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Air Fryer Carnitas

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Air fryer carnitas is one of the easiest, most delicious, and heavenly tasting dishes that you can make in the air fryer. The dish is not only great for a lazy Sunday brunch but it also makes for a quick weekday dinner or lunch. It’s low-carb and gluten-free so it will be perfect for any diet!

three tacos on a plate.
The best air fryer carnitas

If you love making dinner in the air fryer, you’ll want to check out these recipes for Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Drumsticks and Air Fryer Parmesan Crusted Chicken Breast for more air fryer dinner ideas.

This recipe for air fryer pork carnitas is simple, delicious, and perfect for a quick weeknight meal. The pork is seasoned with taco seasoning, paprika, garlic powder, and salt before being cooked in the air fryer. They are then removed from the air fryer and served with your favorite toppings.

They’re perfect in tacos, taquitos and enchiladas. While traditional carnitas are made by slow cooking, this air fryer version makes it super quick and easy.

carnitas tacos on a plate.
Amazing shredded pork carnitas

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Carnitas are a delicious, savory dish that can be made in the air fryer.
  • They are perfect for a Mexican-themed meal or party.
  • Carnitas are perfect for serving as a main course or appetizer.
  • They can be served with rice, tortillas, or other Mexican sides.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Pork Shoulder/Butt – To make the carnitas, you’ll need boneless pork!
  • Taco Seasoning – You can find taco seasoning in the spice aisle of your grocery store.
  • Oil – A little goes a long way!
  • Orange – A must in carnitas! Adds great flavor.
  • Jalapeño – For a little spice!
  • Salt & Pepper – You’ll also need salt and pepper to season the pork.
  • Yellow Corn Tortillas – To make tacos!
  • Purple Onion – Optional, but great flavor.
  • Cilantro – Optional, but delicious.

How To Make This Recipe

six image process making air fryer carnitas.
Air fryer carnitas process

Step 1:

In a mixing bowl, add the pork and the spices (2 tablespoons taco seasoning). Top with the oil, juice from the orange, jalapeño, and cilantro. Mix and add pork and mixture to a storage bag. Place in the fridge overnight or for 6 hours. 

Step 2:

Create a foil catch tray for the air fryer basket and add the pork shoulder. Pour over the remaining marinade and cook at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Turn the pork at 30 minutes.

Step 3:

Remove the pork and shred the meat. Add the remaining taco seasoning and mix. 

Step 4:

Dice the onion. Warm the tortillas and load with the pork, onion, and cilantro. Enjoy!

tacos and rice on a plate.
Delicious air fryer carnitas

Helpful Recipe Tips

  • If you want to make a large batch of carnitas, double or triple the recipe.
  • You can make this recipe in the slow cooker or oven! 
  • Don’t overcook the pork, it should be cooked through, but not dry or overdone.
  • After you store them in the fridge, the meat may be a little dried out. Make sure to add oil and reseason.

Variations of Air Fryer Pork Carnitas

The possibilities are endless when it comes to carnitas. You can add different seasonings, sauces, and toppings to make them your own. There is something for everyone when it comes to carnitas. You can mix and match different seasonings, sauces, and toppings to create your own perfect dish.

Here are a few of our favorite variations:

  • Chipotle Carnitas: Add 1-2 teaspoons of chipotle powder to the seasoning mix for a smoky, spicy flavor.
  • Pineapple Carnitas: Toss the pork with a little bit of pineapple juice and some diced pineapple before cooking.
  • Pork Carnitas Verde: In a blender, combine 2 cups of salsa verde with 1/4 cup chopped cilantro. Pour the sauce over the cooked pork before serving.
  • Carnitas Street Tacos: Serve the carnitas in warm tortillas with diced onion, cilantro, and lime juice. Add your favorite toppings, such as sour cream or guacamole.

Storing & Freezing

Storing:  If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Freezing: If you want to freeze the carnitas, place them in a freezer-safe container and freeze for 2-3 months. When you’re ready to eat them, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight and then reheat them in the air fryer or microwave.

FAQ

How many calories are in air fryer carnitas?

There are about 300 calories in a serving of air fryer carnitas. They are also low in fat, with only 4 grams per serving. This makes them a healthy option for a Mexican dish.

Can I make carnitas ahead of time?

Yes, you can make the carnitas ahead of time. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months.

What are some toppings I can use for carnitas?

You can add sour cream,  guacamole, diced onion, and cilantro to your carnitas. You can also use them in tacos or burritos.

How can I keep these carnitas low carb?

You can omit the taco seasoning and replace it with 1 teaspoon of garlic powder. You can also use a low-carb tortilla.

Can I make these carnitas spicier?

Yes, you can add 1-2 teaspoons of chipotle powder to the seasoning mix for a smoky, spicy flavor.

Click here to download my FREE kitchen cheat sheets.

Yield: 12 Servings

Air Fryer Carnitas

air fryer carnitas thumbnail picture.

Air fryer carnitas is one of the easiest, most delicious, and heavenly tasting dishes that you can make in the air fryer. The dish is not only great for a lazy Sunday brunch but it also makes for a quick weekday dinner or lunch. It's low-carb and healthy!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds pork shoulder/butt
  • 4 tablespoons taco seasoning, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 1 jalapeño, diced
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro, diced
  • 1 purple onion, diced
  • 12 yellow corn tortillas

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl add the pork and the spices (2 tablespoons taco seasoning). Top with the oil, juice from the orange, jalapeño, and cilantro. Mix and add pork and mixture to a storage bag. Place in the fridge overnight or for 6 hours.
  2. Create a foil catch tray for the air fryer basket and add the pork shoulder. Pour over the remaining marinade and cook at 350°F for 45 minutes. Turn the pork at 30 minutes.
  3. Remove the pork and shred the meat. Add the remaining taco seasoning and mix.
  4. Warm the tortillas and load with the pork, onion, and cilantro.

Notes

  • Pork is considered cooked through and safe to eat when the internal temperature reaches 145°F.
  • Don’t overcook the pork, it should be cooked through, but not dry or overdone.
  • After you store them in the fridge, the meat may be a little dried out. Make sure to add oil and reseason.
  • Different air fryer brands may cook at different rates, so be sure to keep on eye on food.
  • You can make this recipe in the slow cooker or oven!
  • Storing: If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  • Freezing: Place them in a freezer-safe container and freeze for 2-3 months. When you’re ready to eat them, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight and then reheat them in the air fryer or microwave.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1 taco

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 303Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 400mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 20g

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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