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Pati's Mexican Table : TV Recipes

Pati Jinich Carnitas


Serves: 8



Half a white onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 1/2 cups water

6 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pinch cumin

4 whole cloves, stems removed

1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste

1 tablespoon lard, vegetable shortening or oil

4 to 5 pounds boneless pork shoulder or butt, cut into 4-inch chunks, fat on!

1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt

2 bay leaves

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons La Lechera

To Prepare

In the jar of a blender, place the water, onion, garlic cloves, marjoram, thyme, black pepper, cumin, stemmed whole cloves and 1 tablespoon salt. Puree until smooth.

Set a large Dutch oven or heavy casserole over medium-high heat. Add the lard (or vegetable shortening or oil), and once it has heated up, add the pork chunks and sprinkle in 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Brown the meat on all sides, stirring and flipping as each side browns, about 10 minutes.

Pour the onion mixture over the meat, let it come to a simmer and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Pour in the orange juice and sweetened condensed milk, add the 2 bay leaves, and give it a good stir. Let it come to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low to low and cover.

Cook covered, stirring and scrapping the bottom of the casserole 2 to 3 times along the way, until the meat is completely cooked and coming easily apart if you pull one piece, about one hour and a half. Remove the lid, cook for another 4 to 5 minutes. Scoop out the carnitas with a slotted spoon, leaving any fat behind, and serve in a bowl or platter. Shred with a fork, if desired, before tucking into tacos. Or do like we do, serve straight from the pot.

Serve with warm corn tortillas and pickled jalapeños or salsa verde cruda on the side.



Hi Pati-

This is Donna your former neighbor on Warren St. So happy to have discovered your show (actually Kip did) on WETA. I watched today and cannot WAIT to make the Carnitas and Salsa Verde. I remember well your love of cooking. I am thrilled to see you doing this! You are a star!

Donna!!!! So happy to chat with you here and so happy you found me!!! I hope you enjoy the carnitas, our boys LOVE them. Many hugs to the kids and to Kip!

Hola pati ,oyes de verdad esa fruta d gaspacho esta rica por q , xacon el queso y cebolla se mira medio raro ?

Esta DELICIOSA, Veronica, pruébala!

Hola Pati-
I just saw your show it was great. I grew up in Tucson Arizona near Nogales Mexico border and had never heard of the real gaspacho. I only knew of the cold soup. I live in Houston now. I cant wait until summer to make the real gaspacho. It looks heavenly. Where can I find the red Chile hotsauce you put on top beside the sprinkles?
Thanks keep writing these great authentic recipes!
Love them!

Gracias Dina! Any Latin grocery store or even some Latin aisles of mainstream stores… last resource: online!


On your show about Carnitas you visited some brothers in Mexico. I think their name was Carmela. One of then said they had a restaurant in Houston TX. My son lives there and I wanted to give him the name but I couldn’t read what was on their apron. Do you know the name of their place in Houston?


Yes! Barb, they are called “The Carmelo Brothers” and their food is out of this world.

I found them. They have a Sugar Land, TX address, but just on the Southwest side of Houston. I can’t wait to try them; they have great reviews!

Hola Pati, YOU are my favorite mexican food chef. This particular eamily fiesta is my favorite combination of recipes for a get together. Am moving from Idaho to Seguin, TX March 1st and this is the first meal I plan to cook for my daughters family and friends for my housewarming opportunity to invite my neighbors! Thank you for all your dedication and thanks to Danny for encouraging you to dive into your passion for cooking :)

Hola Consuelo, gracias! I CANNOT believe you are moving to Seguin, I was just reading all about Juan Seguin, as research for an article I wrote on Tex MEx Foods for the Washington Post… Hope you have an easy move and I hope you all enjoy the carnitas!

Hi, Pati

I saw your show on PBS this morning. I’ve made carnitas several times before and in several ways. I plan on trying your method tomorrow. I have heard about using condensed milk but haven’t tried it.

I’m curious though why you bother to puree the onion and spices rather than simply putting them in the pot with the pork.

Hi Dan,
It makes for a very nice and tasty simmering liquid that condenses as the meat cooks and let’s off its juices, making a form of natural gravy.

I made your version of carnitas last night, and I must say, Pati… they excel! I think they could have been better if I had put them under the broiler for a few minutes at the end to crisp them up a bit more, but the flavor was the best of any I have made.

So glad to hear! You know, you can also let them brown a bit more in the pot, raise the heat in the end for a few minutes and let them sear for a bit if they haven’t browned enough to your liking. Much depends on pot you are using and heat under it.

Hi pati I am a long time fan. My question is how do you make your chile Pequot powder? Do you just grind the dry chilies? And do they store we’ll for a long time. Can I add salt to the grind?

Hi Mariya,
Thanks for writing! Yes, they last a long time if you store them in a place that is not too humid or sunny. I like to lightly toast them first, before grinding. You ca use a comal or skillet set over medium heat and need to toast them for a few minutes, stirring, making sure they don’t burn. And yes! You can of course add salt and even sugar to the mix!

Hi, just saw this episode. I’m in Houston and will try to visit Carmelo’s today!! Thanks Patti!

Send me a photo Robert!

I just saw this episode. Can you tell me the name of the Carmelo Brothers restaurant that is in Houston please?

They are also called Carmelo Brothers!

Hi, I went to Carmelo’s Mexican Grill southwest of Houston yesterday but it is not of these Carmelo’s. Like the others I cannot find anything from the brothers in Houston or anywhere else. Bummer!

Alas, I can’t find a listing for them in Houston on Google.

I’m also in Houston and can’t find the Carmelo Brothers online either… Anyone have any luck locating the restaurant here?

The only Carmelo brothers I can find is in Katy but this does not seem correct either! I would love to find them if anyone can help! Thank you!

Hola Adriane, Looks like they have something here:

The website seems to be dead.

Simply delicious!!!
Made this tonight for supper along with the tortilla soup
Thanks so much for sharing your recipes.

Thank you, Lauri, for giving them a try!

Pati, I’ve had carnitas before, but this is the first time I’ve made it myself. I had to leave out the condensed milk, but this was still MUCH better than any carnitas I’ve had in a restaurant. Thank, thank you!!

Saw your show on PBS. Normally the recipes look so complicated on cooking shows that I don’t even bother, but this one looks like a keeper and uses regular ingredients. I could practically smell the carnitas through the TV! Can’t wait to try the recipe, especially with the sweetened condensed milk!

Gracias y mucha suerte!

I guarantee you will love it, Greg!

Loved the carnitas episode. I am trying to find the carnitas carmelo’s restaurant in Houston with no luck. Their website is under construction. Any chance that you have the address? Would greatly appreciate the help.

Hola Mabel, Unfortunately, I’ve only found the same site under construction; I’ve visited them in Mexico.

Looks like they are not located in Houston at all!!! :(. They have gotten some inquiries on their Facebook page, to which they reply that they are in Arlington, which is in the Dallas area!

Hi Pati,I saw your carnitas show, and everything looked great! I also got to see your boys-how handsom they are! Pati-I grew up watching my grandfather and uncles cooking carnitas, and even my mother too,and carnitas were always cooked in lard as you well know,and never adding anything else, but when I saw you putting sweetened condensed milk, I cringed, wondering what does it do to the meat, and will the carnitas have that sweet taste of the milk? can you please explain what it does to the meat, I’m willing to try it.

Sweetened condensed milk is a well kept secret in many homes in central Mexico for making carnitas. It is used very sparingly along with orange juice and it adds a very light layer that caramelizes and tenderizes the meat as it cooks: you won’t believe how good it is until you try it!

Hello Pati,

I love watching your cooking show. The passion you have for food comes through in each episode and is inspiring to me to try your mouth watering recipes.

Kindest regards,

Kay, Thank you so much!!

Hi Pati! Should my Carnitas be so soupy? I don’t remember yours looking so soupy, We can’t wait to eat tonight! We love the joy you bring to cooking!

Hola Suzy, Thank you for your message! Much of the liquid should cook out — and you’ll want to scoop the meat out with a slotted spoon when it’s finished cooking. I hope you enjoy.

Hi Patt I love your recipes , I tried your carnitas and they came out wonderful my family really loved them, I will be making them for Cinco DE Mayo on my daughters 18th birthday, keep the recipes coming thank you

Yay! Thank you!!

Hi Pati!

I made your carnitas yesterday and my husband fell in love with them when he opened the front door and smelled them cooking- and even more so on the plate. Absolutely delicious!!! Thanks so much for sharing your recipes with us- we both love watching your show on Create!

Have a Blessed Easter!!

I am so happy your husband fell for the Carnitas!! We ADORE them at home. Thanks for tuning in to watch my show!


I love your show! I made this entire menu today for Easter. We were tired of ham. :-) Everyone loved it! My husband, who bakes, also made your Tres Leches cake for dessert which was awesome.

The only thing I added was shrimp quesidillas for an appetizer.

Thanks for putting out such a great show!


Barbara, so happy to hear! Love the idea of shrimp quesadillas, yum.

Thank you so much for your carnitas recipe! I’ve been waning to make this for years but always thought it would be hard but you make it look so easy.
I was wondering if using flour tortilla instead of the corn ones would taste just as good? :)

I like to eat carnitas with corn tortillas, and it is also more usual. But I am sure they would taste wonderful with flour tortillas too, it is a matter of preference, go for it!

Flour tortillas are pretty much authentic only to the Sonora area in Northern Mexico. White corn, preferably homemade, is the way to go here.

Hola pati!!!
I just finished watching your show on create and I have to say me and my husband watch your show everytime it comes on even if it’s a rerun. We can’t wait to create this delicious plate of carnitas!!! I wish I could meet you in person !

Saludos De Houston, TX !!

Hope to be back in Houston very soon!

Hello Pati, i love love love your cooking show. I lived in Dallas, tx for years and love mexican food. I can’t wait to make your carnitas for my kids. Keep up the good work. You are the best!.

Thank you, Carol!!

Hi Pati I saw your carnitas episode last night it looks delicious I will try soon. My question is what kind of pan or pot did you use the orange one? My girlfriend loved it and I want to buy it for her birthday.


Hola Ray, Thank you for watching! The pan is a Le Creuset braiser:—braisers/braisers/5-qt-braiser. Hope your girlfriend has a wonderful birthday!

Hello Pati! I absolutely love your show! I just finished watching “Family Fiesta”. All I can say is YUM!

Thanks for watching, Valerie! I hope you tune to see more and get to try some of the recipes too!

Hi, Pati!

I caught your show this morning and saw you were making carnitas, which is my all time favorite taco filling. However, every recipe I have ever found seems incredibly complicated and more than a little intimidating. Then I watched you making the carnitas and decided that yours is the recipe for me! I cannot wait to make this for my family as a treat, so I have the recipe in my purse and am heading to the store to get everything I need to make them, and also the grilled pineapple margaritas you served with them on your show. Thanks so much for this great recipe!

You couldn’t make me happier, Stephanie! If you need anything along the way or have any questions, let me know!

Hi, Pati!

Now that you mention it, do you have any hints on how I can get the store bought corn tortillas to remain supple and not cracking when filled? I buy the soft corn tortillas, but they must be too thick because even though I warm them on both sides in a pan before filling them with goodies, they seem to crack right down the middle and allow all the fillings to fall out so that my family has to eat them with a fork. Any thoughts on how I might remedy this?

Thank you!

We loved this recipe! Such good flavors and inexpensive too!

Hi Pati, I’m Canadian and I love cooking food from different cultures. I admit that although I have not had a lot of Mexican food, since I watch your show on Create, I want to try everything! The food you cook looks so fresh and delicious. I can relate to your passion for cooking for your family and feeding them well. I have now discovered new dishes and flavors that I can hardly wait to try. The first thing I will cook are the carnitas. Thank you for introducing me to Mexican cuisine and I hope to see you for a long time on Create.

Thank you so much, Danielle!

Me encanta su show, vivimos en un pu
eblito que se llama Polo en estado de m.o
Me gustaria saver si puede aser las carnitas solamente en el horno??
Tambien como aser tamales de puerco, receta?? Gracias i saludos

Si, claro que puede hacer las carnitas en el horno o en una olla. En cuanto a tamales, aquí hay una receta, en vez de pollo, le puedes poner carne de puerco y si cueces el puerco, usa ese caldo en vez de caldo de pollo

Hi Pati –

Just made the carnitas + salsa verde. Soooo good! Many thanks. I just found you on tv, and look forward to more of your shows.

One question: can the salsa verde be frozen?

Many thanks and continued success in following your passion!

Thank you, Ann! Yes, you can freeze the salsa verde in a tightly sealed container or zip lock bag…just give it a few hours to thaw in the refrigerator before serving. (I also like to let it warm up to room temp before eating.)

Hi Pati, i was wodering what brand is the blender you use on your show? Love the show and watch it as much as possible.

Hi Rita, Thank you for watching! The blender is made by Kitchenaid.

Made the carnitas for dinner tonight, omg they are sooo delicious! I used my pressure cooker but otherwise followed your recipe exactly. We made tacos in corn tortillas and I also made “My Favorite Green Rice”; my husband and son ate too much, everything was so good. Did not get to make the salsa, will do that next time. Thank you for sharing your recipes!

Hola Sharon, So happy your family enjoyed the carnitas and green rice! You will have to try with the salsa next time!!

I’m a fan! I will share your show and website with my sisters! You make cooking real authentic Mexican food so easy.

Thank you, Laura!

Hi Patti! I finally made the Carnitas you once prepared on the show the “Chew”. Amazing and delicious. So easy to prepare.

Thank you, Yvonne!! So happy you tried them!

Hola, pati! Mi familia siempre pendiente de tu show nos encanta, muncho. Mi hija selen
a tiene 10 años te manda munchos saludos y a tu familia tambien,, andva buscando la receta del arroz verde, me encantaria aserlo ahora para la cena.gracias!!

Hi Pati,
This recipe is amazing considering how simple it is to make. I love your show! Every time I watch it, It brings back these beautiful, warm and cozy childhood memories. Growing up in a latin home of scarce resources was not easy, but mom & dad always managed to stretch out every penny to give us a healthy and or traditional meal. I was born in Guanajuato and raised in the States so I got the best of both worlds.

I can totally relate to the stories and history while you cook on the show. I still remember the stories shared during those times while my mom cooked in the kitchen: everything from embarrassing, funny, happy, to sad and uplifting, my parents stories of living the Cristero War in their childhood, ghost stories, illness, trips and Guanajuato’s old history, and of course current life events. There’s an incredible connection between food and family that even the most frugal meals came with great enrichment to the soul , be it breakfast, lunch or dinner, somehow you feel more connected and appreciative when you learn the story behind the ingredient or a particular dish.

As grownups my siblings and I would take our kids on most sundays to “La Casa Grande” to visit mom and dad, just enjoying the moment with mom’s authentic cooking , sharing life as it happened, that is until we lost her a year ago. I miss her greatly but in my heart I will always cherish those warm memories. Thanks for the show which stirs all those good feelings.

Hope you can visit Guanajuato sometime, its an old beautiful city, very colorful, full of life and history, a city standing still in time. Perhaps someday you can present some recipes from the region.

Es un orgullo tener a alguien como tu que con tanta pasión representa nuestra comida, historia y cultura y nos hace revivir nuestra niñez una y otra vez y a su entorno muestra la riqueza y sencillez de la comida mexicana. Gracias !

By the way, JuJu was very right. When you cook you make people happy, my son says the same thing. Thanks again!


Hola Mercedes, Thank you so much for your lovely message! I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother, and it means a lot to hear that the show brings back happy memories. I love Guanajuato! We visit it in the next season — coming in 2015.

Hi Pati! I wanted to thank you for this amazing recipe. I made it for the second time, tonight, and my husband says that it is his favorite meal. Period! My son loves it, too, and was happy to not be eating college food tonight (he came home for the weekend). It is nice to be able to make something that I, in the past, thought was terribly complicated–and to have it turn out so well! Thank you for making it possible for me to make excellent Mexican food!

My 16 year old daughter and I cooked this on a raining Saturday afternoon and she loved it. It was so easy to make. Thank you for sharing!

Terrific, and the easiest carnitas recipe I’ve found. Will repeat often! We did just serve it from the pot, heavenly. I could not find my marjoram so used Mexican oregano. The only problem is that I have more than a pint of cooking liquid I can not bear to discard. Besides making more carnitas, do you have any ideas about what to do with it? I know I’m not supposed to have a lot of leftover liquid…. I would use it for beans if it were not salty. Thanks for any suggestions, if none, I will add it to vegetable soup. We are SUPER big fans of yours!

Yes! You can use it to cook rice or pasta, adding some more water if needed!

This is a gorgeous and easy recipe. Somehow (probably because I added too much liquid) I have about 3 cups of divine broth. I think I’ll just make more carnitas with it– any other ideas?
I suppose it could be nice for a chicken tortilla soup, but not for beans, since it is perhaps a bit acidic. I really would love to use it for black beans, what do you think/

your huge fan at our house,

Hola Elizabeth, Thank you for making the carnitas! Interesting idea to add the carnitas broth to beans! :) If you try it, let me know how it turns out.


Thank you for such an amazing recipe. I made it last night, and every one loved it. I even had to pack some up for a to-go meal after my friend had seconds. I love the recipes you share. They make me feel close to my culture.

Thank you again.

Delighted to hear this, Carmen!! :)

Would the carnitas freeze well for a short period of time? Live alone, love good food, and it is hard to cook for only one. Thanks

Hola Jean, Yes! You can freeze them in a tightly sealed container or zip-lock bag for up to a month. Allow time to thaw before re-heating.

Pati, could I put the condensed milk and orange juice into the blender with the liquid or no? Can’t wait to try this in my dutch oven!

Hi Chris! I think it works nice as it is, because then you give the cooking liquid time to cook and heat up… But you may wish to try it the other way, if you do, let me know!

I adapted your recipe to use in an Instant Pot. I cut the time to 40 minutes and it worked great. I am going to brown it under the broiler (we used to deep fry our carnitas). I’m going to strain the leftover liquid and make beans with the stock. Because pressure cookers don’t have evaporation I think that I will leave the water out of the braising liquid the next time. Love your show!

That sounds like a plan!

Hi Pati!

This will be my second time I try your recipes, I loved the first one, it was the Mole!
I’m cooking this for a friend’s birthday dinner, she can not have cow’s dairy so I can not use La Lechera, can I sub with say sugar water? I’m guessing the sugar of the milk might caramelize in the dish, any suggestions?

Miriam–if you are so inclined, you can make sweet and condensed milk with coconut milk. Here are some instructions:

Hi Pati,
I made these with the Salsa Verde and they are so delicious! I visited my son the next day and brought some to share with him for lunch and he loved them too. I have frozen a few packages for later since I cook for one person. Do you know if it will freeze well, and for how long?

So glad you and your son liked the recipe! Yes, they will freeze very well up to 6 months! Just thaw and reheat over low heat.

Would I be able to make these with pork loin ends or not enough fat? Picked these up by mistake. Also could u replace the sweetened condensed milk for full fat coconut milk? We don’t eat dairy.

Hi Drea! Yes, you can use pork loin ends, but you need to add a bit more oil to the pot and they will take about 1/2 the time! And yes, you can sub for the coconut milk, or just a teaspoon brown sugar, what it will give it is an agent to caramelize the meat as it finsihes off cooking… will turn out delicious!

I love how delicious and simple this recipe is! I’ve made this for friends numerous times… this is now a requested dish! Thanks!

Oh this makes me happy!

I made the Carnitas yesterday and it was great. I prepared everything exactly as the recipe said except for adding a half a jalapeno to the onion mixture. The meat was excellent and the sauce was so delicious — we kind of wanted to drink it but realized it was pretty salty to do that. I served with some “refried beans” I made and the usual toppings for tacos: avocado, onion, tomato, cilantro, lime and salsa verde. We are looking forward to leftovers for dinner tonight! I must say I thought the sweetened condensed milk was odd but I did it anyway and all was well. Try this recipe and then find something to do with the delicious sauce afterward. Thanks Pati!

Freeda, I am thrilled it was a hit! I, too, have been tempted to drink sauce from carnitas…

I belong to one of the largest cooking groups in Facebook. It is called the Instant Pot group and has over 30000 members. It is also one of the fastest growing groups. Many people ask for pork recipes. They’re always get advice on pulled pork. I always post a link to your Carnitas page. There are many people who have tried it and like it as Mich as I do.

Thank you for sharing!

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