Instant Pot Carnitas

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These crispy Instant Pot carnitas are such a great idea for groups and parties. Serve them on tacos, soft buns or on its own.

What I love about traditional Mexican recipes, especially Mexican pork recipes, is that Mexicans know how to cook for a lot of people.

Every Sunday in Felipe Carrillo Puerto I went to a friend’s house where he and his extended family spent all day preparing food, eating and drinking.

Sometimes by the time we sat down to formally eat, we had already eaten so much all day I wasn’t even that hungry.

But you had to eat because the main dish had been cooking all day. In this case it was usually being cooked underground in the backyard in a pib.

This Instant Pot pork carnitas recipe is a Mexican pulled pork like cochinita pibil.

It is cooked until it is so tender that it can be shredded with two forks and then served in a variety of ways.

But unlike cochinita pibil it doesn’t have the typical Mayan flavouring of achiote. Both slow cooked pork recipes are great – just different flavours.

What I like about Instant Pot carnitas is that it’s a great make ahead dish so it’s perfect for entertaining.

You can cook the pork in the Instant Pot the day before and half an hour before everyone arrives you throw them in the oven to crisp up.

It’s really a great dish for a crowd or smaller appetizer Mexican antojitos.

But I’d be hard pressed to name my favourite Mexican pork recipe. I don’t have children but it feels like naming my favourite child.

They’re all good in different ways.

Instant pot pork carnitas on a tray with sauce, radishes and lime

Is this an Authentic Pork Carnitas Recipe?

I think it’s important to tread a fine line between being authentic and not having to buy a bunch of ingredients to try a recipe for the first time.

Using an Instant Pot is modern authentic. Traditionally carnitas are slow cooked in a copper pot.

Sure it’s the best way but who has time for that? Pressure cooker carnitas are perfectly acceptable.

Mexican cooks are masters at using pressure cookers. I cook with this affordable Instant Pot

It isn’t the newest but I haven’t found a reason to upgrade in the last three years for buttons I know I won’t use. 

Food in Mexico

Generally both Mexican and also Cuban food call for sour orange, or naranja agria which is Sevilla orange juice.

You can buy it here or substitute a mix of orange juice with lime to get a sweet sour flavour – which is what I have done in this recipe.

Carnitas recipes vary from house to house, some people use cinnamon or bay leaf as well.

Crispy pork carnitas with cilantro

Recipe FAQs

How to Use Leftover Pork Carnitas?

The great thing about this recipe is that pork carnitas can be used so many different ways in:

  • A sandwich on a soft bun with pickled red onion or sauerkraut
  • Burritos
  • Burrito bowls
  • Lettuce wraps
  • Macaroni and cheese filling
  • Nachos topping
  • Pizza topping
  • Potato hash topped with an egg
  • Quesadillas
  • Over rice
  • Salads 
  • Fold into your favourite soup
  • Tacos 

How Long Do Carnitas Last in the Fridge?

3 days

Can I Freeze Carnitas?

Yes, it’s best if you know how much you want to freeze in advance so you can set it aside before you put it under the broiler as you can broil it later.

Put into an airtight container with some of the cooking liquid to keep it moist.

It will last for up to three months.

What if I Don’t Have an Instant Pot?

You can cook it in a slow cooked for 6 hours in low and broil in the oven. Or you can cook in a dutch oven in a 300F oven for 5 hours.

Corn Tortillas or Flour Tortillas?

I’m team corn tortillas, I love the flavour they give when they are warmed. But I am also aware they aren’t perfect.

They are a bit more fragile and can break, which is why they are often served doubled up.

Flour tortillas don’t have the same great corn taste but they are a bit more durable. So I say it’s up to you!

Do I Really Need to Brown the Pork?

Sautéing the pork in the beginning does help to create flavour early on with the boneless pork shoulder. But so does crisping it up at the end on a baking sheet.

I’ve experimented with browning and not browning Instant Pot recipes. Honestly on weeknights I don’t bother browning and no one has ever noticed.

It’s a nice additional step but I really debated whether I should remove it to make this recipe easier and you can still have delicious crispy carnitas.

Pork carnitas tacos on a plate with cilantro and lime

Instant Pot Carnitas

One of the easiest Mexican pork recipes that makes perfectly shredded pork carnitas. They are keto, paleo, Whole30 and gluten free diet friendly. 


This means, unless you have vegans and vegetarians show up, they are perfect for a party, barbecue or picnic.

Start in the pressure cooker to make it tender and juicy then finish in the oven to make the best crispy pork.

Serve with pickled onions, pico de gallo, guacamole and all your favourite sides.

Mexican pork carnitas on a white tray with lime and cilantro

Instant Pot Carnitas

Yield: 10-12 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

These pork carnitas are such a great idea for groups and parties. Serve them on tacos, soft buns or on its own.


  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • ¾ cup orange juice, not from concentrate
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano, Mexican if possible
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 lbs pork shoulder roast, trimmed and cut into 3 inch chunks
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeño, diced
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced


  1. In a bowl, combine chicken broth, orange juice, lime juice chili powder, paprika, Mexican oregano and cumin. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
  2. Season pork with salt and pepper. Push the Sauté button on Instant Pot. Once the display reads On add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil after 30 seconds and some of the pork.
  3. Brown pork in batches. Do not crowd the bottom as it will steam rather than brown. Cook until pork is browned on all sides, 2 minutes per side. Set aside pork on plate as it is done
  4. Add browned pork back to the pot and pour liquid mixture over top. Add lid and seal, making sure the steam release handle is positioned toward Sealing
  5. Press the Manual button and set the time to 30 minutes at high pressure. Once the cooking time is up, allow 20 minutes for the “natural release” of the steam inside the Instant Pot.
  6. After that time, perform a quick release to vent any remaining steam to release lid.
  7. Preheat oven broiler to high and line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Transfer pork to the baking sheet and gently shred with two forks.
  8. Drizzle with ¼ cup liquid from the Instant Pot. Add garlic, onion and jalapeño and toss to combine before spreading into a thin, even layer.
  9. Place pork 10 inches under broiler for 5 minutes. Remove from oven to toss meat and add a 1/4 cup more liquid from Instant Pot. Place back under broiler for another 5 minutes or until the pork is nice and crispy on the edges.
  10. Remove from oven and serve immediately with fresh lime, cilantro and other garnishes.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 Amount Per Serving: Calories: 489Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 136mgSodium: 231mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 36g

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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If you’ve made this Instant Pot carnitas recipe let me know what you think in the comments below!

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Join the Conversation

  1. Moheb Wessa says:

    Wow! Looks delicious! will try it.
    Thanks for sharing

  2. Carnitas have to be just about my favorite thing to cook and eat, and your recipe was fabulous! So tender, so flavorful, I loved every bit!

  3. What do you do with the garlic and onion?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It is mixed with the liquid from the Instant Pot and shredded pork before you put it in the oven.

  4. Help! Recipe says ?3/4 of orange juice. What is the ?
    Should it be 3/4 or 1 3/4???

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It calls for 3/4 cup of orange juice

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