by Olena

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Olena's image
Olena Osipov
5 from 8 votes

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas is a crowd pleasing juicy and crispy Mexican pulled pork served in tacos, burritos or salads and topped with quick pickled onions. Crazy EASY and GOOD!

I absolutely believe Instant Pot makes Mexican food easy and healthy – just check out my Instant Pot chicken tacos and Instant Pot rice and beans.

Instant Pot Carnitas served on a marble tray with lime

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Oh, these Instant Pot Pork Carnitas were GOOD! You can taste citrusy-garlic-y-spicy juices with every crisp pork taco bite. A total disaster to eat but finger licking good one!

Traditionally pork carnitas are cooked in large amount of lard. With Instant Pot:

  • Pork roast comes out tender in a  little over 1 hour;
  • Then shredded and roasted until crispy;
  • And served on a tortilla with quick pickled onions. Onions are optional but are to-die-for and so easy!

shredded Instant Pot pork carnitas with red tongs on a tray

I have to be honest and say that carnitas are totally new concept to Canadian Ukrainian immigrant me. But I embraced it and perfected the recipe over the years. If I can do it, you can too! 🙂

quick pickled onions for Instant Pot carnitasInstant Pot carnitas on tortilla with onions, tomatoes and avocado

Ingredients You Will Need

  • Pork roast: Pork shoulder aka pork butt roast – same thing and is part of the pig’s shoulder. “Butt” goes back to the days when butchers in Boston area packed the pork shoulder unto barrels called “butts”. It also can have other names: picnic shoulder, shoulder roast, Boston butt roast.
  • Orange: Orange juice from very large orange or from a carton. About 1/2 cup.
  • Limes: 2 medium limes or even lemons. Please try not to use bottled juice. It’s not the same taste and contains preservatives.
  • Beer: If you absolutely want to make carnitas and don’t have beer use any stock.
  • Spices: Chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper.
  • Garlic and onion

Instant Pot Carnitas ingredients include pork roast, orange, limes, onion, garlic, beer, vinegar and spices

How to Cook Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Still on a fence about Instant Pot? Check out which one I recommend to buy from my experience. Also Instant Pot guide will answer many questions.

  • Season meat by pouring beer, orange and lime juice over it. Then rub with garlic and sprinkle with spices. Top with onions and citrus skins.
  • Pressure cook for 1 hour on High pressure. I tried to cook Instant Pot pork shoulder roast for 45 minutes and that wasn’t enough. Meat wouldn’t shred. pork butt roast for Instant Pot carnitas cooked and seasoned
  • Make quick pickled onions while roast is cooking by combining red onion, cilantro, water, vinegar, salt and pepper. Refrigerate. If you have time, check out my friend’s Katie from Healthy Seasonal Recipes pickled onions recipe.quick pickled onions in a glass bowl for Instant Pot carnitas
  • Do quick release and shred the meat. Usually Quick release method pulls moisture from the meat but it doesn’t matter with carnitas. Because pork is fatty and we will pour cooking liquids on top in next step.
  • Broil carnitas until crispy with 1 cup of juices. I actually like to save more and pour over meat later to rehydrate it.shredded Instant Pot pork carnitas on a tray

More Tips and Variations

  • Roast can be boneless or with bone in. Pork tenderloin roast is not recommended because it is more dry and hard to shred. But because of health crisis 2020 I ended up using it in the video and just needed extra muscles for shredding.
  • Smoky: Pour 2 tsp of liquid smoke or rub some minced chipotle in adobo sauce over the roast.
  • Spicy: Add chopped with seeds jalapeno pepper to the broth.
  • Chicken: You can totally use boneless and skinless chicken breasts in place of pork.

Instant Pot carnitas on tortilla with onions, tomatoes and avocado

Serving Carnitas

Instant Pot carnitas are super convenient to serve a crowd. Especially during summer months, office potlucks, baby showers etc. Everyone loves Mexican!

  • Parties: Place shredded pork with juices back in Instant Pot and Keep Warm for up to 10 hours.
  • Wrap it up: In burritos, enchiladas, tostadas and tacos.
  • Low carb: Top most salads with it.
  • Traditional: Guacamole, pico de gallo and refried beans.

I’m usually “lazy” and quick pickled onions add enough flavor anyways. I like carnitas “clean” – Mexican street food style.

Instant Pot Carnitas served on a marble tray with lime

How to Make Ahead, Store and Reheat Carnitas

  • Make ahead: This step is great for a party. Keep seasoned roast in inner liner of Instant Pot, covered with silicone lid in the fridge for up to 2 days. After just cook as per recipe.
  • Store: Refrigerate or freeze shredded carnitas for up to 5 days or 3 months in an airtight container.
  • Reheat: Pan fry with a bit of oil, juices, water or stock until warmed through. Using only oil will make carnitas more crispy.

shredded Instant Pot pork carnitas in dark bowl with limes

More Instant Pot Recipes

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Looking for more dinner ideas? Check out my most popular collection of 40 healthy Instant Pot recipes.

Instant Pot Carnitas served on a marble tray with lime

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Instant Pot Carnitas is a crowd pleasing juicy and crispy Mexican pulled pork served in tacos, burritos or salads and topped with quick pickled onions. Crazy EASY and GOOD!
5 from 8 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 14 tacos
Calories: 164kcal
Author: Olena Osipov


Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

  • 3-4 lbs pork shoulder or butt roast
  • 1 large orange juice of or 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 limes juice of or 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 4 garlic cloves grated
  • 1 medium onion quartered
  • 1 can of any beer
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano dried
  • 1 tsp cumin ground
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 14 corn tortillas

Quick Pickled Onions

  • 1/2 cup red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 small bunch cilantro chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white white/red wine or apple cider vinegar
  • Pinch of salt and pepper


  • In Instant Pot, place trivet or steamer basket inside. Add pork roast and pour beer, orange and lime juice all over the meat.
  • In a small bowl, add chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper; stir to combine.
  • Rub pork roast with garlic and then sprinkle with a mixture of spices all around. Top with onions and citrus skins.
  • Place the lid on top, venting valve to Sealing and cook for 1 hour on High pressure.
  • While roast is cooking, make quick pickled onions by combining red onion, cilantro, water, vinegar, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir and refrigerate.
  • After 1 hour, do Quick Release or Natural Release - doesn't matter.
  • Transfer pork roast onto a baking sheet and shred with 2 forks.
  • Pour 1 cup of meat juice on top and broil on High at 550 degrees F for 5-10 minutes or until crispy. I would also reserve more juices to rehydrate meat later.
  • To make tacos, place some shredded pork on a corn tortilla and top with quick pickled onions. ALso can serve with guacamole or pico de gallo. Enjoy!

Store: Refrigerate meat for up to 5 days. To reheat, pan fry until crispy when ready to eat.

    Make Ahead: You can assemble the roast in the inner liner of Instant Pot, cover with silicone lid and refrigerate for up to 2 days. After cook as per recipe.



      • In the video I used tenderloin roast because health crisis 2020. It is much harder to shred than butt or shoulder roast but possible. 🙂
      • Substitute beer with any stock.
      • Fresh lime juice tastes better than from a bottle. Lemon juice would work as well.
      • You can save the juice and use it as a soup or stew base. Just discard the onion.
      • Also reserve extra juices to rehydrate meat later.


      Calories: 164kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 394mg | Potassium: 314mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 93IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 1mg
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      olena osipov in the studio

      Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

      My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

      27 comments on “Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

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      1. Every recipe I have tried of yours is amazing. I’m looking forward to making this one. Does it matter if you use bone in or boneless?

        1. I am so happy to hear that, Jill!!! Hmmm, I never tried bone in but for the sake of it cook bone in for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Should be fine.

      2. 5 stars
        Another winner! I am from southern NM,US. Less than 45 min from Mexico. Pretty authentic Mexican and “TexMex” in these parts and this is the real deal. Thanks for the real food recipes that we moms without culinary training can pull off.

      3. Hi Olena, Happy Mother’s Day! I wanted to cook on Mother’s Day, so I made this. I followed your recipe, the pork shoulder was 2.73 lbs. It would not shred after cooking it one hour on high pressure as the recipe called for. What did I do wrong? the meat looked pretty fatty when I bought it.

        1. It probably needed more effort to shred. It probably was a tenderloin or loin pork shoulder which is possible since there are so many cuts of it.

        2. Hello, I am anxious to try this recipe but it is too large. If I use 2 pounds of pork, is it still the 1 hour cooking time in the IP? Thank you.

      4. I will definitely try this recipe with chicken, looks delicious! I have tried a few of your recipes and I love them! Keep them coming!! ☺️
        BC, Canada ??

        1. Thank you so much Barbara! Please don’t be shy to leave a comment and a star review once you try this recipe 🙂

      5. 5 stars
        I am wondering if you could use a can of coke in place of the beer? I’ve seen recipes that do that but I’m wondering if anyone has tried it.

      6. 5 stars
        This is Grey Cup Sunday in Canada and my husband wanted to make Pulled Pork for supper. I showed him this recipe and we both worked on it. It was simply awesome! We used large buns and they were good, however I will pick up some tacos next time.

      7. 5 stars
        Sounds and looks very delicious, Olena! One question, though – why do we put the meat on the trivet and not just in the pot, like we do with chicken? It seems there is enough liquid, so it shouldn’t burn, right? So why the trivet? Thanks! 🙂

      8. 5 stars
        always love carnitas as a Hispanic I make excellent Carnitas the original way your recipe is a must-try. I’ll let you know about my results soon.

      9. Sounds interesting, but we do not have a slow cooker or instant pot. Would a heavy pot with a heavy lid work, the kind you have in the pictures for your turkey roast recipe (dark red)? Thanks.

        1. Yes. Roast in the oven at 350 degrees f uncovered for 3½ hours, turning the pork a few times during cooking. Other than that follow the recipe.:)

      10. 5 stars
        Hi Olena. Made your Instant Pot pork carnitas as soon as you published the recipe. So good! Appreciate no coke. Cheer.

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