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Big Poppa’s Fall-Apart-Tender Copper Pot Carnitas

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pork cubes simmering in a copper pot

If you are a carnitas freak then you are going to fall head-over-heels in love with this authentic recipe from Sterling “Big Poppa” Ball! Chunks of pork shoulder are slowly simmered in lard (trust me, it makes a difference!) in a traditional copper pot until it falls apart simply by looking at it! If you don’t have a copper pot available, feel free to substitute any large pot or a Dutch oven.

This mouthwatering dish combines succulent pork shoulder with a variety of bright and savory flavors, creating a tantalizing feast that’s sure to impress your taste buds. Adding the oranges, Coke, and Chef Merito Fajita Marinade to the lard about two-thirds into the cooking time infuses the dish with a delightful citrusy-sweet-hot aroma. Also, by slow-simmering the meat on your gas grill, you will cut down on the smells and mess associated with cooking and frying in oils. Be sure to read Meathead’s article on the benefits of deep frying (and, in this case, slow cooking in lard) outdoors here. Now let’s get cookin’!

Note: This recipe is brought to you by Cooking with Big Poppa. Be sure to check out the Big Poppa Smokers’ website here for even more great recipes and for a variety of BBQ and grilling gear including the rubs and sauce used in this recipe!

Big Poppa’s Copper Pot Carnitas

pork cubes simmering in a copper pot
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5 from 1 vote
Pork shoulder is slow simmered until it is fall-apart tender for delicious authentic carnitas.

Main Course
difficulty scale
Author: Clint Cantwell


Servings: 8


Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes


  • 1 large copper pot (copper is preferable but feel free to substitute any large pot or Dutch oven)


Feel free to double this recipe in order to be sure you have plenty of leftovers for tacos, taquitos, nachos, and countless other dishes. You’re set for the week!
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page


  • Prep. Slice the pork shoulder into 4-inch chunks. Season the chunks with a generous amount of Big Poppa’s Jallelujah Jalapeño Seasoning.
  • Fire up. On a gas grill, place the copper pot (this is traditional but alternatively you can use any large pot or Dutch oven) on the grill grate over a burner. Add the lard to the pot. Alternatively, you can heat the pot on the kitchen stove.
  • Allow the lard to heat over medium-low until it reaches 250°F to 275°F (about 121–135°C). This should take around 10 minutes. If it goes higher, dial down the gas or move the pot off of the flames onto the indirect side.
  • Cook. Carefully place the seasoned pork cubes into the hot lard. Ensure that no children are around while working with the hot oil. (The temperature of the lard will drop after adding the pork, but should gradually come back to 275°F/135°C.)
  • Allow the pork to cook for approximately 2 hours at 275°F/135°F. Stir the pork every 15 minutes to ensure even cooking and to prevent sticking. During the cooking process, keep an eye on the lard’s temperature to ensure it doesn’t become too hot or too cool.
  • After around 2 hours of cooking, use a meat probe to check the internal temperature of the pork. You’re aiming for a temperature between 170-190°F (77-88°C).
  • Squeeze the juice of the 2 oranges into the lard, and add the squeezed halves of 1 orange only. Pour the Coca-Cola and Chef Merito’s Fajita Marinade into the lard.
  • Return the temperature of the lard to 275°F and continue cooking until the center of the chunks reaches about 212°F (100°C). This will take from 45 to 60 minutes more. The meat should be fully cooked and tender.
  • Serve. Once the carnitas are cooked, carefully remove them from the hot oil using a spider, slotted spoon, or tongs. Place the cooked pork on a cutting board and use forks to shred the meat into bite-sized pieces.

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Published On: 10/23/2023 Last Modified: 6/24/2024

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  • Sterling Ball, BBQ And Grilling Content Contributor - With over 30 years of cooking experience, Sterling “Big Poppa” Ball’s passion for cooking outdoors has led him to have his hand in almost every aspect of the barbecue world.


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