My name is Stacie and I’m in love with my slow cooker. When I first got a slow cooker, oh many years ago, like many people, I thought that it was only good for winter food. While it’s true that the slow cooker is especially adept at making stews, soups and other hearty, winter fare, it’s actually a boon in the warm weather months too. Because no hot stove.

I’ve come to use my slow cooker all year around, but especially in the spring when the weather’s so nice that the boys and I want to stay outside until the last minute and also summer when it’s just too hot to cook. So when I was working on recipes to include in my new cookbook, Make It Easy: 120 Mix-and-Match Recipes to Cook From Scratch with Smart Store-Bought Shortcuts When You Need ThemI knew that I had to include a few great warm-weather slow cooker meals, including these Slow Cooker Carnitas.


Make It Easy: Our favorite new family cookbook packed with 120 mix-and-match recipes | Cool Mom Eats

Serve Slow Cooker Carnitas from the Make It Easy cookbook with either homemade or store-bought fire roasted salsa and guacamole. Chips, too, of course! | Cool Mom Eats

Carnitas are a traditional Mexican way of slow cooking pork. The resulting falling-apart meat, super simple and full of flavor, can be eaten any number of ways. My favorite is to serve it taco-bar style with a pile of tortillas, salsa, and of course, guacamole, with a side of easy refried beans (the recipes for all of these things—and store-bought options, too—are in Make It Easy, by the way!). Carnitas are also great with a side of scrambled eggs, added to big salad for a lighter dinner, tucked into a quesadilla, and piled onto a soft roll spread with refried beans and avocado.

Really, the possibilities are endless once the slow cooker is done doing its thing.

Oh, and the best part is that this recipe doesn’t require any prep (no browning the meat—phew!) and calls for only three ingredients other than the pork. Three!

Give this a go once and I’m willing to bet that it will become a go-to dinner all summer long, and probably into fall and winter too. Because once you land on a recipe this simple and delicious, it’s hard not to fall in love with it—and with your slow cooker too.

Slow Cooker Carnitas

From Make It Easy: 120 Mix-and-Match Recipes to Cook from Scratch With Store-Bought Shortcuts When You Need Them by Stacie Billis. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2016. All photos from Make It Easy by Naomi McColloch

Serves 6

3 pounds boneless pork shoulder
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 2 juicy oranges)
2 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf

1. Trim the pork of some of the excess fat around the outside, being sure to leave some on to aid in the cooking. Keep in mind that carnitas is pork cooked in its own fat, so you don’t want to get rid of it all. Cut into 2-inch-thick strips.

2. Put the meat in a slow cooker along with the orange juice, salt, and bay leaf. Toss to coat the meat with the juice, cover, and cook on low for 8 hours.

3. When the cooking is done, use two forks to shred the pork. Serve immediately or allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Visit the other sneak peek recipes from Make It Easy by Stacie Billis

* Hummingbird Muffins: An easy make-ahead snack that turns a classic cake into something you can eat everyday.

* Steak with Sweet and Sour Peppers: The ultimate simple, decadent dinner perfect for the long weekend, Father’s Day—or whenever you and the family need a treat.

* Cold Soba Noodle SaladAn awesome, family-friendly meatless meal that’s entirely make-ahead. Major score.