★★★★★

Instant Pot Carnitas

This Instant Pot Carnitas recipe makes flavorful pulled pork with Mexican spices. Ready in one hour, these carnitas are just as juicy and tender as the slow cooked version–with a fraction of the cooking time!

Get more use out of your Instant Pot with these Instant Pot Chicken Tacos. Or mix things up by serving Instant Pot Gyros for dinner!

Carnitas on a sheet pan made in the Instant Pot.

Why this Recipe is Best

Carnitas are a Mexican style pulled pork with a juicy interior and a crisp finish. The name literally translates to “little meats” because of the way the pork shreds into bite sized pieces after cooking.

The crispy edges on the otherwise fall-apart tender meat make this dish stand out from other pulled pork recipes!

  • Faster than slow cooking with just as much flavor!
  • Pork is cooked in an orange juice marinade for even more tenderness.
  • Broiled after pressure cooking for carnitas that are crispy AND juicy.
  • Delicious in tacos, burritos or over rice.

Typically, carnitas are best cooked over a long period of time to allow the lard in the pork to soften. I’ve been making carnitas in the crockpot for years with delicious results.

But what happens when you don’t have hours upon hours to wait for dinner?

Enter: the Instant Pot!

This method for cooking carnitas in the Instant Pot is a game changer. The results are every bit as tasty as the slow cooked version but they’re ready in just about an hour.

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients needed to make pork carnitas in the Instant Pot.
  • Pork shoulder – Also called “pork butt roast” the high fat content of this cut of meat makes it ideal for carnitas recipes. It can be bone-in or boneless for this recipe.
  • Orange juice – Fresh squeezed or out of a carton, orange juice adds zesty flavor to carnitas while tenderizing the meat.
  • Jalapenos – Remove the seeds and stem for mild carnitas–or leave them in if you like your pork on the spicy side!

Easy Instructions

Step by step photos showing how to make carnitas in the Instant Pot.

Making Instant Pot Carnitas is a cinch. First, cut the pork into sections and place it in the bottom of your Instant Pot.

For the marinade: Place the orange juice in a blender or food processor. Add onion chunks, garlic, jalapeños and all of the spices. Blend until the mixture becomes a sauce.

Pressure cook: Pour the marinade over the pork in the instant pot. Seal the lid and cook for 50 minutes.

Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Release the remaining pressure from the Instant Pot, then carefully remove the lid. Shred the pork with two forks.

Broil: Now we turn the tender shredded pork into crispy carnitas!

Transfer the shreds of pork to a baking sheet. Place under a broiler for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the edges of the pork is browned.

Serve: From here you can serve the Instant Pot Carnitas as they are OR mix them with leftover marinade for even more flavor!

Carnitas served on tortillas with pico de gallo and avocado slices.

Tips and Tricks

  • Serve in tortillas with all your favorite toppings, including our homemade pico de gallo and guacamole. Carnitas are delicious in bowls with cilantro lime rice too!
  • We cut the pork into sections to allow it to cook faster. If you prefer not to cut up the pork before cooking, increase the pressure cook time to 60 minutes.
  • Store leftover carnitas covered in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze the carnitas for up to 3 months.
  • Don’t feel like taking the extra step to broil the carnitas? You can leave it out for a more traditional pulled pork taste. It’s delicious either way!
  • We love eating carnitas with this Mexican Street Corn Salad. Our Roasted Corn Salad would make a delicious side dishe for carnitas too.
  • Accidentally bought pork chops? Make our Instant Pot Pork Chops recipe instead. So hearty and flavorful.
Carnitas baked crispy on a baking sheet.

Recipe FAQs

Do you need to pre-brown the pork before putting it in the Instant Pot?

We do not pre-brown the pork for this recipe. The Instant Pot does the work of breaking down the meat. Then we brown the cooked pork in the broiler to give it the quintessential carnitas crisp!

Should I trim the fat off my pork shoulder?

Do not trim the fat off the pork for this recipe. The fat makes the carnitas more tender, and prevents the pork from drying out when broiled.

Is pork shoulder the same as pork loin?

No, it is not. Pork loin is a leaner cut of meat than pork shoulder (or pork butt roast). The two cannot be used interchangeably and it definitely won’t give you the same results in this recipe.

What side dishes go well with carnitas?

Like we mentioned earlier, we love eating carnitas over bowls of cilantro lime rice (like Chipotle). This Mexican Street Corn Salad and this Roasted Corn Salad would make delicious side dishes for carnitas too.

More Instant Pot Recipes

Yield: 10 servings

Instant Pot Carnitas

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

This Instant Pot Carnitas recipe makes flavorful pulled pork with Mexican spices. Ready in one hour, these carnitas are just as juicy and tender as the slow cooked version--with a fraction of the cooking time!

Ingredients

  • 4 pound pork shoulder roast (pork butt roast)
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon smoky paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 jalapeños, stems removed

Instructions

    1. Cut the pork roast into sections to fit neatly in the bottom of the instant pot.
    2. In the bowl of a blender or food processor, combine orange juice, pepper, salt, onion chunks, garlic, paprika, cumin, oregano, pepper, and jalapeños. Blend until sauce forms.
    3. Pour the blender sauce over the pork pieces in the instant pot.
    4. Secure the lid and make sure the valve on top is set to "SEALING." Cook on the manual setting (or high pressure) for 50 minutes. When cook time ends, allow pork to release pressure naturally for 10 minutes, then turn the valve to "VENTING."
    5. Carefully release the pressure from the instant pot and remove the lid.
    6. Using two forks, shred the meat (it should fall apart easily).
    7. Transfer the meat to a sheet pan and broil on high for 3-5 minutes until crisped and brown.
    8. Serve as is or incorporate the meat and remaining juices from the instant pot.
    9. Serve carnitas on tortillas with your favorite fixings, or in a bowl with cilantro lime rice.

Notes

    • Pork shoulder is often called a pork butt roast. Can be bone in or boneless.
    • Storage: Leftover carnitas can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
    • No pre-browning required. We also do not recommend trimming the fat from the pork before cooking. A little fat in the meat helps the carnitas to crisp and brown without drying out during the final broil in the oven. Broiling isn’t necessary, but it sure adds a lot of flavor and great texture.
    • For more spice, include the jalapeño seeds in the blender sauce.
    • You do not have to cut the roast into pieces. However, cutting it helps it cook a bit more quickly. If you’d like to leave the roast whole, increase the instant pot cook time to 60 minutes to ensure it is “fall apart” tender.
    • See blog post for more recipe tips and tricks. Recipe tested in 6 quart Instant Pot.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 542Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 163mgSodium: 376mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 43g

*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Whether you wrap them in tortillas or serve them over rice, these Instant Pot Carnitas are a must-try meal. Grab your Instant Pot and get ready to enjoy perfectly seasoned Mexican shredded pork!

About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

Affiliate Disclosure:**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

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Posted on May 12, 2022

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