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Spicy Orange Beef Carnitas

These spicy orange beef carnitas are an easy one pot meal that makes tons of leftovers to eat throughout the week.

And the carnitas love lives on….

Guess what I found out?

My beloved carnitas pizza recipe that I’ve made at least 10 times has a whole bunch of sugary corn syrup in those cans of Goya nectar.

That’s some bs, isn’t it?

I see the word “nectar” and I just assume fruit.

Why would you need to add freakin’ corn syrup to fruit, Goya?

Have you never eaten a pineapple on it’s own to realize it’s already sweet?!

I’m literally restraining my fingers from typing a nice long rant against Monsanto and our government right now.

It’s Friday, that kind of thing seems better suited for Mondays.

spicy beef carnitas

So I threw Goya out and got to work on my own rendition sans the life blood of America corn syrup.

And guess what?

I like these spicy orange beef carnitas even better.

Spicy pulled beef carnitas

I added fresh orange zest and more spices to the dry rub, fresh orange and lime juice and some chili peppers for spice.

Good ‘ol chuck did it’s thing for 3 hours in the oven and came out just as tender with the perfect amount of reduced fruit juice to toss the caramelized pulled beef back into.

If you don’t have a chuck roast on hand, tri-tip can be used in its place.

Spicy orange beef carnitas

I got the same awesome sweetness to each bite but this time with a good bit of spice and heat and without the government subsidized crap.

Oops, I mean corn syrup.

Making good carnitas is really quite simple. It’s just seasoned meat that’s seared on the stove top and then simmered in a small amount of liquid for a few hours until fall-apart tender.

It’s called braising and it’s the same method that makes this braised leg of lamb so amazingly delicious.

When a recipe is this simple it’s important to have quality meat and quality liquid. The two sort of play off each other imparting their flavors in both directions while cooking.

So choose wisely on the ingredients and the outcome is sure to be delicious!

Spicy Orange Beef Carnitas

These spicy orange beef carnitas are an easy one pot meal that makes tons of leftovers to eat throughout the week.
4.3 from 10 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings 8 servings


  • 3-4 pound chuck roast
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder I use a hot version
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of 3 oranges
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 small green chili peppers minced


  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Combine spices and orange zest in a small bowl and mix together.
  • Rub spice mixture on both sides of the roast.
  • Heat a large dutch oven to high heat with the olive oil.
  • Once hot, add the roast and brown (about 3 minutes). Flip and brown on the other side.
  • Once all sides are browned, add the orange and lime juice and the chili peppers.
  • Cover with lid and transfer to the oven for 3 hours.
  • Remove from oven and pull beef apart with 2 forks.
  • Transfer the pulled beef back into the dutch oven to absorb all the remaining juices.
  • Serve garnished with cilantro and lime wedges.


Adapted from Pioneer Woman

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1SERVING | Calories: 625kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 57g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 21g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 188mg | Sodium: 467mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 10g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

Cuisine Mexican
Course Main Dishes
Keyword orange beef carnitas, spicy orange beef carnitas


Gina Matsoukas is the writer, founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

Recipe Rating

Gabe Wray

Thursday 20th of August 2020

I can confidently say these are the best and easiest carnitas we’ve made. We actually had to put a 3-week minimum in between batches to make sure we don’t overdo it on these! Making them for at least the dozenth time today!

Monday 8th of April 2019

Jack Smith

Tuesday 17th of April 2018

I made this with venison instead of beef and it was delicious!

Running to the Kitchen

Wednesday 18th of April 2018

Love that twist!


Friday 28th of July 2017

I may try this, but instead of the oven, I am going to try the slow cooker on low 8-10 hours. I have 3 oranges left from a fruit basket sent to my husband post-surgery, so this is perfect. Thanks!


Sunday 19th of July 2015

This recipe was perfect- I loved it! I forgot to buy the chilis at the store, but I added ~2 Tbsp of sriracha and a couple good shakes of red pepper flakes and it turned out really well. Next time I'll try it with the chilis.