A slow smoke is the key to these delicious Smoked Pork Carnitas on your Traeger. With Mexican inspired flavors, a homemade rub, these easy pork tacos are the best. Melt in your pork with crispy edges and tons of flavor. It doesn’t get better than this.
Move over ground beef tacos…these smoked pork carnitas will be your new favorite for taco night! This delicious recipe is so full of flavor because it’s seasoned with a homemade rub and cooked in fresh orange and lime juice. It’s super simple to make and turns out perfect every single time.
We love making some smoked queso dip to snack on before we eat smoked pork tacos too! This corn salsa is another great appetizer option. Whatever you pair it with, these carnitas are mouthwateringly good! Make them for a super fun taco Tuesday, or as a great meal when you’re hosting guests.
Why You’ll Love Smoked Pork Carnitas
- It only takes 15 minutes to prep everything you need to make smoked carnitas. Of course, the cook time is long, but you can prep side dishes or kick back and relax while the smoker does all the hard work.
- This delicious recipe makes 12 servings! And you can easily double or triple it to have more than enough to go around at a party.
- Pork is an affordable selection of meat, making this a really affordable taco night recipe.
Ingredients for Smoked Pork Carnitas
- Boneless pork shoulder – Pork shoulder is best in this recipe, but you can substitute it for pork loin or pork butt.
- Mexican beer – The specific flavor profile of Mexican beer pairs beautifully with all of the other ingredients in this smoked carnitas recipe.
- Olive oil – You’ll use olive oil to baste the pork. Feel free to swap it out for avocado oil, melted butter, or vegetable oil.
- Garlic cloves – Mince fresh garlic cloves for the best flavor!
- Yellow onion – The mild flavor of a yellow onion will work best in these yummy pork carnitas.
- Fresh lime juice – I recommend squeezing fresh lime juice and not using the stuff from the bottle. Fresh juice just tastes better!
- Fresh orange juice – I recommend the same thing about orange juice! Grab a few oranges and get fresh juice for the best flavor.
- Spices – This mix of spices creates the most perfectly balanced rub to make flavorful pork carnitas.
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
- Dried oregano
- Chili powder
- Ground cumin
- Onion powder
How to Make Smoked Carnitas
Preheat the pellet grill to 225° Fahrenheit while you prep the pork.
Place the orange juice, lime juice, garlic, and thinly sliced onion into a large disposable pan.
Brush the pork shoulder in olive oil with a basting brush. Then, mix all of the rub ingredients in a small bowl and rub it all over the pork until it is thoroughly covered.
Place the seasoned pork shoulder into the disposable pan and place it in a preheated pellet grill for 4-5 hours. The pork needs to reach an internal temperature of 165° Fahrenheit.
Carefully remove the pan from the smoker and place the pork shoulder onto a cutting board. Cut the pork into 2-3 inch pieces, make sure they’re all even sizes.
Put all of the pork chunks back into the pan.
Cover with aluminum foil and place the pan back into the pellet grill. Bump the temperature up to 350° Fahrenheit and cook for 2 more house until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 195° Fahrenheit.
Remove the pan from the pellet grill and take the foil off the top. Allow the meat to rest for 30 minutes, then skim off the fat from the top and anywhere else in the pan.
Then, drizzle olive oil into a cast iron skillet and heat the pan over medium-high heat.
When the oil is hot, place the pork into the pan, along with a few tablespoons of the juices.
Cook until the bottom of the meat is browned, then serve with tortillas and toppings!
What to Serve with Smoked Pork Carnitas
Top your smoked pork tacos with cheese, salsa, cilantro, lime juice, guacamole, and any other toppings you like! This smoked salsa would taste amazing. You can also serve some tasty side dishes like Mexican street corn salad or this tasty grilled corn salad.
Don’t forget to top everything off with a tasty margarita!
How to Store Leftover Smoked Carnitas
This easy smoked pork meal stores and reheats really well! You can reheat these smoked carnitas in the microwave or oven until they reach temp.
FRIDGE: Place leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
FREEZER: Store leftovers in a freezer bag or airtight container and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw completely before reheating.
Are carnitas traditionally smoked?
Traditionally, carnitas are cooked in oil or lard. However, smoking the meat for carnitas provides an excellent flavor in the pork. And this smoked carnitas recipe still calls for the meat to be cooked in a hot cast iron pan for a bit to give it that nice classic carnitas crisp.
- If you have a lot of meat and only a small cast iron pan, be sure to crisp the meat in batches so that each bite has the perfect searing on it!
- Use an instant read thermometer to quickly tell what temperature the pork has cooked to.
- Serve this perfectly cooked meat on homemade corn tortillas, flour tortillas, or rice!
You’re going to love how simple this recipe is and how AMAZING the meat turns out! We can’t wait for you to try it.
More Smoked Recipes You’ll Love
- Everyone loves a good grilled burger, but how about Smoked Burgers?
- If you need a really easy side dish, these Easy Smoked Vegetables don’t take long to make and pair well with anything!
- Want some more great pork recipes? Check out this Smoked Pork Butt.
- You’ll never go back to baked potatoes in the oven once you’ve tried Smoked Baked Potatoes.
Shop Our Spices
- 3-4 pounds boneless pork shoulder
- 2 Tablespoons canola oil or olive oil
- 12 ounces Mexican beer
- ½ cup fresh orange juice about 3 oranges juiced
- ½ cup fresh lime juice about 3 limes juiced
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 1 yellow onion sliced
- Chopped fresh cilantro to garnish optional
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- Warm corn tortillas chopped onions, chopped cilantro, avocado, salsa, pico de gallo, crumbled Queso Fresco, lime wedges, etc.
- Preheat the pellet grill to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the beer, orange juice, lime juice and garlic into a large grill safe disposable pan. Add thinly sliced onions to the pan.
- Brush pork with olive oil, completely covering.
- In a mixing bowl combine the rub ingredients. Rub all over the pork.
- Place the seasoned pork in the pan.
- Cook on a preheated pellet grill for 4-5 hours or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Carefully remove the pan from the grill and place pork shoulder on a cutting board. Cut the meat into 2-3 inch pieces, being sure to keep the pieces evenly sized. Return the pork chunks to the pan.
- Cover the pan with aluminum foil and return to the pellet grill. Turn the temperature up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for about 2 hours until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 195 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the tinfoil from the pan and allow the meat to rest for about 30 minutes.
- Take pork out of the pan, reserving the juices in the pan, and shred the pork.
- After the pan of juices has set, skim off the fat from the top and remove any fat from the pan.
- Next, drizzle some olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Heat the pan on your stove top over medium-high heat or place it back on the smoker at a temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- When the oil is hot, place the smoked pulled pork along with a couple Tablespoons of reserved juices in the skillet. Cook until the bottom of the meat is browned. Serve with tortillas and toppings.