Instant Pot Carnitas

Taco Tuesday just got even better! Easy Crispy Instant Pot Carnitas take only 30 minutes in the instant pot and are super easy to make. They come out so tender and juicy and then are broiled to crispy perfection. Perfect for all of your Mexican favorites: tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, and nachos!

Love quick and easy instant pot recipes? Try my Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef and my Instant Pot Chicken Carnitas for more meaty Mexican favorites!

Instant Pot Carnitas in a baking dish with a fork and a wedge of lime.

My Crispy Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas were such a favorite I decided to try making them in the Instant Pot. They are just as tender and juicy as the slow cooker version and are ready in less than 45 minutes! Perfect for busy nights when you have less than an hour to throw dinner together.

They are packed full of flavor! Orange and lime juice add sweet citrusy goodness, and garlic, onion, cumin, oregano, bay leaves, and chili powder make these Instant Pot Carnitas taste authentic and so flavorful. My secret ingredient: chipotle chili powder! It adds smokiness to the heat and is mouth-wateringly good. It’s definitely one to add to your spice rack if you haven’t already!

These pork carnitas are the perfect addition to tacos, burritos, salads, quesadillas, and loaded nachos! Serve them with some guacamole and salsa verde for an amazing meal!

Ingredients for Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

  • Pork: You can use either a pork shoulder or pork butt with the excess fat trimmed off. I also cut it into 3-inch cubes so it cooks quicker.
  • Fruit juice: Lime juice and orange juice both add acidity, tartness, and a little sweetness. They help to tenderize the meat while it cooks.
  • Garlic & onion: I love a ton of garlic flavor in my meat recipes so I added 5 cloves. Onion also adds a delicious aroma.
  • Chiles: For a kick of heat I threw in a can of diced green chiles. If you can’t find it at the grocery store, finely dice a hot green pepper and add it instead.
  • Chipotle chili powder: This is a smoky chili powder that is so handy to have on hand in the kitchen! You can also use smoked paprika if you don’t have any on hand.
  • Broth: I prefer chicken broth in this recipe, however, vegetable broth would add the right saltiness as well.
  • Seasoning: Bay leaves, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper pack a ton of flavor into this pork carnitas instant pot recipe! It is amazing!

How to make Carnitas in an Instant Pot

  • Brown the pork: I like to sear the pork in the Instant pot before cooking. It adds so much flavor! Start by adding oil to the bottom of the instant pot. When it’s warmed up add the cubed pork in batches and brown on all sides. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining pork.

browning cubed pork in instant pot

  • Pressure Cook: Cover and cook on HIGH pressure for 30 minutes or until the pork is tender.

adding onions, chicken stock and seasonings to instant pot

  • Shred: Once the pork is done cooking I transfer it to a large rimmed baking sheet. I use two forks to shred the pork then top it with 1/4 cup of the juices from the instant pot.
  • Broil: This is such an important step! I love broiling the pork. It makes it super crisp and golden brown.

shredded carnitas on sheet tray

  • Serve: Serve immediately with fresh chopped cilantro and lime wedges if desired!

pork carnitas tacos

  • Store: The pork can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Pork Carnitas in an instant pot with a fork.

Ways to serve Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Instant Pot Carnitas in a baking dish with a fork and wedges of lime.

Storage & Reheating Instructions

  • Store carnitas in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Reheat them in a hot skillet or the oven or broiler to crisp them back up.

Can you freeze carnitas?

Yes! These carnitas freeze really well. Just store in an airtight ziplock bag and reheat in a hot skillet or in the oven or broiler to crisp them up again. Store them in the freezer for up to 3 months. The carnitas can also be frozen raw and reheated from frozen in the slow cooker or instant pot!

What to Serve with Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you overcook pulled pork in Instant Pot? It can definitely happen, however, the cuts of meat used in an instant pot tend to be quite tough and need more cooking, so if your meat is tough it probably isn’t quite cooked enough. Try cooking it for 5 or 10 more minutes on high pressure.
  • What is the difference between pulled pork and carnitas?  Pulled pork is usually shredded slow-cooked or smoked pork, often pork shoulder. Carnitas (which means “little meats”) are prepared shredded like pulled pork but have Mexican spices added.
  • What is al pastor vs carnitas? Al pastor and carnitas are both Mexican pork dishes but carnitas are usually braised and slow-cooked whereas al pastor is grilled with pineapple for a tangy flavor.

Instant Pot Carnitas in a baking dish with cilantro.

Here are more Instant Pot recipes to try!

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Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6

Crispy Instant Pot Carnitas. They take only 30 minutes in the instant pot and are super easy to make. They come out so tender and juicy!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 4-5 pound pork shoulder/pork butt trimmed of excess fat and cut into 3 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 4-ounce can diced green chiles
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • cilantro for serving, if desired
  • lime wedges for serving, if desired

Instructions

Images:
  • Turn on the SAUTE option on the Instant Pot. Add oil to the bottom of the instant pot. When it's warmed up add the cubed pork in batches and brown on all sides. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining pork. When you are all done select CANCEL.
  • Add the remaining ingredients to the instant pot along with the pork. Cover and cook on HIGH pressure for 30 minutes or until the pork is tender. Remove the bay leaves.
  • Remove the meat from the instant pot and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Using two forks shred the pork. Add 1/4 cup of the juices from the crockpot.
    Set broiler to high and broil pork for 5 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.
  • Serve immediately with cilantro and lime wedges for serving, if desired.

Recipe Notes

*The pork can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Pork Carnitas
Amount Per Serving
Calories 146 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 43mg14%
Sodium 601mg26%
Potassium 445mg13%
Carbohydrates 8g3%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 17g34%
Vitamin A 555IU11%
Vitamin C 18mg22%
Calcium 40mg4%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Instant Pot Carnitas