Mouth-watering Instant Pot Carnitas Recipe for Dinner

Are you ready to indulge in a dish that will bring the taste of Mexico to your kitchen? Look no further than this instant pot carnitas recipe. As a chef who specializes in Vietnamese and Asian cuisine, I understand how important it is to have a great recipe that can be easily prepared with minimal effort, yet still deliver exquisite flavor. And this recipe does exactly that.

The instant pot carnitas recipe brings all the heat and spice of traditional Mexican food with a modern twist. The combination of aromatic spices such as chili powder, bay leaf, dried oregano, and ground cumin creates an explosion of flavors you won’t want to miss. The tender, juicy meat falls apart effortlessly and acquires a crispy texture you dream of. This pork carnitas recipe is as versatile as it gets – from tacos to salads, or even on its own, the options are limitless.

In this recipe article, I will guide you through everything you need to know to make the best Instant Pot Carnitas possible. Follow along step by step and enjoy an authentic dish made effortlessly in the comfort of your own home.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Instant Pot Carnitas
Instant Pot Carnitas

Are you tired of the same old boring weeknight dinners? Do you want to impress your guests with a flavorful and delicious dish? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you are going to love this Instant Pot Carnitas recipe.

This recipe is bursting with spicy and savory flavors that will please even the pickiest eaters. The combination of chili powder, dried oregano, and ground cumin give the meat a deep and intense flavor. And when you add in the tangy lime juice, you get a delicious balance between sweet and sour.

Best of all, this recipe is incredibly easy to make with an Instant Pot pressure cooker. In just 30 minutes, you can have tender and juicy pork cubes that are perfect for tacos or burritos. And if you want crispy carnitas, simply broil them for a few minutes after they are cooked.

But not only is this Instant Pot Carnitas recipe delicious and easy to make, it is also versatile. You can use boneless pork roast, pork butt or pork shoulder depending on your preference. And if you don’t have some of the ingredients on hand, no worries – this recipe is forgiving and substitutions can be made easily.

So what are you waiting for? Try out this 5-star rated Carnitas recipe and impress your family and friends with your cooking skills. With its irresistible flavor and convenience, it’s bound to become a regular in your recipe box!

Ingredient List

 Juicy and tender pork carnitas freshly made in an Instant Pot
Juicy and tender pork carnitas freshly made in an Instant Pot

Here is a list of ingredients for making Instant Pot Carnitas, you don’t need many things to create this delicious and mouth-watering meal. You can find most of these items in your pantry or local grocery store:

  • 3-4 pounds boneless pork roast (pork shoulder or pork butt cut into 2-inch cubes)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • ½ cup orange juice

The Recipe How-To

 Flavorful and crispy meat piled high on a warm tortilla
Flavorful and crispy meat piled high on a warm tortilla

Now that you’ve gathered all of your ingredients, it’s time to start cooking! With an Instant Pot, you can have flavorful and tender carnitas in no time. Just follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Season the Pork

Cut the pork butt or pork shoulder into 3-4 inch cubes and place them in a bowl. Add in 2 tablespoons of chili powder, 2 teaspoons of dried oregano, 2 teaspoons of ground cumin, the juice of two limes, and 4 minced garlic cloves. Mix until the pork is coated with the seasoning.

Step 2: Cook the Pork

Set your Instant Pot to “saute” mode, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and wait for it to heat up. Once hot, add in half of a diced onion and saute until translucent. Then, add in the seasoned pork cubes and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until they are browned on all sides.

Next, add in one cup of orange juice, one bay leaf, and a pinch of salt. Close the lid on your Instant Pot and set it to “pressure cook” on high pressure for 30 minutes. Once the timer goes off, allow it to release naturally for 15 minutes before manually releasing any remaining pressure.

Step 3: Make It Crispy

To make your carnitas crispy, remove the pieces of pork from the Instant Pot and shred them with two forks. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Once hot, add your shredded pork to the skillet and cook until crispy, stirring occasionally, about 10-15 minutes.

Step 4: Serve

Now you’re ready to serve up your delicious carnitas! Serve it up as taco filling or serve it over rice. And why not top with some avocado slices and chopped cilantro. Enjoy immediately, and store leftovers for later (see our storage tips below).

Substitutions and Variations

 Topped with fresh cilantro, diced onions, and a squeeze of lime
Topped with fresh cilantro, diced onions, and a squeeze of lime

Are you looking to change up this already delicious Instant Pot Carnitas recipe? Well, do not fret because there are a few ingredient substitutions and variations that could help elevate the flavors of this dish.

First, let’s look at the meat. Instead of using boneless pork roast, you can opt for pork butt or pork shoulder. These cuts tend to have more fat, which adds to the juiciness of the carnitas. Additionally, cutting the pork into cubes rather than whole pieces can increase the surface area, making it crispier.

For the seasoning, chili powder, bay leaf, dried oregano, ground cumin, garlic cloves, and onion are a powerhouse combination in this recipe. However, if you prefer a little more kick, adding some diced jalapeño or serrano pepper is an excellent way to add heat. You could also incorporate a pinch of smoked paprika for added depth of flavor.

If you’re looking for a tangy twist to your carnitas try swapping out limes for oranges. The juice of about half an orange could be used instead of one lime as a one-to-one substitution. Alternatively, try adding pineapple juice instead of orange juice for sweetness.

Finally, let’s dive into some variations you can make. If you are in a hurry and don’t have 30 minutes cooking time available or need to cook on low-pressure setting for a while longer while you spend time elsewhere, follow these steps: cook on high pressure for 25 minutes with 10-15 minutes natural release followed by quick release until pressure has released completely instead of cooking on high pressure for 15 minutes with natural release. This might make the meat fall apart even more easily so watch carefully toward the end to avoid overcooking your meat. Another suggestion is serving your carnitas in tacos and pairing it with avocado crema and pickled red onions rather than traditional toppings like lettuce and tomato.

In conclusion, there are a lot of ways to make this recipe your own while still yielding delicious results. Whether you opt for a different cut of meat or experiment with different spices, these subtleties can add to the overall experience of Instant Pot Carnitas.

Serving and Pairing

 Indulge in this hot and spicy Latin American dish in the comfort of your own home
Indulge in this hot and spicy Latin American dish in the comfort of your own home

Once you make these Instant Pot Carnitas, you can enjoy them in many versatile ways. One of the most classic and traditional ways is to serve it on tacos – either corn or flour tortillas with some fresh cilantro, diced onions, and a squeeze of lime juice. The juicy, succulent meat blends well with the zesty, tangy flavors of these toppings, creating the perfect balance.

Aside from tacos, you can also use this recipe as a filling for burritos, quesadillas, or even sandwiches. The possibilities are endless! If you want a healthier option, try serving the carnitas with brown rice and beans.

To pair with the dish, I recommend serving it with Mexican-style toppings such as fresh pico de gallo, guacamole or salsa. You can also pair it with pickled vegetables such as jalapeños, carrots or red onion. As for drinks to accompany this dish, a cold cerveza (beer) or an ice-cold margarita will complement the flavors nicely.

One thing to note when serving Instant Pot Carnitas is that they are best eaten fresh and hot right after cooking. So if you need to reheat them before serving, be extra careful not to overcook them and dry out the meat.

In summary, Instant Pot Carnitas are a versatile dish that offer endless possibilities for serving and pairing. Experiment with various toppings and sides to create your own personalized version of this classic Mexican recipe.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Get ready for a mouthwatering experience with these Instant Pot Carnitas
Get ready for a mouthwatering experience with these Instant Pot Carnitas

The beauty of this Instant Pot Carnitas recipe is that you can make it ahead of time and store it for later use. The pork stays juicy and full of flavor, even after being stored for a couple of days.

To store the carnitas, let the pork cool to room temperature before transferring to an airtight container in the refrigerator. For best results, use within 3-4 days.

Reheating the carnitas is simple and quick. You can simply reheat the portion you need in a microwave or on the stove. To reheat on the stove, add a small amount of olive oil or vegetable oil in a skillet on medium heat. Once hot, add a portion of carnitas and cook for 5-7 minutes or until heated through.

If you want to make these carnitas ahead of time for serving at a party or gathering, you can prepare the recipe up until step 3 and then transfer the meat to an oven-safe dish. Cover with foil and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. This will give your meat a chance to marinate in its juices and the flavors will become even more intense.

When ready to serve, preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and cook for 10-15 minutes or until heated through. This method will give you crispy instant pot carnitas that are perfect for serving tacos carnitas style!

Overall, this recipe is incredibly versatile and can be made ahead of time for easy meal prep, parties, or just as a quick weeknight dinner option.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Perfect for a busy weeknight dinner or a weekend crowd-pleaser
Perfect for a busy weeknight dinner or a weekend crowd-pleaser

When making Instant Pot Carnitas, there are several tips that can help ensure the pork is juicy, tender, and perfectly seasoned. Here are my top tips for achieving the best results with this recipe:

1. Use the right cut of pork: The best cut of pork for carnitas is boneless pork shoulder, also known as pork butt. This cut has just the right amount of fat to keep the meat moist during cooking and adds flavor as it cooks.

2. Cut the meat into cubes: Before cooking, cut your pork shoulder into 2-inch cubes. This helps to ensure that the meat cooks evenly in the Instant Pot.

3. Brown the meat before pressure cooking: To get that crispy crust on your carnitas, take the time to brown the cubes in a little bit of olive oil over medium heat before transferring them to the Instant Pot.

4. Don’t overcrowd the Instant Pot: When pressure cooking in an Instant Pot, make sure not to fill it more than halfway with liquid and ingredients. This ensures proper pressure build-up and even cooking.

5. Use fresh citrus juice: For a burst of brightness and freshness, use freshly squeezed lime and orange juice to add acidity to balance out the richness of the pork.

6. Season generously: The combination of chili powder, bay leaf, dried oregano, ground cumin creates a flavorful balance that enhances the natural taste of pork.

7. Let natural release for 15 minutes: After cooking under pressure, allow for a natural release for at least 15 minutes before venting any remaining steam in order to let flavor absorb into every inch of meat evenly

By following these tips carefully you can easily make delicious Instant Pot Carnitas which are perfect for tacos, burritos, or any dish you want!

Bottom Line


In conclusion, this Instant Pot Carnitas Recipe is the perfect balance of spices and juiciness. Its versatility in serving options will make it a hit at any gathering, or a great meal prep option for busy weekdays. Plus, the convenience of using an Instant Pot is a game changer when it comes to cooking time and ease of clean-up!

With simple substitutions and variations, this carnitas recipe can be easily adapted to fit your personal taste preferences. Its 5-star rating reinforces its popularity and guaranteed success every time you make it.

So, if you’re looking for a delicious and hassle-free pork carnitas recipe, look no further than this Instant Pot Carnitas Recipe. The juicy and crispy outcome will leave your taste buds wanting more!

Instant Pot Carnitas

Instant Pot Carnitas Recipe

Received this on line from Food 52 site and credited to a Posie Harwood, we do love carnitas so need to save it, here's what was said about it: Author Notes: Carnitas are a perfect candidate for your pressure cooker: In under an hour, you can make flavorful, tender, fall-apart shredded pork. I use it in tacos, to top salads, as a hash, in casseroles, and beyond. —Posie Harwood
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 3 pounds
Calories 528 kcal


  • 3 lbs boneless pork roast, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 limes, juice of
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup chicken stock (or beer)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  • In your Instant Pot, or in a saute pan over medium heat on the stovetop, heat the oil until shimmering and brown the pork on all sides, working in batches if needed. (Transfer the pork to the Instant Pot if you browned it on the stovetop.).
  • Add all the remaining ingredients. Place the lid on the pot, turn the pot to the "sealing" position, and select Manual mode and set the time for 20 minutes. Once it finishes cooking after 20 minutes, allow the Instant Pot to manually release for 20 minutes.
  • Take off the lid (if the steam valve hasn't dropped, make sure you move the steam value away from "Sealing"). Let the pork cool slightly, then use two forks to shred the meat. It may look like you have way too much liquid, but it will absorb it after you shred the pork.
  • Once shredded, use the pork however you like. I like to toast a few tortillas and top them with the pork, pineapple salsa, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Carnitas make a great salad topping, and are also excellent mixed into rice, in a sandwich (try it! trust me!), or reheated until crispy and served with eggs and hot sauce and avocado.
  • Note: If the pork is too liquid-y even after shredding and sitting, transfer it to a large pan and cook it on the stovetop until some of liquid evaporates. This is also an excellent way to get the meat golden and crispy (you can also spread it on a sheet pan and broil it for a minute or two)—for tacos and salads, I like to take this extra step to get those crunchy edges.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 319gCalories: 528kcalCarbohydrates: 7.1gProtein: 66.3gFat: 24.4gSaturated Fat: 8.2gCholesterol: 196.1mgSodium: 187.4mgFiber: 0.8gSugar: 2.9g
Keyword < 60 Mins, High In..., High Protein, Meat, Mexican, Pork, Very Low Carbs
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