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!
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!
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! 🙂
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
How to Cook Instant Pot Pork Carnitas
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 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.
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.
More Instant Pot Recipes
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Instant Pot Pork Carnitas
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 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.
- 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.
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.
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