A recipe shortcut for Carnitas Tacos

On Sunday evenings during the summer I ask each of my kids to look through my Pinterest recipe boards or our cookbooks to find a dinner that they would like to make with me during the week. This week my son chose a carnitas street taco recipe that my neighbor Aly recently had featured on The Chew (see Aly’s recipe here). Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time or ingredients on hand to make Aly’s recipe in the crockpot on Monday morning.  Instead I decided to improvise using a package of carnitas that I had picked up at Costco a couple weeks ago. We also put a family friendly spin on the tacos by choosing our own toppings.

I asked my son what toppings he would like on his carnitas tacos before before we hit Trader Joe’s for our weekly shopping trip. He requested chopped cherry tomatoes, shredded cheese, and lettuce.

Carnitas Tacos Ingredients

I personally wanted guacamole, but since I’m the only one in my family that likes guacamole, I picked up this package of 6 individual pouches. Once guacamole is opened it turns brown quickly and I hate to waste an entire container in order to have just a little bit on my taco. These pouches are a great solution. They are also great for an afternoon snack or to spread on toast in the morning if you are out of fresh avocado.

My son set to work washing and cutting the tomatoes while I chopped some lettuce. He then washed and dried the lettuce using our salad spinner (which I’m pretty sure is his favorite tool in the kitchen).

The carnitas package comes with two plastic pouches. One pouch was more than enough to feed our family of 4 dinner and have enough for me to have a couple tacos for lunch the next day. We decided to heat up the carnitas in the microwave because we were in a time crunch. Then I used a trick I learned from Aly’s recipe to crisp up the carnitas on the stovetop before serving. First, we heated a skillet over medium-high heat and added 1 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Next, we pressed the meat about 1-inch deep into the pan and let it sit for a couple minutes. We flipped the carnitas and allowed it to cook for a couple minutes more on the opposite side. Aly also suggests  spreading the meat out on a baking sheet and putting them under the broiler for a few minutes. Make sure you keep a close eye on them, they crisp quickly.  This method gives them a quick crisp without drying them out. You can check out Aly’s blog Aly’s Elegant Eats for more recipe ideas.

The only thing left to do was assemble our tacos. Everybody customized their tacos to their liking before we sat down to eat.

Carnitas Tacos on plate

There you go…an easy-peasy, family friendly (and gluten free) meal in under 30 minutes.


  1. Carla England

    May 25, 2019 at 11:58 am

    Looks like a wonderful use of the Costco Carnitas. I’ll give it a whirl this week for dinner. Thanks for the heads up on the individual guacamole packages, too! We all love guac but sometimes I just don’t have time to make it myself or can’t find ripe avocados.

    1. Parker

      May 27, 2019 at 1:04 pm

      Thank you! I hope you enjoy the carnitas. We just had them for dinner again this past week and all fought over who got to eat the leftovers the next day. I think these carnitas would be a great addition to nachos as well. Let me know how dinner turns out.

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