Nothing beats this smoked carnitas recipe. They’re smoked, then braised in a citrus and pepper bath. Then crisped up on a cast iron skillet. All on my pellet grill.
It’s the best way to spend a day off!
For these smoked carnitas, I used a bone in pork shoulder. You can and I might even recommend going boneless, but I went with what I had in the freezer.
I’ll tell you why in a bit..
I used a rub for these carnitas, similar to my pulled pork, but added some mexican seasonings like, cumin, chili powder and paprika.
But the rub doesn’t make THAT much of a difference, because you’ll be braising these carnitas after the smoke period that will really give it some insane flavor!
And normally I smoke to temp or probe. But the meat will break down during the braising process.
I’ll be smoking this pork shoulder for 4 hours since that is about the maximum time meat can really absorb smoke.
During the braise period I cut my pork shoulder into chucks so it will break down quicker and absorb as much of the flavor as possible.
This is where you may want to go boneless . I didn’t have much problem at all cutting out the bone from the bone in pork shoulder.
BUT I will say this. Cutting up your shoulder before smoking would be amazing since you can really get the flavor into your smoked carnitas.
DOUBLE BUT, I think bone-in had just enough smokiness without overwhelming the carnitas so its all up to you!
Do you need to cook this entirely on the pellet grill? Of course not. But what I enjoy about a pellet grill is how dialed in the temps are. You can smoke on low temps, braise at a medium temp, then crisp up at the high temps!
During the summer, not having to use the oven is always a a plus for me. Keepin that AC bill down is always a win!
I have a Traeger that manages the temps will, if you’re in the market for a pellet grill you cant go wrong with a Traeger.
Ahhh.. one day..
These smoked carnitas are amazing by themselves. With a side of beans rice and tortillas. It’s a dinner anyone will love!
You get hit with the pork flavor up front which I think is key to a solid carnitas recipes, but you have hints of smoke, citrus and guajillo peppers on the end.
And with that crispy on the outside tender on the inside texture? My ABSOLUTE FAVORITE thing about a good smoked carnitas recipe!