Tacos de Carnitas

Crispy bits of very flavorful pork is the base for these delicious street tacos.

Tacos de Carnitas


  • 1 (3-4 pound) pork butt
  • 6 cups water
  • 7 strips orange zest
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1 cinnamon stick (preferably Mexican canela)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed oregano leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 24 small corn tortillas, warmed
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Finely chopped white onion
  • Diced fresh tomato


  1. Trim any thick fat from the pork butt. Cut the meat into 1-inch cubes, discarding any that are pure fat, leaving some of the fat for flavor and browning later.
  2. Put the pork cubes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Skim off any foam that forms on the surface during the first 15 minutes. After foam is skimmed off, add the chopped onion, garlic, orange zest, crushed red pepper, cinnamon, bay leaves, oregano, cloves and salt. Simmer uncovered for another 1 1/4 hours until pork is very tender, adding more water if necessary to keep it submerged.
  3. Season with more salt.
  4. Continue simmering at a gentle boil until the water has evaporated, about 30 more minutes. Remove bay leaves and cinnamon. Cook a little longer to fry the meat, stirring often and adding a little water it it seems to be sticking and/or burning.
  5. Spoon some carnitas onto each tortilla. Top tacos with chopped onion, cilantro and diced fresh tomato.
  6. Serve with refried beans and Mexican rice for a genuine taqueria experience.