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Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

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This highly versatile and fall-apart-tender instant pot pork carnitas recipe can be served in so many different ways. For starters, this seasoned, tender shredded pork is delicious in a burrito bowl, lettuce wraps, pork tacos, salads, or served over rice.  

These juicy pork carnitas are one of my favorite instant pot recipes! My personal favorite way to enjoy these carnitas is in these Pork Carnitas Bowls! Of course, if you don’t have an instant pot, feel free to make them in your slow cooker! Or if you don’t like pork, try chicken thighs! 

Generally, large pieces of boneless pork shoulder or pork butt is used. You can also use a cut of pork known as a Boston Butt if you’d prefer. These particular cuts of meat are definitely more on the flavorful and tender side, making them perfect to make carnitas with. A pork roast is a piece of pork that won’t work well here.

The best part about making these Instant Pot Pork Carnitas is that it’s basically fool proof. If you just bought a new instant pot, these tender pork carnitas are an easy recipe to start off with. You really cannot overcook pork, it just becomes easier to shred. 

Important Note: Different Instant Pot models offer different features and buttons. (These instructions are for the IP-Duo series).

Instant Pot Carnitas on a platter

Shredded Instant Pot Carnitas

Let’s start by talking about what Carnitas actually are. 

Carnitas are a Mexican dish where a pork shoulder is braised or seared until tender. Once the meat is tenderized, it’s then crisped up and then pulled apart, think Mexican pulled pork. I love Mexican food, it’s some of my favorite recipes.

Make Your Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Be sure to scroll down because I have a full printable version of this recipe for you with an ingredient list and instructions.

Make your dry rub – First, you need to make a dry rub for your pork. I keep this on hand already made for when I want to make this Instant Pot Carnitas recipe.

In a bowl or small jar, combine: 

  • ½ T. chili powder
  • ½ T. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • ½ t. smoked paprika
  • ½ t. chipotle powder
  • 1 t. dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • ½ t. ground black pepper

In addition to the above dry rub ingredients, you will also need:

  • chicken broth
  • a citrus juice like fresh orange juice or 2 large oranges
  • lime juice
  • salt & pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 3½ – 4 lbs pork shoulder roast
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 medium jalapeno
  • 2-3 garlic cloves

If you want you can play around the seasonings, next time try bay leaves, onion powder, brown sugar, orange zest or a little bit of cayenne pepper in your broth.

Make Your Broth – In a bowl, whisk together chicken broth, fresh orange juice, and lime juice with the chili powder, smoked paprika, oregano, garlic and ground cumin. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste, and set aside. 

Season and sear the pork – Rub your dry rub onto pork until each piece is thoroughly covered. Press well to adhere. Use the sauté setting on your Instant Pot® and set to “High.” Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and half the seasoned pork shoulder pieces to the container. If your cut of meat is too big, you can cut it down into smaller pieces. Sear until pork is browned on all sides, for a cooking time of approximately 2-3 minutes per side.

Note: DO NOT use lid while using the “Sauté” function on an Instant Pot.

Once your pork is browned, transfer seared pork to a plate and repeat this process with another tablespoon of olive oil and the remaining pork, transferring the seared pork to the plate when it is done.

Saute onion & jalapeno – Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the bottom of the pot, along with red onion and jalapeño. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, approximately 3-4 minutes.

Pressure cook – Add the browned pork back into the instant pot and pour the seasoned broth that you made earlier on top. Add lid and lock into place.

Set the steam vent to “Sealing.” Press the “Manual” button and adjust to the High Pressure setting, if necessary. Adjust cook time to 30 minutes. (Select 40 minutes for 4+ pound roasts). When the Instant Pot® cook time is complete, do a natural release for 20 minutes before doing a quick release of any remaining pressure and remaining steam.

Shred – Transfer pork to the prepared baking sheet with a slotted spoon and gently shred with two forks.

Want Crispy Carnitas?

Preheat the 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. Season with additional salt and black pepper, if desired.

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.

These Pork Carnitas are such a great recipe because they make enough to feed a crowd. Which is fine, since I always love to have leftovers!

Instant Pot Carnitas on a white platter

What to Serve with Instant Pot Pork Carnitas:

  • homemade guacamole,
  • salsa or pico de gallo
  • sour cream 
  • homemade tortillas
  • Refried Beans 
  • Cilantro 
  • Diced Red Onion 
  • warm tortillas or corn tortillas
  • chipotle peppers
  • black beans
  • or any of your favorite toppings

You can make these pork carnitas into pork carnita rice bowls, nachos, carnitas tacos, enchiladas, burritos, tamales or onto a salad.

Slow Cooker Pork Carnita Instructions

While the Instant Pot is one of my favorite things because it cooks in a fraction of the time, I understand not everyone is able to make the instant pot version

! After seasoning your meat with the dry rub, add it to your slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients. Cook low and slow for 8-10 hours and then shred. At this point, you can follow the broiler instructions if you’d like.

Notes on making this recipe: 

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, but 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. 

instant pot pork carnitas

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Yield: 6-8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
This highly versatile and fall-apart-tender instant pot pork carnitas recipe can be served in so many different ways. For starters, this seasoned, tender shredded pork is delicious in a burrito bowl, lettuce wraps, pork tacos, salads, or served over rice.  

Ingredients

  • Dry Rub Ingredients:
  • ½ T. chili powder

  • ½ T. unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 t. garlic powder

  • 1 t. ground cumin

  • ½ t. smoked paprika

  • ½ t. chipotle powder
  • 
1 t. dried Mexican oregano

  • 1 t. sea salt

  • ½ t. ground black pepper
  • Ingredients for pork:
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice , approximately 2 large oranges
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3½ - 4 lbs pork shoulder roast, trimmed and cut into 6-8 chunks
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped

Instructions

  1. Combine dry rub ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine.
  2. Rub mixture onto pork until each piece is thoroughly covered. Press well to adhere. 
  3. Push the “Sauté” button on Instant Pot® and set to “High.” Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and half the seasoned pork shoulder pieces to the container. Sear until pork is browned on all sides, approximately 2-3 minutes per side.
  4. Note: DO NOT use lid while using the “Sauté” function on an Instant Pot.
  5. Once browned, transfer seared pork to a plate and repeat this process with another tablespoon of olive oil and the remaining pork.
  6. Remove browned pork from the Instant Pot® and set aside.
  7. Add remaining tablespoon olive oil to the container, along with red onion and jalapeño.
  8. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, approximately 3-4 minutes.
  9. In a bowl, whisk together chicken broth, fresh orange juice, and lime juice. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste, and set aside. 
  1. Add browned pork back to the pot and pour your broth & juice mixture on top. Add lid and lock into place.
  2. Set the steam vent to “Sealing.” Press the “Manual” button and adjust to the “High” setting, if necessary. Adjust cook time to 30 minutes. (Select 40 minutes for 4+ pound roasts).
  3. When the Instant Pot® cook time is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 20 minutes before doing a quick release of any remaining steam.
  4. Shred your pork with 2 forks.
  5. Want Crispier Instant Pot Pork Carnitas? Preheat the oven broiler to high and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  6. Drizzle shredded pork with ¼ cup juices from the Instant Pot® and toss to combine before spreading into a thin, even layer. Season with additional salt and black pepper, if desired.
  7. 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.
  8. Place back under broiler for another 4-5 minutes or until the pork is nice and crispy on the edges.

Notes

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, but 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.

Slow Cooker Instructions: After seasoning your meat with the dry rub, add it to your slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients. Cook low and slow for 8-10 hours and then shred. At this point, you can follow the broiler instructions if you'd like.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

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Allyson

Thursday 25th of February 2021

I think I see what others found confusing about this recipe. Under step 9, you say to add chili powder, smoked paprika, oregano, garlic, and cumin to the broth mixture. Is this supposed to be in ADDITION to the original dry rub mixture? Or are this the only time you add those spices? I ended up not adding any spices to my broth mixture because the dry rub was so flavorful. But if you do intend for us to add more spices to the broth mixture, maybe you could have another section in the ingredient list called “broth ingredients” or something? Just a though from someone who was also slightly confused.

momma lew

Thursday 25th of February 2021

I am sorry for the confusion, I see where the error was and the recipe has been adjusted accordingly.

Leslie

Sunday 21st of February 2021

I’m a dummy and made the rub wrong, but I’m still really excited to see how this turns out in the instant pot!

Just for my own info, does capital T always mean tablespoon and little t always mean teaspoon? I didn’t know and just assumed everything was tablespoons oops. Thank you!

momma lew

Monday 22nd of February 2021

LOL it's ok! Yes, T = Tbsp/tablespoon and t = tsp/teaspoon I am sure it is going to taste delicious! Let me know!

Becca

Friday 15th of January 2021

A very confusing but good recipe. lol I too didn’t understand where the second set of dry ingredients came in. I just used the first list of dry ingredients as a dry rub then browned the meat, then sautéed the veggies, put the meat back in, poured the chic broth, lime and orange juice over top and cooked it. It was yummy. The cocoa did some smoky magic, I suggest it be used. It added a lot of depth to the flavor of the meat.

momma lew

Saturday 16th of January 2021

I am sorry that was confusing for you. I will have to revamp the instructions for these instant pot pork carnitas. I am glad you enjoyed them though!

Dadcooks

Monday 4th of January 2021

There are no instructions on what to do with the additional dry ingredients listed at the top of the ingredient list. When do I add these to my pork carnitas?

momma lew

Monday 4th of January 2021

Just under how to cook your instant pot pork carnitas - you will see it says what to do with them. You make a rub, rub the pork with it and then make a seasoned broth.

Sarah

Monday 26th of October 2020

The previous commenter mentioned this but I don’t think it was understood. There are seasonings listed in addition to the dry rub “ 1 tbsp chili powder 1/2 tsp smoked paprika 1 tsp cumin salt & pepper, to taste 1 tsp oregano” but then never mentioned in the instructions. I added the additional seasonings after cooking before broiling once I shredded the meat. But I think that is where the confusion was coming from.

momma lew

Monday 26th of October 2020

Hi, all of the ingredients are accounted for. Scroll down to the printable recipe for full ingredient measurements. Thanks!

Sarah

Monday 26th of October 2020

But also this was delicious. Made it this evening.