This Instant Pot carnitas recipe is pork seared to golden brown perfection, then pressure cooked with citrus and spices to make the most tender and flavorful meat. An easy recipe that produces authentic results in no time!
Whenever I go to my local Mexican restaurant, I order a plate of carnitas. That crispy yet tender pork just can’t be beat! This Instant Pot carnitas has all the same great flavors of the restaurant version, but is ready in a fraction of the time.
How do you make Instant Pot carnitas?
Start by cutting your meat into cubes, then sear the meat in the Instant Pot. After the meat is brown, add onion, jalapeno, spices, orange juice, lime juice and chicken broth to the pot. Seal the pot, then cook on high pressure. Let the pressure release naturally, then remove the meat from the pot, shred it, and place it on a sheet pan. Broil the pork in the oven until it has crispy edges, then serve and enjoy.
What cut of meat is carnitas?
Carnitas is made with pork butt, or pork shoulder, which are similar cuts of meat. I’ve also made this recipe with boneless pork country ribs with good results. Any type of well-marbled pork should work just fine.
Tips for the perfect pork
- This recipe contains a whole jalapeno, but is not very spicy since the seeds and ribs are removed. If you’re totally adverse to heat, feel free to use a few green bell pepper strips instead.
- Carnitas will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, and can be frozen for 2 months.
- It’s important to use freshly squeezed orange and lime juice for the best flavor.
- You can also make this recipe in a crock pot. Simply sear the meat, then place it in a slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients and cook on low for 8 hours.
How to serve Instant pot carnitas
This meat can be served in so many different ways, the possibilities are endless!
- Traditional Style: Serve your Instant Pot carnitas with a side of warm tortillas, rice and beans.
- Nachos: Place the shredded meat onto tortilla chips with melted cheese, black beans, guacamole and sour cream.
- Burritos: Wrap up the meat in warm flour tortillas with rice, beans and cheese.
- Tacos: Stuff the carnitas into flour or corn tortillas and top with cilantro and red onion.
Instant pot carnitas flavor variations
I love this recipe as-is, but you can add other flavors to make it your own.
- Spicy: Turn up the heat by leaving some of the seeds and ribs in the jalapeno, or add 1-2 minced canned chipotle peppers for a smoky and spicy flavor.
- Protein: This recipe can also work with a leaner cut of pork such as pork loin, or even boneless skinless chicken thighs!
- Garnishes: Finish off your meat with a squeeze of lime juice, some minced red onion, a handful of chopped cilantro leaves or a sprinkle of cotija cheese.
Skip the trip to the Mexican restaurant and make your own Instant Pot carnitas at home, you’ll be glad you did!
More Mexican recipes to try
Instant Pot Carnitas Video
Instant Pot Carnitas
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 4 pounds pork shoulder cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 onion peeled and quartered
- 1 jalapeno stem removed, halved, seeds and ribs removed
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic minced
- 1/2 cup orange juice freshly squeezed
- 1/4 cup lime juice freshly squeezed
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- chopped cilantro and lime wedges for garnish optional
- cooking spray
- Turn the Instant Pot to Saute mode. Pour the oil into the pot.
- Season the pork generously with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the pork in the pot in a single layer - you may need to work in batches.
- Cook the pork for 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown. Press cancel when you're done browning the pork to turn off the Saute mode.
- Place all the pork in the pot along with the onion, jalapeno, chicken broth, garlic, orange juice, lime juice, oregano, cumin, chili powder and more salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the lid on the pot and make sure that the vent is set to sealing. Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally.
- Carefully unseal the pot. Preheat the oven broiler and coat a sheet pan with cooking spray.
- Remove the meat from the Instant Pot and place on the sheet pan. Roughly shred the meat with two forks.
- Spoon 3/4 cup of the liquid from the pot over the meat.
- Broil the meat for 5-7minutes or until the edges are golden brown and crispy. Drizzle more liquid from the pot over the meat if desired. Serve, garnished with cilantro and lime wedges if desired.