How To Make Carnitas In An Instant Pot

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What Are Pork Carnitas

SUPER EASY!!! Mexican Carnitas in an Instant pot | Mexican Street Food

Carnitas are essentially the Mexican version of pulled pork and is made by either braising or simmering the meat in oil or lard until tender, then shredding it into small pieces to be used as a filling for a variety of fantastic dishes.

Carnitas are traditionally made with pork shoulder because of the higher fat content, which helps the meat stay super tender and juicy while its cooked. This dish was originated in Mexico, therefore carnitas actually translates to little meats.

What Is Carnitas Background

Carnitas directly translated means little meats which makes sense because authentic pork carnitas is essentially just pulled pork!

This dish is a traditional Mexican food, coming from the Michoacan region, that has completely stolen the hearts of the rest of the world!

When cooked authentically, carnitas are shredded pork roast, cooked nice and slow and then crisped up on the edges.

If youve been wondering how to make carnitas, youre in the right spot!

The Best Pork Carnitas Recipe

This Instant Pot Carnitas Recipe makes the BEST pork carnitas! The pork is unbelievably tender and flavorful, with the best combination of juicy bits and crispy edges. Serve the pork carnitas wrapped in soft flour tortillas, in a burrito bowl, or over a salad or nachos.

Typically pork carnitas are slow cooked like my slow cooker carnitas recipe. By cooking carnitas in our Instant Pot we speed up the process without sacrificing any of the tender, melt in your mouth texture or delicious flavor. This is why I love making pulled pork in the Instant Pot!

Youll love this recipe because it is quick and easy to prep, and you end up with a meal that tastes as if you spent hours in the kitchen. The ingredient list is short and simple. Compared to traditional carnitas which are often cooked in lard, these Instant Pot carnitas are healthier, too.

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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.
  • 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.

    How Do I Make Pork Carnitas In The Instant Pot

    How to Make Albondigas in an Instant Pot

    Rinse and pat dry pork with a paper towel. Combine oil, salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, cinnamon and minced garlic. Add pork and toss to coat. Add orange juice, lime juice, chicken stock, bay leaves and onion into the Instant Pot. Mix to combine. Secure lid and close pressure-release valve. Select Meat/Stew adjust to more . When the time is over, let the pressure release on its own for 15 minutes. Then, carefully turn the valve to Venting, to release any extra pressure that might still be in there. Then remove the lid. Press cancel. Use 2 forks to shred the pork. Serve.

    Also Check: Instant Pot No Poultry Setting

    What Cut Of Pork Should I Use For Carnitas

    Carnitas are usually made with pork shoulder, sometimes labeled pork butt, which is a cut from the very top of the front leg of the pig. I recommend not substituting with pork loin or tenderloins because you want a cut of pork that has high fat content and well marbled.

    While the pork shoulder may seem like a tough cut, thanks to the Instant Pot, these carnitas come out tender. Pork shoulder is almost always a budget friendly large cut of meat so its perfect for feeding a crowd!

    Dont have any pork shoulder? Try making my Garlic Butter Baked Pork Chops or Easy Oven Pork Chop Recipe.

    How To Make This Easy Instant Pot Carnitas Recipe

    • Mix together all your spices and rub onto the pork. If you have time, Id recommend letting it sit for an hour but if not, thats fine as well.
    • Place the pork into the Instant pot then onions, garlic, 1 cup of orange juice, and the juice of one lime.
    • Press the manual button and set Instant Pot for high pressure for 45 minutes.
    • Quick release, remove the pork and shred. Place the meat back into the IP and put it on sauté mode and let the juices thicken and coat the meat more.
    • Optional: Using a slotted spoon, place the shredded pork onto a sheet pan and put some of the liquids on before placing it under the broiler for 5 minutes to crisp it up.

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    Slow Cooker Pork Carnita Instructions

    While the Instant Pot is one of my favorite things because it cooks in a fraction of the time, I understand not everyone is able to make the instant pot version

    ! After seasoning your meat with the dry rub, add it to your slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients. Cook low and slow for 8-10 hours and then shred. At this point, you can follow the broiler instructions if youd like.

    What To Serve With Instant Pot Carnitas

    • Make carnitas tacos by serving the pork in soft tortillas or crispy taco shells, topped with your favorite toppings. Try chopped onion, avocado or guacamole and cilantro.
    • Carnitas make the best burrito bowls! Try Instant Pot rice, black beans, tomato, guacamole, salsa and shredded cheese.
    • Make nachos by topping tortilla chips with the Mexican pulled pork, cheese and your other favorite toppings. Bake in the oven until hot and melty.
    • Add carnitas to a salad of greens and veggies.

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    Making Shredded Pork Tacos

  • Remove and discard cooked orange and vegetables from cooking liquid. Set aside.
  • In a large skillet over high heat, add a tablespoon of oil and fry shredded pork in batches. Pour 1/4 cup of cooking liquid in and simmer until juices have evaporated and meat is crispy and caramelized.
  • Serve with warm corn or flour tortillas. You could even make them from scratch yourself with this recipe for simple flour tortillas! Top them off with your favorite taco toppings, and enjoy the carnitas taco fiesta!
  • Keto Instant Pot Carnitas Tips And Notes

    • Its important to not skip the broil process as it crisps up your keto Instant Pot carnitas and really adds to the whole recipe.
    • If youre not able to crisp up the carnitas in the oven, you can do so on a skillet on the stovetop.
    • Want to make this spicy? Add in some cayenne pepper or a sliced up jalapeño to the Instant Pot before pressure cooking.
    • Want to make this smokier? Give your Instant Pot carnitas that smoky flavour by adding in some liquid smoke or diced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce to your Instant Pot before cooking.
    • Keep this recipe keto-friendly by serving it alongside some of my Garlic Parmesan Cauliflower Rice or with lettuce wraps.

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    How Do I Get Carnitas Crispy

    After you cook carnitas they are not crispy. The meat is super tender and juicy, but not crisp. To get crispy edges you need to either broil your pulled pork carnitas or fry them in a hot skillet. This is the cast iron skillet that I use and love!

    To crisp them in the oven, place your shredded pork on a baking sheet. Pour some of the juice from cooking over the top. Broil for 5 minutes under a 500°F/260°C degree oven. Toss as needed.

    To crisp your carnitas on the stove top, place olive oil in a hot skillet. Working in batches, add the meat and cook for 5-7 minutes until the edges start to brown.

    The slightly hard edges are a great contrast in texture to the soft meat.

    How To Make Ahead And Store Pork Carnitas:

    Instant Pot Beef Carnitas

    You can make this Instant Pork Carnitas about 3 days ahead of time. Just be sure to shred, then toss with cooking liquid, and let cool before you cover and store in the fridge. Crisp just before serving.

    So how are you going to enjoy this pork carnitas? Please do share! Don’t forget to leave us a comment with your feedback. I really hope that you are going to love this instant pot pork carnitas recipe!

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    How To Crisp Up The Pork

    To add a more authentic texture to the Instant Pot Carnitas, take a few minutes to crisp up the meat once it has been shredded.

    • Turn your broiler on your oven to high.
    • Spread the shredded pork loin on a large rimmed baking sheet, along with ½ cup of the cooking juices.
    • Place the baking sheet under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until the juice has begun to evaporate and the meat begins to brown.
    • At this point, you can flip the meat, add an additional ½ cup cooking liquid, and repeat the process on the remaining side, or you can serve as is.

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    Easy Instant Pot Crispy Pork Carnitas Recipe

    We all could use more Instant Pot recipes in our lives am I right? This Instant Pot Crispy Pork Carnitas recipe is awesome!

    One of the things that I love most about this recipe is that It could not be easier.


    Toss it all in your Instant Pot, let it cook, and voila!

    Youre rewarded with the most flavorful, tender, juicy, and zesty pork carnitas. Plus, its great for feeding a crowd. Id say this recipe is the total package!

    These Instant Pot Crispy Pork Carnitas are great to make tacos, tostadas, sandwiches, sliders or arepas.

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    How To Make Crispy Carnitas:

    I highly recommend crisping up the edges after you shred your carnitas. It brings out the flavor and gives it a more authentic texture. There are 2 ways to crisp up the edges, take your pick.

    How to make carnitas crispy in the oven:

    Turn your oven broiler to high. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Spread the shredded pork onto the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of reserved juices. Broil for about 3 4 minutes, or until it starts to crisp. Remove from oven, stir the meat and drizzle with another 1/2 cup of juice. Broil for another 3 4 minutes. Remove from oven, transfer to a serving dish and drizzle with reserved juices. Optional: Garnish with fresh cilantro.

    How to make carnitas crispy in the skillet:

    Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat until it sizzles. You will need to cook the pork in 2 batches so that the pan is not crowded. Add half the shredded pork to the skillet and 1/2 cup of the reserved juice to the pan. Brown the pork for 1 2 minutes then stir or flip with tongs and cook for an additional 1 2 minutes or until it just crisps up the edges. Do not overcook. Repeat with the second batch of pork. Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle with reserved juices. Optional: Garnish with fresh cilantro.

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    Faqs And Tips For Making Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

    Instant Pot | How to Make Pork Carnitas Tacos

    What kind of meat is carnitas?

    Carnitas is made with pork. Its basically the Mexican version of pulled pork and is typically made from tougher cuts of meat such as pork shoulder or pork butt.

    What cut of pork is carnitas?

    You can use any type of pork for carnitas, but the fattier the cut, the more flavor youll end up with. For this recipe, I used a boneless pork shoulder roast.

    What is the difference between pork loin and pork shoulder?

    Pork loin is lean, but tender cut of meat that comes from between the shoulder and back legs of the pig.

    Pork shoulder is a fattier cut of pork and comes from the lower shoulder of the pig. Sometimes, a pork shoulder can also be called pork butt so dont be confused if thats the case, both will work in this recipe.

    Can you pressure cook frozen meat?

    Yes. You can cook meat from frozen in the Instant Pot, but I wouldnt do it for this recipe. It would significantly change the cooking time and probably the texture of the recipe.

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    Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

    cook time:45 minutes

    total time:1 hour 5 minutes

    Theres nothing better than making perfectly shredded, juicy, tender pork carnitas right in your pressure cooker!

    • 1 boneless pork shoulder, excess fat trimmed and cut into 3-inch chunks
    • 1 pilsner or lager beer
    • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
    • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
    • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

    What Is Pork Shoulder Meat

    Pork Butt Meat or Boston Butt is one of our favorite cuts of pork. Its the upper part of the pigs shoulder, above the picnic shoulder cut in the front legs.

    Its marbled with enough fat to keep the meat moist while cooking. So, remember to pick a piece of pork butt with some nice marble and fat.

    *Caution: What we aim for is crisp on the outside and moist & tender on the inside. Dont overcook the pork shoulder meat in both the Instant Pot & oven, or they will be dry inside!

    *Little Shopping Tip: Pork Shoulder Meat is usually quite a bit cheaper in Asian markets marked as Pork Butt Meat or Char Siu Meat. So if you have Asian market near you that sells fresh meat, go check it out.

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    Make These Carnitas In A Slow Cooker

    I know not everyone has an Instant Pot so heres an alternative cooking method! The trusty slow cooker!

    • Mix together all your spices and rub onto the pork. If you have time, Id recommend letting it sit for an hour but if not, thats fine as well.
    • Place the pork into the slow cooker then onions, garlic, 1 cup of orange juice, and the juice of one lime.
    • Cook on low heat for 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours. Once done, remove the pork and shred before placing it back in the slow cooker for 30 more minutes.
    • Optional: Using a slotted spoon, place the shredded pork onto a sheet pan and put some of the liquids on before placing it under the broiler for 5 minutes to crisp it up.

    Why I Love This Instant Pot Carnitas Recipe

    Instant Pot Pork Carnitas Are A Taco Night Dream

    Pork shoulder has never really been my friend. In the past, Ive had so many bad experiences with un-shreddable meat that I gave up and started using pork loin roast in its place for all my pulled pork recipes. Somehow, I even managed to mess it up in the slow cooker although I now think I just didnt cooking it long enough.

    Thankfully, my friend Stefanie just published a cookbook Quick Prep Cooking with Your Instant Pot that features a killer carnitas recipe. Cooking the pork shoulder under pressure turns the meat into a tender, flavorful masterpiece, and the seasoning in this recipe is spot on.

    Its just enough flavor for tacos, without it overpowering the toppings . I guess an electric pressure cooker was just what I didnt know I needed, and I am looking forward to trying more of the recipes from the cookbook.

    I also plan on adapting a few of my favorite slow cooker recipes for this new kitchen gadget, like my shredded beef tacos and beef ragu.

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    Whats The Difference Between Carnitas And Pulled Pork

    You may be asking yourself, Whats the difference between carnitas and pulled pork? Usually, the difference is that carnitas is finished in the oven until crispy. However, I didnt do that here because I wanted to use the leftover carnitas as, well pulled pork.

    As I mentioned earlier pork carnitas are essentially pulled pork and we generally use the leftover carnitas as such.

    You can find a printable version of this recipe at the bottom of this post.

    What Cut Of Pork

    Pork shoulder is perfect for this. It has plenty of fat, which makes it juicy and gives nice crispy edges. It also happens to be a relatively inexpensive cut of meat, so I usually have an extra one in my freezer. The shoulder is a tough cut of meat, so it does very well in the Instant Pot and tenderizes easily.

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    Juicy Instant Pot Carnitas

    Last Updated on March 2, 2021 by Michele Tripple

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    Get the juiciest pork carnitas in just an hour with this Instant Pot Carnitas recipe. Serve it up with some Pico de Gallo and crema and youll have the perfect meal for your next Mexican night!

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