Making carnitas in an Instant Pot is foolproof. With just a few simple ingredients and the magic of pressure cooking, you can have a delicious and satisfying meal ready in no time. Make a batch of this juicy shredded pork for your next taco night, you won’t regret it!
If you’re wanting flavorful, juicy pork that’s cooked to perfection, Instant Pot carnitas is the way to go. A few more amazing recipes to try: chicken tinga, sweet pulled pork, and slow cooker barbacoa beef. Use them for tacos or on top of burrito bowls, you won’t be able to get enough of their flavor and tender texture!
Carnitas in the Instant Pot
You can make so many things in an Instant Pot. (Meatloaf, lasagna, ribs, the list goes on and on!) Mexican dishes are no exception! Using this handy kitchen tool, you can have tender, juicy meat in 30 minutes. Honestly though, with how insanely tender this pork carnitas is, you’d think it was slow cooking all day! This is one of my favorite hacks for making fall-apart tender meat for tacos, burritos, nachos you name it – in a snap!
This Instant Pot carnitas is seasoned to perfection. It’s your spice rack’s time to shine! I used all sorts of things to give it flavor, from chili powder, garlic, and herbs, to chicken broth, tomato paste, and a splash of orange juice! I know it may seem like an unlikely combination, but trust me on this one. This carnitas is absolutely to die for. It’s savory and zesty with a hint of spice! I know once you take a bite you’ll be hooked.
I know it looks like a lot, but most of the ingredients on this list can be found in your pantry or spice rack. Feel free to tweak the flavor to your liking! Note: exact measurements can be found in the recipe card at the end of the post.
- Pork Shoulder: This is the main ingredient here. Pork shoulder is a great cut for carnitas because it’s flavorful and tender. You can also use pork butt or pork loin as a substitute if you prefer.
- Salt: As simple as it is, salt enhances the flavor of the pork and makes it even more tender.
- Black Pepper: Adds some mild spice and complements the overall flavor of the dish.
- Vegetable Oil: Used to sauté the onions and garlic in. You can also swap this out for your favorite cooking oil. Butter works, too!
- Chopped Onion: Adds texture to the carnitas and extra savory flavor.
- Minced Garlic: You can never go wrong with garlic. It gives the meat a bold, savory flavor.
- Chicken Stock: The main cooking liquid, this adds flavor and moisture to the pork. Beef or vegetable broth can also be used, but it will alter the flavor a bit.
- Tomato Paste: For a rich, savory, and slightly sweet flavor.
- Orange Juice: My secret ingredient! Orange juice adds a nice tanginess to the overall flavor of the Instant Pot pork carnitas. Really, any type of citrus juice works here.
- Lime Juice: Like the orange juice, this adds a tangy and citrusy flavor to the mix.
- Seasonings and Spices: I used a mix of ground cumin, oregano, and chili powder for flavor that’s warm and aromatic with a slight kick of spice. Adjust to taste as needed!
Carnitas Instant Pot Recipe
With flavor this good, you won’t want Mexican takeout! This Instant Pot carnitas recipe is a game-changer for taco night. It’s also great for potlucks and get-togethers because you can make large amounts with ease!
- Prepare Pork: Prepare your pork shoulder by chopping into large pieces, then tossing to coat in the 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Set aside.
- Saute Vegetables: Set your Instant Pot to saute and turn on, then pour the oil in and saute your onion for about 5 minutes, add in your garlic and saute for 2 minutes more.
- Sear Pork: Add your pork into the instant pot with the onion and garlic, sear the pork on all sides, about 10-15 minutes.
- Add Remaining Ingredients: Add in your chicken stock, tomato paste, orange juice, lime juice, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and chili powder to the pot.
- Cook: Close the lid to the instant pot, then set the valve to seal and set the cook time to 30 minutes on high pressure.
- Release Pressure: Once the 30 minutes is up follow the instant pot instructions so the pressure releases naturally.
- Shred: Remove the pork from the pot and then shred with two forks.
- Reduce Liquid: With the remaining cooking juices in the instant pot, set the pot back to saute and reduce the liquid for another 5-8 minutes.
Finish Up in the Oven
- Add to Baking Sheet: Line a sheet pan with foil and set your oven to broil. Then place the shredded pork onto the baking sheet and pour ¼ cup of the reduced liquid over the pork.
- Broil: Broil your pork for 3-4 minutes for crisping, toss the pork to stir and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until it is the desired texture.
- Serve: Once the carnitas are as crispy as you like, serve in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, or on it’s own.
Tips and Serving Ideas
To make Instant Pot carnitas worthy of your favorite Mexican restaurant, here are a few of my favorite tips and tricks:
- Use the Right Pork: Pork shoulder is the hero of this dish. It’s got the perfect balance of fat and meat to give you tender, juicy results.
- Leave Room in Your Instant Pot: Make sure not to overfill your Instant Pot. My rule of thumb is not to go over the two thirds mark. This will ensure that the pressure can build and the pork will cook though evenly.
- Don’t Skip the Broiler: If you want that crispy, crunchy texture that carnitas are famous for, pop the shredded pork under the broiler for a few minutes. You’ll be rewarded with delicious, golden-brown goodness.
- Taste As You Go: Don’t be afraid to taste test the meat and adjust the seasoning as needed. It’s your dish, and you know your taste buds best. Add a little more salt, some extra spice, or a pinch of herbs– whatever it takes to make those Instant Pot carnitas your own!
- Ways to Use Instant Pot Carnitas: In tacos, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, or on its own- the choice is yours! I love serving it on homemade corn tortillas with my favorite toppings like pico de gallo, black beans, salsa, and a little fresh cilantro. You can also use pork carnitas for salads or on top of some rice to make a burrito bowl.
If your eyes were bigger than your stomach, don’t fret! Instant Pot carnitas makes great leftovers. Let it cool down completely then transfer it to an airtight container or bag. Here are a few options for storing it:
- In the Refrigerator: As long as it’s stored properly, pork carnitas will stay good for about 4 days in the fridge.
- In the Freezer: Store in a freezer bag for 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
- To Reheat: Pop your carnitas in the microwave or cook in a skillet on medium heat until warmed through. If it needs it, you can add a splash of chicken broth for moisture.
Instant Pot Carnitas
- 4-5 pounds pork shoulder cut into 2 inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
- ¾ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- Prepare your pork shoulder by chopping into large pieces, toss to coat in the 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Set aside.
- Set your instant pot to saute and turn on, pour the oil in and saute your onion for about 5 minutes, add in your garlic and saute for 2 minutes more.
- Add your pork into the instant pot with the onion and garlic, sear the pork on all sides, about 10-15 minutes.
- Add in your chicken stock, tomato paste, orange juice, lime juice, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and chili powder to the pot.
- Close the lid to the instant pot, set the valve to seal and set the cook time to 30 minutes on pressure cook.
- Once the 30 minutes is up follow the instant pot instructions to do a natural release of the pressure.
- Remove the pork from the pot and shred with two forks.
- With the remaining cooking juices in the instant pot, set the pot back to saute and reduce the liquid for another 5-8 minutes.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and set your oven to broil. Place the shredded pork onto the baking sheet and pour ¼ cup of the reduced liquid over the pork.
- Broil your pork for 3-4 minutes, toss the pork to stir and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until it is the desired texture.
- Once the carnitas are as crispy as you like, serve in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, or on it’s own.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.
You don’t say whether to pressure cook the pork on high or low.
Also, trying to sear the pork while the onion and garlic are in the pot tends to burn the bottom of the pot. I’d recommend removing the sautéed onion/garlic before searing the pork, then adding it back in with the rest of the ingredients right before pressure cooking.
Hi! This recipe sounds truly delicious. However I do not have an Instant Pot and given how many utensils I already have I do not wish to buy one. May I do this recipe in a slow cooker?
Here is my slow cooker recipe if you don’t have an Instant Pot: Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas