Pork Carnitas | Creme De La Crumb

Skip the take-out line and make your own delicious pork carnitas at home using simple ingredients. Cooked in an Instant Pot for the quickest, most flavorful carnitas this side of the border! 

For more Instant Pot Mexican dishes, click on my popular posts for Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos, Instant Pot Chicken Taquitos, and my Instant Pot Beef Enchiladas.

shredded meat with limes in a skillet

It’s been a hot minute since I used my Instant Pot for anything. I’ve been heading to the grill almost every night because…summer. But, I was craving pork carnitas and I feel like to get the appropriate taste they really need to be cooked either for a while in the slow cooker (more on that below) or taste as though they’ve been cooked a long time by using the Instant Pot. 

Once again, my favorite kitchen gadget did not disappoint! The way the lime and orange juices mingle with the garlic, chili powder, and Italian seasonings just long enough for the pork to infuse with the flavors and get cooked enough to shred into that perfect pork taco…well I think you’ll just need to make these for yourself and see what I mean! 

up close shredded pork held by tongs in a skillet

Why this Recipe Works

I’ll give it to you “instantly” why this recipe is a winner in all the ways! 

Instant Pot — Let’s face it, this kitchen appliance is a hero in our times. Easy to use, fast to cook, and simple to clean

Pork — You just cannot make carnitas without pork. That slow (or in this case, quick) roasted pork shoulder is where it’s at! It’s just that simple. And why would you? 

Citrus — The other key ingredients here are freshly squeezed lime and orange juices. First of all, they give the pork something to marinade in, and serve as the liquid with which to steam cook the pork. Also, they taste divine when infused into the tender, shredded meat. 

Toppings — Because what are tacos if not for the taco toppings? Pile ’em on, no rules apply here. If you love it on a taco, it goes on carnitas! 

large chunks of uncooked pork in liquid in an instant pot

Here’s How you Make it

Are you ready for this? Alright, let’s make the best dang pork carnitas you’ll ever taste, shall we?

General prep

  1. Chop the roast into 4 equal-sized portions. 
  2. Place the 4 pieces into the bottom of the Instant Pot/pressure cooker or slow cooker. 
  3. Add the salt, cumin,  garlic powder, chili powder, dried herbs, and both the orange and lime juices

Directions for Cooking in the Instant Pot

  1. Put the lid on and turn to the “locked” position. Turn the vent valve to “sealed” and set to “pressure cook” or “manual” for 60 minutes
  2. When the cook time is up, allow the pressure cooker to vent naturally for 10 minutes, t
    hen turn the vent to allow remaining pressure to escape. Remove the lid when the float valve drops. 
    shredded pork in an instant pot

Cooking in the Slow Cooker 

  1. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4

Final Step 

  1. Whatever method you chose, when the pork is done cooking, you’ll transfer it to a large bowl (save the juices) and shred the pork with two forks
  2. Drizzle a large skillet (cast iron or another frying pan) with oil and bring to medium-high heat. 
  3. Add the shredded pork and sear it for a bit on all sides till the edges begin to crisp up. 
  4. Pour one cup of the reserved juices over the pork in the skillet and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes longer, or until the liquid reduces and the pork is nice and crisp on the edges. (Do in batches using more juice if you have a smaller skillet.) 
  5. Serve plain or use for tacos, bowls, burritos, enchiladas — you get the idea! 

overhead view of tongs holding pulled meat with lime wedges in a cast iron pan

What Cut of Meat is Carnitas?

Carnitas are made from the pork shoulder. Pork carnitas are typically cooked low and slow to make the meat super tender. But, lucky for us we have the Instant Pot to make this process that much faster, while losing none of the tenderness and shredability that we need to make these officially “carnitas.” 

Expert Tips

Here are a few of my favorite tips for taking your pork carnitas to the next level!

  • Kick the heat up a notch on these pork carnitas by adding 1 tablespoon of adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers with adobo. Or swap out the chili powder for chipotle chili powder. Or add ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper. 
  • If you don’t want to crisp up the pork on the stovetop, you can broil it in the oven. Spread the shredded pork on a sheet pan, broil for 2-3 minutes, and then pour the juices over the pork and allow to broil for another 3-5 minutes till the meat is crisp on the edges.

up close pork carnitas in tortillas on a plate

More Pork Recipes You’ll Enjoy

Did you make this dish? Please rate the recipe below! 

up close shredded pork held by tongs in a skillet

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Servings: 6 servings

  • Chop roast into 4 equal-size sections.

  • Place roast pieces in the bottom of your Instant Pot/pressure cooker, or slow cooker.

  • Add salt, cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, dried herbs, orange juice, and lime juice.

Instant Pot

  • Cover and turn lid to locked position. Turn vent valve to sealed position. Set to PRESSURE COOK or MANUAL for 60 minutes.

  • When cook time is up, allow to depressurize naturally for 10 minutes, then turn vent valve to the VENT position. Remove lid once float valve has dropped.

The final step

  • Once your pork has finished cooking, transfer it to a large bowl (save the juices from the pot!) and shred with two forks.

  • Drizzle a large skillet (cast iron is my preferred for best results but another frying pan will work just fine) with oil and bring to medium-high heat.

  • Add shredded pork and sear for a couple of minutes until edges begin to crisp up. Pour 1 cup of the reserved juices over the pork. Continue to cook 3-4 minutes longer until liquid reduces and the pork is nice and crisp on the edges. (Depending on the size of your skillet you may need to do this in batches, use a fresh scoop of juices for each batch).

  • Serve plain or use for tacos, bowls, burritos enchiladas quesadillas – the possibilities are endless. Enjoy!

Make it spicy: add 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers packed in adobo sauce) OR swap regular chili powder for chipotle chili powder OR add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper to give it a spicy kick. 
Oven broil method: you can do the last step of crisping the pork in the oven if you prefer. Simply spread shredded pork out on a large sheet pan. Broil for 2-3 minutes, then pour juices over the pork and continue to broil 3-5 minutes longer til crisp on the edges. 

Calories: 367kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 52g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 143mg | Sodium: 1288mg | Potassium: 1026mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 338IU | Vitamin C: 43mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 2mg


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