Best Carnitas (without lard)?

Luv carnitas, but have no source for real (non-hydrogenated) lard. So I have been trying to do them without it at home as good as the ones available from the local taqueria down the mountain

My best so far is an offshoot of the braise method shown in this Rick Bayless vid. After they’re done, I’ll shred and either pan fry in cast iron or stick under the broiler.

They’re ok… but less than my expectations given what I get at the taqueria. Do any of you have a killer method/recipe that does not require lard?

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Could you just use bacon fat? That’s what I’ve done in the past to no ill effects.

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I suppose, but I am trying to avoid the traditional method where the pork is cooked submerged in a large volume of fat (plus it would take me the better part of a year for me to collect/store that much bacon fat).

It may simply be that the taste/texture I am looking for is just not possible without the traditional cooking method, so I am just grasping for straws here.

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Have you tried sous vide?

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Start with butt or shoulder.

Brine overnight (or at least 8 hours)

Use a slow cooker using equal parts OJ, lime juice and chicken broth

Crisp up the carnitas once finished using lard (or bacon fat) or your choice of fat, preferrably lard.


I’m assuming you mean dry brine on about two inch cuts… right?

Like I said I can’t get good lard so BF it will be.

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No… as I don’t have an immersion cooker.


Thanks for all of your suggestions as they all got me thinking last night.

Didn’t have any lard/bacon fat, so I started with the familiar (and pretty good) Rick’s Home-Style Pork Carnitas recipe. The only things I did differently were…

1.) Used a bit more salt on the pork, and let it sit for a couple/few hours, and toweled it dry.

2.) Once done, I moved the chunks of pork into my stand mixer with the paddle (which I often use to shred chicken - so why not?).

3.) Discarded the bay leaves, and threw everything left in the baking dish (mostly rendered pork fat, garlic, and some juices) into the blender, along with a pinch more kosher salt and about a tablespoon or two of agave syrup (sugar helps with browning - right?… and thought this would replace things like coke or sweetened condensed milk other recipes call for).

4.) Turned mixer on low to start shredding the pork and slowly added the blender contents to coat. Once it was shredded to my liking, I popped it into a pretty hot 12 inch CI skillet, stirring occasionally until the outside of the various clumps of shredded pork were browned and crispy (about 5-7 minutes) and removed to a paper towel lined bowl to soak up any excess fat/liquid.

It has been a while, but I actually think these turned out as well (or maybe better) than the local taqueria down the mountain. Also thinking about what else I could add to that blender to make things even better (maybe some cumin, chiles, citrus zest, etc.).