Carl’s Carnitas

This is a great low-carb recipe for Carnitas, literally “little meats,” which consists of pork butt cooked in lard with added flavors.

It’s very simple. Get a 3 to 4 pound pork butt from your butcher. The butt is actually the shoulder, but ‘butt’ sounds better, doesn’t it?

Chop it up into 1/2 pound to 1 pound chunks and completely submerge it in a casserole or dutch oven full of melted lard. You heard me. Try to get unprocessed lard with no added trans-fats. It might take a few pounds of lard to get it completely submerged.

Cut an orange in half, squeeze the juice in, and throw the orange halves in, peel and all.

Add 1/2 an onion (cut up or not. up to you), 5 cloves of crushed garlic, half a lime (squeezed just like the orange), 1/2 cup of heavy cream (which I found out you should add after about an hour), and 1 teaspoon of salt.

Slow cook it over low heat, low flame, or an open fire for at least two hours. Don’t let it boil too much. I have a propane range, and I find I have to stack about 4 burner racks on top of each other and keep the fire on low to get just the right heat. If after a few hours the meat isn’t falling apart, continue to cook it for another hour.

Take the meat out and shred it. Crisp it up in a frying pan over medium heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze the other half of the lime over it before serving. Serve as is, or with guacamole, sour cream, lettuce, tomato, cheese, all the usual taco fixins. Just stay away from the tortillas. 🙂

I introduced this recipe on my ketogenic lifestyle podcast with Richard Morris, 2 Keto Dudes.


Print Recipe
Carl's Carnitas
This carnitas recipe is full fat, and that's good. You won't believe how tasty it is.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3.5 hours
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3.5 hours
  1. Cut the pork butt into 1/2 pound sections.
  2. Melt lard over medium heat in a 8-quart dutch oven or large casserole
  3. Submerge pork pieces in melted lard
  4. Cut the orange in half, squeeze into lard and then submerge both orange halves in the lard
  5. Cut the lime in half. Squeeze half the lime into, and then submerge into the lard
  6. Cut onion in half and submerge into the lard, outer skin and all, along with the crushed garlic
  7. Cook over low heat for an hour
  8. Add 1/2 cup heavy cream and salt. Stir to combine
  9. Continue cooking for 2-3 hours over very low heat
  10. Prepare condiments: Bibb lettuce leaves, sour cream, Oaxaca cheese, chopped red peppers, guacamole, lime wedges.
  11. Remove from heat. Remove the meat from the lard. Shred or cut into bite size pieces
  12. Crisp up in a fry pan over medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste
  13. Serve and enjoy

5 Responses to “Carl’s Carnitas

  • Am I correct to assume that the lard is unusable after this recipe, given the addition of cream and everything else that gets thrown in?

  • Could I use a slow cooker on low instead of a Dutch oven on a stove?

  • Kenneth Johnston
    6 years ago

    Made this last night and they came out very good. I used a high temperature to melt the lard then didn’t turn it down enough immediately and I believe that caused the meat to cook faster and form a hard crust on them which I actually loved! I did not have to fry afterwards because I cut the butt in chunks and a crust was already there. Just salted and served. Delicious!

  • Shawn Cooper
    5 years ago

    Thanks for the recipe. It was delicious. When I was looking around at other Carnitas recipes I noticed that America’s Test Kitchen used strips of orange and lime peel instead of the whole fruit (they also squeezed the juice in just like Carl). I was wondering if they did that because the pith of citrus can be quite bitter right? Anyway, I tried they strips method and it worked fine but it didn’t give much citrus flavor. So I’m not sure what is best. I cooked the Carnitas in my electric pressure cooker but on the slow cooker setting. My cooker allows me to adjust the temp and time and so I jacked up the temp at first to get it bubbling and then began lowering the temp in 10 degree increments but kept it gently bubbling until I had it back down to the slow cooker temp (195 F) and let it run there for the last 3 hrs. It was wonderful. Sadly, I didn’t know what processed lard was so I ended up with Snow Cap Lard which is hydrogenated. So we ended up with some trans fats we didn’t want, but I know what to look for next time. Thanks again. Keto On!

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