Spit Roasted Pork Carnitas

Pork carnitas are one of the world’s great culinary treasures, tender roasted pork shoulder beautifully crisped up and served with tortillas.

The problem is that the normal cooking method calls for roasting the pork shoulder for hours in pork fat, which can make the dish really heavy. This version of carnitas avoids the extra fat by spit roasting the pork shoulder to get a crisp exterior while keeping the soft juicy texture inside.

We like to serve them with the traditional mixture of diced onion, cilantro and lime juice on corn tortillas with the addition of some crumbled cojita cheese.  The cheese has just the right balance of flavor and texture to balance out the pork.

Pork Carnitas tacos close up

Carnitas are one of the world’s great culinary treasures

If you’re looking for a rotisserie set up for your grill check out the Outdoor Cooking section of our Market.

A few side dishes to serve with this carnitas recipe are Pinto Beans with Chilies and Instant Pot Mexican Rice.

Pork shoulder roasting for carnitas

Spit Roasted Pork Carnitas

5 from 3 votes
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Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 4 hours
Servings: 10 servings


  • 4 1/2 lbs pork shoulder, (can also use a pork loin roast)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground chipotle
  • 1 tsp Ancho chili
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin


  • 2 large bunches of cilantro
  • 1 1/2 cups white onion, , minced
  • 1/4 cup lime juice


  • Start by making a rub out of the ancho chili, chipotle, smoked paprika, onion, garlic, cumin, pepper, and 1 1/2 tsp of salt. Mix the lemon, lime, and orange juices together.
  • Place the pork in a large pan and pour the juices over the pork shoulder. Spread the rub on the shoulder, making sure to get as much as you can into all the nooks and crannies. Let the pork shoulder marinate for at least an hour.
  • The ideal way to do this is to get everything ready a day ahead to the let the juices and spices infiltrate the shoulder.
  • When you're ready to start cooking take the spit and insert in through the pork shoulder. Spit roasting works best when you skewer the meat lengthwise as close to the center as possible, to keep the weight balanced. It's very important to secure the meat using the large forks that come with your rotisserie.
  • Roast the pork shoulder over low heat until it reaches an internal temperature of 165℉. A 4 1/2 pound shoulder will usually takes around 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
  • While the pork is cooking mince the onion and cilantro. Once they're minced combine them with the lime juice and set aside.
  • When the pork shoulder has finished cooking take it off the spit, wrap it up in foil, and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes. When it's finished resting take it out and chop it up into bite-sized pieces. Mix in the remaining 1/2 tsp of salt with chopped up pork.
  • Serve with warm tortillas, the cilantro mixture, and crumbled cojita cheese.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican

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