This Instant Pot Pork Carnitas recipe is the most delicious and tender pulled pork you’ve ever tasted! Plus, this recipe only requires 20 minutes of pressure cooking and it’s pot-to-table in about an hour! It’s a great alternative to slow cooker pulled pork or carnitas.
You can use it for tacos, tostados, taco bowls, straight up with some rice or beans, or serve it as a taco salad, over cauliflower rice or with low-carb tortillas for a low-carb/keto option.
Instant Pot Pork Carnitas
There are times when I try recipes in the Instant Pot and I think, “Nah, this one’s better in the slow cooker, or in the oven,” and I move on.
But today’s recipe is NOT one of those my friend. Using the instant pot is literally the most tasty and efficient way to make this recipe – period.
I feel like we need a drum roll, or some samba shakers or a mariachi band for this special unveiling moment… 🥁🥁🥁🥁🥁🥁🥁🥁… I give you the most delicious, quick and easy Instant Pot Pulled Pork on the planet!! For. Real. Drop the taco. Just as tender as slow cooked pork in a fraction of the time.
What are pork carnitas? (“What Is carnitas?”)
Many people think “Carnitas” refers to pulled pork meat served in a taco shell of some kind. The word “carnitas” is literally translated as “little meats” and refers to the meat itself. Pork carnitas are usually made with a nice pork shoulder roast or pork butt roast in the 5-10 pound range, which is usually trimmed into smaller pieces and heavily seasoned before cooking.
Traditional carnitas are made by simmering the meat in lard over a very low heat, until tender. Then the heat is turned up and the outside of the pork begins to crisp. This breaks down the collagen in the meat enough to pull it by hand or with forks, and it is typically used in tamales, tacos, tortas, and burritos.
My Faster Pork Carnitas Recipe!
If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know I’m my own worst critic. I have very high standards when it comes to my recipes, otherwise I can’t put my stamp of approval on them and deem them Taste And See recipe creations.
I have to tell you, I couldn’t be more proud of this one!!
It’s tender, juicy, flavorful and cooks in a fraction of the time of any other method out there.
All I can say is that’s a whole lot of winning going on in one recipe! Can I get a “preach it girlfriend!??”
The meat is cooked in garlic, onions, delicious spices and broth for only 20 minutes of pressure cooking and becomes the most tender and juicy pork carnitas I’ve ever tasted.
I decided to add a little crispiness to mine, so after pressure cooking and shredding I broiled it for 2-3 minutes on a baking sheet. I’m talking tender bits of crispy and juicy meat that you just want to eat straight from the pan.
And that’s exactly what I did! You will too… I’m warning you it is addictive.
How to make Instant Pot Pork Carnitas:
I buy the biggest cut of pork roast I can, because as you all know the B man is a carnivore – I’m not sure where he puts it but the guy can eat some meat.
You can use either a bone-in or boneless pork shoulder (aka pork butt) for this recipe. I’ve done it both ways. Cutting the meat off the bone is a bit more difficult but I like adding the bone in the pot and letting it cook with the meat for added flavor.
I cut the carnitas meat into 3-4 inch pieces and remove as much fat as I can while I’m doing it. I actually timed myself the last time I made it (which was yesterday) and it took me 8 minutes to make that happen.
Next come the spices that get rubbed all over the meat.
Then I turn the Instant Pot to saute mode and let it get to high heat, add the olive oil, and sear the meat for 2 minutes on the two main sides.
Depending on how large your pork shoulder is, you may need to do this in two or three batches.
Once the meat is seared I transfer it to a plate or bowl, then add the onions and garlic to the pot and saute for 3 minutes. I like to add a splash of the chicken broth at this time so the brown bits from the meat that are on the bottom of the pot don’t burn.
Then I add the rest of the stock, all the meat, the bone if I have one, and pressure cook the carnitas meat for 20 minutes. I give the instant pot a 15-minute natural release then release the rest of the pressure manually.
Next, I gently remove the meat from the liquid and place it on a plate to shred. It is so tender it will fall apart effortlessly.
I strain the fat, onions, and garlic out of the liquid, pour a bit over the pulled pork, and toss. The cooking liquid is so tasty I like to save whatever is left and use it for soup.
Now you have a decision to make… to broil the meat for 2-3 minutes on a baking sheet for those crispy edges we all love so much, or eat it as is.
I recommend broiling it because I really like the contrast in texture, and if there are any bits of fat left in the meat it magically turns into extra special yumminess. Mmmm.
(PS: Using the oven to heat the meat at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes, then broiling for 2-3 is also a great way to reheat the leftover pork meat – well, I mean, if there is any.)
Finally, I like to give my meat a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and it’s ready to devour!
This pulled pork is so versatile… you can make tacos, tostados, taco bowls, straight up shredded pork with some rice or beans, serve it as a taco salad, or over cauliflower rice for a low-carb/keto option. My favorite toppings are guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, & shredded cheese.
I’ve even made carnitas soup with it by using the stock and adding some pinto beans – so delicious!
However you decide to enjoy this Instant Pot Pulled Pork, one thing’s for sure, you will adore it!
But don’t take my word for it – PLEASE make it for yourself.
Seriously, for the love of delicious homemade Mexican food, make these carnitas stat my friend!!
Instant Pot Pork Carnitas Recipe:
- 4 pound pork butt roast or pork shoulder roast, cut into into 4-inch chunks, trimmed of excess fat (if you can only find bone-in then get one around 6 – 6.5 pounds.) This recipe works with more meat as well just don't fill the pot above 2/3rds line.
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons pepper
- 2 teaspoons chipotle chili pepper, or regular chili powder if you don’t want a kick
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic, smashed and rough chopped (or use 1 tsp of garlic powder)
- 1 large onion, rough chopped
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 lime
- Cut the pork shoulder into 4-inch pieces and remove as much fat as you can while doing it.
- Mix all the spices together in a small bowl and rub spices all over the meat.
- Turn the Instant Pot to saute mode and let it get hot, add the olive oil and sear the meat for 2 minutes on the two main sides. Depending on how large your pork shoulder is, you may need to do this in two or three batches. Once all the meat is seared, transfer the meat to a plate or bowl.
- Add the onions and garlic to the pot and saute for 3 minutes. Add a splash of chicken broth so the brown bits from the meat that are on the bottom of the pot don’t burn.
- Add the rest of the stock and all the meat (and bone if you have one) then pressure cook the carnitas meat for 20 minutes on high. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes, then manually release any remaining pressure. (Note that the Instant Pot will take between 15-18 minutes to come to pressure depending on how much meat you’re cooking.)
- Next, gently remove the meat from the liquid and place it on a plate to shred. It is so tender it will fall apart effortlessly.
- Strain the fat, onions, and garlic out of the liquid, pour a bit over the pulled pork, and toss. (If you want a thicker sauce, after it's strained, put it back in the Instant Pot and saute it for 5-10 minutes. You can even add a cornstarch/water slurry to thicken it up even quicker.) If you don't use all the cooking liquid be sure to save the rest to use to reheat the meat or in case you want to use it for soup later.
- If desired, broil the meat for 2-3 minutes on a baking sheet until the edges are crispy.
- Finally, squeeze fresh lime juice onto the meat and serve!
- To reheat the meat... use a skillet on the stove top and saute with some of the cooking liquid. Or place the meat on a baking sheet and spoon some of the liquid over it, place it in a 400 degree oven for 6-8 minutes, then broil for 2 minutes to get it crispy.
- You can freeze the cooked meat in an airtight container or resealable bag for up to two months.
Serving Size4 ounces
Amount Per Serving Calories 138Total Fat 7gSaturated Fat 2gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 47mgSodium 540mgCarbohydrates 3gFiber 1gSugar 1gProtein 14g
More great Instant Pot Recipes:
- Easy Instant Pot Chicken and Rice
- Instant Pot Spaghetti Squash Buffalo Chicken (Low Carb)
- Instant Pot Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings
- Instant Pot Spaghetti Squash Buffalo Chicken
- Instant Pot Whole Chicken Recipe
- Instant Pot Chipotle Pomegranate Taco Bites
- How To Cook Instant Pot Corn On The Cob
- Instant Pot Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs
- Instant Pot Mexican Quinoa and Chicken