Fork-tender Carnitas

You only need three ingredients—and a few hours—to cook a week's worth of delicious, pull-apart pork.

Pork Carnitas

You don’t need a special occasion to cook up these perfectly salted, fork-tender carnitas—though you will need a few hours to spare as it simmers (and develops amazing flavor) on the stovetop. Though it may take a bit of time on the stove, the preparation is about as simple as it gets—all you need to do is combine the pork shoulder, water, and salt in a big, heavy skillet. When it’s finally ready, serve it with guacamole in a whole-wheat tortilla, over a bed of Mexican-style rice, or even in a salad—you’ve got plenty of options.

Nutrition (per serving)

301 calories; 23g fat; 22g protein; 0g carbohydrate; 0g dietary fiber; 0g net carbs.

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Prep time

10 min.

Cook time

240 min.

  • 1 ½ lbs pork shoulder, exclusive of bone
  • Water
  • 1 tsp salt (optional)

Trim any major layers of fat off your pork shoulder, but don’t try to get it too lean; you’ll need the fat later on. Cut your pork into chunks roughly 1 ½ to 2 inches.


Put the pork in your big, heavy skillet—you want a single layer, but the pork cubes can be very close together. Cover with water, add the salt, if using, and put over a burner set to medium-high heat. Bring water to a boil, then turn burner down to low—you want to keep the water barely simmering.

Now let your pork cubes simmer, about 3-4 hours. (If you happen to be wandering through the kitchen, turn the cubes over once or twice.)

Let your pork simmer until the water has completely cooked away. Continue cooking, letting the pork cubes brown in the fat that has collected in the bottom of the skillet. When they’re crisply brown, they’re done.

Serve over salad and top with guacamole.