These Carnitas Burrito Bowls are just like Chipotle, but even better! They’re perfect for meal prepping ahead for burrito bowls all week long. Or you can prep ahead a few things to make family dinner easier during the work week. Either way you go, these burrito bowls are a crowd-pleaser and extra easy if you have the carnitas prepped ahead and in the fridge/freezer. You’ll find all my make-ahead tips down below along with how to make these bowls dairy-free or paleo.
We’re back with another burrito bowl this time featuring tender and juicy pulled pork! We simply can’t get enough of these Chipotle copycat burrito bowls, and we hope you love them too. They’re my favorite thing to meal prep for busy work weeks where we can just warm up and assemble a burrito bowl at a moment’s notice.
I mean how can you ever get tired of tender carnitas over Cilantro Lime Rice with Fajitas Veggies and all the toppings? From there we also love to mix things up by replacing the Pico de Gallo with a fruit salsa like my Mango Salsa. The sweet-savory combo of mango with the carnitas is a variation we love a little too much!
Watch how to make Carnitas Burrito Bowls
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Instant Pot Carnitas – super savory, slightly sweet with citrus flavor from the orange juice, carnitas will become a household favorite in no time! It’s also another great way to use tough cuts of meat like pork shoulder. The meat is braised in spices, (like chili powder & cumin) and broth until it’s fall-apart tender and easily shredded with 2 forks. Traditionally they’re spread out on a baking sheet and lightly browned in the oven with a broiler or high heat, but we skip that for simple burrito bowls.
Cilantro Lime Rice – is worth trying for sure if you’re used to plain rice in burrito bowls. The cilantro-lime combo is so good, you’ll want to eat spoonfuls of rice all by itself.
Fajita Veggies – a simple combination of onion and peppers with just a touch of extra flavor added with oregano and cumin.
Black beans, cheese, and sour cream – are all standard in a burrito bowl, but definitely optional. Pick and choose any or all toppings here, or leave them out and there’s still more than enough flavor to go around. We also like a squeeze of fresh lime juice over the top sometimes.
Pico de Gallo – is fresh salsa traditional at different ‘build your bowl’ Mexican restaurants like Chipotle. You can also use my Easy Fire Roasted Blender Salsa in this recipe when tomatoes aren’t in season.
The Best Guacamole – is an absolute must in a burrito bowl as I mentioned. Extra guacamole is always a thing in our house with Mexican-inspired bowls. But you can also serve these bowls with sliced/diced avocado when you’re pressed for time.
Lettuce or greens – We like piling all the works on top of greens. Everything from chopped romaine lettuce to spring mix works here. The firmer the lettuce the more it will stand up to the heat. When we start getting local spring mix from Farmer’s Market, I pile it on top because it’s so delicate. You can also use either red or green leaf lettuce.
How to make this recipe step by step
Step 1: Start by making each of the recipes that make up this burrito bowl, it really helps to meal prep the Carnitas ahead of time. I don’t always make everything listed. Instead, you can pick and choose what you/your family would like and build a bowl from there.
Be sure to check out the tips section below for all my shortcuts. I started making a carnitas burrito bowl by layering lettuce followed by cilantro lime rice.
Step 2: After the rice, it’s time to add the shredded Carnitas. From there, I like to add Fajita Veggies along with some black beans.
Step 3: And finally keep adding as many toppings as you’d like from corn and cheese to sour cream.
You’ll find both my dairy-free and paleo options in the dietary section below.
Ways to serve this
- More Pico de Gallo or Blender Salsa and Guacamole along with extra grated cheese too if you’re using it.
- Mix things up and use my Fresh Mango Salsa or this Caramelized Pineapple Salsa. Both of these salsa recipes are sweet and pair perfectly with Carnitas.
- Make sure to add salt to taste to each part of the recipe. Properly salted rice, carnitas, etc. is the key to a flavorful burrito bowl.
- These bowls are a meal unto themselves and are also great for entertaining. Try adding my Coconut Lime Tart or Coconut Lime Ice Cream into your meal plan for dessert if you’re having people over.
Yes, Carnitas meat is pork at Chipotle restaurant. My homemade version is also pork. If you’re looking for another kind of meat, try my Chipotle Chicken or Beef Barbacoa (both recipes are Chipotle restaurant copycats).
Carnitas burrito bowls at Chipotle have everything their burritos do, just forget the tortillas. They have cilantro lime rice, lettuce, carnitas, Pico de Gallo, guacamole, beans, corn, and cheese or sour cream. You get to add whatever you’d like when you make these at home with as many toppings as desired. We also like to add a serving of Fajita veggies, (another Chipotle copycat recipe).
- To store – store each component of these burrito bowls separately in airtight containers for 3-4 days.
- Make ahead – the rice, salsa, and avocado are best fresh. However, the carnitas are the perfect thing to make ahead. The carnitas can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. I love meal prepping it to have on hand to make easier burrito bowls. My Restaurant Style Salsa can be stored for 4-5 days or even frozen ahead of time.
- Reheating – add some rice, meat, veggies, beans, and corn to a small skillet and reheat over medium heat stirring constantly (adding water as necessary) until heated through. Pile the warmed-up mixture into a bowl with your fresh toppings.
- To freeze – the carnitas, black beans, and corn can all be frozen for up to 3 months. The restaurant-style salsa can also be frozen, but the Pico de Gallo needs to be fresh if you make that salsa.
Tips & Tricks
- Carnitas like my Beef Barbacoa takes a bit of time to cook, so for something quicker, try my Slow Cooker Chipotle Chicken or Slow Cooker Salsa Beef. Both of those recipes take less prep time overall. For the fastest option top these bowls with regular taco meat which cooks in just minutes.
- Simplify by making plain steamed rice. Or you can also use my Roasted Sweet Potatoes instead of the rice. Skip the salsa and serve chopped fresh tomatoes and diced avocado instead of the guacamole. Use prewashed lettuce and rinsed canned black beans. No need to cook every single part from scratch!
- Basic Burrito Bowl Formula: steamed rice, shredded pork carnitas, shredded lettuce, black beans, corn, cheese, jarred salsa, and diced avocado.
Dietary Options & Substitutions
- Dairy-free – use dairy-free cheese and sour cream. Or you can use my Paleo/Vegan Queso, it freezes really well for meal prep. I also like using my Cilantro Lime Dressing which is a touch creamy and super flavorful.
- Paleo – Roasted Sweet Potatoes in place of the rice, Instant Pot Paleo Queso as an extra topping instead of the cheese & omit all dairy and black beans.
I really hope you enjoy these Carnitas Burrito Bowls! If you do get a chance to make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Carnitas Burrito Bowls
- 6 cups shredded romaine or green leaf lettuce
- 3 cups Cilantro Lime Rice - or 3 cups cooked rice
- 3 cups Instant Pot Carnitas - 1.5 pounds Mexican flavored meat of your choice
- 1 1/2 cups Pico de Gallo - or salsa of your choice
- 2 avocados - or 1 recipe Best Guacamole
- 4 cups Fajita Veggies - from 1 recipe, (2/3 cup per serving)
Toppings of your choice:
- Black beans or pinto beans, corn, sour cream, grated cheese etc.
- Start by making each of the different recipes that make up this burrito bowl.
- Serve everything separately family style so each person can choose how to build their bowl.
- Or to assemble a burrito bowl, place the lettuce and Cilantro Lime Rice into a bowl.
- Then top with the shredded Carnitas, Fajita Veggies, and your choice of black beans, corn, cheese, and sour cream.
- Serve with Pico de Gallo and Best Guacamole.
This recipe was originally published in 2021 and has been updated in 2023 with new photos, and more tips and information.