Citrus Carnitas Recipe ~ A Twist On a Mexican Favorite

The word carnitas literally means “little meats”. Carnitas is a Mexican pork dish that is simmered slowly for several hours. This “Citrus Carnitas” was originally published by the lovely and accomplished Melissa Joulwan as “Stove-Top Carnitas.”  If you have not read her WELL FED cookbooks, (no relation, although I would love to have her royalties!) stop immediately, buy them, and then come back to this post.

Back to the pork. The instructions call for simmering the meat in lemon and lime juice, which gives the result an extra punch of flavor. (Typically authentic carnitas is simmered in lard, which you are welcome to try, but my waistline told me it prefers the citrus version.) When I finally did get around to cooking this recipe (the two hours of simmering was an initial deterrent, I’ll be honest) it turned out completely WOWZA!


This “Citrus Carnitas” is paleo, and gluten and dairy free! Added Bonus! 

Now here’s a funny story. When I prepared this for the first time, I did everything correctly, or so I thought. When we sat down to dig in I, through a mouthful of food, which Brent abhors, exclaimed how delicious I thought the carnitas was. He agreed, but after a couple bites we both slowed down. “Does it seem really salty to you?” He said, “ya, a little” but I could tell he was just trying to spare my feelings. I love salt. But, the flavor of this meat was over the top. I got very cocky and assumed I could improve this recipe when I made a few of my own tweaks and changes next go round. Well, next go round came and I realized, upon reviewing the recipe, that I had used a tablespoon of GARLIC SALT not a tablespoon of GARLIC POWDER. Rookie mistake.


Note to you new cooks out there: big ass difference between garlic salt and garlic powder! They are not interchangeable!!

Once I got the salt issue sorted, the second, third and tenth time I made “Citrus Carnitas” it turned out magnificently. The biggest advice I might toss your way on this recipe is to make sure to attend carefully to the end of the simmering process, so the pot does not run dry. Also, err on the side of under simmering then over simmering or you will end up with tough meat. When the “simmer” is executed well, this meat should almost fall apart as you are transferring it to the frying pan.

The best way to juice a lime is on the right!!
The best way to juice a lime is on the right!!

Commonly Carnitas is served with cilantro, tortillas and refried beans. But to thoroughly enjoy the inherently rich flavors I like to let the pork stand-alone. I just add some sautéed zucchini noodles and a dabble of guacamole and call it good.

Stay tuned for future original sautéed zucchini noodle and guacamole recipes from WELLFITandFED!



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 Want to try some original recipes by WELLFITandFED? Click below!

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 Favorite Kitchen Tools For this Recipe

HERB CUTTER: Oh my word do I love this tool. I use it on green onion, chive, basil, and cilantro. So quick and easy!

SPIRALIZER: This is a cheapo spiralizer that I think works pretty well considering. I “spiraled” two large zucchini, in about two minutes, with almost no waste and minimal clean up.

Please let me know what you think when you try this complete winner of a recipe! Share your thoughts in the comments section below.   


34 Responses

  1. I’ve very recently (within the last year) started eating pork. I’ve never been a huge fan of it but I think that’s because I didn’t know how to cook it and it taste good. I’ve always had like, pork chops, or you know, greasy gross pork. I’ve been slowly starting to add it to my diet and this recipe looks delicious. I’ll have to try it, for sure!

  2. This recipe looks great. I definitely will give it a try. I have been thinking about buying a spriralizer. The one you show looks manual. Is it time consuming or difficult to use? Would appreciate any advice people might have on this purchase.

    1. I like it. It is quick and easy but I will upgrade at some point to a hand crank one. More flexibility I think.

  3. Mexican and Mexican inspired dishes are a hit with me. I’ve been toying with Paleo a lot more lately and hope to get fully on the wagon. I’ve read about the progress stories as well as benefits.

    1. Regina! Please let me know if you need any personal help with getting going! It is such a wonderful lifestyle!

  4. You have some of the best recipes! I’ve never coated the meat with the seasoning this way for a slow cooker recipe, only when I’m pan frying. Now I just need a pork shoulder!

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About Dr. Denniston

Dr. Denniston is a wellness strategist for elite leaders and their teams, bridging the connection between personal well-being and professional success. She provides custom solutions for burnout and stress and facilitates cohesive habit-training strategies that maximize vitality, productivity, and resilience.

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