2 ratings

Brown Sugar Carnitas

Caramelized and shredded pork, yum
Brown Sugar Carnitas

Photo courtesy of Pati Jinich

Carnitas are made of pork braised and browned in lard. In this case, the meat is caramelized in brown sugar and milk during its last pass in the dutch oven. 

Recipe courtesy of Pati Jinich


  • 1 Cup lard, vegetable shortening or oil
  • 3 to 4 Pounds boneless pork shoulder or butt, fat on, cut into 3 inch chunks
  • 4 Teaspoons kosher or sea salt, divided
  • 1 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Cups milk, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 Cup brown sugar


Heat the lard in a large Dutch oven or heavy casserole over medium-high heat.

Season the meat with 2 teaspoons of the salt and the black pepper.

Once the lard has melted, add the meat, brown on all sides, stirring and flipping as it does, for about 10 to 12 minutes.

In the jar of a blender, pour 1 ½ cups of the milk and add the garlic, onion and remaining 2 teaspoons of salt.

Puree until smooth.

Pour over the meat and let it come to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low, drop in the bay leaves, and cover.

Cook covered for 1 hour and 15 minutes, flipping the chunks of meat a couple of times in between.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining ½ cup milk with the sugar.

Pour over the carnitas, stir, and let them continue to cook, uncovered, for another 4 to 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat.

With a slotted spoon, remove the meat and place in a bowl.

Shred with a couple forks, add a couple tablespoons of the seasoned fat remaining in the casserole and toss.