These Instant Pot carnitas are fall apart tender and melt in your mouth delicious! The pressure cooker does all the hard work. This recipe takes only 1 hour from start to finish. This Mexican inspired recipe results in tender, flavorful carnitas that are perfect for tacos, burritos, salads, and more!

Instant Pot carnitas.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • These carnitas taste like restaurant quality!
  • They are quick and easy to make.
  • This recipe takes just one hour in total. This is much faster than using a crockpot.
  • Most of the time is hands-off.
  • It is affordable and inexpensive. The main ingredient is pork shoulder, which is a relatively cheap cut of meat.
  • These taste like the carnitas I had on a beach in Mexico! I recreated the recipe from my travels.
  • These carnitas are versatile. You can use the carnitas in any dish that calls for shredded pork, such as tacos, burritos, enchiladas, or salads.
  • The carnitas are tender, flavorful, and crispy.
  • They are perfect for a quick and easy weeknight meal.
  • This recipe is Whole30 compliant, Paleo, Keto, low carb, high protein, gluten free, dairy free, nut free, and sugar free.
  • Check out these Keto Carnitas for another delicious family dinner! You will also love these Cheese Quesadillas.
  • For dessert, try this Instant Pot Cake!

What are Carnitas?

Pork carnitas are a classic Mexican dish. It is made with pork shoulder that is slow cooked or pressure cooked in a flavorful mixture of spices until fall apart tender. The pork is then shredded and can be used to make tacos, burritos, enchiladas, or any other dish you like.

Carnitas are typically made with a boneless pork shoulder roast or pork shoulder. The roast is cut into cubes and cooked in a large pot, slow cooker, or pressure cooker.

Once the pork is cooked, it is shredded and then pan-fried until crispy on the outside. Carnitas can be served on their own or with your favorite toppings, such as shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and pico de Gallo!

These Instant Pot carnitas are spicy, flavorful, and hearty.

Ingredients & Substitutes

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

Use boneless pork shoulder. Bone-in can be used, but it typically takes longer to cook. Cut the pork into 2 inch pieces. Trim off any excess fat.

Sea salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, and oregano add so much flavor! Do not shy away from seasonings.

Garlic cloves add a delicious garlicky flavor.

Chicken broth adds a hearty flavor to the meat. In addition, this cooking liquid helps tenderize the meat.

Orange juice adds a delicious tangy flavor. For best results, use freshly squeezed orange juice.

Lime juice also helps tenderize the meat. The acidity helps break down the pork.

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. In addition, the citrus juices add a tartness that balances out the richness of the pork.

How to Make

Step 1

First, trim the fat off the pork shoulder. Then, cut into 2 inch cubes.

Step 2

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

Seasoned pork in bowl.

Step 3

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

Chunks of pork in Instant Pot.

Step 4

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

Pork and garlic in pressure cooker.

Step 5

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

Instant pot with pork.

Step 6

Turn the oven broil to high. Remove the Instant Pot lid carefully. Then, 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 these Instant Pot carnitas with fresh herbs and serve!

Carnitas meat on pan.

Expert Tips for Success

Here are a few expert tips and tricks for making the best Instant Pot carnitas!

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

Do not shy away from the spices. They add so much flavor.

If needed, sear the pork in two batches. Do not overcrowd the Instant Pot.

Do not overcook the pork. The pork should be cooked until it is tender, but not mushy.

Crisp the pork in a pan over high heat. This will help to create the perfect crispy texture.

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 chili powder or cayenne pepper.

Add in different vegetables, such as onions. Onions and pork go so well together.

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

Pressure cooker carnitas.

Difference Between Pulled Pork and Carnitas

Here are the main differences between pulled pork and pork carnitas.

FeaturePulled PorkCarnitas
Cut of MeatPork ShoulderPork Shoulder or Pork Roast
IngredientsSalt, pepper, BBQ sauce, brothCumin, chili powder, garlic, oregano, orange juice, lime juice
Cooking MethodSlow cooker or Instant PotSlow cooker, Dutch oven or Instant Pot
TextureShreddedShredded then fried until crispy
FlavorMild, smokyRich, spicy

How to Serve & Store

Instant Pot carnitas are great served hot and fresh or as leftovers!

Serve with Mexican rice, cauliflower rice, side salads, or with roasted veggies.

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

My favorite way is making carnitas tacos or nachos!

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.

Freeze for up to 2 months. I currently have two glass containers of leftover carnitas in my freezer!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I make these Instant Pot carnitas ahead of time?

Yes, you can make this recipe ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To reheat, simply place the carnitas in a pan over medium heat until heated through.

Can I use other cuts of meat?

Yes, you can use other cuts of meat, such as pork butt or pork roast. However, pork shoulder is the best option for achieving the best results.

Can I make these Instant Pot carnitas in a slow cooker?

Yes, you can make these carnitas in a slow cooker. Simply follow the same recipe, but cook the pork on low for 8 to 10 hours. Then, broil in the oven for 5 minutes.

Why is my Instant Pot pork not tender?

If the pork is not tender, it needs to be cooked longer. Continue cooking in 5 minute increments until easily shredded.

Are carnitas similar to pulled pork?

Yes, carnitas and pulled pork are both made with pork that is slow-cooked until it is fall-apart tender. However, there are some key differences between the two dishes. In terms of flavor, carnitas are more complex and flavorful than pulled pork. They have a rich, smoky flavor from the spices. Pulled pork is typically milder in flavor, with a more subtle smoky flavor.

Is pork shoulder the same as carnitas?

No, pork shoulder and carnitas are not the same. Pork shoulder is a cut of meat from the shoulder of a pig, while carnitas are a Mexican dish made with pork shoulder that is slow-cooked in a flavorful mixture of spices and lard until it is fall-apart tender.

Mexican pulled pork.

Equipment Needed

Instant Pot: I use my Instant Pot every single week. It can make shredded meat in such a short time! These Instant Pot carnitas are quick and easy.

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

Check out all of my kitchen favorites!

You May Also Enjoy

If you make this Instant Pot carnitas recipe, I would really appreciate a review! You can find me on InstagramFacebook, and Pinterest. I would love for you to follow along!  For more ideas, see these Lunch and Dinner Recipes.

Instant Pot carnitas.

Get the Recipe: Instant Pot Carnitas

These Instant Pot carnitas are super tender, juicy, and flavorful! They taste like Mexican pulled pork. The pressure cooker makes this recipe quickly and easily. These carnitas are great for tacos, burritos, sandwiches, and more!
5 from 44 votes

Ingredients

Instructions 

  • First, trim the fat off the pork shoulder. Cut into 2 inch cubes.
  • Place the pork in a large bowl. Add the salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, and oregano to the bowl. Toss until the pork is fully coated.
  • Press the sauté button on the Instant Pot. Add in the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add in the pork. Sear on each side for 2 minutes. You may need to do this in two batches. Then, press cancel.
  • Next, add in the garlic cloves, chicken broth, lime juice, and orange juice to the pot. Secure the lid on top.
  • Pressure cook on high for 35 minutes. When the timer goes off, allow a natural release for 10 minutes. Then, carefully move the top valve to venting to release any remaining pressure.
  • Turn the oven broil to high. Remove the Instant Pot lid carefully. Use two forks to shred the meat.
  • 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.
  • Finally, garnish with fresh herbs and serve!

Notes

  • Use boneless pork shoulder for the best texture and flavor.  Pork roast also works well.
  • Sear the pork in two batches if needed.
  • If the pork is not fall apart tender, it needs more time to cook.  Simply place the lid back on, seal the lid, and pressure cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • These carnitas freeze and reheat well.
  • Reheat in the oven.  Cook for 5 to 7 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Calories: 365kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 69g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 0.05g, Cholesterol: 182mg, Sodium: 700mg, Potassium: 1243mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 78IU, Vitamin C: 11mg, Calcium: 55mg, Iron: 4mg

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