Learn how to make Mexican carnitas the easy way. Enjoy the tender meat with rice, egg and a simple salad.

Carnitas: Mexican "Little Meats"

Updated from two earlier versions published in 2011 and 2016, respectively.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword baked
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Servings 4
Author Connie Veneracion


  • 1 kilogram fatty pork (I like belly)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic lightly smashed
  • 2 bay leaves


  • Start by cutting the pork. I suggest two- to three-inch cubes. Season liberally with salt and black pepper. Place in a covered container and allow to sit in the fridge overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 300F.
  • Arrange the pork cubes in an oven-proof pan in a single layer. Add the crushed garlic and bay leaves. Cover the pan tightly with foil and cook the pork for an hour and a half to two hours. 
  • Take the pork out of the oven. 
  • Turn up the oven temperature to 450F.
  • Separate the meat from the fat. I suggest, however, that you do not dispense with all the fat. Discard the garlic cloves and bay leaves. 
  • Take the meat (with a little fat) and transfer to a large tray. Using two forks or your CLEAN fingers, pull the meat apart to create shreds.
  • Return the pork to the oven and cook, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes or until the meat is nicely browned and lightly crisp. Optionally, pull apart again for finer shreds.
  • Serve the carnitas as a main dish (great as rice topping) or a filling for tacos, burritos or enchiladas.