Authentic Mexican Carnitas Tacos (Tacos de Carnitas)

Alright, here’s another special taco recipe treat for you Mexican food lovers: this is an authentic Mexican carnitas tacos recipe. Tacos de carnitas originated in the Mexican state of Michoacán and they’re commonly served all throughout central México (aka: in and all around Mexico City). But these tacos have spread beyond the Chilango borders and can be found in the US in the Latin markets and street stands with a sign that will read something like “Carnitas Style Michoacan.”

authentic Mexican tacos de carnitas

In Mexico, the carnitas include some or all parts (called “tacos de surtida”) of the pig, including the intestines, ears, nose, testicles, dick, mouth, lungs, uterus, the skin, the ribs, the kitchen sink… I swear to god. The authentic authentic carnitas tacos are definitely not for the squeamish or the unadventurous, if you haven’t tried them before!carnitas tacos fully loaded: all the ingredients you never knew you wanted to eat! Appetizing ;) For this recipe, I’m just going to have you use either the pork butt or shoulder (your choice) to make “tacos de maciza”, which is a way of saying carnitas with just the meat and NOT all other parts. 😉 (Maybe I’ll find a way to do that for a future recipe, if there’s enough interest…)

Mexican taco recipes like this do take some time to cook, but if you love your authentic Tacos from south of the border, there’s no substitue for the deliciousness that are tacos de carnitas. So here we go:

Prep + Cook Time: 4 hours

Ingredients (makes 20 tacos de carnitas):

20 corn tortillas
1 kg pork butt or shoulder, cut into small chunks.
2 large, sliced oranges (including the skin)
2 bay leaves
6 cloves of garlic
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp ground oregano
1/4 tbsp grounded clove
50g pork lard
1 chopped white onion
1 big bunch of chopped cilantro
10 limes
black pepper to taste
salt to taste

pico de gallo
salsa roja or salsa verde (your choice)


Start by cutting the excess fat off the pork meat. Cut the pork pieces into pieces that are a few inches wide. Then place all the meat in a cazo or a big pot.

Add enough water to cover it by about 5 cm, then add the orange, garlic, pepper, cinnamon, bay leaves, the oregano,s alt and the clove.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and continue cooking for 60 min or until meat is very tender, and be sure to add more water if necessary so the meat stays covered the entire time.

Make your Mexican salsas (listed above in the ingredients) for this dish, while waiting for the pork to cook.

When tender enough, add salt, and keep cooking it for another 10 minutes or until all the water has evaporated.

Drain the meat and place on a separate plate.

Heat the lard in the same pot. When hot, add the meat until it’s fried golden, about 10 to 20 minutes. Mix it often so the meat doesn’t stick and add a little water now and then to keep it from sticking to the pot.

Once it has fried, remove the bay leaves and cinnamon, then drain the meat in paper towels.

Heat up the corn tortillas: 1 min each/side. Place two on each plate and add a portion of the meat in the center of the tortilla and fold in half. Do that with each taco.

Garnish each with cilantro and onion, your salsas, and a wedge of lime, and serve!

Carnitas can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and then just need to be reheated before assembling the tacos you serve later on. That’s partially why we made so many tacos de carnitas with this recipe: if you’re going to spend four hours cooking something, even the most delicious authentic Mexican taco recipes, you may as well get a big payoff–in this case: a small cache of delicious tacos you’ll be able to eat away at for the next few days. That is, unless you invite all of your Mexican food loving friends over and have a big cena/dinner party, which is an even better idea if you can arrange it!

Carnitas tacos: even president Calderón cannot refuse…

Even president Calderon can't resist the draw of carnitas!

Alright, well I hope you enjoy this authentic Mexican taco recipe, and I’ll be back again soon with another great recipe! -Carlos

P.S. I thought you might like to see this. This is how they cook the pork for these tacos de carnitas in Mexico, in huge quantities in restaurants and for the street markets:

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