Instant Pot Carnitas

There are countless ways to make a soft taco. Chicken, beef, pork (carnitas), vegetarian, seafood, and more; this Instant Pot Carnitas recipe is one of my favorites!

bowl of carnitas with text overlay for facebook


 

Tacos are also synonymous with game day gatherings. A dish that everyone likes, is easily customizable, and easy to make. A taco bar with tortilla chips and dip should be at every party!

But along with parties comes a lot of prep work of all kind. How do you simplify that? With easy instant pot recipes of course! Crispy carnitas can be made in, well, an instant with this handy kitchen tool.

Whether you use them to make burrito bowls, carnitas tacos, or even to meal prep food for the week, you are going to fall in love with these instant pot carnitas.

straight on shot of carnitas on tortilla

What are carnitas?

Carnitas are braised, shredded pork. This filling can grace salads, burritos, enchiladas, and of course, soft tacos.

It can take hours to braise pork in the oven, but when using a pressure cooker, you can go from start to finished in under 90 minutes with only 10 of those being “hands on.” This leaves you more time to get ready to be the hostess with the mostest.

A few spices and orange juice provide flavor and moisture for the best pork carnitas recipe, while still allowing for your tortillas and other toppings to shine.

For your next party or while watching the Big Game, put together a soft taco bar, allowing guests to build their own carnitas creation.

overhead shot of instant pot carnitas tacos

Instant Pot Carnitas Ingredients

Simple ingredients are what makes this recipe so amazing. Although there are different ways to make authentic carnitas, the following ingredients are what I use to make mine.

  • Flour tortillas – I prefer flour because they are soft, delicious and what traditional carnitas are made with. But of course you can use corn tortillas if you prefer.
  • Boneless pork shoulder – This is also referred to as a pork butt or even sometimes a boston butt. I don’t recommend using cuts of meat like a pork loin though, because it’s too lean and doesn’t have enough fat content.
  • Vegetable oil – We use this to brown the cut of meat before cooking. However, you can use any neutral oil such as olive oil and it will work just as well.
  • Red onion – I like the bold flavor of red onion for this recipe, but you can use yellow onion for a milder flavor or if that’s what you have on hand already.
  • Orange juice – I prefer to use fresh orange juice rather than Tropicana or that of the sort. You’d be surprised about how different it makes this easy instant pot carnitas recipe taste!
  • Honey or agave nectar – This adds an element of sweet to our carnitas meat. You could also use brown sugar if you’d like, but it does change the flavor of the cooked pork a bit.
  • Seasonings – I use a blend of Kosher salt, cumin, paprika, garlic powder and dried bay leaves. Some other great options would be chili powder or black pepper.
  • Desired toppings – Use your favorite toppings here. Check the section above for some suggestions, but your favorite way to top juicy pork carnitas will be just fine.
straight on shot of instant pot carnitas taco

How to Make Instant Pot Carnitas

  1. Prepare Instant Pot. Heat pressure cooker to sauté setting or heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat on stovetop.
  2. Brown pork roast. Add vegetable oil and then boneless pork shoulder, browning on each side.
  3. Combine seasonings. In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, honey, Kosher salt, cumin, paprika, garlic powder and bay leaves.
  4. Add pork to Instant Pot. If already in the pressure cooker, stop sauté function or transfer pork to the pot of your pressure cooker.
  5. Add onions and seasoning. Arrange raw red onions around the roast. Pour orange juice mixture over top.
  6. Cook. Lock lid in place and set on high pressure with vent sealed.
  7. Natural release. Allow natural pressure release.
  8. Discard fat. Remove pork and using two forks, shred, discarding any large pieces of fat.
  9. Shred pork. Skim onions and 3 tablespoons of liquid out of remaining broth in pressure cooker pot.
  10. Toss together. Toss shredded pork, cooked onions and broth in a serving bowl.
  11. Serve and enjoy. Serve carnitas with warmed flour tortillas and desired toppings.

Carnitas Topping Ideas

These instant pot pork carnitas can be topped with just about anything your heart desires. But here are a few of my favorites:

  • Cotija cheese
  • avocado
  • guacamole
  • pomegranate seeds
  • fresh radish
  • cilantro
  • sour cream
  • crema Mexicana
  • pico de gallo
  • spicy peppers
  • fresh lime juice
  • roasted corn
  • pineapple salsa
  • salsa verde
tacos in a stand

Storage and Freezing

Storage: You can store any leftover pork carnitas in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Freezing: This delicious recipe also freezes well. Store in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to five months.

collage of instant pot carnitas for pinterest

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Pressure Cooker Carnitas

5 from 17 votes
Pressure Cooker Carnitas are an easy pressure cooker recipe for shredded pork with Mexican flavors. Perfect for making the perfect soft taco!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Pressure Building Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Heat pressure cooker to sauté function or heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat on stovetop.
  • Add vegetable oil and then boneless pork shoulder, browning on each side, approximately 3 minutes per side.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, honey (or agave nectar), Kosher salt, cumin, paprika, garlic powder and bay leaves. Set aside.
  • If already in the pressure cooker, stop sauté function or transfer pork to the pot of your pressure cooker.
  • Arrange raw red onions around the roast. Pour orange juice mixture over top.
  • Lock lid in place and set on high pressure for 50 minutes with vent sealed.
  • Allow natural pressure release for 15 minutes.
  • Remove pork and using two forks, shred, discarding any large pieces of fat.
  • Skim onions and 3 tablespoons of liquid out of remaining broth in pressure cooker pot.
  • Toss shredded pork, cooked onions and broth in a serving bowl.
  • Gently heat Mission Super Soft Tortillas in a warm oven according to package directions. Serving them warm further enhances their taste.
  • Serve carnitas with warmed flour tortillas and desired toppings.
  • If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was! 

Nutrition

Calories: 374 kcal, Carbohydrates: 14 g, Protein: 51 g, Fat: 11 g, Saturated Fat: 5 g, Cholesterol: 136 mg, Sodium: 706 mg, Potassium: 969 mg, Sugar: 11 g, Vitamin A: 310 IU, Vitamin C: 16.5 mg, Calcium: 25 mg, Iron: 2.5 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 374
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: carnitas recipe, easy carnitas, instant pot carnitas, pressure cooker carnitas
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Recipe Rating




Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    Wow! Such a perfect dish that looks so delicious and so juicy! I agree, this will make an amazing soft taco that everyone will definitely love!

  2. 5 stars
    Another vote for the Instant Pot…and I’m always crazy for pork carnitas. I’m adding this to my Taco Tuesday rotation. Thanks!

  3. 5 stars
    These tacos are making my mouth water! Such a tasty presentation, and the tortillas look super soft! Wish I could just grab one off the screen! Perfect crowd pleaser too!