by Olena

Instant Pot Carnitas

by Olena

5 from 5 reviews

Instant Pot Carnitas are crispy and juicy Mexican pulled pork tacos made healthy in pressure cooker. With quick pickled onions that are to-die-for!

We love Mexican food and Instant Pot is perfect for making it easy and healthy. Just check out Instant Pot turkey chili, Instant Pot chicken tacos and Instant Pot rice and beans. Browse all healthy Instant Pot recipes.

Crispy and juicy Mexican pulled pork tacos in Instant Pot without coke. With quick pickled onions that are to-die-for!

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

In Americas, Instant Pot carnitas with Coke are all the rage. Which is no good. Traditionally pork carnitas are cooked in a large amount of lard. We need healthy carnitas!

How healthy is pork might be questionable. It is hard to find organic. Also there is lots of controversy how pork is fed and raised. I get it. I agree. For me, it’s a treat.

Instant Pot pork carnitas carnitas are super convenient to serve a crowd. Hands off cooking method for you. Still on a fence about Instant Pot? Check out which one I recommend to buy from my experience.

So, let’s dive in into Instant Pot carnitas 101. I tried it all. Trust me.

What Is Pork Carnitas?

Pork carnitas is a pork roast heavily coated in spices. Then cooked in large amount of lard on low heat until tender. Then shredded into crispy strands of meat and served in tacos with pickled onions, guacamole etc. For all “carnitas dummies” like me, it’s just Mexican pulled pork tacos. Carnitas is a type of meat for tacos. That’s it. So that’s how it’s traditionally done in Mexico.

We, in Canada and America, usually cook Mexican shredded pork in slow cooker and now genius Instant Pot. Until tender and then broil for crispiness.

I have my own methods I will share with you today though.

Ingredients

  • Pork roast
  • Orange
  • Lime
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Beer
  • Spices: chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper.

Crispy and juicy Mexican pulled pork tacos in Instant Pot without coke. With quick pickled onions that are to-die-for!

Carnitas FAQs & Tips

What cut of meat is the best for carnitas?

Pork shoulder aka pork butt roast. It’s same thing. It is part of the pig’s shoulder. It is not part of a butt. “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.

Should meat be bone in or boneless?

It doesn’t matter. I often find mostly boneless cuts of pork these days.

Can you make carnitas with pork loin?

Short answer is “No”. Carnitas is cooked slow while melting fat moisturizes the meat. Also long cooking time makes it more flavorful with spices. That’s when crock pot comes in handy. Or pressure cooking in Instant Pot. Still takes an hour. So imagine how long pork should be cooked to be good. And it has to be a cut of meat with fat strands in it.

If you use pork loin, it cooks fast, comes out dry and you won’t be able to shred it like a pork shoulder.

Can I make ahead Instant Pot pork carnitas?

Yes! Shredded pork reheats so well. In fact in Ukraine we didn’t have a microwave. We would pan fry any leftover meat to reheat. And it always came out crispy.

  1. Shred cooked pork shoulder.
  2. Let it cool.
  3. Refrigerate in an airtight container.
  4. Pan fry until crispy.

Follow the order in the instructions.

I think it is important to pour the flavorful liquids like beer, orange and lime juice over the meat before rubbing with spices. This way meat gets a portion of flavor of every ingredient vs. if you just added liquids to the bottom of Instant Pot and sprinkled spices on top. Meat has to cook with flavors sticking to it.

Crispy and juicy Mexican pulled pork tacos in Instant Pot without coke. With quick pickled onions that are to-die-for!

Substitutions

  • Beer: If you absolutely want to make carnitas and don’t have beer use chicken stock. It is not the end of the world but beer makes carnitas a bit extra good. But it’s OK.:)
  • Orange: Orange juice from a carton works great. About 1 /2 cup.
  • Lime: 1 large or 2 medium lemons can substitute 2 regular limes. Please try not to use bottled juice. It’s not the same taste. And it contains preservatives.

How to Cook Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

If you are new to pressure cooking, check out my Instant Pot guide. It explains what happens, why and how to avoid failures.

Crispy and juicy Mexican pulled pork tacos in Instant Pot without coke. With quick pickled onions that are to-die-for!

1. Season the Meat

  1. In Instant Pot, place trivet and meat on top.
  2. Pour beer, orange and lime juice all over the meat.
  3. In a small bowl, add chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper; stir to combine.
  4. Rub pork roast with garlic and then sprinkle with a mixture of spices all around. Top with onions and citrus skins.

2. Pressure Cook for 1 Hour

  1. Place the lid on top.
  2. Make sure pressure release valve is set to Sealing.
  3. How long to cook pork in pressure cooker? 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.

3. Make Quick Pickled Onions

While pork is cooking, make quick pickled onions by combining red onion, cilantro, water and vinegar in a medium bowl. Stir and let marinate. During that time you can stir a few times if you are walking by. Can be kept on a counter or in the fridge. If it’s summer cold would be nice.

I know photo shows tomatoes. I actually like pickled onions without them more. Just pictures that day didn’t work out haha.

Crispy and juicy Mexican pulled pork tacos in Instant Pot without coke. With quick pickled onions that are to-die-for!

4. Do Quick Release and Shred the Meat

  • After 1 hour, your meat is ready.
  • Release pressure using Quick Release method: turn the valve to Venting position right after display says Off and cooking has finished. 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.
  • Remove pork roast from the pot on a board or large platter.
  • Shred with 2 forks.

5. Pan Fry Pork Carnitas Until Crispy

This is the step where I differ from everyone else. Many recipes call to broil shredded pulled pork until crispy. I found cooking it in a ceramic non-stick skillet works much better. Pork comes out truly crispy, faster and not burnt.

  • Preheat non-stick large skillet on medium heat and add shredded pork in batches.
  • Cook for a few minutes or until crispy without disturbing.
  • Stir and cook more until crispy more.
  • Ladle some juices from the pot on top.

Crispy and juicy Mexican pulled pork tacos in Instant Pot without coke. With quick pickled onions that are to-die-for!

6. What to Serve Carnitas With?

Serve Instant Pot crispy carnitas in corn tortillas with pickled onions.

You can make guacamole too. Or mango salsa, blueberry salsa or strawberry mango salsa.

I’m usually “lazy” and pickled onions add enough flavor anyways.

More Healthy Instant Pot Recipes

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Looking for more dinner ideas? Check out my most popular collection of 30 healthy Instant Pot recipes.

Print

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas Recipe

5 from 5 reviews

Instant Pot Carnitas are crispy and juicy Mexican pulled pork tacos made healthy in pressure cooker. With quick pickled onions that are to-die-for!

  • Author: Olena of ifoodreal.com
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 65 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 14 tacos 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Mexican
Scale

Ingredients

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

  • 34 lbs pork shoulder or butt roast
  • 1 orange, juice of or 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 limes, juice of or 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1 can of any beer
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano, dried
  • 1 tsp cumin, ground
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 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 or apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  1. In Instant Pot, place trivet and meat on top. Pour beer, orange and lime juice all over the meat.
  2. In a small bowl, add chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper; stir to combine.
  3. Rub pork roast with garlic and then sprinkle with a mixture of spices all around. Top with onions and citrus skins.
  4. Place the lid on top, venting valve to Sealing and cook for 1 hour on High pressure.
  5. While pork is cooking, make quick pickled onions by combining red onion, cilantro, water and vinegar in a medium bowl. Stir and let sit while pork is cooking.
  6. After 1 hour, do Quick or Natural release. Doesn’t matter. Remove pork roast from the pot and shred with 2 forks.
  7. Preheat non-stick large skillet on medium heat and add shredded pork in batches. Cook for a few minutes or until crispy without disturbing. Stir and cook more until crispy more. Ladle some juices from the pot on top.
  8. To make tacos, place some shredded pork on a corn tortilla and top with quick pickled onions. Enjoy!

Store: Refrigerate meat for up to 5 days. Pan fry until crispy when ready to eat.

Make Ahead: Shred cooked pork shoulder and let it cool. Refrigerate in an airtight container. Then pan fry from cold until crispy.

Notes

You can save the juice and use it as a soup or stew base. Just discard the onion.

 Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating in the comments.

olena osipov in the studio

Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys and a wife to Alex. And this is our healthy family recipes blog. I grew up in Ukraine on real food. As an adult, I tried many diets without results. Now for over 10 years, I cook quick and easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

What You Will Find Here

Healthy family recipes with simple ingredients. Many are inspired by my Ukrainian heritage. I share mostly dinner recipes because it just never ends... I’m obsessed with healthy freezer meals. And more than in love with my Instant Pot.

A Little More About Me

Originally from Ukraine, I now reside on magic Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada with my family. I started this blog in 2012 when I ended up at home with 2 small kids unemployed and a wee bit chubby.

13 comments on “Instant Pot Carnitas

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  1. 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.

  2. 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! 🙂

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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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