Three words: Instant Pot Carnitas. Enough said, right? What exactly are carnitas? Carnitas are made by braising pork with tons of Mexican spices until it’s tender enough to pull apart, and then finished under the broiler for those delicious crispy edges.
Instant Pot Carnitas: A Game Changer
Why am I calling this recipe a game changer? For starters, this is one of those meals that would typically be cooked in a slow cooker. Putting the meat in early in the morning for it to slow cook all day is a thing of the past, thanks to the Instant Pot. Don’t get me wrong, there times when the slow cooker is necessary, but with a meal this good, there’s no need to wait longer than you have to.
Like most people, I’ve become a lover and (almost) total convert to using my Instant Pot, especially with a recipe like IP carnitas. A dish that would normally take 5 to 8 hours now takes just a little over an hour. How’s that for getting dinner on the table fast?
Instant Pot Carnitas Ingredients
To make this version of carnitas, you will need the following ingredients:
- Pork: Pork shoulder is my go-to, trimmed and cut into 6-8 chunks, but you can use any cut you prefer.
- Seasonings: salt and pepper to taste, chili powder, smoked paprika, dried Mexican oregano, ground cumin, fresh and chopped garlic cloves (now you know where the flavor comes from!).
- Liquids: fresh orange juice, fresh lime juice, organic chicken broth, and olive oil. Use FRESH!
- More spice: red onion and a jalapeno
How to Make the Carnitas in the Instant Pot:
- Mix the juices and seasonings.
- Sauté the pork. Push the “Sauté” button on Instant Pot. Once the display reads “On,” add 1 tablespoon olive oil and half the pork shoulder pieces to the container. Sauté until browned. Set aside, repeat with the other half.
- Pressure Cook. Add the pork back to the pot and pour liquids/spices over top. Add lid and seal, making sure the steam release handle is positioned toward “Sealing.” Press the “Manual” button and set the time to 30 minutes at high pressure. When the cooking time is up, allow 20-25 minutes for the “natural release” of the steam inside the Instant Pot.
- Shred and enjoy! Transfer pork to the prepared baking sheet and gently shred with two forks. Drizzle with ¼ cup juices from the Instant Pot and toss to combine before spreading into a thin, even layer and popping under the broiler.
Additional Cooking Option
The difference in pulled pork and carnitas are #1 the seasonings that are used, Mexican for carnitas, and #2 carnitas are placed under the broiler for 4-5 minutes, removed, given a little more juice, and returning to the broiler again until the pork is nice and crispy on the edges.
When finished broiling, remove the baking sheet from the oven and serve immediately with the reduced cooking liquid*, fresh lime wedges, and chopped cilantro.
This pull apart, delicious pork is perfect on a bun, tacos, a salad, burritos, even on top of nachos!
*Reduced cooking liquid directions below.Print
Carnitas are simply pulled pork that have tons of Mexican spices and is finished under the broiler for those delicious crispy edges. This highly versatile and fall-apart-tender pork recipe can be served in so many ways. It is delicious in lettuce wraps, tacos, salads, on a bun, burritos, served over rice, or even nachos!
- ¾ Cup Chicken broth (low sodium or no sodium)
- ¾ Cup Fresh orange juice (approximately 2 large oranges)
- 3 Tbsp. Fresh lime juice
- 1 Tbsp. Chili powder
- ½ teaspoon Smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon Dried Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon Ground cumin
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- 2–3 Tbsp. Olive oil, divided
- 3½ – 4 lbs. pork shoulder roast, trimmed and cut into 6–8 chunks
- 1 Medium Red onion, diced
- 1 Jalapeno, diced
- 2–3 Cloves Fresh garlic, peeled and chopped
- In a medium bowl, whisk together chicken broth, fresh orange juice, and lime juice with the chili powder, smoked paprika, Mexican oregano, and ground cumin. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste, and set aside.
- Push the “Sauté” button on Instant Pot. Once the display reads “On,” add 1 tablespoon olive oil and half the pork shoulder pieces to the container. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste, and cook until pork is browned on all sides, approximately 1-2 minutes per side. Note: DO NOT use lid while using the “Sauté” function on an Instant Pot!
- Once browned, transfer seared pork to a plate and repeat this process with additional olive oil and the rest of pork. Remove browned pork from the Instant Pot and set aside.
- *Optional Step: Add remaining tablespoon olive oil to the container, along with red onion, jalapeno, and fresh garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, approximately 3-4 minutes.
- Add browned pork back to the pot and pour chicken broth/orange juice mixture over top. Add lid and seal, making sure the steam release handle is positioned toward “Sealing.”
- Press the “Manual” button and set the time to 30 minutes at high pressure. Once the cooking time is up, allow 20-25 minutes for the “natural release” of the steam inside the Instant Pot. After that time, perform a manual “quick release” to vent any remaining steam to release lid, if necessary.
- A few minutes before the steam is fully released, preheat oven broiler to high and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Transfer pork to the prepared baking sheet and gently shred with two forks. Drizzle with ¼ cup juices from the Instant Pot and toss to combine before spreading into a thin, even layer.
- Place pork under broiler for 4-5 minutes, then remove from oven and add a little more juice before turning the meat to brown the other side. Place back under broiler for another 4-5 minutes or until the pork is nice and crispy on the edges.
TO REDUCE THE LIQUID:
- Press “Sauté” on the Instant Pot to reduce the cooking liquid by one half while the pork is broiling.
- When finished broiling, remove THE baking sheet from THE oven and serve immediately with the reduced cooking liquid, fresh lime wedges, and chopped cilantro.
- Serving Size: Serves 4
The instructions for this recipe include a couple of optional steps that can be omitted to save time. For example, the aromatic blend of onion, jalapeno, and garlic does not need to be sautéed before cooking the pork. Doing so deepens and releases more flavor. In addition, the pork can be shredded and served as soon as it is done cooking. However, the extra step of tossing it with some cooking liquid and broiling under high heat delivers the delicious, crispy edges found in traditional carnitas recipes.
Different Instant Pot models offer different features and buttons. (These instructions are for the IP-Duo series).