dinner · entree · keto · pork

Copycat Chipotle Carnitas Bowl

One of my absolute favorite fast food meals in the world is a bowl from Chipotle.

When you’re on the go, or in a pinch, nothing can quite satisfy that hunger like a bowl of delicious Mexican food. I use the same toppings everytime, too: grilled peppers and onions, pico, cheese, sour cream and guacamole.

I switch up what protein to get all the time—between the barbacoa, chicken and carnitas. But there’s something about those Carnitas that really just hits the spot every single time I get them. They’re warm and inviting. Savory and tender. Earthy and flavorful.

When I figured out how they were made, I was shocked. Carnitas are usually made with a pork shoulder or butt roast simmered in citrus juices (lime, orange, lemon) in a slow cooker or oven.

Chipotle uses something different: juniper berries.

Juniper berries are usually used in Scandinavian pork dishes, not Mexican pork dishes. They give off this sharp, piney taste that’s way different than traditional flavors found in carnitas.

I wanted to make a copycat version of Chipotle’s carnitas recipe, but there were no juniper berries to be found at my grocery store. I read that you can use rosemary and lemon to mimic the flavor, so that’s what I settled on. Armed with a random knowledge about juniper berries, lemon, and rosemary, I set out to make a delectable carnitas bowl.

The last few times I’ve tried to cook a pork shoulder in the slow cooker it has come out tough and hard to shred. This time, I seared it in a Dutch oven on my stovetop and then put it in a slow oven for 3 hours. What came out of that oven is the most tender, juicy, falling-apart pork I’ve ever seen. It’s an absolute winner.

Enjoy!

Copycat Chipotle Carnitas Bowl

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Tender shredded pork in a copycat version of Chipotle's famous bowl.

Ingredients

For the Carnitas:

  • 4 lb. pork shoulder or butt roast
  • 2 tsp. thyme
  • 2 tsp. rosemary (dried)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 TBS. vegetable oil

For the bowl:

  • 4 cups chopped romaine
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Gaucamole, grilled peppers and onion, sour cream, pico de gallo, for serving

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Rub pork generously with salt and pepper all over. Rub garlic into pork. Sear pork on all sides, about 2 minutes each side, until browned.
  2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Meanwhile, add thym, rosemary, bay leaves, lemon juice (put rinds in pot, too), and chicken broth to pork. Cover with a lid and place in oven. Cook for 3 hours, turning every hour (if you can). Let rest for a few minutes and then shred with two forks.
  3. Make the bowl: start with a bed of lettuce and add pork, cheese, and toppings.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Rub pork generously with salt and pepper all over. Rub garlic into pork.

Sear pork on all sides, about 2 minutes each side, until browned.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Meanwhile, add thym, rosemary, bay leaves, lemon juice (put rinds in pot, too), and chicken broth to pork. Cover with a lid and place in oven.

Cook for 3 hours, turning every hour (if you can). Let rest for a few minutes and then shred with two forks.

Make the bowl: start with a bed of lettuce and add pork, cheese, and toppings.

5 thoughts on “Copycat Chipotle Carnitas Bowl

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