Carnitas Tacos

Smoked Carnitas Tacos with Spicy Cole Slaw

This is an amalgamation of 2 different recipes I found online, but uses our own Spicy Meat Mix. It makes a great taco!
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Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican


  • Smoker
  • 2½ gallon zip lock bag
  • large pot
  • roasting pan



  • 32 oz orange juice
  • ½ small can Chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 1 orange cut into eighths
  • 2 limes quartered
  • 1 onion cut into eighths

The Roast

The Braising Liquid

  • 32 oz tomato juice
  • 16 oz orange juice
  • 1 onion cut into eighths
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic smashed
  • 2 to 3 bay leaves
  • 2 dried guajillo peppers or other red chile peppers
  • 2 limes quartered

The Slaw

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 4 green onions chopped
  • 2 large jalapeño peppers diced
  • 1 small cabbage finely shredded
  • 1 large carrot julienned
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste

The Tacos

  • 1 pkg 6 inch flour tortillas (taco size)
  • 2 large tomatoes chopped
  • 1 pkg shredded Mexican Cheese Mix


Day 1 – Marinate the Pork

  • First, wipe any excess moisture off the roast with a paper towel, then set fat side up and score the fat through to the meat to give the spices and marinade more area to invade.
    Pork Shoulder Scored
  • Season the roast with a mixture of kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and garlic powder. I like to use equal amounts of salt and pepper and about a half part garlic powder. Really rub it in all over, making sure to get it into the all the nooks and crannies.
    Pork Shoulder Scored With Dalmation Rub
  • Make the marinade by combining all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl,
    Smoked Carnitas Marinade
  • Place the roast in your zip lock bag and cover with the marinade. Try to get all the air out of the bag, and then I like to put the bag in a pot just large enough to hold it (in case the bag decides to spring a leak).
    Refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.
    Pork Shoulder In Carnitas Marinade

Day 2 (or 3), Smoke the Roast

  • Set your smoker up for indirect heat at 225-230F and add a couple chunks of fruity wood (cherry, apple, or both). Place the roast on the grate when the smoker is right and smoke for 4 hours.

Day 2 (or 3), Make the Slaw

  • You want to do this early on the day of the smoke.
    First make the slaw sauce by whisking the mayonnaise, vinegar, olive oil, and celery seeds together until smooth, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
    Place the rest of the slaw ingredients in a large bowl, mix the sauce in and ensure it's well integrated with the veggies.
    Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Day 2 (or 3), Braise the Roast

  • When the roast has smoked for about 4 hours, make the braising liquid by combining all the braising liquid ingredients in a roasting pan. You can use a disposable aluminum one, but I happen to have a reusable one that's just the perfect size.
    Mix all the ingredients well and then set the roast on top of the marinade and cover with foil.
    This is the point at which a grilling thermometer should be inserted into the roast to help you with the timing. I use Meater wireless thermos and they work great.
    Pork Shoulder in Carnitas Braise
  • Pull the roast at 190-195F
    Pork Shoulder After Braising
  • Here you can shred the pork if you like, but I actually prefer it chopped for tacos, so I chop it up into bitesize pieces.
    Chopped Carnitas
  • Place the pieces back into the braising liquid for serving.

The Tacos

  • Place a helping of carnitas meat on the tortilla, then some cheese, then the slaw and some tomatoes. You can certainly add more taco toppings if your like, but I like to keep with these.
    Pour a little of the braising liquid on top and some hot sauce if you like, then enjoy!
    Carnitas Tacos

Joe Saw 2 recipes for Smoked Carnitas on How To BBQ Right and The Mountain Kitchen. After a few minor modifications he came up with this little jewel.

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