Instant Pot Carnitas
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
Instant Pot Carnitas are irresistibly tender and juicy with the best crispy edges! This easy recipe makes delicious Mexican shredded pork for serving in tacos, burrito bowls and nachos.
If you haven’t yet tried Instant Pot carnitas, you are missing out. This Mexican shredded pork is seasoned with onion, garlic, cumin, orange juice and lime juice. It’s mouthwateringly flavorful, with the most delicious crispy edges.
After the pork cooks in the Instant Pot, it is fall apart tender and shreds easily. The shredded pork is placed under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp it up before serving. I can never resist sneaking a few bites, straight from the pan.
My favorite way to serve carnitas is wrapped in warm tortillas, topped with chopped onion, cilantro and avocado. Everyone always goes back for seconds when Instant Pot carnitas are on the dinner table!
These carnitas are one of our all-time favorite Instant Pot recipes. Typically pork carnitas are slow cooked like my classic Carnitas Recipe. By cooking carnitas in our Instant Pot we speed up the process without sacrificing any of the tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture or delicious flavor.
Instant Pot Carnitas Recipe Ingredients
You’ll need just a few ingredients to make this carnitas recipe:
- Pork Shoulder or Pork Butt: The best cut of pork to use for carnitas (and Instant Pot Pulled Pork!) is a boneless pork shoulder or pork butt. The meat will become incredibly tender in the pressure cooker, and the fat marbling will make the carnitas especially flavorful.
- Seasonings: Dried oregano, ground cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper are used to season the meat as it cooks.
- Orange Juice & Lime Juice: The acidity of citrus brings delicious flavor and provide the cooking liquid to allow the Instant Pot to pressurize. Some recipes use chicken broth or beer as well as citrus, but I’ve kept this recipe as simple as possible. I recommend using fresh squeezed orange and lime juice.
- Onion & Garlic: Chopped yellow onion and minced garlic are flavor essentials.
How to Make Instant Pot Carnitas
If you’re new to Instant Pot cooking, see my guide on How to Use an Instant Pot to help you get started.
- Cut the pork into 2 or 3-inch chunks and place in the Instant Pot.
- Combine the seasonings in a small bowl. Then sprinkle the seasoning over the pork in the Instant Pot and rub it over all sides of the meat.
- Pour in the orange juice and lime juice, and add the onion and garlic.
- Pressure cook on high pressure for 1 hour. The Instant Pot will take about 15 minutes to reach pressure and then the cook time will start counting down.
- When the cook time ends, let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes. This natural release makes for more tender meat. Then quick release any remaining pressure before opening the Instant Pot lid.
- Shred the pork, discarding any excess fat.
- To get the carnitas nice and crispy, spread the shredded pork out on a rimmed baking sheet. You can line the baking sheet with foil to make clean-up easier. Add a little bit of the juices from the Instant Pot to the pork. Put the carnitas under the broiler in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the edges get nice and crispy.
- Serve the carnitas wrapped in tortillas, in a burrito bowl, on a salad, or as desired.
Find the full recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions in the recipe card below.
How to Serve Carnitas
These carnitas make the best pork tacos, wrapped in warm flour tortillas or corn tortillas. They’re also perfect for making pork nachos or burrito bowls, served over Instant Pot rice (also see how to cook rice on the stove) with your favorite toppings. Or serve them on a salad. Whether you’re making tacos, burrito bowls or salad, try a few of these flavor-boosting toppings:
- White or Red Onion
- Fresh Cilantro
- Avocado or Guacamole
- Sliced Jalapeño
- Pico de Gallo
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Black Beans
Storage & Reheating Tips
Instant Pot carnitas are very make-ahead friendly, perfect for meal prep. Here’s how to store and reheat them:
- Refrigerator: Store carnitas in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Freezer: Once completely cool, freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- To Reheat: Reheat on a baking sheet in the oven or in the microwave.
More Favorite Instant Pot Recipes
Check out these Healthy Instant Pot Recipes, or try one of these favorites:
- Instant Pot BBQ Chicken
- Instant Pot Pork Chops
- Instant Pot Pot Roast
- Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
- Instant Pot Goulash
Instant Pot Carnitas
- 4 pound boneless pork butt or pork shoulder*
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ¾ cup orange juice, from 2 oranges
- ¼ cup lime juice, from 2 limes
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- tortillas, chopped onion, chopped fresh cilantro, sliced avocado, sliced jalapeno, limes, etc., for serving, as desired
- Cut the pork into large 2 to 3-inch chunks. Place in the Instant Pot.
- In a small bowl, combine the dried oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the pork and rub over all sides of the pieces of pork. Add the orange juice, lime juice, onion and garlic to the Instant Pot.
- Close the lid and turn the steam release valve to the sealing position. Use the Pressure Cook or Manual function to set the cook time to 60 minutes at high pressure. The Instant Pot will take about 15 minutes to reach pressure and then the cook time will begin counting down.
- When the cook time ends, allow the pot to naturally release pressure for 15 minutes (just leave the Instant Pot alone).
- Quick release any remaining pressure by turning the steam release valve to the venting position using the handle of a long spoon. Once all steam has escaped and the pin drops down, carefully open the Instant Pot lid.
- Use two forks to shred the pork, discarding excess fat. You can serve the pork now, or (the best way!) crisp it under the broiler. To crisp pork, spread it out in a single layer on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Add a little of the juices from the Instant Pot to the pork, but not too much. Put pork under the broiler in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until the edges start to crisp.
- Serve in tortillas or as desired.
- You can use a 3 to 5 pound pork butt/pork shoulder in this recipe.
- Leftover carnitas may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Recipe updated 10/10/22 to increase the pressure cooking time from 45 to 60 minutes since I've found that a longer cook time makes for more tender carnitas.
It looks delicious I loved it Thanks for sharing
Can you use regular orange juice instead of fresh oranges??
As long as it doesn’t have added sugar, yes. You don’t want too much sweetness added to the recipe.
Can I use the leftover liquids in the pot for anything or is it best disposed of? (Thanks for sharing too btw, so easy and tasty)
You can mix some of the liquid into the meat as described in the recipe. The rest I discard.
This carnitas recipe is savory and delicious. The meat stays moist and tender, but the crisped ends adds some crunch. We can eat this night after night!
Fantastic and so easy to make!!
I made this this evening and it was delicious, even without the garlic! It’ll be a do-over for sure! Thanks for a delicious dinner! Looking forward to leftovers.
I made these for my family tonight and they were great! We are not huge Cumin fans, so instead of using a a full Tablespoon, I cut it back to a little less than 1/2 and it was perfect for us. Otherwise, followed the recipe exactly. It was juicy and flavorful. I also put it under the broiler to crisp it. Will be making these again, thank you for the recipe!
Can I use a pork tenderloin for this recipe?
Any need to sauté or sear the meat first?
A pork tenderloin is too lean and won’t work well in this recipe. It is best to use a pork butt or pork shoulder. No need to sear the meat first. Enjoy!
Can I use lemon juice and lemonade?
You can, it will have a little different flavor. I might try half as much lemon juice. I would not use lemonade which has added sugar.
This recipe is perfect the way it is! I add the bone in the bottom of the instant pot for the flavor and did everything else as is. My family loves it! Perfection! My only complaint is that the leftovers don’t last at all!!!
I made this carnitas recipe for dinner last night! So delicious.
Hi, Kristine! You are my go to gal for all things instapot! Can’t wait to try this one. Thank you so much for your great tasting and simple recipes…yummm!
If cooking a 7-1/2 Lb bone in roast, do you increase the cook time, or keep it the same?
Yes, you would have to significantly increase the cook time both because of the size of your pork and because you will not be able to cut it into 2 or 3 pieces as the recipe directs since it’s on the bone. I haven’t tested this recipe with a pork roast of that size, so you would need to experiment with the cook time.
Will adding some Mexican cola help? I read other recipes that use it but I want to try yours.
I don’t think it is needed and will add more sugar. If you like a sweeter meat you can add it.
The best carnitas ever!
I added onion and garlic powder to the seasoning but otherwise followed the recipe precisely. It turned out amazing! And so easy, not even having to braise anything ahead of time! Family loved it! Will go on our regular rotation. Thanks so much,
I made this tonight. I was missing oranges/juice. I read some substitutions & found vinegar was a good sub. I had a blood orange vinegar & figured this would do. I also added some onion & garlic powder, along with some chili powder & paprika. Stuck it under broiler for a few to crisp the edges. Omg! This came out SO good!
Served it with both rice and hard & soft taco shells and all the toppings. Will be making again NEXT week…yes, that soon. Pork butt is going on sale near me & my husband didn’t make it home (a trucker) and asked me to save but it won’t last in this house. So I will make it again just for him.