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Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas

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This Instant Pot Carnitas recipe is quick and easy to make in the pressure cooker, perfectly crispy and juicy, and so delicious!

Instant Pot Carnitas

This Instant Pot carnitas recipe is a game-changer. ♡

After years and years of making my favorite Mexican-inspired crispy pork carnitas recipe in the slow cooker — letting the pork slowly simmer all day long until it is perfectly tender and shred-able — I’ve now become a total convert to making pressure cooker carnitas instead.

Why? Well, mainly because this Instant Pot carnitas recipe is just crazy fast.  Instead of having to plan 5-8 hours in advance to make carnitas in the slow cooker, this pressure cooker carnitas recipe can be ready to go from start to finish in just over 1 hour, making this recipe legit do-able on a weeknight or anytime you’re craving some carnitas stat. It also succeeds in making carnitas that are extra-juicy and crispy, thanks to a quick broil in the oven and a toss in those leftover cooking juices after the Instant Pot has worked its magic. It’s seasoned with a zesty garlic-citrus mojo sauce, making each bite of pork extra flavorful even before any extra salsas or toppings are added. But more than anything, I just love this carnitas recipe because it is irresistibly, unfailingly, crowd-pleasingly, gotta-go-back-for-seconds-(and-thirds)-ingly, deliciously GOOD.

These carnitas are, of course, absolutely fabulous served up in soft corn tortillas as carnitas tacos. But if you’re looking for a different spin on carnitas (especially if you have leftovers and want to mix things up a bit for the second round), this flavorful shredded pork is also delicious served up in burritos, burrito bowls, quesadillas, enchiladas, tostadas, salads, or even in carnitas soup as well.

So if you are a fellow fan of carnitas, pull out your pressure cooker and let’s make a batch together!

Instant Pot Carnitas | 1-Minute Video

Carnitas Ingredients:

To make pork carnitas in the Instant Pot, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Pork: I recommend using boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks with the excess fat trimmed off.
  • Salt, pepper, oil: For seasoning and cooking the meat.
  • Mojo sauce: A citrusy garlic sauce that we’ll make with beer (or chicken stock), garlic, fresh orange juice, lime juice, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper.
  • Salsa: I love serving carnitas with a juicy fresh mango salsa or pineapple salsa (as pictured below). But any type of salsa that you love — red, green, fruit, etc. — will work.
  • Toppings: I recommend lots of chopped fresh cilantro and finely-chopped red or white onion.

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

How To Make Carnitas:

To make this pork carnitas recipe, simply…

  1. Make the mojo sauce. Whisk together those garlicky citrus sauce ingredients until combined.
  2. Season and sear the pork. Generously season the pork chunks with salt and pepper. Then use the “Sauté” function on the Instant Pot to briefly sear the pork on all sides in a bit of oil. You might need to do this in two batches, depending on the size of your Instant Pot.
  3. Pressure cook. Add the sauce to the pork, then pressure cook on high for 30 minutes, followed by a natural release.
  4. Shred. Once the pork is cooked, go ahead and give it a good shred with two forks.
  5. (Optional) Broil. Then — if you want the carnitas to be nice and crispy — spread the shredded pork out in an even layer on a large baking sheet, and spoon about 1/3 of the remaining juices from the Instant Pot evenly on top of the pork. Pop the baking sheet into the oven for about 4-5 minutes, or until the edges of the pork are golden and crispy. Then remove from the oven, give the pork a good toss with half of the remaining juices, and broil for 4-5 more minutes. Remove from the oven, toss with the remaining juices and…
  6. Serve warm. However you prefer — in tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, tostadas, quesadillas, in a soup or salad, or whatever sounds good!

Full instructions included in the recipe box below.

Crispy Carnitas made in the Instant Pot

Possible Variations:

Want to customize your own homemade carnitas recipe? Feel free to…

  • Make it spicy. Add a diced jalapeño or serrano chile pepper (seeded, for less heat) into the Instant Pot if you would like to kick things up a spicy notch.
  • Make it smoky. I also love adding a diced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (with an extra tablespoon of sauce) into the Instant Pot to make the carnitas a bit more smoky.
  • Use chicken. If pork isn’t your thing, you’re welcome to make this carnitas recipe with boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breasts) instead.

Carnitas Tacos

Ways To Serve Carnitas:

There are so many fun ways to serve this carnitas recipe! For example, they would be delicious in:

  • Tacos (hard or soft)
  • Burritos or burrito bowls
  • Enchiladas, taquitos, quesadillas or tostadas
  • Nachos or chilaquiles
  • Salads (warm or cold)
  • Soup or chili
  • …and so much more! Be creative!

Pork Carnitas Tacos

What To Serve With Carnitas:

Looking for some ideas on what to serve with carnitas tacos? (Or carnitas burritos, quesadillas, etc?)  Here are a few of my faves:

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Instant Pot Carnitas

Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6-8 servings 1x

Description

This Instant Pot Carnitas recipe is quick and easy to make in the pressure cooker, perfectly crispy and juicy, and so delicious!


Ingredients

Scale

Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas Ingredients:

  • 1 (4-5 pound) lean boneless pork roast, cut into 2-inch chunks (with excess fat trimmed off)
  • fine sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1 batch mojo sauce (see below)
  • for serving: chopped fresh cilantro, diced white or red onion, and/or fresh salsa (I used the pineapple salsa recipe included below)

Mojo Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 cup beer (or chicken stock)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper

Instructions

To Make The Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas:

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the mojo sauce ingredients until combined.  Set aside until ready to use.
  2. Season pork chunks on all sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Click the “Sauté” setting on the Instant Pot.  Add the oil, followed by half of the pork, and sear — turning every 45-60 seconds or so — until the pork is browned on all sides.  Transfer pork to a separate clean plate, and repeat with the remaining pork, searing until it has browned on all sides.  Press “Cancel” to turn off the heat.
  4. Pour in the mojo sauce, and toss briefly to combine with the pork. Close lid securely and set vent to “Sealing”.
  5. Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes, followed by a natural release (about 15 minutes).
  6. Set the oven broiler to high heat.
  7. Remove the lid of the Instant Pot.  Shred the pork with two forks.  Then transfer it with a slotted spoon to a large baking sheet.  Spoon about a third of the leftover juices evenly on top of the pork and toss to combine.  Broil for 4-5 minutes, or until the edges of the pork begin browning and crisping up. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, then half of the remaining juices from the Instant Pot evenly over the pork and toss to combine.  Broil for an additional 5 minutes to get the meat even more crispy. Remove baking sheet from the oven, then ladle the remaining juices over the pork, and toss to combine.
  8. Sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro, then serve warm in tacos, burritos, salads, or whatever sounds good to you! Or, refrigerate pork in a sealed container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Notes

Pineapple Salsa: To make the fresh pineapple salsa recipe, just mix together the follow ingredients until combined:

  • 2 cups finely-diced fresh pineapple
  • 1/2 cup finely-chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup finely-diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely-diced
  • fine sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper, to taste

Recipe updates: The amount of cumin was increased and the amount of garlic decreased slightly in January 2021.

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Recipe rating

428 comments on “Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas”

1 5 6 7
  1. Awesome

    • I’ve been making this recipe for a few years with a couple tweaks, the original is still delicious, and my family absolutely loves it! This is a real winner, thank you!

  2. I’ve made this many times and it is always delicious. I love to serve it with mango salsa and cotija cheese on small corn tortillas and it is the perfect bite of meaty, spicy, smoky, sweet and salty. I’ve made it with deboned pork shoulder roast, boneless whole pork loin and tonight I am using boneless country-style ribs because that’s what was cheap this week. ? I always add two or three chipotles in adobo with some of their sauce and a couple of bay leaves. I also add some type of pepper. I used to do a couple of serranos or jalapenos, seeded and diced. But my family wanted more heat so now it’s habaneros. This is one of our favorite meals.

  3. Cook time for chicken breasts????? I don’t want it to be dry. Please help!!!!

  4. I have now made this four times and it has come out perfect every time! I have forwarded the link to at least 5 friends and family members. The pineapple salsa is killer, but is pretty labor intensive. The whole family and the Ladies Group at Church all raved about it.

  5. I am so disappointed. I love the old recipe with less cumin. I did NOT see the note stating the recipe had been updated with more cumin and less garlic. Can you put a note as to what the original measurements are so I know how to get the original flavor back, please?

    • I have a copy of the original and it was 1 head of garlic, cloves separated, peeled and minced & 1 teaspoon of ground cumin

  6. Hi Alli! Love your recipes and this is a keeper. However, what I really need to tell you is that some weirdo posted and extremely offensive comment about this recipe as in sexual in nature. I hope you receive this so you can delete it.

  7. Love this recipe. Made it 4 times by now. This updated recipe really bumped up the cumin, and it comes close to overpowering for me. I would add half, taste at the end, then add the other half if you see fit.

    To each their own, but this is an amazing fool proof recipe that can remain in your instapot rotation that will not disappoint.

    Pineapple salsa is bussin bussin.

  8. Oh my goodness! I just made this for tacos and they were as good as those at a local Mexican restaurant we frequent. I didn’t have any beer on hand, so I substituted an equal amount of lemon seltzer and it seems to have worked well without adding any unnecessary sweetness.

  9. I’m Puertorican and this taste almost exactly as the pernil we make! I cheat and use the Goya Mojo sauce from the supermarket and I add extra fresh chopped up garlic and OMG it’s absolutely delicious! I’ve made this at least 15 times and it’s deff one of my go tos!! Thank you so much for posting this!

  10. Pretty bland as written. Good with additions

  11. I’ve made this several times and it always comes out perfect. This time, I omitted the browning of the meat at the beginning and just relied on the broiling of the shredded meat after the Instant Pot and I couldn’t tell any difference. It was much easier and faster. Thanks for a wonderful recipe. It’s a staple at our house now.

  12. Will let you know as soon as it is ready

  13. This is hands down the best carnitas we have had in over 30 years We live in So Cal so that says a lot. Kudos! Five stars!

  14. I want to make this with chicken. How much boneless chicken would you recommend? Thanks!

  15. This recipe was so fantastic!! I added more salt at the end. Thanks so much my whole family (even 4 and 7 year old) totally enjoyed it!

  16. This is the only recipe I use for carnitas because it’s so good and easy!

    • I made this tonight & followed the recipe as written. The pork came out perfectly tender, shredded like a knife through softened butter, and tastes sublime! I am using this for meal prep for the week & plan to do tacos for the kids & grain-free bowls for the hubs & I using cilantro-lime caulirice. I did make the pineapple salsa & it is exactly the right accompaniment to this pork. Can’t wait to put it all together when each component is so, so yummy!

  17. A-MA-ZING!!! Wow… best carnitas ever. I used an amber ale, a can of Hatch green Chiles, some green chile powder, and a bit of dried chipotle flake (I live overseas and make do with what I can get!). I only had 800 grams of pork so halved the recipe. Wish I’d had mor pork!! Definitely follow the instructions for broiling! I could actually drink the broth! So good!!!

  18. I’ve made this recipe countless times, it’s amazing! Make sure
    You use a fatty cut of pork though, if it’s too lean it’s dry and bland.

  19. This came out amazing!! I want to make this every week now. Such a rockstar recipe! Thank you so much!

  20. Excellent recipe!

  21. I’ve used this as my base recipe for carnitas probably 6x now and I think I’ve got all the not quote right stuff sorted out.

    1. Dry marinate the pork. Skin it, bone it, divide into 4-5 chunks. Salt, pepper, cumin, Olive oil mixed and each piece dredged and coated. Leave in fridge min 4h to overnight. This is in addition to the salt, pepper, cumin already in recipe.

    2. Lots more lime and orange. Close to 1c orange and 3/4c lime.

    3. When you sear the pork, don’t turn 45-60s. Give at least 2m per surface without moving it at all.

    4. Not close to tender enough on the pull at 30m. Give at least 45m, 60m preferred.

    5. After pulling, put the pork back in instant pot and turn on sauté. Boil off any extra liquids until the cooking liquid is a thick gravy. THEN broil it.

    It is a good starting recipe, but 100% needs tweaks.

    • Thanks for posting this. I just checked it after 30 min and 15 min natural release and it wasn’t shreddable at all. I put it back for another 20 min and glad that I saw your post confirming that was the right choice.

  22. I have made this recipe soooooo many times with either pork or chicken thighs. It is phenomenal. I usually use half the amount of meat called for and freeze half the mojo sauce to use another time.

  23. Is it necessary to brown the pork before the pressure cooking if we broil sear it at the end? Just seems like an unnecessary step.
    Thank you for the recipe!

    • Searing before hand helps to seal in moisture and flavor during cooking. The broil at the end is to give it a good crisp.

  24. I have an InstantPot and put it on high for 30 with natural release, maybe it stayed on warm after for 10 mins or so but it did not shred at all…way overdone, I chopped it up as best I could and will vac seal it in the juice but that seemed way too long

    • …More info, I bought a huge pork tenderloin, the chunk I thawed was about 3 lbs and I cut it into 3 pieces and seared them in the InstantPot and then cooked as per recipe….definitely not pulled pork…

    • Hi Keith, I came across your comment while revisiting this recipe for dinner ideas. You mentioned using pork tenderloin in your 2nd comment and I wanted to say that I think the culprit of your overcooked pork was the cut of meat. Pork tenderloin isn’t good for pulled pork, because it tends to be too lean (pork loin is also too lean in most cases). Pork shoulder, picnic roast, also called boston butt for some reason (?), and a few other names (could grocers make it more confusing lol), are ideal for pulled pork because of the fat content and connective tissues. They break down over long periods of time (or pressure in this case), rendering juicy, fall apart deliciousness that we know as pulled pork. I hope this comment was helpful and I wish you luck in your future pulled pork endeavors!

    • Keith = next time, instead of a tenderloin, use a shoulder or something with some fat marbled in there. Use your tenderloin for something fancy, this is comfort food.

    • Hi Keith, A tenderloin pork roast is leaner, firmer, drier and good for slicing it is not good for shredding; you need a Pork Shoulder aka: Pork Butt/Boston Butt/ Picnic Roast, these have a higher fat content and will practically fall apart when its done cooking, thus making it super simple to shred. If it’s not shredding easily, it needs to cook a bit longer. I recommend cooking a 3 to 5lb pork shoulder roast in an insta pot for a minimum of 60 to 75 minutes, letting it release naturally. (You’ll want a meat thermometer to read 140⁰F in the thickest part of the roast before shredding.) I hope this helps you out so you can enjoy this tasty recipe! 🤤🤩

    • im guessing it didnt come out the right way because you used a pork tenderloin and not pork shoulder…. very different cuts of meat that require different cooking times/methods

  25. I love this recipe!! I’ve made it 3x in the past month. My fiancé loved it, my friends at super bowl party loved it too. I added a few more things to the mojo (paprika and chilli powder). I also used half the cumin and doubled the garlic as I feel that sometimes cumin for my taste can overpower the other flavors and I love garlic! But, for my first time making it, I followed the recipe and I still really enjoyed it. The add-ins was just a matter of taste, this is def my go to for carnitas!

  26. I made this last night with about 7 pounds of pork shoulder (started with 8 lbs but between removing the bone and extra fat, I lost some weight), with some minor adjustments and it turned out great. I have made it previously but not with that much meat. I kept the cook time the same, as well as the liquid amount, except for maybe a splash of extra chicken stock to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. The adjustments I made were to the liquid flavor itself – I used fresh lime and orange juice, but couldn’t quite squeeze out enough to hit the .75 cup mark, so I added the juice from a stray pineapple snack sized cup I had leftover from a hellofresh recipe (maybe a quarter cup), and a little bit of liquid smoke. I also added more than 6 cloves of garlic (like 10 or so? I like an excessive amount of garlic), and I grated it instead of minced, because I’m lazy and I had already set myself up for extra work by using so much meat (oof so many batches to brown). I used both cumin and oregano, but I eyeballed the amounts instead of measuring. Long story short, my partner said it was the best instant pot pulled pork I’ve made, and I hadn’t even broiled it yet. I didn’t even need two forks to shred, it fell apart easily with one. Thanks for the great recipe!

  27. These carnitas are fantastic! I served them with the Pineapple Salsa & the Re-fried Beans. My pork had some excess fat, so I fried it and used it to flavor the beans. Killer! also added a little liquid smoke. I cut the pork into smaller chunks and it was so tender we only needed a potato masher on the baking sheet rather than having to “pull”it. Epic. My wife is amazed and my adult “kids” are now motivated to use their own Instapots. Thank you.

  28. I loved this recipe. It turned out beautifully! I actually substituted the carnitas for the chicken in your enchilada recipe and it was amazing.

  29. I added extra of all the seasonings because we like a lot of flavor, but this recipe is BOMB!!!!!

  30. Totally fantastic. Didn’t have beer but stock and citrus worked great. Had a bunch of pulp from juicing the oranges, threw that in too. Absolute staple from now on in my house. Ive tried a bunch of carnitas recipes and this one is hands down winner by a long shot. Lends itself well to our quickie mini tacos (we use the ”street” size tortillas). We spread a layer of cheese on them, and Ali’s carnitas, cover with plastic wrap and microwave them for about 15 seconds each. Just add the toppings/fillings, salsa, pico de gallo, etc. Delicious, quick and it doesn’t get any better. Highly recommend this recipe and thanks Ali.

  31. I just made this using my new Ninja Foodi xl, pressure cooker, steam fryer and broiled it in the same. Wow the entire house smells amazing. Thank you for the recipe.

  32. The mojo sauce is so good, and easy to make. Brings so much flavor to the pork shoulder.

  33. I am going to make this for 12 people in my 8 qt Duo Inatapot for the first time.
    Anyone used Goya Mojo sauce? If so how much?
    Do you think a 7lb BostonButt or 7lb pork style country ribs be enough meat for 12 people?
    How do I use airfryer instapot option at end instead of broiling meat?
    I know lots of questions, but I’m nervous & want to do well for everyone to enjoy! Thank you in advance for any advice!

  34. I have to give credit where credit is due. My Mexican wife loves Carnitas just like her dad used to make. She is very picky when it comes to Carnitas. I was a bit worried when I decided to try and make a slightly healthier version in Instant Pot. Well, your recipe was a huge success! My wife said it was the best Carnitas she had in a long time and said I should make it for her dad. It was a bit more work than I anticipated, but well worth it. I froze half of it so it will be really easy next time! I will definitely be making this again!

    Bruce

  35. I am long overdue for this rating, as I have made this at least 10 times. I made the salsa only once. Too labor intensive for me, but the pork is quick and easy to make. I also made it with chicken but prefer the pork. I don’t bother with the broiler. I make up several batches and freeze smaller portion sizes for salads, burrito bowls, tacos, and pulled pork sandwiches. I have made the Mojo sauce with fresh squeezed oj, store bought oj, and have even used pineapple juice in a pinch. It always turns out fantastic and oh so tender! This is truly the best recipe for pork in an instant pot!

  36. Wow! I hardly ever review recipes but I have to review this one. I was trying to figure out what to do with a piece of pork on a Friday night. Stumbled on this recipe and just happened to have all the ingredients on hand. The pork is so flavorful after cooking in the sauce. I wouldn’t change a thing, This one is a keeper for sure!

  37. I love this recipe and have made it quite a few times. I’m going to double it for a large gathering. Do I have to double the cooking time in the Instant Pot? Or increase the time at all? Thanks for the help.

  38. Loved this! But am curious if I can freeze it and the best way to warm up while maintaining texture?!

  39. This is the 2nd time I tried this recipe & we love it. It’s quick, easy & delicious!

  40. Wow! Great recipe! Very tasty. Better than any restaurant.

  41. OMG! This is a great recipe! I used chicken stock to keep gluten free. I love the crispy carnitas. Used in some street tacos. Big hit!!

  42. This is REALLY GOOD! The sauce reminds me of my abuela’s posole soup. This recipe has been printed and added to my Instant Pot folder! Thank you sooo much!