If you’re wondering what to serve with your carnitas, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, I list 39 of the most popular side dishes for carnitas.
In a rush? Here’s the short answer.
The best side dishes to serve with carnitas are Mexican sopes, apple jicama slaw, calabacitas (creamy vegetables), pineapple pico de gallo, and Mexican pinto beans. For unusual but tasty accompaniments, try elote fritters, watermelon feta salad, poblano mac and cheese, or grilled avocado.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
Sopes are traditional Mexican fried corn cakes that are crispy on the outside and soft in the middle.
After frying, they’re shaped with an indent in the middle, making them the perfect vessel for your carnitas (and salsa).
Psst… you can use the back of a spoon to create an even well.
Why we love this recipe: you only need two ingredients – the masa and water – to make these!
Mexican pinto beans
Turn your carnitas into the ultimate Mexican comfort food by pairing it with these Mexican pinto beans.
The beans are tender, creamy, and flavorful enough on their own that you don’t need to add a whole shop full of spices.
Why we love this recipe: you only need three main ingredients.
Green apple jicama slaw
Ditch your usual cabbage and carrot slaw and try this apple-jicama combo instead.
This slaw is crunchier and lighter than usual, and the cilantro-lime vinaigrette has a herby, citrusy flavor that will cut right through the richness of your carnitas.
Why we love this recipe: it’s the perfect taco topping.
This recipe transforms your humble corn into delightful treats.
The fritters are made with a choux pastry base, roasted corn kernels, queso fresco, and Mexican seasoning, then deep-fried until golden and perfectly crisp.
They’re best enjoyed with a side of creamy dipping sauce (recipe included). Plus some tender, juicy carnitas of course!
Why we love this recipe: it’s a unique way to enjoy the flavors of elotes.
Pineapple pico de gallo
Whether you’re planning to serve your carnitas in tacos or burritos, this pineapple pico de gallo is the ultimate accompaniment.
The pineapple brings a touch of sweetness to your standard pico de gallo that pairs superbly with your meaty carnitas.
Psst… add a dash of tajin (or a tajin substitute) for extra flavor.
Why we love this recipe: it will brighten up any meal.
Black beans and rice
Carnitas has a milder flavor compared to other Mexican-flavored meats like barbacoa, so you don’t want your sides to be too overpowering.
These rice and beans are lightly flavored with chicken broth, cumin, and lime juice giving them a refreshing flavor that’s ideal for a yummy burrito bowl.
Why we love this recipe: it’s an affordable and delicious one-pot dish.
This traditional Mexican veggie side consists of a colorful medley of veggies such as zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, corn, and tomatoes.
But it stands out because of its milky cheese sauce that’ll have you licking your fingers.
It’s like a Mexican version of creamed corn!
Why we love this recipe: it’s cozy and comforting.
Cheddar and roasted poblano mac and cheese
For something decadent, pair your carnitas with mac and cheese.
The poblano peppers add a smokiness to the dish and it only has a hint of spice thanks to all the cheese.
You can serve it alongside your carnitas… or toss your shredded meat into the pasta for a complete meal.
Why we love this recipe: the leftovers will taste great the next day.
Watermelon, feta, and jalapeno salad
Instead of your usual lettuce or arugula, this salad celebrates the classic combination of watermelon and mint, with additions like jalapenos, feta, basil, and toasted almonds.
The juicy watermelon is perfect for a summer’s day and will provide a cooling contrast to your meat.
Why we love this recipe: it uses fresh, clean flavors.
Grilled avocado boats
Guacamole has had the limelight for too long. It’s time for you to discover all the other wonderful things you can do with an avocado.
Like grilling it and then stuffing it with a zesty combination of chopped veggies.
It works great as a side, but it also makes a pretty impressive appetizer.
Why we love this recipe: most people will have never tried it before.
Fried green plantains
Put a fun twist on nachos by swapping the tortilla chips for fried plantains and topping them with lots of juicy carnitas!
Also known as tostones, these plantains are fried twice to achieve an extra crunchy exterior.
Top the meat with your favorite melty cheese (mine’s cheddar) and then finish it off in the oven.
Why we love this recipe: there’s no heavy seasoning, so the natural plantain flavor can shine through.
Hasselback sweet potatoes
These fancy sweet potatoes give you the best of both worlds – the thin slits crisp up nicely while leaving the middle of your spuds soft and fluffy.
I tend to use them like a baked potato. You can spoon your carnitas on top and let the juices drip down and soak into the potato.
Why we love this recipe: it looks as good as it tastes.
Planning to have your leftover carnitas for breakfast?
Even if you weren’t… you should be now.
Huevos rancheros is a breakfast dish consisting of salsa-covered sunny-side-up eggs over a tortilla (plus carnitas).
Why we love this recipe: it’s simple but has everything you need to start your day right.
What cheese goes well with carnitas?
Whether you’re making meaty carnitas or a plant-based version, it will go well with standard cheeses like cheddar, Monterey jack, and pepper jack. For more Mexican cheeses, try cotija, oaxaca, manchego, and chihuahua cheese.
What To Serve With Carnitas
- 1 portion carnitas
- Prepare your carnitas according to your favorite recipe.
- In the meantime, choose one of the following sides to serve alongside it.
- Side dishes include: Mexican sopes, Mexican pinto beans, green apple jicama slaw, elote fritters, pineapple pico de gallo, black beans and rice, calabacitas, cheddar and roasted poblano mac and cheese, watermelon, feta, and jalapeno salad, grilled avocado boats, fried green plantains, hasselback sweet potatoes, and huevos rancheros.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!