Instant Pot Carnitas

(1 vote)
4 minutes
March 18, 2024
Carole JonesJump to Recipe

When it comes to Mexican cuisine, few dishes tantalize the taste buds quite like carnitas. These succulent, tender shreds of pork, infused with traditional spices, have been a staple of Mexican culinary heritage for centuries. Today, we are going to explore the wonders of authentic Instant Pot carnitas – a dish that perfectly marries tradition with modern convenience.

Instant Pot Carnitas

Why I Love This Recipe

If you’ve been a reader here on MKE for a few years, you know that my Carnitas recipe has been my top post for almost a decade. In fact, just this weekend, my oldest son called me so excited because he made them for his wife and they turned out perfectly. All those years having him cook dinner for the whole family as he grew up are finally paying off 🙂

Since my original recipe has been so popular, I’ve had many requests for how to make the recipe faster. I initially created a recipe for Carnitas Seasoning so people could make them faster but now it is time to make the cooking process quicker. So, I mastered making them in an Instant Pot!

Instant Pot: the Time Saver

An Instant Pot is a multifunctional electric pressure cooker that has revolutionized cooking, making it quicker and simpler than ever. With its array of functions including pressure cooking, slow cooking, sautéing, and more, the Instant Pot is a versatile tool that every kitchen enthusiast should have. I know many have heard horror stories about them exploding but if you follow the simple directions, you can’t go wrong!

Instant Pot Carnitas

What are Carnitas?

Carnitas, which translates to “little meats,” is a dish with deep-rooted Mexican origins. Originating from the state of Michoacán, carnitas were traditionally prepared by simmering pork in lard until tender and caramelized. This slow-cooking method allowed the pork to develop rich flavors and a melt-in-your-mouth texture that has captivated food lovers worldwide.

How to Make Instant Pot Carnitas

Time needed: 1 hour

Follow these simple steps to create a dish that will transport your taste buds south of the border:

  1. Season generously

    Seasoning the pork chunks generously with salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, and chili powder gives you a solid flavor foundation to build from as the carnitas cook.

  2. Sear the meat

    Searing the seasoned pork until golden brown on all sides helps create a deeper flavor profile and the heat blooms the seasoning you added in the first step.

  3. Add aromatics

    Using diced onion, minced garlic, orange juice, and lime juice not only creates liquid for the carnitas to cook in, but deglazes the pan and adds more flavor.

  4. Cook the pork

    Secure the lid of the Instant Pot and set the valve to the sealing position before cooking the pork for 40-50 minutes.

  5. Release the pressure naturally

    Allowing the pressure inside the Instant Pot to release naturally eliminates any danger associated with using a pressure cooker. This takes about 10-15 minutes.

  6. Shred and serve

    Use two forks, shred the meat into bite-size pieces inside the cooking liquid and serve.

pork meat inside an Instant Pot

Recipe FAQs

How Long to Cook Carnitas in an Instant Pot?

One of the greatest benefits of using an Instant Pot is its ability to drastically reduce cooking times without compromising flavor or tenderness. To achieve perfect carnitas in your Instant Pot, set the cooking time to approximately 50 minutes on high pressure. This ensures that the pork becomes fork-tender while allowing the spices to infuse the meat with their aromatic goodness.

What to Serve with Carnitas?

Traditional Mexican fare such as warm corn tortillas, freshly diced onions, chopped cilantro, and tangy salsa verde are classic choices that never disappoint. For a hearty feast, consider serving your carnitas alongside rice and beans, guacamole, and grilled vegetables for a truly unforgettable meal.

pork carnitas in tortillas

Instant Pot Carnitas Recipe Variations

While traditional carnitas boast a timeless flavor profile, don’t hesitate to get creative with your recipe. Here are a few variation options to tantalize your taste buds:

  1. Pineapple Infusion: For a tropical twist, add chunks of fresh pineapple to the Instant Pot along with the pork. The sweetness of the pineapple beautifully complements the savory flavors of the carnitas.
  2. Spice it Up: Kick up the heat by incorporating diced jalapeños or chipotle peppers in adobo sauce into the cooking liquid. This adds a fiery kick and a bit of smokiness that will leave you craving more.
  3. Citrus Fusion: Experiment with different citrus fruits such as grapefruit or tangerine to impart a unique flavor dimension to your carnitas. The tangy sweetness of these fruits elevates the dish to new heights of culinary excellence.
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Instant Pot Carnitas

Instant Pot Carnitas

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5 from 1 review

Discover the joy of hassle-free cooking with Instant Pot Carnitas. Succulent pork, bold spices, and minimal effort create a mouthwatering experience.

  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x


  • 3 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into chunks
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)


  1. Begin by seasoning the pork chunks generously with salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, and chili powder.
  2. Set your Instant Pot to the sauté function and heat a drizzle of oil. Sear the seasoned pork until golden brown on all sides.
  3. Add the diced onion, minced garlic, orange juice, and lime juice to the Instant Pot. Stir to combine, ensuring that the pork is coated in the flavorful liquids.
  4. Secure the lid of the Instant Pot and set the valve to the sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 45 minutes.
  5. Once the cooking cycle is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes before manually releasing any remaining pressure.
  6. Using two forks, shred the pork into bite-sized pieces directly in the Instant Pot.
  7. Serve the carnitas hot, garnished with fresh cilantro and your choice of accompaniments.
  • Author: Carole Jones
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Mexican


  • Serving Size: 1/8
  • Calories: 274
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Sodium: 244 mg
  • Fat: 12 g
  • Saturated Fat: 4 g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 1 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 5 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 33 g
  • Cholesterol: 82 mg

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Carole Jones

Carole Jones is an Arizona-based cookbook author & food blogger. She's authored The 30 Minute Cooking From Frozen Cookbook and the self-published Take 5: Chicken e-cookbook. For the past 15 years, Carole has shared her culinary adventures cooking and baking for her six brutally honest children here on My Kitchen Escapades. Hot, crusty bread is Carole's love language, but her two adorable grandchildren are a close second. Yes, second. Don't judge.


2 months ago

Perfect! Easy and very flavorful.

Carole Jones
2 months ago

So glad you loved them! And thanks for leaving a review. It helps so much 🙂

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