How To Make Carnitas in a Copper Pot

Pork, the other white meat, is the main star of the traditional Mexican dish called Carnitas. In this recipe, the pork is cooked ever so slowly in a copper pot. The objective of this slow cooking method is for the pork to fall off the bone in tender strands. Carnitas are used in tacos and burritos as well as other Mexican dishes.


For a 2 kilo (roughly 4.5 pounds) pork loin, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 2 small onions (yellow variety if available), minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup lard (you can substitute with vegetable oil)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Broth (water will also do)
  • Additional lard or oil for frying


  • Caso or copper pot
  • Sharp knife
  • Clean cutting board
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Paper towels
  • Sauté or frying pan


  • Step 1 Prepare your ingredients. If you are using frozen pork loin, make sure to thaw it first thoroughly in the refrigerator. It usually takes a day or so to thaw it properly in the ref. Pat the pork loin dry with paper towels. Mix the salt, pepper, oregano and minced garlic in a small bowl. Rub the pork loin all over with this mixture.
  • Step 2 Place the lard or the oil in the copper pot. Lard is authentic but oil is acceptable, too. Only turn on the burner once the lard or oil is in the pot. If you are using lard, allow it to melt at medium-high heat.
  • Step 3 Add the onions to the pot and sauté the onions until they are translucent. Be careful not to burn the onions.
  • Step 4 Add the cumin followed by the chili powder. Cook this together with the onions.
  • Step 5 Gently put the dry-rubbed pork loin in the copper pot. Add enough broth or water to cover the whole pork loin. Let the liquid boil. Once it boils, turn down the heat to a simmering stage.
  • Step 6 Allow the pork loin to simmer in the liquid for about 2 hours. Check the pork loin. Use a fork to see if the meat easily falls apart. If not, then simmer it some more. Depending on the size of the pork loin, it may take an hour or more until it falls apart without resistance.
  • Step 7 Once cooked flake the pork loin using 2 forks. In a sauté or frying pan, heat some lard or oil. Fry the flaked pork loin in batches until the flaked pork is crispy. Use the Carnitas in your tacos and burritos or serve it with tortilla, lettuce, salsa and guacamole.


  • To avoid damaging your copper pot, never heat it when it is empty.
  • You can omit the chili powder if you like. You can also use other spices.
  • In the absence of a copper pot, you can use a slow-cooker instead.
  • Some Carnitas recipes cook the pork loin in lard instead of broth or water.
  • To make the flaked pork crispy without using more lard or oil, bake it on a baking sheet at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

The caso or copper pot is used as the traditional cooking vessel for the Carnitas. Deep fried in fat, the pork loin becomes fork-tender. Enjoy Carnitas in a taco or tortilla. Or enjoy it with rice! It is simply delicioso!


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