This Instant Pot Carnitas recipe is quick and easy to make in the pressure cooker, perfectly crispy and juicy, and so delicious!
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
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.
How To Make Carnitas:
To make this pork carnitas recipe, simply…
Make the mojo sauce. Whisk together those garlicky citrus sauce ingredients until combined.
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.
Pressure cook. Add the sauce to the pork, then pressure cook on high for 30 minutes, followed by a natural release.
Shred. Once the pork is cooked, go ahead and give it a good shred with two forks.
(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…
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.
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.
Ways To Serve Carnitas:
There are so many fun ways to serve this carnitas recipe! For example, they would be delicious in:
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
To Make The Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas:
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the mojo sauce ingredients until combined. Set aside until ready to use.
Season pork chunks on all sides with salt and pepper.
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.
Pour in the mojo sauce, and toss briefly to combine with the pork. Close lid securely and set vent to “Sealing”.
Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes, followed by a natural release (about 15 minutes).
Set the oven broiler to high heat.
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.
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.
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.