Carnitas Tacos with Pickled Red Onions

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Serves 6-8


  • 3.5-4 lb boneless pork butt roast, fat cap trimmed to 1/8 inch thick and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt (more after cooked)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper (more after cooked)
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice, spent orange halves reserved
For serving:


  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300-F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in Dutch oven (liquid should just barely cover meat).
  3. Bring mixture to simmer and over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
  4. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook until meat is soft and falls apart when prodded with fork, about 1.5-2 hours. flipping pieces of meat once during cooking.
  5. Remove pot from oven and turn oven to broil.
  6. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to bowl; discard orange halves, onion, and bay laves (do not skim fat from liquid – the fat will help it during the broil and is used instead of traditional lard).
  7. Being careful of the hot pot handles, place pot over high heat and simmer braising liquid, stirring often, until thick and syrupy, 8-12 minutes; you should have about 1 cup reduced liquid.
  8. Transfer pork to cutting board and pull each piece in half using 2 forks.
  9. Return pork to bowl, fold in reduced liquid (or separate the fat and pour juice over shredded pork and serve as is) and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Spread pork in even layer on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Broil pork until well browned (but not charred) and edges are slightly crisp on both sides, 10 to 16 minutes, flipping meat halfway through broiling.
  11. Serve with warm tortillas, cilantro, and lime wedges.