Recipe: Spicy Carnitas Salad Bowl

updated May 1, 2019
Spicy Carnitas Salad Bowl
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(Image credit: Christine Han)

The key to making a salad that you really want to eat is building it from ingredients and toppings you’d happily eat anyways. This spicy carnitas number tells that tale five times over with a bold and crisp base and toppings ranging from slow-cooker carnitas to pickled avocado. And the best part? You can prep and pack every single thing in this salad on a Sunday and then eat it during the week to come.

(Image credit: Christine Han)

The Sunday Night Salad

This is the salad you put together when you’re meal prepping for the week. Each recipe in this series makes four entree-sized portions, which you can pack up for a week’s worth of work salads or just dinner throughout the week.

Because we wanted these salads to last, all the major elements — the salad base, the topper, and the mix-ins — can be stored in the fridge anywhere from three to five days or longer without showing signs of fatigue. This is how you do Sunday salad prep right!

The Base: The New Green Salad

With hearty carnitas as a topping, this salad needed a base that was both assertive in flavor and sturdy in texture. We turned to a combination of spicy mustard greens, crunchy shaved Brussel’s sprouts, and crispy green apple slices to do just that. These ingredients can be mixed together on Sunday with a twist of lemon to keep the apple from oxidizing and stored in the fridge for up to a week without getting worse for wear.

The Topper: Slow-Cooker Carnitas

What’s Sunday salad prep without some smart cooking thrown in? This is where the slow cooker comes into play, turning out tender shredded pork for you to top your salad. We used a simple lime and cilantro dressing to top this salad off.

The Mix-Ins: Avocado Pickles, Tortilla Chips, and Pepitas

Tangy, tangy, crunch, crunch, crunch — that’s how I think about these toppers. The avocado pickles (which you should be making whether you’re into this salad or not) bring a spicy, tangy creaminess to every forkful of this meal. The tortilla chips and pepitas keep it crunchy, salty, and satisfying.

Pro tip: To pack this salad, simply ensure each component gets its own compartment in a travel container. Keep it in the fridge for up to a week.

Spicy Carnitas Salad Bowl

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 4 cups

    loosely packed torn mustard greens

  • 4 cups

    shaved or shredded Brussels sprouts (about 12 ounces)

  • 1

    medium Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced

  • Juice of 1/2 medium lemon

  • 2 cups

    slow-cooker pork carnitas, warmed (see Recipe Note)

  • Avocado pickles, large dice (see Recipe Note)

  • 1/4 cup

    crushed tortilla chips

  • 1/4 cup

    toasted pepitas (also known as pumpkin seeds)

  • 1/2 cup

    lime and cilantro dressing (see Recipe Note)


  1. Place the mustard greens and Brussels sprouts in a large bowl and toss together. Place the apple slices and lemon juice in a medium bowl and toss together.

  2. When ready to serve, divide the greens between 4 plates. Top each with a quarter of the apple slices, pork carnitas, avocado pickles, tortilla chips, and pepitas. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Accompanying recipes: We used slow-cooker pork carnitas, avocado pickles, and lime and cilantro dressing in this recipe.

The pork carnitas recipe makes more than you will need for this recipe. I love making the slow-cooker carnitas and using leftovers for this salad.