Pork carnitas is the perfect base for a delicious keto meal.
Whether you want to make a keto carnitas bowl, have keto-friendly taco night, or feed a crowd, this pulled pork recipe will provide you with the perfect balance of fat, flavor, and spice you expect from a Mexican-inspired dish.
Just make sure to skip the rice, tortillas, beans, and any other starchy additives that typically accompany carnitas. You won’t miss them anyway!
Can You Eat Carnitas on Keto?
Carnitas is a Mexican slow-cooked pulled pork dish that is typically served with rice, beans, and tortillas. The pulled pork on it own is very low in carbs and keto-friendly, but its accompaniments are often filled with net carbs.
Though carnitas pork is tasty enough on its own, we wanted make every aspect of the dish 100% keto. This way you can have carnitas tacos or a Chipotle-inspired carnitas bowl without any compromises.
How to Make the Best Keto Carnitas
By following the recipe as is, you’ll be able to make a delicious keto pork dish every time. However, there are a few tips to keep in mind if you want to enhance the quality even further:
- Consider the quality of your meat. High-quality, pasture-raised pork tends to be richer, healthier, and more flavorful than conventionally-raised pork. Plus, you’ll be supporting animal welfare and a healthier environment.
- Brown the meat. Don’t forget to sear your meat before cooking and broil it afterward. This is the secret to unlocking a ton of extra flavor.
- Use the magic of acid. Don’t forget to finish off your carnitas with some extra lime juice. The acid helps to balance out the richness of the pork while adding more flavor.
- Add some tangy sweetness. If you don’t mind the extra net carbs, add ½ to a whole orange to your carnitas along with the other listed spices and herbs. Just squeeze out the juice and toss the orange pieces in before cooking. Alternatively, consider using only the zest of the orange if you want to keep carbs minimal.
- Don’t forget the keto tortillas, toppings, and sides. Check out the next section for a list of some keto-friendly ideas.
What to Serve with Your Keto Carnitas
Now you know how to pull off the perfect pork carnitas, but how do you turn that into a complete keto meal without the carb counts climbing? Here are some of my favorite low-carb options:
- Keto-friendly tacos — Make Low Carb Flax Tortillas or try these coconut flour keto tortillas. Fill them with your carnitas pork and garnish with fresh salsa, pickled jalapenos, fresh cilantro, and lime juice.
- Lettuce wraps — For a quick keto taco shell hack, just use some large romaine lettuce spears or butter lettuce leaves. I find that the freshness of these greens works wonderfully with the richness of carnitas.
- Guacamole — Whether you are making a carnitas bowl or tacos, don’t forget the keto guacamole.
- Low-carb vegetables — Carnitas will pair well with most veggies. Use our keto-friendly vegetable list to find the right options for you. Add them to your tacos, serve them on the side, or put them in your keto carnitas bowl.
- Cauliflower rice — If you miss having rice, try making cauliflower rice. Serve it as a keto-friendly side or use it as the base for your carnitas bowl. Plus, it absorbs more of the flavorful cooking liquid that’s leftover.
If you want to discover more flavorful ideas, check out our comprehensive guide to keto-friendly Mexican food.
How Can I Make Keto Carnitas in my Instant Pot?
No Crock Pot/Slow Cooker? Simply cook everything in your instant pot. Use the saute button to brown the pork, and cook for 30 minutes using the ‘meat’ function. Let the pressure naturally release. Extra instructions are included below.
Yields 8 servings of Keto Carnitas
- 36 ounce pork shoulder
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 medium limes
- 1 medium jalapeno, seeded and diced
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
1. Gather all of your ingredients together and prep as needed.
2. Pat your meat dry with paper towels, then slice into large cubes.
3. Season the meat with salt and pepper, then set aside.
4. In a pan, heat half of the olive oil over high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the cubes of pork and sear the meat for 3-4 minutes or until browned on all sides.
Note: If using an Instant Pot, you can do this using the Saute function on the Instant Pot.
5. Work in small batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Repeat this process with all of the pork.
6. Transfer the pork to a slow cooker, then add all the remaining ingredients, juicing the limes over the pork and seasoning with more salt if desired.
7. Stir all of the ingredients together so they’re evenly mixed.
8. Turn the slow cooker on low and cook for 6 hours.
Note: If using an Instant Pot, cook for 30 minutes using the ‘Meat’ function. Allow pressure to release naturally (for about 15 minutes) once finished.
9. Remove the pork and place on a baking sheet. Shred lightly with 2 forks, spooning some of the cooking juices over the top, then broil in the oven for 3-4 minutes until slightly browned.
10. Serve as desired! I would recommend spooning some of the cooking mixture over the pork in whichever application (lettuce wraps, homemade keto tortillas, over cauliflower rice) you’re using to eat. You can cook the mixture down further in a pan to concentrate the flavor.
This makes a total of 8 servings of Keto Carnitas. Each serving comes out to be 417 calories, 30.9g fats, 2.8g net carbs, and 30.3g protein.
|36 ounce pork shoulder||2978||218||0||0||0||237|
|2 tablespoon olive oil||239||27||0||0||0||0|
|1 tablespoon kosher salt||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|1/2 teaspoon black pepper||2.6||0||0.7||0.3||0.4||0.1|
|1 cup chicken broth||15||0.5||1.1||0||1.1||1.6|
|2 medium limes||23||0.1||7.8||0.4||7.4||0.4|
|1 medium jalapeno||4.1||0.1||0.9||0.4||0.5||0.1|
|1 medium red onion, diced||41||0.2||9.5||1.3||8.2||1.3|
|3 cloves garlic, minced||13||0.1||3||0.2||2.8||0.6|
|1 teaspoon smoked paprika||6.4||0.3||1.2||0.8||0.4||0.3|
|1 teaspoon dried parsley||1.5||0||0.3||0.1||0.2||0.1|
|1 teaspoon dried oregano||3.7||0.1||1||0.6||0.4||0.1|
|1 teaspoon ground cumin||7.7||0.5||0.9||0.2||0.7||0.4|
|Per Serving (/8)||416.9||30.9||3.3||0.5||2.8||30.3|