Recipe: Sous Vide Carnitas

Recipe: Sous Vide Carnitas

  By Jack Lawson    

June 24, 2021

There's something about citrus and meat that goes together. No more is this so in classic Mexican cooking - like with carnitas. A fan favorite at home and on the street, this is a fairly basic recipe to get you started. Some purists argue that carnitas aren't carnitas without the coco cola. Personally? We could never make that call.

  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 20 hrs
  • Yields: 8 to 10 servings
Recipe: Sous Vide Carnitas


4 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into slabs

1 large onion

1 large naval orange

1 small lime, juiced

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

2 bay leaves

1 crushed cinnamon stick

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

2 tsp chili powder

Generous kosher salt for seasoning


1To start, set your water bath to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, or 74 degrees Celsius

2Chop the onion and orange into large pieces. Juice the oranges and lime then use the liquid to help combine the herbs into a rub. Season your pork shoulder slabs liberally with kosher salt and work the marinade into the meat.

3In a vacuum sealable bag, or using the water displacement method, combine the pork, aromatics and the like into a single layer - make sure to include the quartered oranges. The zest will infuse the meat with even more flavor.

4Place in a water bath for 24 hours. If you don't have a lid for your water bath then feel free to use saran wrap or the bizarre yet effective ping pong ball method.

5When cooking is done remove the pork and shred into 1-inch sections. The cooking liquid can be retained and blended with your favorite salsa recipe for an added kick.

6For searing there are two options: (1) line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the carnitas into a single layer or (2) cook beneath a broiler set to high for 10 minutes, flipping occasionally to ensure even browning. Alternatively a cast iron pan will work just fine provided you work in batches.

7Finally, serve carnitas in your favorite tacos or soft shell wraps - this recipe is a good baseline for a wide variety of dishes. Even better, the carnitas can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 5 days during the pre-sear stage.

8Photo credit: Elena Veselova/Shutterstock


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