Slow-Cooker Chicken Carnitas

Sunday meal prep never tasted so good! Slow-Cooker Chicken Carnitas works great in tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, bowls and more. The possibilities are endless, especially if you try switching up the toppings to give your chicken carnitas dish a different twist.
Prep 30 Minutes
Total Time 3 Hours 30 Minutes
Servings 12

Ingredient List

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 packet (.85 oz) Old El Paso™ Chicken Taco Seasoning Mix
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 2 packages (20 oz each) boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 12 bowls from 2 packages (6.7 oz) Old El Paso™ Flour Soft Tortilla Bowls (8 Count), if desired

Toppings, if desired

  • Sliced radishes
  • Sour Cream
  • Diced red onion
  • Crumbled queso fresco cheese
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
Recipe Continues Below


  1. Spray 5-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In slow cooker, mix oil, taco seasoning mix, cumin, coriander, salt and red pepper. Add chicken, onions and garlic; toss to coat.
  2. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 3 to 4 hours or until very tender (at least 165°F). Drain chicken mixture; reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid; shred meat with fork. Return chicken mixture to slow cooker. Stir in reserved cooking liquid, orange and lime juices.
  3. Spoon chicken mixture into bowls. Top with remaining ingredients.

Expert Tips

  • Traditional carnitas are made from pork shoulder braised in lard. We made the dish easier and more accessible by using chicken thighs and vegetable oil in this chicken carnitas slow cooker recipe. Fattier thighs are essential to creating succulent, shreddable meat—chicken breasts would be too lean.
  • For food safety, the meat must be at least 165°F, but for the most tender chicken carnitas, aim for an internal temperature of 185 to 195°F.


  • 1 Serving Calories 180 (Calories from Fat 80);  Total Fat 9g (Saturated Fat 2g ,Trans Fat 0g);  Cholesterol 90mg;  Sodium 310mg;  Potassium 220mg;  Total Carbohydrate 5g (Dietary Fiber 0g ,Sugars 2g);  Protein 20g
  • % Daily Value: Vitamin A 2%;  Vitamin C 4%;  Calcium 2%;  Iron 8%
  • Exchanges: 1/2 Other Carbohydrate;  2 1/2 Very Lean Meat;  1 1/2 Fat
  • Carbohydrate Choice: 1/2
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

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