Sweetened Condensed Milk Carnitas


A fragrant blend of dried herbs, spices, and garlic flavors this slow-cooked pork, which gets a touch of balancing sweetness and acidity from fresh orange juice. A surprising ingredient here, sweetened condensed milk, helps the pork caramelize during cooking. Source a well-marbled pork roast for this recipe; the extra fat doubles down on the rich pork flavor. Many cooks in Mexico City add sweetened condensed milk to carnitas, says Pati Jinich, who created this stunningly good recipe. Try treating the Sweetened Condensed Milk Carnitas like pulled pork, and tuck the tasty shreds into fluffy Sweetened Condensed Milk Rolls.

Photo: Photo by Eva Kolenko / Food Styling by Carrie Purcell / Prop Styling by Jillian Knox
Active Time:
2 hrs 45 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 50 mins


  • ¾ cup water

  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped white onion

  • 3 medium garlic cloves

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

  • ½ teaspoon dried marjoram

  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

  • teaspoon ground cumin

  • teaspoon ground cloves

  • 2 ½ pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2- to 3-inch chunks

  • 1 teaspoon lard, vegetable shortening, or neutral cooking oil

  • ½ cup fresh orange juice

  • 1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk

  • 1 bay leaf


  1. Process 3/4 cup water, onion, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, marjoram, thyme, pepper, cumin, and cloves in a blender until smooth, about 20 seconds. Set aside.

  2. Sprinkle pork evenly with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Heat a 5-quart Dutch oven over high. Add lard, and heat until shimmering. Add pork, and cook, turning occasionally, until pork is browned on all sides, 15 to 18 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; add onion mixture to pork in Dutch oven, and let come to a vigorous simmer. Simmer, turning pork often, about 5 minutes. Add orange juice, sweetened condensed milk, and bay leaf; stir to combine. Return mixture to a vigorous simmer over medium. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer. Simmer, turning pork occasionally, until fork-tender, about 2 hours.

  3. Uncover Dutch oven, and increase heat to medium. Simmer, turning pork occasionally, until liquid concentrates into rich brown patches and fat separates, about 20 minutes, adjusting heat as needed and turning pork occasionally to avoid scorching. (Some browning is fine.) Remove from heat; let rest 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pork to a bowl or platter. Shred pork in bowl using 2 forks. Lightly season with additional salt to taste.

Make Ahead

Carnitas can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.

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