The BEST Instant Pot Pork Carnitas are easy to make at home with your electric pressure cooker. A quick pop under the broiler at the end gets them nice & crispy!
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I’m all about quick and easy Instant Pot recipes. And while the name may imply otherwise, the Instant Pot doesn’t actually make everything in an “instant.” But it does make cooking so much easier and hands-free.
Traditionally, I would make these carnitas in the slow cooker, letting them cook for 10 hours while I’m away at work. That slow cooking process really gets the pork nice and tender, and shred-able, exactly what you want with pork carnitas. But you know, there are some days when I just don’t make the time to plan ahead for dinner.
That’s usually when the Instant Pot comes out. It can transform a tough cut of meat that would normally take all day to cook, in under an hour. Plus, while those juicy pork carnitas cook away in the Instant Pot, that’s the perfect time to prep your garnishes for these Instant Pot Pork Carnitas – pickled onions, cilantro lime crema, guacamole, pico de gallo, fresh cilantro and lime wedges. It’s also the perfect time to warm up some tortillas.
These pork carnitas would take all day in my crockpot. But these Instant Pot carnitas cook in only 40 minutes. To that, you’ll need to add about 10 minutes for the pressure to build and 15 minutes for the pressure to release, so you’re looking at just over an hour from start to finish.
But there’s one last step – the most important part to get those pork carnitas nice and crispy at the end – popping them under the broiler with a sprinkle of salt for about 5 minutes to get that perfect texture. Yum!
How to make Instant Pot Carnitas:
- Cut your pork shoulder into large cubes – This helps to cut down on cooking time.
- Season the meat well with loads of yummy spices – garlic salt, chili powder, dried oregano, dried basil, cumin, ground coriander, brown sugar, and sweet paprika. You could also use taco seasoning here.
- Add in the cooking liquids – This is what helps the pressure build in the instant pot, but it also flavors the meat – fresh squeezed orange and lime juice and bit of water to top it off.
- Then just seal the pot and set it to cook for 40 minutes. This is the perfect time to prepare those yummy quick-pickled onions and your other taco toppings. They would also be delicious served with this cilantro lime crema, guacamole, or pico de gallo.
I like to serve my Instant Pot pork carnitas in the traditional style of the street taco – dressed simply with cilantro, avocado and some quick pickled onions.
You can make those pretty pink pickled onions up to two weeks ahead of time. In truth, I normally have a jar in my fridge at all times. I’ve even got an entire post dedicated to how I pickle my onions. I love having them on hand for topping all kinds of things – salads, Instant Pot Split Pea Dal, Chicken Gyro Bowls, Migas.
I hope you agree that these are the BEST Instant Pot Pork Carnitas! I’d love to hear what you thought in the comments below!
Instant Pot Carnitas Recipe
The BEST Instant Pot Pork Carnitas
- Mission Organics® White Corn Tortillas
- 1 avocado (thinly sliced)
- 1/2 cup cilantro (chopped)
- 1 lime (cut)
- 4-6 lbs. pork shoulder (slightly trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2-inch cubes)
- 1 Tablespoon garlic salt
- 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 oranges (sliced in half)
- 1 lime (sliced in half)
- 1 cup water
- 1 red onion halved and thinly sliced (halved and thinly sliced)
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup lime juice (freshly squeezed )
- 1/8 – 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 Tablespoon kosher salt
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- Combine garlic salt, chili powder, dried oregano, dried basil, cumin, ground coriander, brown sugar, and sweet paprika.
- Rub the spice mixture evenly over the pork pieces and place in Instant Pot.
- Squeeze the juice from the oranges and limes over the pork. Place rinds pulp side down in Instant Pot and add 1 cup water.
- Make sure your sealing ring is in place on the lid. Lock the lid onto Instant Pot and set the steam release knob to the “sealing” position.
- Press the “manual” button and set Instant Pot for high pressure for 40 minutes. It will take about 10 minutes for Instant Pot to come to full pressure, then the display will show a countdown timer.
- Once the 40 minutes are up, allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes, then release any remaining pressure. Open the lid.
- Preheat oven broiler. Shred the pork using two forks then use a slotted spoon to remove the pork, and place on a baking sheet.
- Taste the pork for saltiness. You may want to sprinkle some additional salt on top. (I especially like using my homemade citrus salts at this stage of the recipe!
- Place underneath broiler until tips of pork are browned and slightly crisp, about 3-5 minutes. (Don’t walk away from it. Keep an eye on meat to make sure it doesn’t burn or become overly browned).
- Add sliced onions to a medium bowl. Pour enough boiling water over them to fully cover and count to 10. Drain onions and place in jar or bowl.
- Heat vinegar, lime juice, 1/8 cup sugar, chili flakes and salt in small saucepan over medium heat until sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes.
- Taste for sweetness and add more sugar as needed.
- Pour vinegar mixture over onions.
- Allow to stand at room temperature, until fully cooled. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.
- Warm up Mission Organics® White Corn Tortillas in oven (best served warm for full flavor)
- Place carnitas in tortillas and serve topped with sliced avocado and cilantro. Pass around extra limes for garnish.
If you thought these were the BEST Pressure Cooker Carnitas I would appreciate it so much if you would give this recipe a star review! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished carnitas tacos and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.
This recipe was originally published in March 2018. It was updated in March 2019 to add instructional photographs and a video. The original recipe remains the same. Enjoy!
Wine Pairings for Pork Carnitas:
- If you’d like to pair these tacos with a bottle of wine, a Tempranillo would be an excellent choice to compliment the spices in the pork carnitas.
- An authentic Mexican dish is always excellent with beer. Try a light Mexican lager.
- Margaritas – Try this one, this one, or this one.