This Amazing Instant Pot Carnitas is the very last carnitas recipe you’ll ever need!! Incredibly easy to make and so flavorful.
I was born and raised in Arizona and then spent almost all of the rest of my life in Southern California (with a small stint in a school on Staten Island), so over my lifetime I have developed a deep love for Mexican food.
Authentic Mexican food is very hard to find in some places, but it’s not impossible to recreate your favorites at home!
Or I make Chicken Enchiladas with my Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Chicken for Tacos.
But this recipe for Amazing Instant Pot Carnitas is definitely a new favorite! It’s so quick (relatively) and easy to make, with a ton of whole food goodness that just infuses the pork with intense Mexican flavors.
MAKING AMAZING INSTANT POT CARNITAS
STEP 1 – Get all your flavors agents ready to go!
- Peel and cut in half a large onion, then slice it into thin strips.
- Crush a couple large garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife.
- Wash and juice your oranges and lime.
I used clementines instead of a large orange because that’s what I had at home. Four clementines equalled almost 2/3 cup juice. Aim for 1/2 a cup of orange juice, and a little extra is ok.
My lime was on the larger side, so I got about 3 Tablespoons of lime juice out of it.
STEP 2 – Prepare the pork
- Trim the boneless pork butt of excess fat.
- Cut it into fist sized chunks.
- Season the chunks with salt, pepper and cumin.
My boneless pork butt weighted 4.5 lbs before I trimmed it. As you can see, there is very nice marbling through this cut, which is what you want for maximum flavor.
STEP 3 – Put it all in the Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker
- Place the seasoned pork chunks in the bowl of your Instant Pot Pressure Cooker. We are not searing the meat, which makes this carnitas recipe even easier!
- Add the smashed garlic, sliced onions, and citrus peels.
- Tuck in a dried chili for extra flavor. Seed it first if you don’t want too much spice.
- Pour in the citrus juices.
- Twist the pot around a bit to settle everything in and get the juices all over the bottom.
- Put the lid on, making sure the pressure valve is closed, and cook on High Pressure for 55 minutes.
The pressure cooker will take about 10-15 minutes to come up to pressure before it begins cooking, so make sure to factor that time in when preparing this Instant Pot Carnitas recipe.
STEP 4 – Shred the Carnitas
- Once your Instant Pot Carnitas is done cooking, manually release the pressure by switching the pressure valve to the open position.
- When the pressure is released and you can remove the top, take out all of the pork and onions and place on a baking sheet.
- Use two forks to shred the tender pork carnitas into large chunks, but don’t break it apart too much.
- Cover with foil and set aside.
STEP 5 – Reduce the liquid
To really make this Instant Pot Carnitas super flavorful, you’re going to strain the cooking liquid into a pot and reduce it for 15-20 minutes.
All that means is you simmer it for a while so that a lot of the water in the cooking liquid is evaporated, leaving behind the elements that have all of the flavor – the citrus juices, rendered fat, spices, and garlic and chili essences.
You could absolutely skip the reduction of the sauce and just use it as is, but then don’t go telling people this wasn’t the most fabulous carnitas ever! This step is part of what makes this Instant Pot Carnitas so awesome.
STEP 6 – Broil the carnitas
- Preheat your broiler to HIGH.
- Take 2-3 ladles full of the reduced cooking liquid and pour it right on top of the shredded carnitas on your baking sheet.
- It will be saucy on the baking sheet, but the carnitas will absorb most of the flavorful liquid while it’s broiling. Mix it all around, then spread into an even layer.
- Place the baking sheet under the boiler and broil for 5-7 minutes. You want the carnitas to caramelize and get super crispy, but watch that it doesn’t burn.
And there you have it!! The most Amazing Instant Pot Carnitas you’ll ever have.
The traditional, slow cooked version is going to rival this one for flavor, but I’m not kidding – this is the closest you’re going to get to real, authentic carnitas without putting in hours of work.
Love all things Mexican food? Check out my round-up of 15 Real Food Recipes for Cinco de Mayo! These recipes are good all year round.
WHAT IS THE BEST CUT OF PORK FOR CARNITAS?
Since carnitas is traditionally cooked slowly with low heat for a long time, you want a cut of meat that has a good amount of fat in it. This adds the flavor and keeps the pork tender.
The same can be said for cooking carnitas in the Instant Pot or other pressure cooker.
The best cut of pork for carnitas is going to be either the pork shoulder or the butt.
Interestingly, both cuts come from the shoulder area of the pork, but what we call the pork “butt” is a cut that comes from high up on the shoulder, and the “shoulder” cut comes from the lower part of the shoulder right above the front leg.
Both cuts are fatty and can be tough, so they are best used in slow cooked, braised, or pressure cooked applications.
HOW DO YOU SERVE CARNITAS?
Chances are if you’re making carnitas you have an idea of how you want to eat it, but if you need a few ideas, look below!
Whatever you do, make sure you have Pico de Gallo and Guacamole to go with it! You’ll also want 6 Ingredient Restaurant Style Salsa and Homemade Paprika Baked Tortilla Chips on hand, because what’s Mexican food at home without chips and salsa??
- Make tacos! Top them with Quick Pickled Red Onions and Jalapenos and, of course, a bunch of Guacamole. Serve Fire Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad on the side!
- If you are keeping the carbs low, sub carnitas in for the chicken in my Chicken Taco Baked Sweet Potatoes.
- Vegetarian Spaghetti Squash Mexican Casserole is another low carb meal that is easily adapted for a meat loving crowd by adding Instant Pot Carnitas.
- Make Tostadas. These Vegetarian Tostadas with Refried Black Beans and Corn are instantly elevated to meat-eater status when you pile on some Amazing Instant Pot Carnitas
TRY THESE OTHER GREAT MEXICAN FOOD RECIPES FOR THE INSTANT POT OR OTHER PRESSURE COOKER!
- Mexican Chicken Pollo with Salsa Rojo in the Pressure Cooker
- Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Mexican Charro Beans in the Pressure Cooker
- Instant Pot Mexican Shredded Beef
- Pressure Cooker Green Pork Pozole
- Instant Pot Mexican Rice
I’m a big fan of my Instant Pot, but it’s not, by any means, the only way to get this yummy carnitas. Any pressure cooker will do, and there are a lot of them! From a simple stovetop version to other brands that do exactly what Instant Pot does.
Here are some options for you: