Instant pot carnitas are the ultimate mashup of crispy, juicy and tender pork made in under an hour. They're made to be stuffed in tacos or served over rice with your favorite Mexican-inspired toppings.
Salt, fat, acid and heat (the cornerstone of a good recipe) are all happening in this pork carnitas!
When you think of tender, juicy carnitas, you may think they have to be cooked low and slow for HOURS. The great news is the Instant Pot achieves same result in less than half the time!
Juicy, crispy pork carnitas you can cook from start to finish on a weeknight.
What cut of pork is best for carnitas?
The best meat to use for carnitas is pork shoulder (it's often called pork butt). Find it in the meat section at the grocery store, either in the pre-packaged section or over the meat counter.
This recipe calls for about 3 lbs of pork shoulder. If you can only find a larger cut, you can cut it and freeze the pork to make carnitas another day!
If you've ever made pulled pork, it's usually made with the same cut of pork! The main differences are the spices/juices they're cooked with and carnitas are broiled at the end for a crispy finish.
Are carnitas healthy? While we're on the topic of ingredients, let's talk about just how healthy these crispy carnitas are! They're whole30, gluten free, dairy dairy free, sugar free and and a great source of protein.
How to make instant pot carnitas (in under an hour!):
- Start by searing the pork using the saute mode to get a crispy outside (color=flavor when it comes to cooking!).
- Add the rest of the ingredients then close the lid and set the vent to the sealing position.
- Pressure cook (manual cook) for 30 minutes then allow to naturally release (do nothing) for 15 minutes. It will take about 10 minutes for the IP to come to pressure first.
- Transfer the pork to a baking sheet and shred (it will fall apart!). Add some of the cooking liquid on top and broil for a few minutes until brown and crispy.
Instant Pot Q&A (tips to make you feel like a pro):
How long do you cook pork in the instant pot?
It takes about 30 minutes of pressure cooking time and 15 minutes of a natural release. You can overcook pork in the instant pot. Make sure your chunks of pork aren't too small or they will cook faster. Check out the image above for reference.
Does pressure cooking it longer mean it will be more tender?
Cooking it longer in the instant pot does not mean more tender! There's a fine line between perfectly cooked and overcooked (and dry!).
How much water do I put in my instant pot for pork?
A great rule of thumb: use at least 1 cup of liquid in your Instant pot. Between the chicken broth, orange, and lime juice, there's plenty of cooking liquid. Plus it gives the carnitas so much flavor!
What do you serve with pork carnitas?
My favorite way to serve these carnitas are inside of taco shells (use Siete shells to keep them paleo!). You could also make burrito bowl! Serve the carnitas over rice with all your favorite toppings.
Made this recipe? Don't forget to leave a star review and comment. You can also tag me on Instagram so I can see it and connect with you!
Similar recipes you'll love:
- Carne asada tacos
- Sheet pan burrito bowl
- Healthy chicken enchiladas
- Instant pot salsa chicken
- Mexican beef and rice skillet
Crispy Instant Pot Carnitas
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
- 1/3 cup fresh orange juice (about 1 large orange)
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons sea salt divided
- 2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
- 1 3 lb pork shoulder (also called pork butt)
- 6 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 1 medium white onion cut into large chunks
- 2 bay leaves
- For serving: cilantro,avocado, lime juice
- In a small bowl, whisk the chicken broth, lime juice, orange juice, cumin, oregano and 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Cut the pork shoulder into large (3 inch) chunks then season it with the remaining salt (use more salt if needed). Turn the instant pot to saute mode then add 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil is hot and rippling, add the pork and sear on each side for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.
- Add the chicken broth and spice mixture then add the garlic, onion and bay leaves.
- Close the lid of the instant pot and make sure the vent is set to sealing. Pressure cook (manual cook) for 30 minutes then allow to naturally release (do nothing) for 15 minutes. It will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure before it starts to count down.
- Prepare a large baking sheet with foil or a silicone baking mat. Carefully open the lid of the Instant pot and transfer the pieces of pork shoulder to the baking sheet. Use two forks to shred the pork and spread evenly onto the baking sheet. Pour a few spoonfuls of the cooking liquid from the dutch oven over the pork and broil for 3-5 minutes, until the pork is crispy. Remove from the oven, stir and broil a few more minutes longer if needed. Spoon more cooking liquid over the top before serving.