These loaded carnitas nachos are piled high with *all* of the good things, making them incredibly tasty + the perfect thing to make as a snack-y weekend meal!
Nachos are one of my very favorite foods. If I’m eating out and the restaurant menu includes nachos, they’re likely going to be what I order. The problem is that restaurant nachos don’t always make me feel good. Homemade nachos, on the other hand, can be made with high-quality ingredients for a snack-y game day food that (if eaten in healthy amounts…that’s another story, though!) leaves me feeling great!
Carnitas Nachos Ingredients
Though the list may look extensive at first glance, the key to really great nachos is to *load* them up with all of the most delicious toppings! If you don’t have a topping listed below, leave it out, and if you want to add or swap a few of the listed toppings, feel free to do that too! Here’s what we used to make our loaded carnitas nachos:
- Pork – to start, you’ll need a 2 pound pork butt, shoulder, tenderloin, or large-cut “carnitas pieces,” cut (if not already) into 4 to 5 large chunks.
- Butter, Ghee, or Coconut Oil – in order to get a good crisp on your pork, you’ll need 4 tablespoons of either grass-fed butter, ghee, or coconut oil.
- Spices – for the quintessential carnitas flavors, you’ll need to grab 1 tablespoon of fine sea salt, 2 teaspoons of chili powder, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, and a 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper.
- Lime Juice – 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice (about 1 lime’s worth of juice) will add a bit of acid and tang to the carnitas.
- Chips – we used 1 bag of Jackson’s Honest Purple Heirloom Potato Chips here, but feel free to use any chip you love most! Tortilla chips (Siete or regular) would be delicious here.
- Nacho Cheese – because we were going for Paleo nachos, we used 1 batch of our homemade Paleo nacho cheese on our nachos, but if you want to keep things simple, feel free to grab your favorite store-bought nacho cheese, or use shredded cheese or queso instead.
- Radishes – 5 thinly-sliced radishes added the perfect cool crunch here, while…
- Jalapeno – …1 thinly-sliced jalapeno pepper added just a bit of heat.
- Pico de Gallo – for me, pico de gallo is a must on nachos! We used a 1/2 cup of fresh pico de gallo here.
- Sour Cream – another must! A 1/2 cup of sour cream tames any lingering jalapeno heat and just adds a really yummy touch to the nachos! Feel free to sub plain Greek yogurt if you’d like.
- Avocado – to finish things off, we thinly-sliced 1 avocado, and…
- Cilantro – …finely chopped a 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro.
What other toppings can you put on nachos?
The sky is truly the limit here! Nachos can be topped with *so many* things, so grab your favorites and dig in!
- Meat – ground beef, ground turkey, shredded chicken, shredded beef
- Beans – refried or whole pinto or black beans
- Corn – fresh or frozen both work!
- Diced bell peppers
- Sliced green onions
- Pickled jalapenos
- Black olives
- Diced red onion
- Diced tomatoes
- Cotija or queso fresco
- Lime wedges
How to Make Loaded Nachos
The process is pretty simple, and though the carnitas take a little while to cook in the slow cooker, the process is completely hands-free! Here’s how you’ll bring this delicious nacho dish together:
For the Slow Cooker Carnitas
- Melt the Butter – set the meat out on a plate while you melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in either the slow cooker insert (if it’s stovetop-friendly) or in a large frying pan on the stove.
- Season + Sear the Pork – sprinkle all sides of the pork with the spice blend and then add to the hot melted butter. Sear on all sides for about 4 minutes over high heat, or until a brown crust starts to form.
- Slow Cook – if cooking in the slow cooker insert, transfer the insert to the slow cooker, and if cooking in a pan on the stovetop, transfer the browned pork (and all of the juices) to the slow cooker. Then, cover, and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
- Shred, Season, and Crisp – once the carnitas are done, shred them with a fork and melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan. Add the shredded pork to the pan and cook until the moisture has mostly evaporated off and the pork has started to crisp. Season with the lime juice and additional sea salt to taste.
- Assemble – to assemble the nachos, spread the chips out on a sheet pan. Top with the carnitas, nacho cheese, and remaining toppings.
- Enjoy right away!
How long do you bake nachos?
If you’re using shredded cheese to top your nachos, you’ll want to bake them to melt the cheese! I recommend baking them at 400°F for about 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted.
What cheese goes on nachos?
You can use a typical shredded Mexican-blend cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, or you can use queso. For dairy-free, we recommend our vegan nacho cheese. Crumbled cotija or queso fresco also makes a great garnish.
What does carnitas mean?
Carnitas refers to seasoned, shredded pork that is typically really juicy on the inside and nice and crisp on the outside. It’s one of my *very* favorite protein options and is delicious on nachos, in tacos, or even scrambled with eggs!
What to do with leftover nachos?
You can save leftover nachos and reheat them in the oven the next day either by broiling on high for about 2 minutes or by baking at 400°F for about 5-7 minutes.
The carnitas meat itself can be used for burrito bowls, tacos, or stuffed baked potatoes (white or sweet). One of my very favorite ways to use leftover carnitas, though, is in a breakfast or brunch egg scramble (this migas skillet would be EXCELLENT with carnitas in place of the chorizo!).
Loaded Carnitas Trash Can Lid Nachos
For the carnitas:
- 2 pounds pork butt shoulder, tenderloin, or large-cut “carnitas pieces,” cut (if not already) into 4 to 5 large chunks
- 4 tablespoons grass-fed butter ghee, or coconut oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt additional to taste
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice about 1 lime
For the nachos:
- 1 bag Jackson's Honest Purple Heirloom Potato Chips
- 1 batch Paleo nacho cheese
- 5 radishes thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeno pepper thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh pico de gallo
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 avocado cut into thin slices
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro finely chopped
- For the slow cooker carnitas, set the meat out on a plate while you melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in either the slow cooker insert (over a hot stove) or in a large frying pan.
- Sprinkle all sides of the pork with the spice blend and then add to the hot melted butter. Sear on all sides for about 4 minutes over high heat, or until a brown crust starts to form (but before it burns).
- If cooking in the slow cooker insert, transfer the insert to the slow cooker, cover, and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
- If cooking in a pan, transfer the browned pork (and all juices) to the slow cooker and follow the same timing instructions.
- Once the carnitas is done, shred them with a fork and melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan. Add the shredded pork to the pan and cook until the moisture has mostly evaporated off and the pork has started to crisp. Season with the lime juice and additional sea salt to taste.
- To assemble the nachos, spread the chips out on the sheet pan. Top with the carnitas, nacho cheese, and remaining toppings.
- Enjoy right away!
- Add 2 tbsps. oil to Instant Pot and press Sauce to heat. Add seasoned pork and sear on all sides until light browned.
- Add 1.5 cups water or broth to meat, place the lid on the pot, cover, and make sure the valve is set to sealed. Press the “manual” button and set to cook for 90 minutes.
- After 90 minutes is up, let the pressure release naturally (about 20 minutes) and remove the lid from the pot.
- Once the carnitas are done, follow the remaining instructions from Step 5 on.
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