Pork carnitas is a Mexican dish made of braized or roasted pieces of pork in their fat, with lardons.
Pork carnitas is popular across Mexico and the southwestern United States.
The word carnitas means “little meats” or “fattened” in Spanish.
Pork carnitas is made with large chunks of fatty pork meat braised in lard until tender, then crisped up in hot lard for a delicious flavor one could only get from Mexican cuisine.
When cooking carnitas, the meat is first simmered in lard or oil to make the carnitas tender and then crisped up by frying them in a large amount of hot lard/oil until the outside is a deep golden brown and crispy.
Pork carnitas comes from an area that was once part of a territory called La Nueva Espana, and it’s one of the most popular dishes in Mexico, more commonly known as Michoacan.
There are various ways to enjoy pork carnitas, such as with tacos, quesadillas, ceviche, or even more traditionally on a heaping mound of freshly made corn tortillas.
They are extremely tasty, especially when crispy, and make a great addition to any taco dish.
In this article, we will give you the eight best side dishes that go perfectly with pork carnitas.
Why Consider Serving Side Dishes for Pork Carnitas?
First, serving side dishes for pork carnitas is a great way to get your friends and family involved with cooking.
Side dishes can include any combination of ingredients, from vegetable stir fry to chili.
Then, the flavors in the side dish complement well with the pork carnitas.
Finally, side dishes are the perfect opportunity to get creative with your cooking.
You can experiment with flavors or even try different types of meat.
It’s fun to have a variety of dishes for people to choose from at dinner time.
Keep in mind that with pork carnitas, you might want to avoid spicy dishes.
On the other hand, you could try a sweet dish, such as a pineapple salsa.
In the end, the choice is up to you.
What to Serve with Pork Carnitas? 8 BEST Side Dishes
Here are eight amazing side dishes that will go great with pork carnitas.
1 – Refried Beans
Refried beans are a great addition to any Mexican dish, and they go wonderfully with the pork in carnitas.
Before cooking, some people add vegetables to their refried beans or ground meat, but plain refried beans taste just as good.
To prepare the beans, first, soak them overnight.
Then, drain and rinse them before putting them in a pot with some onion, garlic, salt, and water.
Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for about an hour.
If you prefer your beans softer or as a thicker sauce instead of just whole beans, then mash the mixture before baking it for another 30 minutes.
Once done, you can serve these refried beans with carnitas.
2 – Mexican Street Corn
Mexican street corn, or elote, is a dish that originated in Mexico and is made with corn, mayonnaise, and cheese.
To make Mexican street corn: cut the kernels off of the cob before adding it to a pot and some oil and salt.
Ensure that you let this cook for about 10 minutes before adding mayonnaise and cheese to the mixture.
You can use salt, chili powder, or cayenne pepper to give the Mexican street corn its kick.
It’s delicious when served warm on its own, but it also goes well with carnitas.
3 – Mexican Rice
A staple in many authentic Mexican dishes, this rice dish will enhance the flavor of your carnitas.
It’s quick and easy to prepare, too. Before cooking, you’ll want to sauté some onion and garlic in oil before adding the rice.
Cook the rice until it turns opaque, then add a few cups of hot water and tomato sauce.
This should be cooked until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes.
You don’t have to cook it in a pan since that’s what restaurants normally do – you can always use your rice cooker instead.
Just make sure that you add everything together at once, or else the rice may not cook as well.
4 – Mexican Quinoa Salad
This is a versatile salad that you can serve as an appetizer, side dish, or even a main course.
You mix quinoa, black beans, corn, and red peppers to create this salad, which is then dressed with fresh lime juice and topped off with some cilantro and avocado.
You can add as much or as little pepper as you want, too.
It’s easy to make, and it provides a great contrast from the other dishes on this list, so it’s worth trying.
Aside from going well with carnitas, this salad also tastes really good in a taco shell.
5 – Mexican Guacamole
Mexican guacamole is a classic accompaniment to Mexican dishes, and carnitas is no exception.
To prepare this, you start with some tomatoes and garlic, added to the rest of your ingredients: avocados, jalapenos, and onions.
A great guacamole recipe will also include lime juice, cilantro, and salt.
Mix all of these ingredients in a bowl before adding your toppings – tortilla chips, pomegranate seeds, or sesame seeds are all great options.
Once you’ve got your garnishes ready to go, you can now go ahead and serve your guacamole with carnitas.
6 – Mexican Cornbread
This uses lots of the same flavors as some of these other dishes, including black beans and corn.
You’ll start by making a cornbread base before adding an egg, hot sauce, and some cheese on top.
Bake this for about 20 minutes to make sure that it’s cooked through before serving alongside carnitas or as a side dish to Mexican street corn.
It’s a great way to use up leftover cornbread – you can make it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge to eat whenever.
You don’t even need to be Mexican to know that this is an absolute must-serve when enjoying carnitas.
7 – Pico de Gallo
This is a simple but delicious salsa that’s made with tomatoes, jalapenos, and white onions.
It has a bit of a kick, so it pairs well with carnitas since they have distinct flavors.
To prepare Pico de Gallo: chop up your ingredients before adding salt and cilantro to give it some extra flavor.
You can serve it as is or with some tortilla chips – either way, this dish will round out your meal nicely.
Pico de Gallo is also great as a topping for carnitas – whether it’s served inside the tacos or on top, it will help to enhance the overall flavor.
8 – Chopped Mexican Salad
This is a salad that’s loaded with vegetables, and it’s the perfect way to round out your meal.
It serves two people, so it can also be eaten by itself if you’re looking for a light lunch option instead of with carnitas.
You’ll start with lettuce, red cabbage, and cucumber before adding in some carrots and avocado.
You’re then treated to some corn, jalapenos, and red peppers.
Top all of this off with a lime vinaigrette to give it that ‘Mexican’ flair.
This can be served alongside carnitas or even inside the tacos for added crunch.
In conclusion, pork carnitas has a great taste that’s not very common in the cuisine scene.
However, it still needs to be paired with other foods to make a complete meal.
Fortunately, there are plenty of side dishes that can be used to enhance the pork carnitas experience.
If you need some inspiration, consider trying out some of these dishes: Pico de Gallo (salsa), Mexican Guacamole, Mexican cornbread, chopped Mexican salad, or Mexican quinoa salad.