OVERHEAD SHOT OF ASSEMBLED CARNITAS BOWL NEXT TO JAR OF PICKLED RED ONIONS, TEA TOWEL, FORK AND LIME.

Carnitas Bowl with Quick Pickled Onions and Lime Crema

This carnitas bowl recipe has it all – tender, succulent meat, tangy crema, fresh herbs and nutritious, colorful veggies. Get ready for an explosion of flavor with every beautiful bite.

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Carnitas Bowls Made in the Crockpot

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that the star of these rice bowls is the carnitas. And for good reason. 

The carnitas in this recipe are cooked low and slow in a crockpot turning the typically tough pork shoulder into tender, juicy, melt-in-your-mouth meat. 

It is a revelation. 

And just when you think it can’t get any better, the succulent bits of meat are quickly broiled with a little braising liquid until just crispy and slightly charred. 

The texture is on point and the flavor is out of this world. 

The pork is so good on its own, don’t be surprised if you see a steady stream of people walking through your kitchen trying to snitch the goods. And honestly, who could blame them??

And like all good crockpot recipes, these carnitas require minimal prep and the crockpot takes care of the rest. So these carnitas bowls are perfect for weeknight dinners and make great grab-and-go lunches.

OVERHEAD CLOSEUP OF PORK SHOULDER, ONIONS, GARLIC, CILANTRO AND CITRUS FRUIT FOR PORK CARNITAS.

What Goes Into a Carnitas Bowl?

  • Pork Carnitas: Carnitas are the perfect mixture of tender and crispy. I’m talking totally drool-worthy, succulent, flavorful protein here. 



  • Quick pickled red onions: I love the splash of color these quick pickled red onions add to this dish. The acidity provides some wonderful balance to the other flavors as well. 


  • Lime crema: I made a quick cheater crema with some sour cream, lime juice and lime zest.


  • Corn: For this recipe, I pan-roasted some fresh corn from my local farmer’s market. Canned or frozen corn work well, too!


  • Black beans: I just used room temperature black beans, but you can also quickly warm some black beans up in a skillet before assembling.


  • Avocado: Avocados are packed with nutrients, and I love the flavor and texture they add to these pork carnitas bowls. 


  • Cilantro: Cilantro adds freshness and flavor. 


  • Cotija cheese: Cotija cheese is wonderfully crumbly and salty with a slight tang. 


  • Jalapeno: I rarely miss an opportunity to add jalapeno to a dish, and this carnitas bowl is no exception. I used fresh jalapenos this time, but pickled works, too. 
CARNITAS BOWL WITH QUICK PICKLED ONIONS AND LIME CREMA PINTEREST IMAGE 1

Don’t Shy Away from Mixing Things Up with Your Carnitas Rice Bowls

Bowls are wonderfully versatile and can be customized according to your individual preferences. Whenever I serve these carnitas bowls, I always set out all the individual ingredients buffet style so that everyone can create their own perfect bowls with as much – or as little – of each component as they like. 

This is especially great for kids. With these rice bowls, kids gain the ability to add which toppings they enjoy and adjust the quantities to their individual preferences. It gives them a sense of control that isn’t always available at meal times while providing them practice with decision-making in a controlled, safe setting. 

But don’t stop there! Feel free to take the customization a step further by switching out some of the components in this recipe for others that meet your family’s preferences. 

Here are just a few ways you may consider personalizing your own pork carnitas bowls:

  • Use quinoa, cauliflower rice or brown rice instead of white rice.
  • Sub out the black beans for chickpeas or refried beans.
  • Use freshly diced red onions instead of pickling them. 
  • Add in different veggies such as peppers, radishes, carrots, tomatoes. You could even throw in some lettuce and make yourself a hearty salad. 
  • Instead of crema, try sour cream, salsa or hot sauce. 
  • Try adding guacamole instead of avocado slices. 
  • Consider adding some sweet elements such as pineapple chunks, mandarin orange slices, grapefruit sections or mangoes. 
  • Instead of cotija cheese, you could sub out for queso fresco or shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

Looking for even more yummy meal options? I've got you covered!

OVERHEAD CLOSE UP OF CARNITAS BOWL WITH JALAPENOS, CILANTRO, COTIJA CHEESE, PICKLED ONIONS AND LIME.

Method

Cooking the Carnitas

Add the pork, spices, yellow onion, garlic, beer, one lime and one orange to a large crockpot. Stir to combine. 

Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours until pork is tender.

Shred the pork with a fork. 

Place some shredded pork on an aluminum foil-lined sheet pan in a single layer. 

Drizzle with some of the braising liquid and broil for about 5 minutes. 

Remove the pan from the oven. Drizzle with more of the braising liquid and broil for another 5 minutes or until the pork begins to crisp. 

Repeat the broiling process with the remaining pork. Note: I only broil as much pork as I intend to use for that meal. If there are any leftovers, I broil them before serving with the next meal. 

CLOSEUP OF CORNER OF SHEET PAN OF CARMELIZED AND CRISPY PORK CARNITAS.

Preparing the Quick Pickled Onions

Thinly slice the red onion. You can do this with a sharp Chef’s knife or a mandolin. 

Add the onions to a clean glass jar. Add peeled garlic cloves and peppercorns if desired as well. 

Add the water, vinegar, sugar and salt to a medium-sized saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolves completely. 

Allow the brine to cool and pour over the onions into the glass jar. 

Allow to cool to room temperature before transferring to the fridge. 

Let the onions brine for a minimum of 30 minutes before serving. 

OVERHEAD VIEW OF JAR OF HOMEMADE QUICK PICKLED RED ONIONS NEXT TO LIME, CARNITAS BOWL AND TEA TOWEL.

Cooking the Rice

Cook the rice as directed. 

Once the rice finishes cooking, add olive oil, lime juice lime zest and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Fluff with a fork. 

Pan-Roasting the Corn

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn and saute while stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes or until slightly charred. 

Then season to taste with salt, pepper and Tajin seasoning.

CARNITAS BOWL WITH QUICK PICKLED ONIONS AND LIME CREMA PINTEREST IMAGE 2

Preparing the Lime Crema

Add the sour cream along with the zest and juice from one lime to a small bowl. 

Mix thoroughly to combine.

Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Assembling the Carnitas Bowl

Add the rice to the bottom of a bowl. 

Then add the desired amounts of carnitas, pan-roasted corn, black beans, pickled onions, cotija cheese, jalapenos, avocados and lime crema. 

Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.

SOMEONE DRIZZLING LIME CREMA ONTO CARNITAS BOWL.
OVERHEAD SHOT OF ASSEMBLED CARNITAS BOWL NEXT TO JAR OF PICKLED RED ONIONS, TEA TOWEL, FORK AND LIME.

Carnitas Bowl with Quick Pickled Onions and Lime Crema

This carnitas bowl recipe has it all - tender, succulent meat, tangy crema, fresh herbs and nutritious, colorful veggies. Get ready for an explosion of flavor with every beautiful bite.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 8 hrs 10 mins
Total Time 8 hrs 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4 servings
Calories 509 kcal

Ingredients
  

Carnitas

  • 5 lb pork shoulder
  • 12 oz light beer of choice
  • 1 large yellow onion, julienned
  • 1 small head of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 orange, halved
  • 1 lime, halved
  • 1 tbsp Tajin chili lime seasoning
  • 2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Quick Pickled Onion

  • 1 red onion
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tbsps sugar
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • garlic cloves, peeled optional
  • peppercorns optional

Rice

  • 1 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pan-Roasted Corn

  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt, pepper and Tajin seasoning to taste

Lime Crema

  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 lime, juice and zest

Serving Carnitas Bowls

  • 1 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup cotija cheese
  • 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Instructions
 

Cooking the Carnitas

  • Add the pork, spices, yellow onion, garlic, beer, one lime and one orange to a large crockpot. Stir to combine.
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours until pork is tender.
  • Shred the pork with a fork.
  • Place some shredded pork on an aluminum foil-lined sheet pan in a single layer.
  • Drizzle with some of the braising liquid and broil for about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the oven. Drizzle with more of the braising liquid and broil for another 5 minutes or until the pork begins to crisp.
  • Repeat the broiling process with the remaining pork.

Preparing the Quick Pickled Onions

  • Thinly slice the red onion. You can do this with a sharp Chef’s knife or a mandolin.
  • Add the onions to a clean glass jar. Add peeled garlic cloves and peppercorns if desired as well.
  • Add the water, vinegar, sugar and salt to a medium-sized saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolves completely.
  • Allow the brine to cool and pour over the onions into the glass jar.
  • Allow to cool to room temperature before transferring to the fridge.
  • Let the onions brine for a minimum of 30 minutes before serving.

Cooking the Rice

  • Cook the rice as directed.
  • Once the rice finishes cooking, add olive oil, lime juice lime zest and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Fluff with a fork.

Pan Roasting the Corn

  • Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn and saute while stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes or until slightly charred.
  • Then season to taste with salt, pepper and Tajin seasoning.

Preparing the Lime Crema

  • Add the sour cream along with the zest and juice from one lime to a small bowl.
  • Mix thoroughly to combine.
  • Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Assembling the Carnitas Bowl

  • Add the rice to the bottom of a bowl.
  • Then add the desired amounts of carnitas, pan-roasted corn, black beans, pickled onions, cotija cheese, jalapenos, avocados and lime crema.
  • Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.

Notes

Note: This recipe makes about 10 servings so that you can enjoy the leftovers or freeze for a future meal. I only broil as much pork as I intend to use for that meal. If there are any leftovers, I broil them before serving with the next meal.
Keyword Carnitas, Crockpot Recipe, Rice Bowl

Complete your meal with a refreshing Kiwi Mojito. This crisp and fresh cocktail pairs perfectly with carnitas bowls!

Did you make this carnitas rice bowl? Be sure to share a picture of your masterpiece on social media and tag @everharc1 on Facebook or @everharc1 on Instagram so I can share in your success!

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Katie
9 days ago

This looks so yummy! I love a good bowl recipe and your quick pickled onions seem so easy! I need to try that because I don’t have a good quick pickle recipe. Thanks for sharing this!

Tammi Brochman
Tammi Brochman
9 days ago

Pickled onions + lime crema = game changers!

Karen Kasberg
9 days ago

I’ve never had carnitas but I think I need to try them after seeing this recipe. They look delicious. Will be pinning to try later!!

Christine
9 days ago

5 stars
Fantastic recipe!! Thanks for sharing.

Carrie
9 days ago

This looks easy and delicious. I can’t wait to try it!

Chantal
Chantal
9 days ago

I’d never heard ofCarnitas before but this bowl recipe looks delicious. Adding it to my list for when we try new dishes!

tianna
9 days ago

5 stars
I’ve never had carnitas but after seeing recipe and how easy you make it look i might have to try it.

The Curious Dig
9 days ago

I love the look of this and it seems super healthy!