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!
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.
- 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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
More Instant Pot Recipes
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!