Instant Pot Carnitas are easy and quick to make in the electric pressure cooker. This pork carnitas recipe makes perfectly seasoned, tender and juicy Mexican pork with crispy bits.
We love easy Mexican recipes, especially ones that can be made quickly in the Instant pot like this Charro Beans recipe!
Crispy Instant Pot Pork Carnitas
Pork Carnitas is one of the most popular Mexican pork dishes and for a good reason. It is hard to resist a perfectly seasoned pork roast cooked until juicy and tender then shredded and made crispy under a broiler. So incredibly tasty!
It’s also a protein-rich, healthy and versatile dinner option that can be served in so many different ways so it never becomes boring. Although authentic Mexican carnitas are crisp up with lard, we use the meat pan juices to get the job done with amazing results.
Why You Should Make This Recipe
- Budget friendly: Mexican Carnitas is a budget friendly dinner option that can feed a crowd without breaking the bank.
- Quick / Hands Off Cooking: Using the instant pot cuts the cooking time significantly! Traditionally carnitas are made on the stove top/oven where you have to keep an eye on the cooking not to mention, the meat takes a longer time to become fork tender.
- Flavor and Quality: The pressure cooker cooks faster than other methods but that doesn’t mean you compromise the flavor. On the contrary, the pressure cooker seals in the flavors of the food.
- Make Ahead/Meal Prep/ Freeze: This is an excellent recipe to make ahead as they freeze well and are a versatile option for meal prep.
Reader’s Review – Better Than Mom’s Recipe
This is the best carnitas ever. Better than any restaurant and even my mom’s. I hope she doesn’t read this.
What are Carnitas?
Think of carnitas as a savory Mexican pulled pork. Traditional carnitas are usually seasoned with spices, citrus juice and onions and then cooked slowly in lard. When the pork is fork tender, it is crisped up in a skillet with some more lard. The crispy edges and bits are as tasty as fried pork while some parts of the shredded pork remains juicy and tender. Seriously delicious!
Instant Pot Carnitas Ingredients
- Pork – Any boneless pork roast, like pork shoulder or pork butt (Boston butt) work well for this pork carnitas recipe. I cut the meat in big chunks (about 2-inches). Trim any excess fat.
- Beer – Mexican beer, pilsener or lager beer works well. You can also use chicken broth or stock.
- Orange Juice – Fresh orange juice is best as bottled juice has a high sugar content and tends to make the dish a bit sweet.
- Lime Juice – Freshly squeezed.
- Oil – Canola, vegetable or olive oil. Very little oil is used as it is just to sear the pork.
- Garlic – I highly recommend using fresh garlic however, in a pinch you can use 2 teaspoons of garlic powder instead.
- The Spices and Seasonings- Chili powder, onion powder, dried oregano, cumin. Salt and ground black pepper.
How To Make Instant Pot Carnitas
This recipe has 3 easy steps.
STEP ONE – Season and Sear the Meat:
- Season the pork with salt and pepper. Click the SAUTE function and heat the oil. Sear the pork until it browns on all sides. You may need to do this in 2 batches not to overcrowd the pot.
- Remove the pork from the instant pot and click CANCEL.
STEP TWO – Cook on High Pressure:
- Pour all your liquids (beer, orange juice and lime juice) into the pot. With a wooden spoon scrape the bottom of the pot to remove any brown bits.
- Add the spices and return the meat to the pot. Close the lid and cook on HIGH pressure for 60 minutes. Do a natural release for 15 minutes.
STEP THREE – Broil:
- With a slotted spoon, remove the pork from the pressure cooker and click SAUTE. Reduce the cooking liquid for about 5 minutes while shredding the pork.
- Click CANCEL and return the shredded pork to the instant pot. Toss the meat so it is all coated with the cooking liquid.
- Turn the broiler to high. Transfer the pork to a baking sheet and spread the meat into an even layer. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of cooking liquid over the meat. Broil for a few minutes until the pork edges begin to get golden brown and crispy
What Cut Of Meat Is Used For Carnitas?
Mexican Pulled Pork or Carnitas is best made with well-marbled pork, that is pork that has enough fat to either be braised for a long period of time or be cooked in a pressure cooker while retaining it’s moisture.
The best cuts to make this recipe are:
- Pork Shoulder
- Pork Butt
- Boston Butt
Do You Use Boneless Pork Or Bone-In Pork To Make Carnitas?
Although boneless pork shoulder or pork butt are much easier to cut into chunks, bone-in pork roast can be used as well.
You have questions? We have answers!
Is Picnic Ham and Pork Shoulder The Same?
No. Picnic ham comes from the lower part of the pork shoulder (that is the lower part of the hog’s leg). It has more muscles and connective tissue making it tougher.
Pork shoulder comes from the upper part of the shoulder. This area is fat marbled and less used by the animal so it hasn’t developed a tough muscle.
Can I Make Carnitas Ahead of Time?
Absolutely! Let the pulled pork sit in the cooking liquid overnight and heat and broil when ready to serve.
Ways To Serve This Carnitas Recipe
One of the reasons I love this recipe is because is so versatile There are so many ways to serve Instant Pot Carnitas some of my favorites are:
Can I Make Carnitas In the Slow Cooker
Yes, although I have a recipe to cook carnitas in the crockpot with excellent results, I prefer cooking pork roast in the pressure cooker as it is quick, easy and the pork always turns out perfect! This instant pot recipe may not be made in an instant, but it sure cuts the cooking time by a fraction.
Making Ahead, Storage and Reheating
Instant Pot Carnitas are a great recipe to make ahead and a an easy option for meal prep. If you have any leftovers, cool the meat completely before storing or freezing. Carnitas will keep stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 4 days. I like to put the meat and juices together and re-crisp the meat when reheating.
Can I Freeze Pork Carnitas?
Yes! Divide the shredded Mexican pork into smaller portions and store in a resealable freezer bags with some of the cooking liquid. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
To reheat, microwave for a few minutes or preheat the oven to 325 degree Fahrenheit then, spread the meat on a baking sheet, cover it with aluminum foil and reheat until warm through (it may take about 10 – 15 minutes depending on the amount of meat you have). Remove the foil and turn on the broiler. Broil for a couple of minutes or until crispy (this is an optional step as I love carnitas with crispy bits and without!)
Instant Pot Pork Carnitas Recipe Tips
- If you would like a spicy kick, add cayenne pepper to the spices or to add both spiciness and a smoky taste to carnitas, stir in about a tablespoon of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce together with the beer and citrus juices.
- If cooking pork in the pressure cooker while frozen, skip the searing part. If you decide to make this easy and quick recipe with frozen chicken, you must skip the searing part as well.
- Instant Pot Carnitas is the perfect recipe to feed a crowd. Carnitas tacos are always a favorite and can be served with many toppings like guacamole and pico de gallo.
Follow me on social media for more recipe ideas & inspiration!
Instant Pot Pork Carnitas
- 1 (4-pounds) boneless pork shoulder roast trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons canola oil or olive oil
- 1 (12-ounces) Mexican beer (Pilsner or lager beer)
- 1 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
- 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Chopped cilantro to garnish (optional)
Suggestions for Serving (optional)
- Warm corn tortillas, chopped onions. chopped cilantro, salsa, crumbled Queso Fresco, lime wedges.
- Season the pork with salt and pepper.
- Click the "Saute" setting on the instant pot. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and working in 2 batches, add the pork pieces and sear until evenly brown, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer the meat to a bowl or plate and proceed with the remaining oil and pork. Remove the browned pork from the instant pot and press "cancel" to turn off the heat.
- Pour the beer, orange juice and lime juice into the pressure cooker and using a wooden spoon scrape the bottom of the pot to remove any browned bits stuck to the bottom. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and return the pork and any collected juices to the instant pot.
- Close the lid and make sure the valve is in the sealed position. Cook on HIGH pressure for 60 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes before fully releasing the pressure. Then remove the lid.
- Remove the pork from the pressure cooker and shred the meat. Meanwhile turn the pressure cooker to "Saute" mode and reduce the liquid for about 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
- Return the shredded pork to the instant pot and toss to get the meat all coated with the cooking liquid. Press "cancel" to turn off the heat.
- Turn on the oven broiler to high. The oven rack should be at about 6 inches from the heat source.
- Transfer the pork to a baking sheet and spread the meat into an even layer. Spoon about 2 – 3 tablespoons of the cooking liquid over the pork and broil for about 4-5 minutes or or until the edges of the pork begin browning. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and with a spatula, flip the meat over. Broil for an additional 4 -5 minutes to get the meat browned and crispy on the edges. Remove from the oven. You can pour some extra cooking liquid over the pork or serve as is sprinkled with some chopped cilantro (optional).