Sous Vide Carnitas are SO moist and tender on the inside and crispy on the edges! This recipe is a foolproof and no-fuss way to cook the Mexican pulled pork to the perfect texture, as you can set the temperature precisely to your desired doneness. There is no chance of overcooking. It’s completely a game-changer!
This delicious and comforting sous vide pork carnitas recipe can be made ahead of time. Serve them with tortillas, burritos, quesadilla, or even salad. So delicious! They are also kept easily as leftovers!
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Super tender and juicy sous vide carnitas
Compared to traditional methods using crock pot, instant pot, or oven, sous vide carnitas are much more tender and juicier with a completely melt-in-your-mouth texture. Yes, it takes longer to cook, but it’s TOTALLY worth the wait!
It’s actually quite easy to make, and your sous vide machine will do most of the work. Try this once, and you will never go back to the old way!
Also known as low-temperature-long-time cooking, Sous vide is a French cooking technique where the food is vacuum-sealed in a bag, and then cooked to a precise temperature in a warm water bath for a long time.
Ingredients for sous vide carnitas
- Pork: My favorite is pork shoulder (either bone-in or boneless); you can also use pork butt or Boston butt. Trim the excess fat off before seasoning.
- Beer: Beer gives this dish bolder and better flavors. You can substitute chicken stock, or use Coca Cola for a sweeter taste.
- Lime juice and orange juice: The acidity from the juices tenderizes the meat, producing an incredibly fall-apart texture.
- Dry seasonings: The combination of cumin, paprika, oregano, salt, and pepper gives this dish a true Mexican flavor.
- Garlic: Use smashed fresh garlic for the best results.
- Toppings: Fresh cilantro and chopped onions are classic toppings for tacos, and are also my favorite.
How to cook sous vide carnitas
Season the pork: whisk together dry seasoning ingredients until combined. Season the pork with the seasoning on all sides. Add orange juice, lemon juice and beer in another bowl, mix well. Add the seasoned pork together with the juices into a zip-lock bag.
Vacuum seal and sous vide cook: Vacuum seal the bag using the “water displacement” technique . Place the bag in sous vide warm water bath and cook at 160 °F (71°C) for about 18 hours.
Shred: Once the pork shoulder is cooked, remove it from the bag and shred with two forks.
Broil: Spread the shredded pork in a large baking sheet, and spoon about 1 cup of juices from the bag on top of the meat evenly. Broil on high heat for 5-10 minutes until the edges are golden and crispy.
Serve: Add toppings such as cilantro and chopped onions. Serve warm on tacos, burritos or salad.
Temperature and time
Sous vide allows you to cook your pork shoulder to your desired doneness, with a wide range of cooking time. You will get different textures with different temperature settings. I have tested this recipe many times and my favorite setting is to cook at 160°F / 71°C for 18 hours. If you’d like to try other settings, you can follow the chart below:
|Sous Vide Carnitas Temperature||Cooking Time||Texture|
|145°F / 63°C||24 to 36 hours||Super tender and moist, and cannot be easily shredded with forks.|
|160°F / 71°C||16 to 24 hours||Tender and moist, and shreddable with forks.|
|185°F / 85°C||12 to 16 hours||Close to traditional texture with meat easily fall off the bones (tastes slightly dry)|
Pro Tip: You’ll need to cover the container or pot to minimize water evaporation. Use the lid that comes with the sous vide container. If you don’t have one, you can use a few pieces of aluminum foil to cover it up.
Sous vide carnitas variations
This recipe is very versatile and you can easily customize your own carnitas tacos:
- Taco shell: I used soft flour tortillas, but you can use hard corn shells for a crispy and crunchy carnitas taco. For a low-carb option, you can substitute lettuce leaves.
- Flavor: Feel free to add diced jalapeño or chili flakes into the bag to make it spicy, or add liquid smoke to make it smoky.
- Other topping ideas: You can also add sour cream, coleslaw, avocado, guacamole, and relish. Get creative!
How to serve sous vide carnitas?
These carnitas are best when served up in tortillas, but there are other fun ways to serve them: burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, nachos, and even salad!
If You Like This Recipe Try Out These Sous Vide Pork Recipes
I hope you like this recipe. If you try it, please comment below and let me know how your Sous Vide Carnitas turn out!
Easy Sous Vide Carnitas Recipe
- 4-5 pounds pork shoulder or pork butt (bone-in or boneless)
- 4 cloves garlic smashed
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more for serving
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 lime juiced
- 1 orange juiced
- 3/4 cup beer or chicken stock
- chopped onions
- sour cream
- lime wedges
- Season Pork Shoulder: Trim the excess fat from the pork.
- In a small bowl, mix together salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, smashed garlic, and dried oregano. Rub dry seasoning all over the pork.
- In another small bowl, whisk together lime juice, orange juice, and beer.
- Sous Vide Carnitas: Add water to the sous vide container or a large pot, set the Sous Vide Precision Cooker to 160°F (71°C). This is my recommended temperature, and if you’d like to cook them to different doneness, follow the guide in the post above.
- Place the seasoned pork and juices into a large vacuum bag or zip-lock bag. If you use a zip-lock bags, seal them using the “water displacement” technique: Seal all but one corner of the bag, and slowly place it in the water bath. Make sure everything below the zip-line is covered by water. Then seal the rest of the bag. (If your pork is too big for one bag, you can cut them into two pieces and use two bags.)
- When the water has reached the set temperature, lower the bags into the water bath. Make sure the meat is fully submerged in the water with the bag seams above the water.
- Cover with several pieces of aluminum foil and sous vide cook for 18 hours. This will minimize water evaporation.
- Shred the Meat: When the timer goes off, remove the bag from the water bath (don’t throw away the juices in the bag).
- Remove the pork to a large baking sheet, and shred with two forks. Spoon 1 cup of juices from the bag on top of the pork and toss to combine. (Taste the pork and add more salt if you prefer.)
- Broil on high heat for 5-10 minutes, or until the edges of the pork have browned and become crispy.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and spoon more juices over the pork and toss to combine.
- Sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro and onions, then serve warm in tacos or burritos.
- Check from time to time to make sure the water level is not too low.
- Leftover sous vide carnitas can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days or 3 months in the freezer.
Editor note: Originally published Nov 29, 2019 and updated Jan 28, 2021.