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Crisp and tender slow-cooker carnitas are wrapped in butter lettuce and topped with pineapple and avocado salsa for a paleo dinner or appetizer with an ideal balance of sweet and savory flavors.
Author: Becky Winkler
Recipe type: Gluten free, Grain free, Paleo, Dinner, Pork, Carnitas
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 2-4 servings

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Rate this recipe 4.6/5 (7 Votes)


  • For the pineapple and avocado salsa:
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch of cayenne, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 pounds bone-in pork shoulder
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
  • 3/4 cup diced fresh pineapple
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice, or more to taste
  • Pinch of sea salt, or more to taste
  • 1 avocado, peeled and cubed
  • 1 head of butter or Boston lettuce, separated into individual leaves, for serving (optional)


Servings 4
Adapted from


Step 1

To make the carnitas, mix together oregano, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a small bowl. Rinse the pork and pat it dry, then rub it all over with the spice mixture. Place the pork in the slow cooker and top with the onion, orange juice, and lemon or lime juice. Place the orange halves in the slow cooker as well. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until the meat is tender and falls apart easily.
When the pork is ready, preheat the broiler. Remove the pork from the slow cooker, discarding the orange halves and onion. Use two forks to separate the meat from the bones and excess fat, and tear the meat into bit-size pieces. Place the meat on a foil-lined baking sheet, spoon about ¼ cup of the liquid from the slow cooker evenly onto the meat, and broil until browned on top and crispy around the edges, about 3-5 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
To make the salsa, mix together all ingredients except the avocado in a medium bowl. Add the avocado and stir gently to combine.
Serve the pork and salsa inside the lettuce leaves for lettuce wraps, or over cauliflower rice. The carnitas and salsa are also delicious with a fried or poached egg.

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