED ONION and the RADISHES. The taste of these is off the chart!
Set out a bowl of Pica de Gallo or, if you prefer, SALSA and chopped cilantro. To finish the carnitas, I like to have the option of drizzling some spicy mayo over to the top.
You can make your own by combining mayo and sriracha sauce. This lets you make your spicy mayo as spicy or as mild as you like. The store-bought spicy mayo is also very good if you prefer.
Just look at how tender and juicy that beautiful smoked pork shoulder is. Can’t you just taste that delicious smoky flavor?
Serving smoked pork carnitas tacos
There are a couple of ways you can serve these smoked carnitas tacos. You can build them and serve them to your guest, or you can allow your guests to build their own. I have to admit I prefer to let everyone build their own.
Firstly, it frees me up from having to make all the tacos myself. Secondly, this lets everyone put as much or as little of the meat and toppings on their tacos as they like. If someone doesn’t like radishes, they don’t have to have them. If someone wants more meat, they can put an extra spoonful on their tortilla.
Look at how good that looks! The superlative smoked pork carnitas is on the bottom. The fresh Pica de Gallo. The thinly sliced red onions and radishes. Garnished with a sprinkling of chopped cilantro and finished with a squirt of spicy mayo.
The only thing left to do is to squeeze a little fresh lime juice over top and dig in!
Pin it HERE!!
Pin it HERE!!
Smoked Carnitas Recipe
This smoked carnitas recipe may stray a little from an authentic recipe from Mexico, but the taste is simply amazing!
- 3 lbs. pork shoulder
- 2 - 12oz wheat ale beer (like Blue Moon)
- 2 limes, juiced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 2 large sprigs of rosemary
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup sliced radishes
- ½ cup Pico de Gallo
- 1 lime, sliced in wedges
- ½ cup spicy mayo
- ½ bunch of cilantro, chopped
- 12 corn tortillas
- Preheat the smoker to 300* with the lid closed for 15 minutes. Add your choice of wood for smoking. I prefer hickory or apple wood or a combination of the two.
- Slice the pork into 3-4" chunks. Remove the fat and discard. Add pork to a large Dutch oven.
- Add the minced garlic, Kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper and stir.
- Next, pour the beer and lime juice over the pork and place the sprigs of fresh rosemary on top.
- Place the Dutch oven into the smoker uncovered to allow for the maximum smoky flavor to infuse into the meat.
- Smoke for 3 ½ hours or until pork is tender and easily shreds.
- Remove the Dutch oven from the smoker and increase the smoker temperature to 375*
- Remove the pork from the Dutch oven and place it in a large bowl. Break apart/shred into 1" bite-sized pieces.
- Drain and discard the liquid from the Dutch oven and add the butter to the pot, don't wash the pot. You want all that flavor to remain as you continue to cook the pork. Return the pot to the smoker to heat as you finish shredding the pork.
- Add shredded pork to the Dutch oven and smoke for 25 – 30 minutes. Stir 2-3 times in between to ensure the pork cooks evenly and the butter is distributed throughout the pork.
- Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes.
- While the pork rests, prepare your taco toppings.
- Wrap the corn tortillas in foil and heat on the grill or toaster oven until warmed through.
- Thinly slice the red onion and the radishes, chop the cilantro, cut the lime into wedges, and have the Pico de Gallo and spicy mayo ready.
- Add a heaping spoonful of carnitas to the tortillas. Top with sliced red onions, radishes, Pico de Gallo, and cilantro. Drizzle with spicy mayo and a squeeze of lime wedge. Enjoy!
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Taco Holders 4 Packs - Stainless Steel Taco Stand Rack Tray Style by ARTTHOME, Oven Safe for Baking, Dishwasher and Grill Safe
Lodge L8DOL3 Cast Iron Dutch Oven with Dual Handles, Pre-Seasoned, 5-Quart
Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical Propane Smoker with Temperature & Smoke Control, Four Removable Shelves, 36", Black
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 513Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 113mgSodium: 529mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 3gSugar: 1gProtein: 29g
Recipe calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is estimation only. If you need nutritional calculations for medical reasons, please use a source that you trust
This is, without a doubt, the way to turn a large piece of meat into many delicious meals. Since we had a 6 lb shoulder we doubled the recipe. Used out homemade sour Berlinerweisse and upped the salt just a bit and it turned out great. We had in a giant burrito and now I’m planning on all the delicious treats I can use this amazing smoked pork in.
Ken Noland says
Awesome! Glad you like it!