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).
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!)
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.
- 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 Run