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Shredded smoked pork carnitas in a cast iron skillet garnished with lime wedges.
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5 from 3 votes

Smoked Pork Carnitas

These Smoked Pork Carnitas are a delicious, non-traditional way to enjoy carnitas. The slow smoke makes for a rich, melt in your mouth pork with crispy edges. Hop on this pork train and enjoy some great Mexican inspired flavors in the rub with a kiss of heat and a kiss of sweetness.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time12 hrs
Marinating Time12 hrs
Total Time1 d 10 mins
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Smoked Pork Carnitas
Servings: 16
Calories: 290kcal
Author: Susie Bulloch (heygrillhey.com)


  • 1 7-9 pound bone-in pork shoulder


  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 Tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • 2 limes sliced in half and juiced
  • 1 orange sliced in half and juiced


  • 1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons coarse black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon


  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup vegetable oil


  • Marinate the pork. Place the pork shoulder in a large zip top bag or other food-safe container. Sprinkle the shoulder on all sides with kosher salt and pour over the orange and lime juice. Place the orange and lime rinds in the container with the pork and refrigerate for 12 hours (typically overnight).
  • Preheat the smoker. Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F with your favorite hardwood. I recommend pecan or oak for this recipe.
  • Season the pork shoulder. Remove your pork from the marinade and pat dry. Combine all of the ingredients for the pork seasoning in a small bowl. Drizzle the pork shoulder with the 2 Tablespoons of cooking oil and spread all around. Season the pork on all sides with the dry rub.
  • Smoke! Place the pork shoulder on the smoker and close the lid. Smoke for approximately 5-6 hours, or until the internal temperature of the shoulder reads about 165 degrees F.
  • Prep to braise. Transfer the pork shoulder to an aluminum pan and pour the ½ cup of vegetable oil over the top. Place the bay leaves on top and cover tightly with foil.
  • Braise the pork. Increase the heat on your smoker to 350 degrees F (this step can also be completed in the oven) and put the covered pan inside and close the lid. Allow to cook for an additional 3-4 hours or until the pork shoulder reaches an internal temperature of 203 degrees, or your thermometer probe slides into the meat like it is sliding into softened butter.
  • Rest and shred. Rest the meat at room temperature for at least an hour before shredding. Shred the meat and remove the large bone and any fat or gristle and discard the bay leaves. There will likely be a lot of liquid in the aluminum pan, do not discard this liquid! It is delicious and you’ll need it in the next step.
  • Crisp the pork. Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Use a spoon (or fat separator) to separate the oil and fat from the pan drippings. Drizzle the skillet with 1-2 Tablespoons of the cooking fats. Place the shredded pork into the hot oil and cook for 2-3 minutes, flipping pieces occasionally to ensure even browning.
  • Enjoy! Serve immediately in tacos or burritos, on nachos, or plain! I recommend having the reserved cooking liquid on the side to drizzle on, as desired.



Calories: 290kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 93mg | Sodium: 109mg | Potassium: 503mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 87IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 2mg