Chipotle Carnitas Recipe

David Dial | Spiced Blog

Chipotle Carnitas Recipe takes the inspiration of Chipotle and brings it into your own kitchen. How great is that?

Chipotle Carnitas Recipe Photo

If I walked into your house and opened your freezer, what would I find? I’m guessing there might be some bags of frozen veggies. Perhaps some ice cream stashed away in the corner. There’s probably some frozen chicken or beef waiting to be cooked, too. That pretty much describes my freezer…and I like to think of myself as fairly normal.

Oh, we also have large amounts of cooked meats stacked in our freezer. I make this smoked pulled pork a number of times throughout the summer, and then I freeze most of it in 1-pound packs. I do the same thing with this smoked beef brisket. Then when Old Man Winter comes along, I’ve at least got a lot of delicious smoked meats on hand. It helps me forget about all the snow outside… at least for a few minutes.

Chipotle Carnitas Recipe Picture

At any given time, I’ve got enough pulled pork and smoked brisket in my freezer to feed a small army. What can I say? Pulled pork sandwiches and smoked brisket sandwiches are delicious! But now I’ve got a new meat to add to the party, homemade Chipotle carnitas!

Unlike the first two meats, this one is slow cooked in the oven for several hours. (I used my 7 ¼ quart round Le Creuset French Oven.) This braised pork shoulder is incredibly simple to make, and it serves as the basis for some delicious tacos!

My wife and I absolutely love swinging by Chipotle to grab a quick dinner, especially after we get back from a long road trip. Chipotle’s carnitas are right up there on my list of delicious meals, so I set out to create a similar version at home.

Chipotle Carnitas Recipe Image

While I don’t have the exact recipe for Chipotle’s carnitas, this one is pretty darned close. I noticed that the ingredient list on Chipotle’s website includes “thyme, bay, juniper berries and cracked black pepper.” Ok, so I had a starting point, but what the heck are juniper berries?

I had never used juniper berries before, but I found them in bulk at a local organic grocery store near my house. A quick check of Wikipedia revealed that juniper berries are more common in European cooking, especially when cooking wild birds and game. Interesting! Check “cook with juniper berries” off my bucket list!

Chipotle Carnitas Recipe Pic

In the end, these carnitas tasted remarkably similar to the Chipotle version. We made delicious tacos for several nights with the carnitas, and the rest went into the freezer with the pulled pork and smoked brisket. So much for only keeping “normal” things in my freezer!

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Chipotle Carnitas Recipe

    10 Servings


  • 2-3 tablespoons Canola Oil, Or vegetable oil
  • 5-6 pounds Pork Shoulder
  • 1 medium Onion, Coarsley chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Black Pepper
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1-2 Chipotle Peppers, Finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Adobo Sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons juniper berries, Lightly crushed
  • 2 Bay Leafs
  • 1/2 tablespoon Red Chili Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 2 cups Chicken Broth


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Place a large oven-safe pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil and heat until oil is hot.
  3. Place the pork shoulder in the pan and sear each side for about 2-3 minutes. Continue rotating until all sides of the pork shoulder have been seared.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and add the chopped onions. Cook for 6-8 minutes.
  5. Add all of the remaining ingredients except for the chicken broth (garlic, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, juniper berries, bay leaves, chili powder, oregano, thyme and cumin) to the pot.
  6. Add chicken broth to the pot. Then add water until the water is about ¾ of the way up the side of the pork shoulder. Stir the pot gently.
  7. Cover and place pot in the oven for 4 hours.
  8. Once cooked, transfer the pork shoulder to a large cutting board. Discard the remaining liquid.
  9. Once pork is cool enough to handle, shred it using 2 forks.
  10. To prepare, place about 2 cups of pork in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2-3 Tbsp of chicken stock and cook until stock has evaporated and pork is slightly crispy.
  11. Serve in tacos or burritos along with shredded lettuce, guacamole, corn salsa, pico de gallo, cheese and Chipotle rice.


  • Cans of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are common in the Mexican food aisle. Chipotle peppers are very spicy, so I usually only use 1-2 peppers for this recipe. I do add about one tablespoon of the adobo sauce from the can into the pot as well. The leftover peppers and adobo sauce freeze quite well.


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Related Recipes:
Copycat Recipes, Dinner Recipes, Braised Recipes, Pork Recipes, Mexican Recipes, Easy Recipes, Easy Dinner Recipes, Taco Recipes, Taco Week Recipes
Recipe Yields:
10 servings
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:
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Author: David Dial
Recipe Yields: 10 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 240 minutes
Total Time: 270 minutes

Nutrition Facts

Servings Per Recipe 10

Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 246
Calories 462

% Daily Value*
Total Fat 31g
  Saturated Fat 10g
Sodium 326mg
Total Carbohydrate 3g
  Dietary Fiber 1g
  Sugars 1g
Protein 40g

* Percent Daily Value are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
** Nutrition Facts are estimated based on ingredients and data provided by Fat Secret. Please consult a doctor if you have special dietary needs.
David Dial

About David

David is bringing up the guy quotient here on Food Fanatic, representing all things Grilling in a big way. On his own site, Spiced, David covers every kind of culinary adventure.

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