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!
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.
What's In This Article
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.
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.
How to Make Instant Pot Carnitas
- Prepare Instant Pot. Heat pressure cooker to sauté setting or heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat on stovetop.
- Brown pork roast. Add vegetable oil and then boneless pork shoulder, browning on each side.
- Combine seasonings. In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, honey, Kosher salt, cumin, paprika, garlic powder and bay leaves.
- Add pork to Instant Pot. If already in the pressure cooker, stop sauté function or transfer pork to the pot of your pressure cooker.
- Add onions and seasoning. Arrange raw red onions around the roast. Pour orange juice mixture over top.
- Cook. Lock lid in place and set on high pressure with vent sealed.
- Natural release. Allow natural pressure release.
- Discard fat. Remove pork and using two forks, shred, discarding any large pieces of fat.
- Shred pork. Skim onions and 3 tablespoons of liquid out of remaining broth in pressure cooker pot.
- Toss together. Toss shredded pork, cooked onions and broth in a serving bowl.
- 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
- pomegranate seeds
- fresh radish
- sour cream
- crema Mexicana
- pico de gallo
- spicy peppers
- fresh lime juice
- roasted corn
- pineapple salsa
- salsa verde
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.
More Delicious Mexican Food
Pressure Cooker Carnitas
- Mission® Super Soft Flour Tortillas
- 4 pound boneless pork shoulder , dabbed dry with a paper towel
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 red onion , thinly sliced
- 1 cup orange juice
- ¼ cup honey or agave nectar
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 dried bay leaves
- Desired Toppings
- Heat pressure cook
- 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!
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!
Shred, then broil!
YES to pomegranate and pork, what a combination
Another vote for the Instant Pot…and I’m always crazy for pork carnitas. I’m adding this to my Taco Tuesday rotation. Thanks!
YES to pomegranate seeds + pork, what a combination.
Such a great idea for soft tacos. Can’t go wrong with a yummy taco and the flavors in these sound so yummy.
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!
I love carnitas- I’m always amazed at the amount of flavor from simple ingredients! Great recipe!
These Carnitas were SO tasty! My family definitely wants them in the weekly menu plan rotation!
These carnitas look amazing!!! I am adding these to our weekly menu!