Pork Carnitas Bowls use fresh vegetables, soft rice, and slow-cooked pork to build a delicious, Mexican-inspired dinner that will be ready in 30 minutes or less. For more fun and customizing, let your family build their bowl with whatever toppings they love!
Carnitas Bowls – The EASY Way!
Bowls are the ultimate way to enjoy dinner. They are packed with flavor, totally customizable, and all served in one big bowl for less mess and more fun.
These carnitas bowls use Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas marinated in bright citrus and warm Mexican spices and delicious pico de gallo all topped onto fluffy cilantro lime rice!
This burrito bowl is inspired by the classic Chipotle carnitas bowl (my family’s favorite!) and delivers on all the flavor without having to leave the house. For this recipe, you can use leftover pork carnitas or any other Mexican-style pulled pork. Plus, you can make all the other fixings in advance to serve up dinner in a flash all week long!
Why I LOVE this recipe!
- Made with leftovers – This recipe is leftover heaven! You can make a large batch of pork, pico de gallo, and rice and use it throughout the week to have quick and delicious dinners.
- Family-friendly – These bowls are perfect for kids because everything can be kept in one big bowl. My tip for serving this to younger kids is to put small amounts in their bowls to leave plenty of room to mix and eat while still having space in the bowl to catch any bits of food that drop. Not that my kids drop food ever… But if they did – this is what I would do. And, since this meat is so flavorful, these burrito bowls are a favorite among adults too.
- Totally customizable – While I list our family’s favorite toppings, you can use any toppings or additional ingredients you like!
What to Serve with Carnitas Burrito Bowls
Since these carnitas bowls are packed with delicious Mexican flavors, it pairs well with many classic Mexican side dishes. There are both classic options and some healthy options to keep it light.
Toppings- One of my favorite way to make this a really amazing dinner for both kids and adults is to offer to the top to load it up for those who want to! Here are some of my favorites:
- Pico de gallo
- Sour cream
- Shredded lettuce
- Black beans
- Bell pepper
- Cheddar cheese
- Jalapeno Ranch
- Pineapple salsa
- Corn salsa
Mexican Roasted Vegetables– These make for a delicious and extra wholesome addition to these quesadillas. They can roast while you build your carnitas dish.
You can choose any toppings you like and add a side dish for a delicious, well-rounded meal.
This pork carnitas burrito bowl recipe is as simple as promised! Just 30 minutes for a family-friendly meal.
In this section I am going to go through a few tips and tricks I use when making this recipe to get the absolute best and most delicious results.
Make sure to scroll to the bottom for the FULL recipe card.
Ingredients + Substitutions
- Carnitas – The best part about making a big batch of carnitas is all the yummy recipes you can make with leftovers! You can use our Crock Pot Carnitas here, or any carnitas or pulled pork you may have leftover from elsewhere.
- Oil – vegetable oil is used to heat the frying pan and crisp up the carnitas meat. This gives the carnitas that signature texture and flavor. You can also heat the carnitas filling in the oven, but I like to just pan fry it because it saves dishes since we will use the same pan for cooking the quesadillas.
- Jasmine rice – Jasmine rice has the perfect texture and “fluff” without being sticky, so it is perfect for this recipe. You can use other long-grain white rice varieties, or brown rice, however, you will need to consult the package to make sure to use the correct amount of water when cooking the rice.
- Cilantro – One of the key ingredients to this dish, you will need to use fresh cilantro, and chop it into really small pieces so that the flavor will integrate well. Make sure to see my tips on picking great cilantro below.
- Lime – Using fresh lime juice is really important for the flavor of this recipe.
- Onion – Feel free to use a yellow or white onion. I prefer a yellow onion because they are slightly sweeter.
- Red Bell Pepper – Any color bell pepper can be used. I like to use red bell peppers to add extra color to these carnitas bowls.
- Black Beans – Adding a can of beans is a great way to bulk up the dish and add a nice little boost of protein.
- Sour Cream – Sour cream helps to cool down the spice of the carnitas and add a creaminess to the bowl. You could also use greek yogurt as a healthier option.
- Pico de gallo – I always have a batch of this in the fridge ready to go. Pico de gallo traditionally is larger chunks of vegetable versus pureed vegetables that are found in salsa. I like to use the vegetables for the pop of flavor but you can definitely pick up any kind of salsa you like from the store you like.
- Cheese – I use Colby Jack but cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Mexican blend would work just as well for melting
- Romaine lettuce – This adds a great crunch to the burrito bowls or acts as a delicious, low-carb, base to make this a carnitas salad bowl.
- Slice onions and peppers thin – By slicing the vegetables thin, they cook quicker, and therefore dinner is on the table faster!
- Heat the Meat – When using leftover meat, it is usually stored in the fridge and you will have to reheat it. This recipe calls for reheating the meat in a pan with oil. This helps to get a crisp outside and makes the pork taste fresh and delicious. If you are short on time, a microwave will work great too!
- Make a taco bar – Let everyone get in on the fun (and save yourself some work in the process!) by setting up the toppings and letting everyone top their own tacos to their preference.
Recipe Short Cuts
If you need to make this recipe but are extra short on time, here are a few ideas that can help make this recipe even faster!
- Use leftovers– If I haven’t said it enough already, leftovers are your friend! It makes this amazingly delicious carnitas rice bowl take mere minutes to come together!
- Prep the toppings ahead of time– Most of these toppings can be prepped in advance in the morning, or even the night before so that they are ready at go time!
If you love this carnitas bowl recipe as much as we do and want some quick ways to change it up for variety, these little tips will do the trick!
- Low-Carb Keto Carnitas Bowl – For a low-carb bowl, you can omit the rice and use just lettuce or use cauliflower rice. You could also leave out the onions and black beans to reduce the carbs even more.
- Carnitas Bowl for a crowd – To feed a crowd, simply make a large batch of each topping and of the pork. Set up the toppings in a self-serve line with the slow cooker carnitas so people can serve themselves.
- Breakfast Carnitas Bowl – To make this for breakfast, simply swap out the lettuce and rice for scrambled eggs.
- Carnitas Quinoa Bowl – If you prefer quinoa in your bowl, replace the rice with quinoa and make as directed by the recipe.
Carnitas Bowl Meal Prep
Lunch – This bowl is awesome to take for lunch! Simply assemble the bowls in individual Tupperware containers and store them in the fridge. By storing the bowls assembled, the pico de gallo helps keep the rice from becoming stale.
Dinner – To meal prep this bowl for dinner, make all the sides and the pork carnitas and store them separately in the refrigerator in air-tight containers. When you are ready to eat, simply assemble.
More EASY Recipes
If you enjoyed this recipe, I really hope you will take a moment to grab a few more easy recipes for another busy night!
You can check out all of my Easy Dinner recipes here, or see a few of our reader’s favorite recipes below.
- BBQ Chicken Enchiladas
- Loaded Mesquite Chicken
- Crockpot Mississippi Pot Roast
- Southwest Chicken with Mango Salsa
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For the rice
- 1 cup jasmine rice
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 lime
For the burrito bowl
- 16 ounces carnitas
- 1/2 onion sliced thin
- 1 red bell pepper sliced thin
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 cup black beans 1 can, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup pico de gallo
- 1 cup shredded cheese
- 1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
- Prepare rice per package directions. Once done, mix in juice from one lime and chopped cilantro. Set aside.
- While the rice is cooking, heat half of the oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Once the oil is hot, add the sliced onions and peppers. Cook for 4-6 minutes stirring regularly until the onions are translucent and the peppers are soft. Remove from the pan and set aside.Add the rest of the oil to the pan, then add the carnitas and cook for 3-5 minutes without stirring, then toss and cook 2-3 more minutes until carnitas are heated through.
- Grab 4 bowls and layer on 1/4 of each ingredient- rice, onions, peppers, beans, carnitas, sour cream, corn salsa, and lime wedges.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)
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