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!
How To Serve Pork Carnitas
My favorite way to serve these carnitas are inside of taco shells . Another option is to make burrito bowl! Serve the carnitas over rice with all your favorite toppings.
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Easy Instant Pot Recipe: Pork Carnitas
These tender and juicy pork carnitas are made in the Instant Pot in a little over an hour. They are citrusy and salty and go perfectly in street tacos, nachos, burritos, or rice bowls.
Try this easy Instant Pot recipe to feed your family. The Instant Pot has saved me lately! I can throw a couple ingredients into the Instant Pot and have a meal ready for my family without having to slave over the stove.
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Notes On Making This Recipe:
The instructions for this recipe include a couple of optional steps that can be omitted to save time. For example, the aromatic blend of onion, jalapeno, and garlic does not need to be sautéed before cooking the pork, but doing so deepens and releases more flavor.
In addition, the pork can be shredded and served as soon as it is done cooking. However, the extra step of tossing it with some cooking liquid and broiling under high heat delivers the delicious, crispy edges found in traditional carnitas recipes.
How To Serve Instant Pot Carnitas
This meat can be served in so many different ways, the possibilities are endless!
- Traditional Style: Serve your Instant Pot carnitas with a side of warm tortillas, rice and beans.
- Nachos: Place the shredded meat onto tortilla chips with melted cheese, black beans, guacamole and sour cream.
- Burritos: Wrap up the meat in warm flour tortillas with rice, beans and cheese.
- Tacos: Stuff the carnitas into flour or corn tortillas and top with cilantro and red onion.
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What Are Traditional Carnitas
Carnitas are a pulled pork taco filling, originating from the Michoacán region of Mexico. Traditionally, they are slow cooked in lard in a copper pot. Once tender, the pork is shredded and served with various taco fillings such as cilantro, onions, fresh tortillas, and refried beans.
The right cut of pork to make these will either be called pork butt or pork shoulder at your meat counter. This cut of pork may be boneless or bone-in. Either will work but I prefer the boneless if I can find it. When I make this dish, I usually prepare a lot so it feeds us for several meals.
Pork Shoulder V Pork Butt
These two terms are often used interchangeably and you can use either cut in this recipe with success. Your grocery store may label the cut either way.
- Pork butt and pork shoulder both come from the shoulder of the pig.
- If you want to get technical, pork butt comes from above the shoulder blades, while pork shoulder meat extends down to the pigs front hoofs.
- Pork butt contains more fat and marbling, but both are nicely marbled and make stellar pulled pork carnitas.
- Orange Juice. Freshly squeezed citrus juice will set your carnitas apart from the rest. It balances the spices and gives the meat needed acidity.
- Garlic + Onion. These aromatics give the carnitas depth. One of my favorite parts about cooking with an Instant Pot is that everything sautés in the same pot, saving dishes.
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How To Make Mexican Pulled Pork In The Slow Cooker Or Crockpot:
Pour the olive oil into the slow cooker. Add the minced garlic to the bottom and place the prepared pork on top. Pour in the beer, orange juice, and lime juice.
Place the lid on the pot. Cook on high for 4 6 hours or low for 6 8 hours. The internal temperature should be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Transfer the cooked pork to a large bowl or dish. Remove the fat and discard while you shred the meat with 2 forks. Do not discard the juice in the pot, you will need it. You can ladle at least two cups of the juice into a measuring cup or bowl and set aside.
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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Variations Of This Recipe
- Alcohol-free I really think the beer adds fantastic flavor to the pork, but if you cant use alcohol, an equal amount of chicken or beef broth would work.
- No sear since the broiling step adds crispness and color, searing isnt 100% necessary. I still like to do it, as it does add flavor, but if you need to skip a step, it will still taste delicious.
- Chicken chicken breasts or thighs can be used in place of the pork.
- Salsa options I love the sweet spiciness of the pineapple salsa, but these carnitas are great with any salsa youd like! Pico de gallo, salsa verde, red salsa, etc.
- Serving options normally we serve these taco-style, in either flour or corn tortillas, but carnitas are amazing in burritos, taco bowls, taco salads, quesadillas, in a salad, as the meat in nachos, etc.
How To Make Carnitas In The Instant Pot:
Acquire a large pork roast I go with 4 pounds so that I can feast on carnitas FOR DAYS! Remove the webbing and place on a cutting board.
Chop the roast into 4 to 6 large chunks. Sprinkle the chunks of pork liberally with sea salt, followed by the paprika, oregano, onion powder, and garlic powder.
Plug in your Instant Pot and turn it to the Sauté function. Add the oil and onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent. Push onion off to the side to make room to brown the meat.
Place the chunks of meat on the hot surface of the Instant Pot and brown on two sides for 3 to 4 minutes each. Repeat for all the hunks of pork. Pour in the broth and lime juice.
Secure the lid and turn Instant Pot on to the Pressure Cook setting. Keep the steam release valve on Sealing. Cook on high pressure for 45 minutes.
Allow Instant Pot to go into the Keep Warm mode for at least 30 minutes. Use the quick release to release any remaining pressure.
Open the lid and use tongs to transfer meat to a cutting board. Use two forks to shred the meat. Place the shredded pork back into the Instant Pot to allow it to soak up the juices for at least 15 minutes .
When ready to eat, place oven on the high broil setting and transfer shredded carnitas to a large baking sheet .
Place baking sheet on the rack thats second to the top and allow it to broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until it reaches the desired level of crisp.
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How To Make This Instant Pot Authentic Carnitas Recipe
There are a couple of ways you can make this authentic carnitas recipe, my favorite is in the instant pot. It comes out tender and 100% shreddable. Making carnitas are tender and shredded can be the hardest part about making it at home. When I do it in my instant pot it turns out perfect every time! You really dont have to give up authenticity & flavor making carnitas at home, with the proper ingredients and some handmade style tortillas, you will prefer your own recipes to the taco shops version.
How To Make Carnitas:
To make this pork carnitas recipe, simply
Full instructions included in the recipe box below.
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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.
Serve Pressure Cooker Carnitas & Enjoy
You can shred the Pressure Cooker Carnitas with forks or leave them as chunks.
Place piping hot Instant Pot Carnitas on top of the warmed corn tortillas with a spoonful of salsa . Finish off with a squeeze of a lime.
Ta da! Serve immediately& eat!!!
*Pro Tip: After crisping the carnitas in the oven, try to eat immediately or else the meat will dry out if you let it sit for too long.
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What Kind Of Meat To Use For Carnitas:
The trick to making perfect carnitas in the Instant Pot is buying pork shoulder country style ribs. This cut of meat is one of my favorites because the butcher cuts the pork shoulder into smaller more manageable pieces that cook better in the Instant Pot. If you cook a large pork shoulder in the Instant Pot, chances are you are going to have to cook it for a very long time to get fork tender.
Buying the country style ribs makes for a very tender carnitas. Pork shoulder country style ribs are not actual ribs. The meat is actually cut from the pork shoulder and is boneless. The meat is juicy, and more fatty and its my favorite choice to make carnitas.
You can find country style ribs at Costco or most grocery stores. If you cant find it you can also buy a pork shoulder or pork butt and cut the meat into 2 inch slices.
Tips For Making Instant Pot Carnitas
I used a 6 QT Ultra Instant Pot, for a larger instant pot, add an additional 1 cup of broth to the instant pot before cooking. This will help it come to pressure quicker and prevent burning.
You can use pork roast or pork shoulder to make this traditional pork carnitas.
Trim excess fat from the pork before cutting into chunks.
Donât discard the juices after cooking in the instant pot. Save the juice to add to the pork while shredding for additional flavor, or for after you broil the pork to add back in some of the moisture.
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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.
Pressure Cooker Pork Carnitas
These Pressure Cooker Pork Carnitas are loaded with so much good flavor and made so incredibly simple in your Instant Pot. Put a quick sear on your pork inside the pot and add all of the ingredients to the electric pressure cooker. Cook for 80 minutes on high while you get all sorts of other things done around the house. That is the great part about the Instant Pot. While some recipes like this or Pressure Cooker Pork Loin and Stuffing may still require a decent amount of time to cook, it doesnt require much if any attention. Set it and forget it like a Crock Pot but you dont have to wait all day for dinner to be on the table!
The depth of flavor in these Pressure Cooker Pork Carnitas is built with onion, jalapeno, garlic, orange and lime along with an array of spices. The Savory pork and spices paired with the sweet orange and lime juice gives it incredible flavors. The final step of searing it off in some of its excess juices in a skillet really puts it over the top with all the caramelized bits of meat!
My favorite part of this Pressure Cooker Pork Carnita recipe is that it makes a large batch that is great in a variety of recipes. Make it over the weekend and sear off the amount of meat you need for various meals throughout the week. Toss it in some tacos or enjoy it with some rice and beans for a heartier meal. No matter you enjoy this pork, it is sure to be a favorite recipe!
- 1Tbsp.soy sauce
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Supplies For Making Pressure Cooker Carnitas
Obviously an instant pot is crucial we have the Instant Pot Duo 6 quart. I rarely use any preset buttons mostly I sauté and pressure cook so I personally see no reason to buy more functionality and spend more money. If you have a large family or cook for crowds, you might want to consider the 8 quart. If you are cooking for one or two and rarely more, consider the 3 Quart. Sheet pans, as I always say, are invaluable. And if you really want to get into the spirit, make your own tortillas use this tortilla press and pan cook them in a cast iron pan!
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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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