Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

10 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas is the quickest, tastiest pork carnitas recipe! Tender shredded pork shoulder with garlic, citrus and warm spices.

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas are a classic Mexican Food recipe that can be enjoyed with sides or used as a filling for tacos, enchiladas, burritos and more. This Instant Pot version of the traditionally slow cooked Pork Dish gives you all the flavor you love in a fraction of the time!

Sabrina’s Instant Pot Pork Carnitas Recipe

My Instant Pot Pork Carnitas Recipe is full of delicious traditional flavors of Oven Roasted Pork Carnitas, in about half the time. The key to getting the best flavor is to brown your meat before adding any other ingredients. Not only does this lock in flavor, it locks in moisture too for juicy, tender pork every time. No matter how I cook the pork, I always finish off my carnitas in the oven so they get those slightly caramelized, crispy edges. But since this recipe cooks so quickly in the pressure cooker, you won’t mind the extra cooking time!

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas ingredients separated in prep bowls
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  • Pork: You’ll need a large boneless pork shoulder, about 4 pounds for this recipe. Cut the meat into 2-inch pieces so that it sears and cooks quicker.
  • Oil: Pork is a leaner meat so you want to use ¼ cup vegetable oil to sear the meat. The sear locks in the juices for more flavorful, tender pork.
  • Broth: Use 1 cup chicken broth for the base of the cooking liquid. Since pork is naturally salty and you are adding salt, I suggest using low sodium broth.
  • Orange: The ¼ cup orange juice and 1 teaspoon of orange zest give the pork meat a delicious tang and that signature flavor that makes carnitas so irresistible. 
  • Spices: You start by seasoning the pork with 1 tablespoon of salt. Later on, you’ll add 1 tablespoon of chili powder, 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1 teaspoon ground cumin.
  • Aromatics: To add even more flavor to the pork, I used a whole yellow onion plus 5 cloves of garlic.
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Kitchen Tools & Equipment

  • Instant Pot: You’ll need a standard electric pressure cooker. I use the Manual cooking and High Pressure settings.
  • Oven: While these carnitas start out on the stove top, I like to finish them off in the oven so they get crispy and a deeper flavor.
  • Baking Sheet: Use a baking sheet with a rimmed edge so that the liquid doesn’t spill over the sides.
  • Shredding Forks: Shredding forks are a handy kitchen gadget that make pulled meat dishes like carnitas super easy.
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How to Make

Time needed: 1 hour and 45 minutes.

  1. Sear the Pork

    Heat the oil in the Instant Pot on Saute. Season the meat all over with salt. Once the oil is shimmering and hot, add the pork and brown for 6-8 minutes on each side. Turn off the Instant Pot.Instant Pot Pork Carnitas uncooked pork pieces in instant pot

  2. Add the Sauce

    Whisk the chicken broth, orange juice and zest, chili powder, coriander, black pepper, oregano, and cumin in a large cup. Pour over the seared pork.Instant Pot Pork Carnitas adding cooking liquid over seared pork pieces in instant pot

  3. Add the Aromatics

    Use the liquid to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom and sides. Finally, stir in the onions and garlic.Instant Pot Pork Carnitas adding onions and garlic over meat in instant pot

  4. Pressure Cook

    Secure the lid and set the pressure valve to sealing. Cook on High Pressure for 40 minutes. Naturally release the pressure for 15 minutes before releasing the rest of the pressure. If the pork isn’t tender and easy to shred, cook another 15 minutes on high pressure with a natural release of 5-10 minutes.Instant Pot Pork Carnitas cooked meat and broth instant pot

  5. Prep and Shred

    While the pressure naturally releases, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking oil spray. Remove the pork from the liquid in the pot and shred into small chunks.Instant Pot Pork Carnitas shredding cooked meat pieces on baking sheet with forks

  6. Roast the Meat

    Spread the shredded pork over the prepared baking sheet. Pour about ½ cup of the cooking liquid over the meat. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes.Instant Pot Pork Carnitas pouring cooking juices over shredded meat on baking tray

  7. Crisp and Serve

    Stir the pork and pour another ¼ cup of cooking broth evenly over the meat. Roast an additional 15 minutes, until the edges of the pork are browned and crispy. Serve in warm tortillas with diced onions and cilantro.Instant Pot Pork Carnitas in baking dish and on plated in three soft tacos

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Can Carnitas be made ahead of time?

Yes! Instant Pot Pork Carnitas make a perfect make-ahead meal! Season pork pieces with salt and add to a gallon size freezer bag with garlic and yellow onions. Whisk sauce ingredients and pour into bag, covering everything evenly. Seal bag and freeze in a medium bowl so the shape is round. Freeze for up to 3 months. To cook, place frozen mixture into pressure cooker and turn on Saute for 5 minutes, stirring a little. Seal lid and add 10 minutes to cooking time.

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Nutritional Facts

Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Pork Carnitas
Amount Per Serving
Calories 294 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat 12g18%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Trans Fat 0.1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 109mg36%
Sodium 897mg39%
Potassium 750mg21%
Carbohydrates 3g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 41g82%
Vitamin A 259IU5%
Vitamin C 5mg6%
Calcium 29mg3%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Tips for Instant Pot Carnitas

  • Don’t Skip the Roasting

Make sure to roast the pork on a baking sheet after the meat has been cooked so that you get those delicious crispy edges that make carnitas so special! This final step also lets the meat soak up all the flavor from the cooking juices.

  • Deglaze the Pot

Most electric pressure cookers have a safety feature to keep them from getting too hot. Unfortunately browned or burnt food on the bottom or sides can trip the sensor and it won’t reach the right pressure and heat. To prevent this, scrape as many browned bits from searing the meat off the sides. It’s easiest to do this with the cooking liquid in the pot.

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What to Pair With Pork Carnitas

  • Filling: The mild zesty flavor of Pork Carnitas make them a perfect filling for classic Mexican dishes like tacos, burritos or Enchiladas.
  • Toppings and Sides: Serve your Carnitas simple in corn tortillas with toppings like salsa, sour cream, avocado, and onions with a side of Mexican Rice.
  • Bowls: Make healthy burrito bowls with Black Beans and Brown Rice topped with Pineapple Salsa. You can also swap the rice for shredded lettuce for a hearty salad bowl.
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How to Store

Store: Pork Carnitas can be at room temperature for up to 2 hours before it needs to be stored. Cool Pork Carnitas completely before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Store with cooking liquid.

Reheat: Reheat leftover carnitas a skillet over medium heat with a little reserved cooking liquid or chicken broth. A bit of liquid keeps the meat moist and tender.

Freeze: Once cooled, place Pork Carnitas in a sealed container with some of the cooking liquid and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in a skillet with the cooking liquid.

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Alternative Cooking Techniques

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Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

  • Heat a skillet over medium heat and add oil.
  • Brown the pieces of pork in oil on both sides for 6-8 minutes each side.
  • Transfer pork shoulder to slow cooker and add remaining ingredients.
  • Optional: Saute garlic and onions in remaining oil before adding to crockpot.
  • Cover slow cooker with lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high heat for 3-4 hours until pork is fork tender and falls apart.
  • Shred meat and remove from slow cooker with slotted spoon. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with foil.
  • Broil pork until edges are crispy. Serve in tacos, burrito bowls, or on salads!
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Frequent Questions

What is the difference between Pulled Pork and Carnitas?

Pork Carnitas have a distinctly Mexican flavor and are seasoned with citrus and warm spices where Pulled Pork is usually BBQ flavored. Also, Carnitas are typically broiled or sauteed in oil to make the meat crispy, where pulled pork is usually saucier and doesn’t have that step.

Why is my pulled pork tough in the Instant Pot?

Not every pressure cooker model heats the same so if your meat isn’t tender, it probably needs more time. Popping the lid back on and cooking on high pressure another 10-15 minutes should make the meat tender.

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Recipe Card

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas is the quickest, tastiest pork carnitas recipe! Tender shredded pork shoulder with garlic, citrus and warm spices.
Yield 10 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Mexican
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 pounds pork shoulder , cut into several large pieces
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 yellow onion , chopped
  • 5 clove garlic , minced


  • Add oil to an instant pot oven on sauté.
  • Cut pork into 2-inch chunks.
  • Season pork with salt and sear on all sides until browned well, about 6-8 minutes on each side.
  • Whisk together chicken broth, orange juice, orange zest, chili powder, coriander, coarse ground black pepper, oregano and cumin.
  • Pour over the roast.
  • Add in the onions and garlic and stir.
  • Cover and cook on high pressure for 40 minutes, followed by a natural release for 15 minutes.
  • If the pork isn't fork tender cook on high pressure for additional 15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil spray.
  • Remove pork from slow cooker, shred apart in small chunks.
  • Put pork onto baking sheet, pour about ½ cup of cooking liquid evenly over the pork and roast for 15 minutes.
  • Add another ¼ cup of cooking liquid and roast 15 minutes.
  • Serve with fresh yellow onion and cilantro.


Calories: 294kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 897mg | Potassium: 750mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 259IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 2mg

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Meat: Instead of pork shoulder, you can make this recipe with chuck roast, boneless chicken thighs, boneless chicken breast, pork butt roast, or turkey breast. See your pressure cooker instruction guide for how many minutes per pound you should cook the preferred meat.

Sauce: You can use a store-bought carnitas sauce instead of the blend of spices or add a jar of salsa for more zest. Tomatillo salsa or green chiles is a great way to add flavor without too much heat.

Spicy: If you do want more heat, try adding chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, fresh jalapeño pepper, Serrano peppers, or up to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper.

Pineapple: Any citrus juice can be used for carnitas, but a favorite flavor to substitute for orange is pineapple. Try this recipe with pineapple juice or add pineapple chunks along with the orange juice and zest. If using canned pineapple, drain and rinse the syrup.

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More Classic Taco Filling Recipes

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas collage of carnitas meat cooked and tacos, blue banner with recipe name across middle

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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