Jan 27, 2021

Carnitas Burrito Bowl with Avocado Crema

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Pieces of the slow cooked, tender pork, fried in their own fat are served over a bed of finely shredded green cabbage, crispy rice, pinto beans, pico de gallo, avocado crema and cilantro.

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Have I mentioned I love carnitas?! This is my favorite way to serve leftover pork carnitas after having used some of the meat in tacos! Pieces of the slow cooked, tender pork, fried in their own fat are served over a bed of finely shredded green cabbage, crispy white rice, pinto beans, pico de gallo, avocado crema and cilantro.

Carnitas Burrito Bowl

Ingredients in a Carnitas Burrito Bowl 

  • Carnitas – This carnitas recipe is made with both pork shoulder and pork belly. These burrito bowls are a great way to serve leftover carnitas. Since they take time to make I recommend doing the meal prep for the carnitas recipe ahead of time. 
  • Crispy rice – While I use day old white rice in this recipe you can feel free to swap in cilantro lime rice. I recommend crisping the rice in vegetable oil rather than olive oil because of the oil’s neutral flavor. 
  • Pinto beans – While I use pinto beans in this recipe, black beans can be easily swapped. Refried beans also work very well!
  • Avocado crema – I love the creamy sauce though plain sour cream can be substituted in a pinch. If you skip on the avocado crema I suggest substituting diced avocados or guacamole and sour cream. 
  • Cabbage – The finely shredded cabbage adds a great crunch to the bowl though romaine lettuce also makes a great base.  
  • Pico de gallo – The mix of Roma tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, cilantro and fresh lime juice adds so much flavor to the bowl and can easily be made in advance. Though it can be store bought I recommend making it at home because it’s so easy.
crispy pork carnitas on baking sheet

How to Make Crispy Rice

Crispy rice is a staple in my house. It’s a way of giving new life to dry and stale day old rice leftover from dinner or take out the night before. I typically use long grain white rice for crispy rice though other types of rice will also work. Brown rice doesn’t crisp as well but jasmine and basmati are fine alternatives.

Day old rice crisps up well since it’s dry, but if you’re using freshly cooked rice, spread it in an even layer on a baking sheet and freeze for 10 minutes. I find finely shredded cabbage perfect for bowls like this. While some precise knife skills can cut it finely I’d recommend shredding it by using a mandolin set to the thinnest setting.

Carnitas Burrito Bowl with Avocado Crema recipe

How to Make Carnitas

The key to carnitas is patience – if you cook them for too short a time, you can end up with tough, dry meat. Cooking them over low heat over a longer period of time is the key to tender pork. While slow cooker carnitas are popular for the ability to “set it and forget it” ease, I much prefer this traditional method.

Making the carnitas takes a bit of time so I will typically make a large batch and save some of the meat in the refrigerator or freezer to reheat for tacos or this bowl. To reheat the carnitas if you have made them ahead of time, first microwave them in a small bowl, then spread them on a baking sheet and broil on high heat for about 2 minutes.

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this burrito bowl recipe, I recommend checking out these:

Carnitas Burrito Bowl with Avocado Crema

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Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Serves 4


For the avocado crema:

  • 1 large Haas avocado, peeled and pitted
  • ½ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons diced jalapeños
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Kosher salt, as needed

For assembly:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup day old cooked rice
  • 2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
  • 1 pound cooked carnitas
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained (or 1 cup stewed pinto beans), heated
  • 1 cup Pico de gallo
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • Lime wedges, for serving


For the avocado crema:

  • Add the avocado, sour cream and lime juice in a blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt then cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Can be made up to 1 day in advance.

For assembly:

  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the oil and heat through. Add the rice into the pan in an even layer and cook, untouched, until the bottom is crispy and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Stir and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
  • Divide cabbage among serving bowls. Top with the crispy rice followed by a scoop of pinto beans, carnitas, add the pico de gallo and a drizzle of the avocado crema. Garnish with cilantro and a squeeze of lime.



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