This easy Instant Pot Carnitas recipe is loaded with Mexican spices and citrus juices to create a melt-in-your-mouth instant pot pork carnitas recipe in less than 90 minutes! It’s similar to our Slow Cooker Carnitas recipe, without the wait. Use marinated carnitas in taco recipes, burritos, nachos and more!
What Are Carnitas
Carnitas is to Mexican cuisine what pulled pork is to American grub. Instead of loading the shredded pork up with BBQ Sauce it’s loaded up with Mexican spices and citrus juices. Carnitas (carnitas receta) are traditionally made with pork shoulder due to the high fat content. Unlike pulled pork, carnitas are typically crisped up at the end of cooking to add an extra “bite”.
If you make Mexican recipes often, you more than likely have most of these spices on hand: sea salt, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, Mexican oregano and black pepper. For added heat, just throw a teaspoon of cayenne pepper in the mix. There really isn’t a long list of ingredients for carnitas.
What To Make With Pork Carnitas
There are so many recipes you can make using carnitas meat. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Pork Carnitas Street Tacos – Replace the carne asada with instant pot carnitas.
- Pork Carnitas Tacos – similar to our Carne Asada tacos! Top with pickled red onions or pickled peppers.
- Carnitas Quesadilla – use this cheese quesadilla recipe as the base
- Carnitas Plate – Serve next to Instant Pot refried beans or Slow Cooker Refried Beans and Mexican rice or Cilantro Lime Rice.
- Enchiladas Carnitas – Replace the chicken in our chicken enchiladas with pork carnitas.
- Loaded Pulled Pork Potato Skins
- Carnitas Nachos – Just swap equal parts carne asada steak for pork carnitas (Carne Asada Nachos).
- + Mulitas, Tostadas, Tortas, Taquitos, Arepa Con Queso or Flautas!
How To Make Carnitas
Making carnitas instant pot friendly took all the legwork out of making juicy pork carnitas. This Instant Pot Carnitas Recipe takes only 5 minutes of prep work, then the pressure cooker does the rest of the work for you. To make Carnitas a la Mexicana just throw in the cubed pork shoulder, and spices and you’re ready to cook away. In only 60 minutes you’ll be ready to shred!
What To Serve With Carnitas
Crispy Pork Carnitas Instant Pot
As with all Instant Pot recipes, you will need to take it a step further if you’re looking for the classic “crunch” factor. These carnitas come out tender and juicy, how we enjoy it, but many folks prefer the crisp. All it takes is one extra step and 5 minutes.
- Oven – Once you’ve removed the carnitas from the carnitas sauce, spread on a large baking sheet and broil in the oven on high for 5 minutes. Add up to 5 more minutes for extra crispy carnitas.
- Air Fryer – Once you’ve removed the carnitas from the carnitas sauce, transfer the carnitas meat back to the Instant Pot. Place the Instant Pot Air Fryer lid on top and set to air fry for 10-12 minutes at 400°F for 12 minutes. Toss at the half way mark to ensure even crisping.
- This is a great recipe to use in your weekly meal prep schedule. Add the pork and marinade to a Ziplock bag and marinate for up to 5 days.
- You can freeze the pork and marinade together for up to 3 months. Just defrost in the refrigerator like you would any other pork recipe.
- We use Instant Pot Bone Broth if we have some on hand.
- Reference our Pork Temperature Chart for more cooking tips!
Cocktails: Mexican Mule, Mango Michelada, Michelada rimmed with Chamoy, Beermosa, or Margarita.
White Wines: Pinot Noir, Sparkling Brut Rosé, Milder Sauvignon Blanc
Light Beers: Pale Mexican Lagers, West Coast IPAs, Amber Ale, Vienna Lager
- 2½ Lb Pork Shoulder, Boneless
- ¼ cup Orange Juice, Freshly Squeezed
- 1 tbsp Lime Juice, Freshly Squeezed
- 2 tsp Coarse Sea Salt
- 2 tsp Ground Cumin
- 1 tsp Chili Powder
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- 1 tsp Dried Mexican Oregano (*Note 1 )
- ½ tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 1 cup Broth (Chicken, Beef or Vegetable) (*Note 2 )
- Cut the pork shoulder into 4" chunks and place inside the instant pot.
- Add the orange juice, lime juice, salt, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, black pepper and broth to the instant pot. Mix thoroughly to coat the pork.
- Place the lid on the Instant Pot, making sure the valve is in the "sealed" position. Pressure cook on high for 45 minutes.
- Let the pressure naturally release for 15 minutes before quick releasing the rest.
- Remove the lid and shred the pork with two forks. It's now ready to add to tacos, burritos, or more!
OPTIONAL: CRISP THE CARNITAS
- Set a strainer over a large bowl and strain out the meat, reserving the cooking liquid.
- Oven - Once you've removed the carnitas from the carnitas sauce, spread the shredded pork on a large foil-lined baking sheet and broil in the oven on high for 5 minutes. Add up to 5 more minutes for extra crispy carnitas. Add 1/2-1 cup of cooking liquid back to the carnitas to juice them back up.
- Air Fryer - Once you've removed the carnitas from the carnitas sauce, transfer the carnitas meat back to the Instant Pot. Place the Instant Pot Air Fryer lid on top and set to air fry for 10-12 minutes at 400°F for 12 minutes. Toss at the half way mark to ensure even crisping. Add 1/2-1 cup of cooking liquid back to the carnitas to juice them back up.