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Air Fryer Carnitas

This easy air fryer carnitas recipe is a family favorite because it’s quick to prepare and packed with flavor! Serve your tender shredded pork on tacos or nachos for an amazing weeknight dinner.
IMPORTANT NOTE: While this carnitas recipe is super easy to prepare, it is best if the pork marinates for at least 6 hours or overnight for the best flavor. I recommend, preparing the pork with marinade the night before planning to cook it.
Air Fryer Carnitas Tacos on a white plate with rice.

Enjoying delicious pork tacos at home doesn’t have to be difficult! In fact, if you have an air fryer, you can whip up this delicious dish with just a few minutes of prep work. This easy air fryer carnitas recipe is a family favorite because it’s quick to prepare and packed with flavor! Serve your tender shredded pork on tacos or nachos for an amazing weeknight dinner.

Air Fryer Carnitas Pin.

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IMPORTANT NOTE: While this carnitas recipe is super easy to prepare, it is best if the pork marinates for at least 6 hours or overnight for the best flavor. I recommend, preparing the pork with marinade the night before planning to cook it.

What Do I Need to Make Air Fryer Carnitas?

Using your air fryer to make carnitas at home is a great way to prepare this popular taco filling. And on top of being simple to make, this carnitas recipe is perfect for a quick dinner because you only need a handful of ingredients to prepare it. To make carnitas in your air fryer, you’ll need:

  • Pork shoulder or butt
  • Orange juice
  • Cilantro
  • Oil
  • Jalapeno
  • Taco seasoning
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Corn tortillas
  • Purple onion

Overhead view of ingredients for carnitas in the air fryer.

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How Do I Make Air Fryer Carnitas?

Cooking pork carnitas in your air fryer is one of the best ways to prepare this flavorful dish! That’s because you can set it, forget it, and end up with delicious and tender pork that’s perfect for tacos! To make pork carnitas in your air fryer, just follow these easy steps.

Step One: Prepare the Marinade

Prepare the marinade by whisking together the taco seasoning, olive oil, fresh orange juice, jalapeno and cilantro in a small bowl. Place pork in a large bowl and pour marinade over top of it. Turn the pork in the marinade making sure it is fully coated.
Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator to marinate for at least six hours or overnight.

Pork Roast in Air Fryer basket.

Step Two: Air Fry the Carnitas

Once the pork shoulder has had time to marinate, line the basket of your air fryer with foil and place the roast inside. Pour the remaining marinade over the top of the pork. Set the air fryer to cook at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. After 30 minutes, carefully flip the roast over and cook for remaining 15 minutes.

Step Three: Shred the Meat

When the cook time is up, remove the meat from the air fryer basket and shred it with a fork.

Shredded pork on cutting board with cilantro and diced red onions.

Step Four: Make the Tacos

Warm the tortillas according to the package instructions, then fill each tortilla with pork. Top with onion and chopped cilantro before serving.

What Can You Make with Pork Carnitas?

Using your air fryer pork in tacos is a popular way to use the shredded meat. But there are a variety of different recipes you can use the cooked meat in, including:

  • Nachos. Top tortilla chips with shredded pork and cheese to create delicious carnitas nachos for dinner.
  • Enchiladas. Instead of enjoying your pork carnitas and corn tortillas as tacos, why not make enchiladas instead? Roll up the tortillas around the shredded meat and top them with enchilada sauce.
  • Quesadillas. Combine the shredded carnitas meat with some shredded cheese in a flour tortilla and toast it to create a cheesy quesadilla with your cooked pork.
  • Pork rice. Add your shredded pork to a batch of Mexican rice to create a quick and easy dinner.
  • Sandwiches. There’s no reason to stick to Mexican dinners when you make carnitas. Instead of filling taco shells with the shredded meat, add the meat to a bun and serve the carnitas as sandwiches.

Carnitas tacos on a white plate with rice.

How Do You Warm Tortillas?

Corn tortillas are a great way to serve your pork carnitas, but before you can use the corn tortillas, they need to be heated. Heating the tortillas will make them easier to hold and keep them from cracking as you add your filling.

But what is the best way to warm up corn tortillas? There are two methods for warming your tortillas:

  • In the microwave. The quickest way to warm up your tortillas is to heat them in the microwave. Start by wetting two paper towels and wringing out the excess water. Place one of the damp paper towels on a plate. Then, place the tortillas on top. Cover the tortillas with the other damp towel. Heat the shells in the microwave on high for one to two minutes, depending on the number of tortillas you’re preparing. 
  • On the stovetop. For crispier corn tortillas, you can also heat the shells on the stovetop. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add one tortilla. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, then flip the tortilla and cook for another 10 seconds. Continue this process until all the tortillas have been heated.

To keep your tortillas from cooling and cracking, make sure to keep them covered until you’re ready to eat them. Cover the cooked tortillas with a damp paper towel to hold in the steam and keep your tortillas from drying out while you’re preparing the tacos.

Closeup up of carnitas tacos on a white plate.

How Do You Store Pork Carnitas?

If you have any leftovers of this quick dinner, you can store them in the refrigerator. Transfer the leftover meat to an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to five days.

Air Fryer Carnitas Tacos on a white plate with rice.

Air Fryer Carnitas

This easy air fryer carnitas recipe is a family favorite because it’s quick to prepare and packed with flavor! Serve your tender shredded pork on tacos or nachos for an amazing weeknight dinner.
IMPORTANT NOTE: While this carnitas recipe is super easy to prepare, it is best if the pork marinates for at least 6 hours or overnight for the best flavor. I recommend, preparing the pork with marinade the night before planning to cook it.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Air Fryer, Mexican
Keyword: Air Fryer Carnitas
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 2 lb pork shoulder/butt
  • 1 orange juiced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro diced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 jalapeño seeded and finely diced
  • 4 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 12 yellow corn tortillas
  • 1 purple onion diced

Instructions

  • Prepare the marinade by whisking together the taco seasoning, olive oil, fresh orange juice, jalapeno and cilantro in a small bowl.
  • Place pork in a large bowl and pour marinade over top of it. Turn the pork in the marinade making sure it is fully coated.
  • Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator to marinate for at least six hours or overnight.
  • Once the pork shoulder has had time to marinate, line the basket of your air fryer with foil and place the roast inside. Pour the remaining marinade over the top of the pork.
  • Air fry the roast at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. After 30 minutes, flip the pork roast and cook for remaining 15 minutes.
  • When the cook time is up, remove the meat from the air fryer basket and shred it with a fork.
  • Warm the tortillas according to the package instructions, then fill each tortilla with pork. Top with onion and chopped cilantro before serving.

Notes

IMPORTANT NOTE: While this carnitas recipe is super easy to prepare, it is best if the pork marinates for at least 6 hours or overnight for the best flavor. I recommend, preparing the pork with marinade the night before planning to cook it.
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