Instant Pot Carnitas

These Instant Pot carnitas are so tender, hearty, and flavorful! This quick and easy recipe is great for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, salads, and more. These carnitas are even better as leftovers!
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These Instant Pot carnitas are melt-in-your-mouth tender and incredibly flavorful! They are typically made in a pot or slow cooker, but this recipe shows you how to make them quickly and easily in an Instant Pot. The result is tender, flavorful carnitas that are perfect for tacos, burritos, salads, and many other dishes!

Instant pot carnitas.

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Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • This Instant Pot carnitas recipe is quick and easy to make.
  • The whole thing can be done in under an hour and most of the time is hands-off.
  • These carnitas are tender and flavorful.
  • The Instant Pot helps to lock in the moisture and flavor of the pork, resulting in carnitas that are so moist.
  • The carnitas are versatile.
  • Both kids and adults love this recipe.
  • You can use them in any dish that calls for shredded pork, such as tacos, burritos, enchiladas, or salads.
  • This recipe is naturally Paleo, grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and sugar-free.
  • Check out this Instant Pot Pulled Pork for another easy pressure cooker recipe!

Ingredients & Substitutes

These are the ingredients and substitutes for Instant Pot carnitas. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full recipe.

First, use a boneless pork butt. Pork shoulder works well too. Cut into 2 inch cubes.

Season the meat with pepper, salt, cumin, paprika, and oregano.

Use olive oil or avocado oil to help sear the meat.

Garlic cloves add a delicious garlicky flavor. Feel free to use minced garlic or garlic powder if needed.

Broth helps cook the meat. In addition, it adds moisture and nutrients. Use chicken broth or beef broth. Look for brands that do not use added sugar.

Lime juice and orange juice add a delicious citrusy flavor. Use freshly squeezed for the best flavor.

Lastly, garnish with fresh cilantro if desired.

Ingredients for instant pot carnitas.

Taste & Texture

These Instant Pot carnitas are a delicious blend of savory, spicy, and tangy.

The pork is tender and juicy, with a crispy exterior.

The spices add a flavorful kick. The citrus juices add a tartness that balances out the richness of the pork.

How to Make

Step 1

To begin, trim the fat off the pork shoulder. Cut into 2 inch cubes.

Step 2

Place the pork in a large mixing bowl. Add the salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, and oregano to the bowl. Toss until the pork is fully coated with the seasonings.

Pork pieces with seasonings.

Step 3

Press the sauté button on your Instant Pot. Pour in the olive oil. Once the olive oil is hot, add in the pork pieces. Sear on each side for 2 minutes. You may need to do this in two batches. Then, press cancel.

Pot with pork butt.

Step 4

Next, add in the garlic cloves, broth, lime juice, and orange juice to the pot. Secure the lid on top.

Garlic and meat in instant pot.

Step 5

Pressure cook on high for 35 minutes. Once the timer goes off, allow a natural release for 10 minutes. Then, carefully move the top valve to venting to release any remaining pressure.

Broth with pork.

Step 6

Turn the oven broil to high. Remove the lid carefully. Use two forks to shred the meat.

Step 7

Transfer the meat and ½ cup of the liquid to a rimmed baking pan. Broil on high for 5 minutes, or until the top of the pork has started to become crispy. Remove the pan from the oven.

Step 8

Finally, garnish with fresh cilantro and serve!

Expert Tips for Success

For the best Instant Pot carnitas, follow these tips.

Use a good quality pork shoulder. This will make a big difference in the flavor of the carnitas.

Don’t overcrowd the pot. The pork should have enough room to cook evenly.

Don’t overcook the pork. The pork should be cooked until it is tender, but not dry.

For extra crispy carnitas, broil them in a preheated oven for a few minutes before serving.

Pork carnitas on pan.

Flavor Variations & Add-Ins

There are many ways to vary the flavor of Instant Pot carnitas. Here are a few ideas.

Add different spices, such as cayenne pepper or paprika.

Add different vegetables, such as onions, cilantro, or radishes. Pressure cook these along with the pork.

Top with sour cream, salsa, guacamole, or queso fresco.

How to Serve & Store

Instant Pot carnitas are delicious both hot and fresh or as leftovers.

Serve this meat with a side salad, brown rice, or roasted veggies.

Use the meat in tacos, sandwiches, salads, enchiladas, burritos, and more.

Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

To reheat, simply place the carnitas in a pan over medium heat until heated through.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between carnitas and pulled pork?

Carnitas and pulled pork are both made with pork that has been slow-cooked until it is tender and shredded. However, carnitas are typically made with pork shoulder, while pulled pork can be made with any cut of pork. Carnitas are also typically seasoned with a variety of spices, while pulled pork is often seasoned with just salt and pepper.

Can I use other cuts of meat besides pork shoulder?

Yes, you can use other cuts of meat besides pork shoulder for carnitas. Some popular options include pork butt, pork belly, and chicken thighs.

How long does it take to make carnitas in the Instant Pot?

The cooking time for carnitas in the Instant Pot will vary depending on the cut of meat you use. Pork shoulder will typically take about 35 minutes to cook, while pork butt or chicken thighs will take about 20 minutes.

How do I know when the carnitas are done cooking?

The carnitas are done cooking when they are fork-tender. You should be able to easily shred the meat with two forks.

How do I store carnitas?

Carnitas can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To freeze carnitas, place them in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 2 months.

How do I reheat carnitas?

To reheat these Instant Pot carnitas, simply place them in a pan over medium heat until heated through. You can also reheat carnitas in the microwave.

Moist meat on pan.

Equipment Needed

Instant Pot: We use our Instant Pot every single week. It can make shredded meat in such a short time!

USA Pan 3 Piece Cookie Sheet Set: This cookie sheet set is heavy-duty and has a rimmed edge. We used it for broiling the pork carnitas.

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Recipe Rating

    1. Sure! Sear the meat in a skillet. Then add all of the ingredients to a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 4 to 5 hours. Then, broil the meat as described in the recipe. Enjoy!