Gluten Free Carnitas I resisted the slow cooker for so, so long. It’s not that I thought a gazillion people who love love love their slow cookers were wrong. It’s just … I thought I just didn’t like soup enough to get one. I kind of thought that’s all your really made in a slow cooker.

This fragrant, intensely flavorful Mexican carnitas recipe is pretty much proof positive of that very fact. Well, this recipe and the fact that you can make gluten free bread in your slow cooker. Don’t have a slow cooker?

You can easily make these carnitas on the stovetop. Did I mention that you can make the meat up to a few days ahead of time and just store it in the cooking liquid in a sealed container in the refrigerator for at least 2 days? Yeah. You can.

Gluten Free Carnitas

I served these on the Gluten Free Flour Tortillas from GFOAS Bakes Bread, which is clearly the traditional way to serve them. But I am fully convinced they would be spectacular on naan.

Gluten Free Carnitas

Speaking of traditional, I cooked the shredded meat in a single layer on a baking sheet in the oven, since I just couldn’t bring myself to shallow fry it in lard (although oh my gosh how good would that be??). If you’re a purist, though, go for it! And then invite me over. I’d love at least a taste…

Gluten Free Carnitas

Whichever way you go, these carnitas will fill your home with the most wonderful smells and make everyone hungry for Mexican food all.day.long.

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 6 to 8 servings


4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon dried oregano, crushed

3/4 teaspoon ground chili powder

2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika (optional)

2 tablespoons (26 g) packed light brown sugar

1 4-pound pork roast (or 2 2-pound pork tenderloin)

2 bay leaves

3 to 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 recipe Gluten Free Flour Tortillas from GFOAS Bakes Bread


For serving: chopped tomatoes, diced avocados, chopped fresh cilantro and lime


  • In a medium-size bowl, place the minced garlic and salt, and press together into a paste with the back of a large spoon. Add the cumin, oregano, chili powder, paprika and brown sugar, and mix to combine well. Rub the mixed spices all over the raw pork. In the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker (or a large, heavy-bottom stockpot on the stovetop), place the bay leaves, and then the pork on top of the bay leaves. If using the slow cooker, pour 3 cups of stock into the basin, taking care not to wash all of the spices off the pork. If using a stockpot on the stovetop, use all 4 cups of stock.

  • If using a slow cooker, cover and cook on low for about 9 hours, or until the pork is tender and falling apart. If using a stockpot on the stovetop, cover and cook on medium-low heat for about 3 hours, or until the pork is tender and falling apart. As soon as the pork is done by either method, using tongs, remove just the pork from the pot and place on a large, clean surface. While it is still hot, shred the pork by holding the meat with the tongs in one hand and pulling the meat apart with a fork in the other hand. Set the meat aside. Discard the bay leaves from the pot, and strain the rest of the liquid into a medium-size saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by about one-third. At this point, the meat can be stored, in the reduced liquid, in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to serve. When ready to serve, simply remove from the liquid and continue with the rest of the recipe.

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Place the shredded meat on a large, parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the preheated oven to bake until just beginning to brown and crisp (about 15 minutes). Remove the meat from the oven and drizzle with the reduced cooking liquid. Divide the meat among the flour tortillas, add the chopped tomatoes and avocados, sprinkle with chopped cilantro and drizzle with more liquid before serving. Serve with lime.

  • Adapted from allrecipes.com.



P.S. Which Gluten-Free on a Shoestring cookbooks do you have? There are 3! Won’t you consider picking up yours today? xoxo Nicole

Comments are closed.

  • Lucy
    August 15, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    I’m happy Nicole that you found a new relationship with the slow cooker! I have been using ours all summer, with the extreme heat the slow cooker is a great kitchen helper :)
    I may also be in the market for a tortilla press, which do you recommend?

    • August 17, 2014 at 9:52 AM

      I have a Vasconia tortilla press, Lucy, but although I love it for fresh corn tortillas, I do not like it for flour tortillas at all. It just doesn’t get them thin enough. Hope that helps!

  • anna
    August 14, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    Carnitas!!!! I need these in my life. Made your tortillas a couple weeks ago. I’m considering getting a tortilla press because I couldnt – or, let’s be honest, was too impatient to – roll them out thin enough. Your recipe made me 7 tortillas (eek! I know)… They were thick but abosultely delicious. My gluteny roommate said they had way better flavor and texture than the store bought ones she gets.

    • Michelle
      August 14, 2014 at 3:14 PM

      I hate to be negative, but I have tried them on my press, and just couldn’t get them thin enough. The press works great for corn tortillas, though.

      • August 17, 2014 at 9:53 AM

        I agree with Michelle, anna! The press just isn’t great for flour tortillas. A rolling pin and some elbow grease go a long way! It gets faster and faster the more you do it, but if you made them kind of thick but they were still pliable, I’d say leave well enough alone!

        • anna
          August 18, 2014 at 12:43 PM

          Bummer. Thank you both for the replies! You just saved me the price of a tortilla press :) Ill just have to learn to be patient, or make them thick. They really were delicious. A little crackly but they held up just fine and had a nice chew to them.

  • Mare Masterson
    August 14, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    Oh how I wish (especially after my day yesterday) that I could retire and just stay home and prepare fresh awesome gluten free meals and breads, tortillas, bagels, etc. and desserts. I would love to learn to garden and not kill things. I wish I was home right now prepping this to go in the crock pot! Sigh!

    • August 17, 2014 at 9:54 AM

      My husband is the gardener, Mare! And although it’s lovely (and cost-effective) to grow from seeds like he does, at one point every summer it’s a race against the clock to use all the vegetables without them going bad. Very stressful! Well, not in the grand scheme, but you know what I mean. ;)

      • Mare Masterson
        August 19, 2014 at 12:47 PM

        My brother came home from Thailand (Vietnam war) with my sister-in-law. Both he and my SIL planted a garden. I still can taste those veggies! We have a big family (I am youngest of 7), so there was no issue with struggling to use! However, I know people who grow and freeze to have during the winter. This is what a friend does with chard and spinach:
        I wash it, chop it roughly (I don’t like the ribs so i cut them out)
        and then I put a bunch in a bowl, cover with saran wrap, and microwave
        about 2 minutes. Pull it out – careful it’s HOT – let it cool a
        bit, drain or wring most of water out, then put in a ziplock bag and
        put in freezer. I put 2 of these “lumps” usually. To use, you can cut
        it smaller while still frozen. I put it mostly in soup or pasta dishes,
        but have also eaten it as a veggie with vinegar, or in a cream sauce. I
        do the same with spinach.

  • Jennifer S.
    August 14, 2014 at 10:46 AM

    I love carnitas but I’m so used to them in a burrito bowl that I’ll serve it like that. The kids like the tortillas though and beg me to make them for them…. we all love your fabulous recipes!! :)

    • August 17, 2014 at 9:54 AM

      I bet they have many fewer points without the tortillas, Jennifer! ;)

      • Jennifer S.
        August 21, 2014 at 11:15 AM

        So not doing WW anymore – dieting would have been the death of me.

  • Michelle
    August 14, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    Yum! Great excuse to make those yummy tortillas! You can also do a whole chicken (on a bed of onions or something to keep it up so it doesn’t stew in its juices) and it ends up like a rotisserie chicken, or a beef roast for shredded beef tacos, salads, or sandwiches (traditionally on sourdough rolls w/ red salsa) I actually don’t like cooking soup in my crock pot because the veggies get too mushy, but it’s so darn hot here in the summer I use it for slow-roasting.

    • MIchelle
      August 14, 2014 at 10:40 AM

      I think I forgot to tell you, but i made the yeasted waffles (my fav waffle recipe) a few weeks ago and substituted a little cornmeal for the flour. SO good, and delicious with blueberries.

    • Jennifer S.
      August 14, 2014 at 10:47 AM

      Michelle: I mainly use my crockpot for slow roasting meats too – maybe it’s a MN thing, I’m not sure… thanks for all your tips about adding extra liquid to my breads – they are turning out amazing!!!

      • Michelle
        August 14, 2014 at 11:55 AM

        I am a 6th generation west coaster- didn’t even know what hotdish was until about 10 years ago- but I did get the chicken recipe from a midwesterner. I am so glad your breads are coming out well. It is so dry here, I think all of my dry ingredients are very dry, so the extra liquid helps. It has been perfect bread weather lately. I made some beautiful English muffin bread the other day and have some ricotta bread dough in the fridge. They both rose like crazy!

  • Donia Robinson
    August 14, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    Reducing the juices is a nice touch here. I want to use that flavorful goodness, but it’s so soupy! This looks terrific!

    • August 17, 2014 at 9:55 AM

      I can’t bring myself to throw out all those juices outright, Donia! Like you said, so delicious but too soupy without reducing them. :)

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