Home » Blog » Recipes » Air Fryer » Crispy Air Fryer Carnitas

Crispy Air Fryer Carnitas

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure policy.
Pork is marinated and air fried for tender, juicy pork with crispy edges, in this air fryer pork carnitas recipe!
pork carnitas in a corn tortilla.

Get maximum flavor with minimum mess when you make air fryer carnitas! Flavorful pork is marinated and air fried for tender, juicy pork, perfect for tacos, burritos, or your favorite Mexican dish.

The meat is juicy inside with nice crispy edges, just like carnitas should be. And with grocery prices rising, I love that carnitas uses pork shoulder, one of the most inexpensive cuts of meat around!

top view of air fryer carnitas with mexican rice.

Marinade it the night before, and this air fryer pork carnitas recipe is quick enough to be a weeknight meal. It is also great to serve as easy game day food or a fun dinner for Taco Tuesday.

Find more Mexican-inspired air fryer recipes! Try air fryer churros, air fryer enchiladas, or copycat Taco Bell Mexican pizza.

🌶️Key Ingredients

For exact amounts needed see the recipe card below

Pork – Using a boneless pork butt (also called shoulder) is traditional and the most economical cut of meat. But you can use pork loin or tenderloin if you prefer leaner meat.

Seasoning Salt, pepper, and taco seasoning mix add flavor to the dish. Use a store-bought taco seasoning mix or make your own blend.

Orange – The juice of an orange adds a bright citrus-infused flavor to the meat.

Jalapeno and cilantro – These are classic flavors in Mexican food!

Toppings – Pick your favorite taco toppings.

labeled ingredient photo for air fryer carnitas.

🥣How to Make Air Fryer Carnitas

1. Marinate

The meat should marinate for at least 6 hours for the best flavor. But it can stay in the fridge overnight, making this is easy to prepare ahead of time.

Boneless pork shoulder can be as large as 5-8 pounds, and this recipe is only for a 2-3 pound roast. So if you have a larger roast, cut it into smaller chunks and freeze the extras for another meal.

pork shoulder marinating in a bowl.
Marinate the pork

Juice the orange and dice the jalapeno and cilantro. Then combine all the spices, orange juice, and veggies in a bowl or a resealable bag and refrigerate it to let it marinate.

2. Air Fry

Make a tray from aluminum foil to catch the marinade and keep juices contained. This will also help the meat steam and stay nice and juicy.

Put the foil tray in the air fryer, making sure it only partially covers the bottom of the basket. Add the meat and pour the marinade over the top.

pork carnitas before air frying.
Before air frying
pork carnitas after air frying
After air frying

Air fry at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Then flip the pork over and air fry it for another 15 minutes. Use a meat thermometer and check the internal temperature.

Pork is safe to eat if it has reached 145 degrees F, but it will be easier to shred if it has reached 170 degrees F. Some people prefer to pull it at 190-200 degrees F. The cooking time will depend on how thick the meat is and your preferences.

3. Shred

Let the pork rest for 10-15 minutes before shredding it. This will allow the juices to reabsorb for maximum flavor and makes it easier to handle.

adding taco seasoning to shredded pork.
Shredding and adding taco seasoning

Shred the meat using two forks or meat claws. Add another 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning to the shredded meat and mix.

🍴Serving Ideas

There are so many ways to serve air fryer carnitas! This delicious pork tastes amazing with tacos, burrito bowls, taquitos, and quesadillas. My favorite is to use the meat in tacos. Add it to warm corn tortillas and top it with diced red onions and pickled jalapenos!

Other tasty toppings for carnitas are sour cream, poblano sauce, guacamole, green onions, taco sauce, hot sauce, or your favorite salsa. If you want to make it a complete meal, add Mexican rice, refried beans, or Chile Relleno casserole as a side.

Of course, you don’t have to serve it in a Mexican dish. It is also as tasty as a pulled pork sandwich or a pulled pork pizza. Make it once and use it for a few different meals!

holding a carnitas taco.

💭How to Store and Reheat

Store leftover carnitas in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. It will dry out some in the refrigerator, so toss it with a few tablespoons of olive oil or lime juice before reheating.

To reheat, put it back in the air fryer and cook it at 400 degrees F for 2-3 minutes until you have warm, juicy, and crispy meat.

air fryer carnitas on a white plate.

⭐Tips for Making the Best Pork Carnitas

Be sure to check out the step by step instructions

  • Boneless pork shoulder can be as large as 5-8 pounds, and this recipe is only for a 2-3 pound roast. So cut the meat as needed.
  • Don’t skip the marinade.
  • Use foil to help keep the meat moist and reduce the cleanup time.
  • Cook the meat to at least 170 degrees F so it is easy to shred. Keep it under 200 degrees F, or it will not be as juicy.

Did You Make This? Leave a Star Rating!

pork carnitas in a corn tortilla.
5 from 4 votes

Air Fryer Carnitas Recipe

Pork is marinated and air fried for tender, juicy pork with crispy edges, in this air fryer pork carnitas recipe!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Marinate Time6 hrs
Total Time7 hrs
Servings: 6
Print Save Pin

Ingredients
 

  • 2 pound pork boneless shoulder/butt *see notes
  • 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

For serving

  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 12 yellow corn tortillas
  • 1 red onion diced
  • your favorite toppings

Instructions

  • Juice the orange and dice the jalapeno and cilantro.
    1 orange, 1/4 cup cilantro, 1 jalapeño
  • Add the pork, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning to a medium bowl or resealable bag.
    2 pound pork boneless shoulder/butt *see notes, 2 tablespoons taco seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper
  • Add the oil, juice from the orange, jalapeño, and cilantro to the mixing bowl. Mix and put the meat in the fridge for 6 hours or overnight.
    3 tablespoons oil
  • Make a tray from foil to hold the meat in the air fryer basket. Put the pork on the tray and pour the marinade from the bowl over the top. Air fry at 350°f for 45 minutes, turning the pork over after 30 minutes.
  • Check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. Pork is safe to eat after 145 degrees F, but it will be easier to shred if it reaches at least 170 degrees F.
  • Remove the meat and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Then shred the meat. Add the remaining taco seasoning to the shredded meat and mix.
    2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • Serve on a warm tortilla with added diced red onion and cilantro or your favorite toppings.
    12 yellow corn tortillas, 1 red onion diced, your favorite toppings

Notes

  • Boneless pork shoulder can be as large as 5-8 pounds, and this recipe is only for a 2-3 pound roast. So cut the meat as needed.
  • Don’t skip the marinade.
  • Use foil to help keep the meat moist and reduce the cleanup time.
  • Cook the pork to at least 170 degrees F, so it is easy to shred. Keep it under 200 degrees F, or it will not be as juicy.

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 382kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 91mg | Sodium: 627mg | Potassium: 718mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 233IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition facts are estimates.

Enjoy this recipe?Follow Family Friendly Foods on Facebook
three air fryer pork carnitas tacos on a white plate.
By on October 4th, 2022

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating