Slow Cooker Beef Carnitas
Slow Cooker Beef Carnitas – Tender, slow-cooked beef carnitas make delicious tacos, burrito bowls, salads & more! (Paleo + Whole30 Friendly)
Post updated Oct 2017. Originally posted June 2013.
First off: I know. These are NOT authentic. Carnitas are traditionally made with pork braised in oil or lard until tender. I skip the oil/lard, and swap pork for beef. I couldn’t say no to our taco craving!
Tacos are a major favorite at our house, but I have to admit that I’m not usually satisfied with a ground beef taco. It feels like the peanut-butter-and-grape-jelly-on-Wonder-bread of tacos. They get the job done, but I always feel like there’s something I could do better, add more flavor, or make them more exciting.
Sometimes that’s whipping up a batch of fish tacos, or salsa verde chicken tacos, but shredded beef tacos will probably be Michael’s forever favorite. Specifically, he loves and craves these Slow Cooker Beef Carnitas tacos.
You’re going to love them as much as we do…
These were a cinch to pull together. I pop everything into the slow cooker, forget about it for a few hours, and then give it a quick shred with tongs (it’s fall-apart tender!).
You could certainly dress them up with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, etc. I think the meat and veggies mixture is so flavorful it doesn’t need much more than a tortilla and a little salsa or guacamole (because EVERYTHING is better with guacamole).
I’ll also say that as much as we love these as tacos, the beef is equally delicious in burrito bowls (with these sweet potatoes), rice bowls, taco salads, or tucked into baked sweet potatoes.
FAQ + TIPS AND TRICKS FOR THE BEST SLOW COOKER BEEF CARNITAS:
WHAT KIND OF BEEF ROAST DO YOU USE FOR BEEF CARNITAS? My favorite beef for beef carnitas is chuck roast. It has a nice marbling of fat and gets gorgeously tender when slow-cooked. It makes for seriously flavorful, tender beef carnitas.
MAKE-AHEAD NOTES: To save time in the morning, I often do the prep for this meal at night. I slice up the veggies, brown the beef, put everything into the slow cooker crock, and refrigerated it in the crock overnight. The next morning, I pulled out the crock, settle it into the slow cooker and forget about it till many hours later.
MY FAVORITE SLOW COOKERS: I always get questions about slow cookers when I post a slow cooker recipe. I swear by this one. It’s programmable, has a lid clip (no more sloshing if you need to transport it), and even has a thermometer you can program so that your slow cooker switches to WARM mode when the meat reaches the right temperature (which means NO overcooked, dried out meat–Holla!). Target and Amazon typically have the best prices.
PALEO + WHOLE30 NOTES: if you’re eating paleo or doing a Whole30, this beef recipe is 100% paleo approved. Instead of serving it in tacos, make a giant taco salad heaped high with salsa and guacamole, stuff a baked sweet potato, or serve it in burrito bowls (with these sweet potatoes!) and your favorite taco toppings.
LOVE TEX-MEX? YOU MIGHT ALSO LOVE:
- My ULTIMATE Guide to Guacamole
- Fresh Pico De Gallo
- The BEST Fish Tacos With Cilantro Lime Slaw
- Instant Pot Charro Beans
- Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef
- Magic Green Rice (Arroz Verde)
- Chipotle Sweet Potatoes (Great for Burrito Bowls!)
- Tomatillo Ranch Dressing (Awesome for Taco Salads!)
Slow Cooker Beef Carnitas
- Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
- Yield: about 8 servings 1x
- Diet: Gluten Free
If your slow-cooker has a removable crock, you can prep this the night before. Follow all steps up until cooking and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, put the crock in the slow cooker, set it to low, and you’re ready to go!
FOR SLOW COOKER BEEF CARNITAS:
- 2–3 lbs beef chuck roast
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1 onion, sliced (I like sweet onions)
- 1 green pepper, sliced
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- 1 (4oz) can diced green chiles (don’t drain)
- corn tortillas*
- your favorite taco toppings: shredded lettuce, salsa, guacamole, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, etc.
- If desired, brown your beef roast in a pan or Dutch oven. Heat a small drizzle of oil over medium heat, add the beef roast and cook 5-7 minutes per side, or until it’s very browned and crisped.
- Place roast in the slow cooker. In a small bowl, whisk together chili powder, salt, pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder. Sprinkle spice mixture over the roast. Add onion, bell peppers, and green chiles over the roast as well.
- Cook on HIGH 3-4 hours or LOW 7-8 hours, or until beef is pull-apart tender. (You should be able to easily shred it with a fork or a pair of tongs).
*Gluten & Dairy Free Notes: not all corn tortillas are gluten free. Read your package to be sure. We like Tortilla Land cook-your-own corn tortillas. They’re gluten and dairy free and are delicious and soft (i.e. they don’t crack or split when you bend them). Also, this is common sense, but skip cheese and sour cream if you’re dairy free.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 hours
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Slow Cooker
- Cuisine: Mexican, Tex-Mex
Keywords: carnitas, beef carnitas, slow cooker beef carnitas, crock pot beef carnitas, slow cooker carnitas
Recipe adapted from Eat Live RunSaveSave
Love this! Put it into my 2 week rotation.
That’s fantastic! I’m so glad to hear it 🙂
I have some stew meat in the feezer. Do you think I could use it as a substitute for chuck roast?
I’d think so! (I do recommend thawing before putting it into your recipe first :))
Awesome!! So easy and made the house smell so good. I made a mexican salad and my husband made nachos. One tiny piece of meat left in the crock pot just so my husband could say he didn’t eat it all. Will make again. Thank you.
This is a recipe I’ve made about 6 times. I followed the recipe to a T. My family and I absolutely love this!!! It’s seriously amazing, and I am soooo happy to have found it. It’s easy to make and you cannot just take a little piece to try lol… you’ll be coming back for more!
Thank you so much for this recipe!!! ❤️
I’m so happy to hear this! It’s my husband’s favorite!!!
So so yumm!
Tried this recipe for dinner tonight. It was so simple and flavorful. Absolutely delicious! It was a great alternative to using ground turkey or ground beef. My husband, teen boys and I really enjoyed this. Thank you so much for this recipe! Blessings to you and your family 🙂
That’s WONDERFUL to hear! I’m so glad it was a big hit! It’s one of my husband’s all-time favorite dinners. 🙂
I’ve been making this recipe for some time now, and it’s one of our family’s favorites. Thank you so much!
I’m so glad to hear that Cydney! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review! 🙂
These are fantastic! We made beef carnitas bowls…no tortillas or rice….we didn’t change a thing… definitely a keeper recipe! Thank you!
Ooh, that sounds delicious! I need to make a batch soon!
I’m new to instant pot. If I made these in there, would I have to tweak the recipe at all? Add liquid? These sound awesome! Excited to give them a try!
Adriane – I haven’t made this in an Instant Pot yet, but this conversion chart might help!
The chuck roast were buy one get one free so I made two… One in my slow cooker and one in my dutch oven (on 250). The slow cooker created a lot of liquid. I had to use a slotted spoon to get all the yummy bits of vegetables. In contrast, the dutch oven roast had less liquid and created a beefy, juicy reduction. When I shredded the beef everything was incorporated. Both were and delicious but the dutch oven one was better.
Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a review! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I love making this in the Dutch oven, too. So good! Slow cookers have less evaporation and get less crispy, but we love how easy they are!
I don’t have a slow cooker so I made this in the dutch oven instead. It turned out awesome! I could see where the slow cooker might make it even more fall-apart tender, though. To convert this to a dutch oven recipe I first seared it in the dutch oven according to the recipe. You always need to add some extra liquid when converting a slow cooker recipe to a dutch oven because more steam will escape and you are cooking at a higher temp, so after I seared the meat I took it out and deglazed the pan with a little bit (like a couple of big splashes) of fresh squeezed orange juice. I then, I added all the seasoning to the meat and put it back in. Between the OJ and the juices released from searing the meat there was probably 1/2 an inch of liquid. I topped with the veg (just as the recipe said) and then covered and put in a 300 oven. To avoid drying out in a dutch oven it’s always best to baste the meat every so often so I basted it in the pan liquid every 35-40 minutes or so. Around the 2 hour mark I dropped the temp to 275 and the liquid was getting low (under 1/4 inch) so I added a couple tablespoons of water. I took it out at the 2.5 hour mark and it was perfect!
By the way, for anyone eating a low-FODMAP diet it is easy to convert this to Low FODMAP. I substituted 3 teaspoons of a commercially-available Low FODMAP taco seasoning spice mix for all the seasoning (you will need to add the salt and pepper if it doesn’t contain it) and substituted green onions (green parts only) for the onions. I also seared the meat in garlic oil since I didn’t use the garlic powder obviously. I make these kinds of recipe subs all the time and my boyfriend can never tell a difference 🙂
I hope anyone who doesn’t have a slow cooker or eating Low FODMAP finds these adaptations helpful! But again, great recipe, I bookmarked this and will definitely do it again!!
Thank you for sharing all your tips!
1x says 8 servings- how many tacos is 1 serving? Wanting to make this for a family night 🙂
Lauren – It sort of depends on how full you pack your tacos and whether you’re adding other toppings/fillings, but you should be able to get at least 2 tacos per serving (or 3 if you add other fillings to the tacos!).
Wonderful, thank you!
No stock is needed for slow cooking?
Not for this recipe! The meat will create its own juices as it cooks and the meat will still end up tender and delicious.
Awesome! Cubed my roast and added a can of jalapenos instead of chilis.
I’m so glad you loved it! (And yum–sounds like a great way to add some extra heat!)