Instant Pot Carnitas are crispy and juicy Mexican pulled pork tacos made healthy in a pressure cooker. 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. Just got one? This Instant Pot guide will answer many of your questions.
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 You Will Need
- Pork roast: 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.
- 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.
- Garlic and onion
- 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.:)
- Spices: Chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper.
How to Cook Instant Pot Pork Carnitas
- Season the meat by pouring beer, orange and lime juice all over the meat. Then rub with freshly grated garlic, sprinkle with a mix of chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pan fry 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.
Tips for Best Carnitas
- Roast can be boneless or with bone in.
- Please avoid using pork loin roast. If you use pork loin, it cooks fast, comes out dry and you won’t be able to shred it like a pork shoulder.
- To make ahead: shred cooked pork shoulder, let it cool, refrigerate in an airtight container and then pan fry with a bit of oil until crispy.
- It is important to follow recipe’s instructions like to pour 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.
Serve Instant Pot crispy carnitas in corn tortillas with pickled onions.
More Healthy Instant Pot Recipes
Did you know we have entire Youtube channel dedicated to healthy Instant Pot recipes and tips? My goal is to help you become confident with your Instant Pot by demonstrating each delicious foolproof recipe in step-by-step videos.
Make sure to subscribe and hit the Bell icon not to miss new videos.
- Instant Pot black bean soup
- Instant Pot chicken tortilla soup
- Instant Pot BBQ chicken
- Instant Pot pot roast
Looking for more dinner ideas? Check out my most popular collection of 30 healthy Instant Pot recipes.
Instant Pot Carnitas
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!
- 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
Instant Pot Pork Carnitas
- 3–4 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
- In Instant Pot, place trivet and meat on top. 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 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.
- After 1 hour, do Quick or Natural release. Doesn’t matter. Remove pork roast from the pot and shred with 2 forks.
- 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.
- 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.
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.