This Instant Pot carnitas recipe will outperform your local authentic Mexican restaurant pork carnitas. And they’re delicious, easy and so much quicker than in a slow cooker. Serve these shredded pork carnitas in tacos, burritos, nachos, lettuce wraps, or as part of a Mexican rice bowl. This Instant Pot recipe is great for a crowd especially as part of a taco bar. It’s also paleo and keto friendly.
Pork carnitas tacos are one of my favorite kinds of tacos. I used to make slow cooker pork carnitas, but as you know, these days Instant Pot is the new slow cooker, so Instant Pot Carnitas it is!
And I am so happy to share my recipe for authentic pork carnitas with you. Although they do take longer to cook than some Instant Pot recipes, these carnitas still get done in less than half the time as the slow cooker, and they taste just as delicious!
I always share recipes with you the way I make them AND only if my family is 100% satisfied with the results. For every recipe you see posted on this blog, there are 2 or 3 that never make the cut. And how can I tell the fam isn’t happy? Do they gag, make faces? No, they’re far too polite for that (thank goodness!) It’s usually “hmm, it’s good…” or “it’s okay” or silence.
If you wanted to experiment with the timing for cooking these pork carnitas, you could cut the meat into much smaller pieces and cook the carnitas for less time (about 60 minutes, and if the meat’s still not tender enough, just cook it a bit more.)
This recipe for Instant Pot carnitas is based on my Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas recipe, except that in this recipe I use orange juice instead of beer and up the Mexican chili powder a bit. You can easily make this recipe without orange juice. Substitute beer, cola or broth for the orange juice.
For the meat, I like to use a fattier cut of pork like pork shoulder because these cuts do so much better in the Instant Pot. Making these carnitas out of a leaner cut of pork like pork loin or tenderloin just won’t give you the same results.
Once the meat is cooked, don’t skip the final step, which is to crisp up the pork on just one side. I learned this trick from the Recipe Tin Eats pork carnitas recipe. I chose to crisp up the meat in a large nonstick frying pan, but you can also put it on a baking sheet and stick it under the broiler. I prefer to use the frying pan because I can keep an eye on the meat to make sure it’s not getting too dry. If you find that your carnitas are dry, just add a couple of tablespoons of the liquid to the meat. This is especially useful when you’re reheating leftovers.
My family likes lots of spices and we really love the flavor of these Instant Pot pork carnitas, but you can reduce the seasonings to suit your tastes. And kick up the spice of this carnitas recipe even more by adding chopped jalapeno to the Instant Pot along with the onions, or to make Chipotle Pork Carnitas, add a chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce.
There’s enough filling here that you can feed 6 people easily and maybe even have some leftovers for the next day’s lunch or to freeze for later! Instant Pot carnitas can be used to make shredded pork carnitas tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, nachos or even a Mexican-flavored pulled pork sandwich. If you’re following a keto, paleo or whole 30 diet you can omit the tortillas or use low-carb tortillas.
If you’re new to the Instant Pot and aren’t familiar with how to use it, please read the Instant Pot DUO Beginner’s Quick Start Guide or the Instant Pot ULTRA Beginner’s Quick Start Guide first and then come back here to learn how to make this Instant Pot Carnitas.
Instant Pot Carnitas Ingredients
Instant Pot Carnitas Step-by-Step Instructions
- Cut pork shoulder into 3 pieces.
- Mix together oregano, cumin, coriander, salt, black pepper, and Mexican chili powder. Rub spice mix all over pork shoulder and place it in the Instant Pot.
- Add onion, garlic, orange juice, broth, lime juice over the top.
- Close Instant Pot Lid, and make sure steam release handle is in the ‘Sealing’ position.
- Press ‘Manual’ (or ‘Pressure Cook’) and ‘+’ or ‘-‘ until display reads ’90’ (90 minutes).
- Instant Pot display will change to ‘On’.
- Once the Instant Pot is pressurized, the float valve will go up.
- The display will count down from 90 to 0; it will switch to ‘Keep Warm’ mode and display ‘L0:00’.
- Allow the pressure to drop naturally (this can take up to 30 minutes).
- When your Instant Pot is depressurized, the float valve will be in the down position.
- Press ‘Cancel’ and open the Instant Pot.
- Carefully remove pork shoulder from Instant Pot and place on a large plate or bowl and let it cool for a few minutes.
- Using two forks, shred the pork. It should be very tender.
- Use a large slotted spoon to remove the onion mixture from the liquid in the Instant Pot and add it to the shredded pork.
- Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
- Place desired amount of shredded pork in the frying pan and press down gently.
- Pour 2 to 3 Tbsp of the juices from the Instant Pot over the meat to moisten the pork while it’s cooking.
- Fry the pork mixture until it is crisp on the bottom. Don’t flip the meat over, just fry it on one side, about 6 to 8 minutes.
- To serve, place pork carnitas in a heated corn tortilla and add your choice of fillings.
Crispy and Delicious Instant Pot Carnitas
This Instant Pot carnitas recipe will outperform your local Mexican restaurant pork carnitas. And they're delicious, easy and quicker to make than in a slow cooker.
- 3 to 4 lbs boneless pork shoulder
- 1 Tbsp oregano
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 1 Tbsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp salt or to taste
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp Mexican chili powder
- 1 cup onion chopped
- 2 Tbsp garlic chopped
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup chicken or beef broth
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
Cut pork into 3 pieces.
Mix together oregano, cumin, coriander, salt, black pepper and Mexican chili powder. Rub spice mix all over pork shoulder and place it in the Instant Pot.
Spread onion and garlic over the pork and pour orange juice, broth, and lime juice over the top.
Cook in 'Manual' (or 'Pressure Cook') mode for 90 minutes. (Make sure steam release handle is in Sealing position.)
Allow the pressure to drop naturally (this can take up to 30 minutes.)
Using two forks, shred the pork. It should be very tender.
Use a large slotted spoon to remove the onion mixture from the liquid in the Instant Pot and add it to the cooked pork.
Heat oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat.
Place desired amount of shredded pork in the frying pan and press down gently.
Pour 2 to 3 Tbsp of the juices from the Instant Pot over the meat to moisten the pork while it’s cooking.
Fry the pork mixture until it is crisp on the bottom. Don’t flip the meat over, just fry it on one side, about 6 to 8 minutes.
To serve, place pork carnitas in a heated corn tortilla and add your choice of fillings.
- Prep time does not include steps that are already accounted for in the ingredient list, e.g. chopped onions, minced garlic, etc.
- If you want to cook the pork for a shorter time, cut the pieces into smaller 2-inch chunks and pressure cook for 50 minutes.
- Add your choice of fillings: chopped onion, queso fresco (Mexican cheese), shredded cabbage, cilantro, guacamole, avocado, tomatoes, salsa, jalapenos. Adjust seasonings to taste. If you like your Instant Pot carnitas to be spicier, you could add chopped jalapenos or a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce.
I am not a certified nutritionist. I provide my best estimate of nutritional information merely as a courtesy to my readers. If you depend on nutritional information for dietary or health reasons, I suggest using your favorite online nutrition calculator to confirm the nutritional value of this recipe based on the actual ingredients that you use.
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You might also like to try these Instant Pot Recipes:
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