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Instant Pot Carnitas

Crazy flavourful, falling apart, juicy pork… Ready in an hour and a half?! Welcome to the world of the Instant Pot!

Three corn tortillas loaded with Instant Pot Carnitas, shredded cabbage and fresh cilantro.

At no additional cost to you, I may make a small commission for purchases made through links in this post. 

The moment I learned there was a kitchen tool I could own that could not only saute, but had the ability to cook a 3 pound hunk of meat in a little over an hour? To juicy perfection?

I freaked out. Full board, freaked out.

It was on my wish list for a long time before I finally made the plunge. Opening that box was easily better than Christmas morning. Since that day, I’ve been recipe creating like you wouldn’t believe.

Today I bring you this delicious Instant Pot Carnitas. It is super flavourful, juicy and if you like, easy to crisp those edges for yummy crispy pork carnitas. My family usually eats this delicious pork with lettuce wraps or on a salad, but is also great in corn tortillas.

Why it works

  1. Get this tasty meat with a few simple ingredients!
  2. Naturally sugar free, low carb and keto friendly, this fabulous dish appeals to the masses!
  3. You’ll be in love with how fast these carnitas come together to give you the juiciest of pork!
  4. This mouthwatering pork is super flavourful! Pressure cooked with spices, fresh lime juice and jalapeños? I couldn’t be anything but!
  5. Perfect meal to serve friends and family. Everyone loves carnitas, they just may not know it yet!
Freshly baked pork carnitas on a baking sheet with fresh limes and diced tomatoes

Instant Pot Carnitas Ingredients

  • pork shoulder
  • onion
  • garlic
  • jalapeños
  • bone stock
  • fresh lime juice
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • oregano
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper

How to make Instant Pot Carnitas

This delicious dish is soooo easy to make! The instant pot does its job beautifully as it takes a giant hunk of meat from raw to falling apart after only 70 minutes of pressure cooking. Amazing right?

Start by prepping your veggies. Dice the onion and jalapeños. Mince the garlic then trim the excess fat from the pork shoulder. Cut the meat into 8 portions. Turn the instant pot onto sauté and add some oil. Mix the rub ingredients together, then massage into the big chunks of meat.

Once the oil is nice and hot, sear the meat for a minute or so on each side, working in two batches. Remove the meat once all the sides of each piece have been seared, then turn off the instant pot. Deglaze the pot by pouring in 1/2 cup of the bone stock and scrubbing all the little blackened bits off the bottom. Place the meat back into the pot, right into the 1/2 cup bone stock. 

Without stirring, add the onions, jalapeños, garlic, lime juice and remaining stock. Secure the lid, close the steam release valve to the sealed position and turn the instant pot on to the pressure cook mode (or manual, depending on the model you have) and adjust the time to 70 minutes.

Once complete, you can allow your instant pot to naturally release, or go ahead and carefully, using all the necessary precautions, quick release. 

Optional

Let’s crisp up this meat for some extra flavour and texture. Heat oven to broil.

Place a strainer over a large heat safe bowl. Open the lid of the instant pot, then pour the entire contents out into the strainer. This is a fast and easy way to remove all the goodies from the juice.

Dump the meat onto a baking sheet and use two forks to pull all the meat into large chunks. Spread the meat evenly throughout the baking sheet, discarding any big chunks of fat.

Pour 1/2 cup of the remaining juices over the meat and broil for 5 minutes, flip the meat over and broil for another 5 minutes. Serve however you like!

Expert Tips

  1. How spicy do you want your carnitas to be? If the answer is zero spice, discard the seeds and the white membrane. Dice the whole pepper except the stem if you want it spicy! I prefer to keep most of the seeds but discard the membrane for a mid level spice degree.
  2. The pork just needs a very quick sear on each side to lock in moisture and add flavour.
  3. Be sure to scrub off all of the little bits of black from the bottom of the Instant Pot during the deglazing step. If this process is skipped, you could potentially get the dreaded ‘burn’ error, where you would have to empty the contents from the pot, scrub it, add the goodies back and start the pressure cooking setting all over again!
  4. Make sure that vent it set to the sealed position! Nothing worse than ‘pressure cooking’ for 70 minutes only to come back and realize it never got to full pressure! Yup, you’d have to reset it for another 70 minutes of proper pressure cooking.
  5. If you are going to quick release, use a heat safe glove to relieve the pressure and stand backthe steam is super hot, you don’t want to get in its way!
  6. You do not have to remove the fat, but I prefer not to eat it. Totally up to you!
  7. The step to broil the carnitas is to make the tips nice and crispy. It’s extra delicious but not necessary, this step is up to you!
Instant Pot Carnitas loaded onto fresh corn tortillas.

Optional Toppings

There are so many toppings to choose from! I’m a girl who likes her options and with this Instant Pot Carnitas recipe, the sky is the limit. Here is a list of my favourite toppings for this dish:

  • Pico De Gallo
  • thinly sliced cabbage
  • diced tomatoes
  • fresh cilantro
  • green onion
  • avocado
  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream
  • salsa
  • diced red pepper
  • Chiloulla hot sauce

Instant Pot Carnitas with Lettuce Wraps

I definitely prefer lettuce wraps to tortillas… The extra crispness, the flavour is more intense and the juiciness is just to die for. Plus, it’s low carb!

Any kind of lettuce will work great. Leaf lettuce makes nice big wraps, romaine does the trick but I find butter lettuce the best for these Instant Pot Carnitas.

Instant Pot Carnitas loaded into butter lettuce wraps with avocado and cabbage or pico de gallo.

Instant Pot Carnitas Salad

Salad you say? Absolutely I say! Instant Pot Carnitas Salad is my very favourite way to use up leftover meat. Leftover veggies too if you managed to save some. I like to use chopped head lettuce and as for toppings? There are so many to chose from! Here is a list of my favourites:

  • diced tomatoes 
  • avocado
  • shredded cheese
  • green onion
  • diced peppers
  • fresh pico de gallo 
  • cilantro
  • Cheese crisps – check out my Chicken Taco Soup post for instructions on how to make these.

Try sour cream and/or salsa for the dressing!

Salad loaded with leftover carnitas, avocado, tomato and cheese crisps.

Can this recipe be made in a slow cooker?

Oh definitely, if you want to wait all day for it to be ready 😂

I’m just kidding, there is definitely a time and a place for a slow cooker. My husband asked if I was going to get rid of one of my slow cookers after I bought my Instant Pot. 😳

No idea why I’d ever do such a thing. They are excellent for coming home to a fully cooked meal! Here’s how to make this in a slow cooker:

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

Heat a skillet on medium high with the oil and trim the fat from the pork. Cut into 8 chunks and massage with the spices. Sear the meat in the hot skillet, then add to the slow cooker with the remaining ingredients. Cook for 5-6 hours on high or 8-9 on low.

Follow the remaining instructions to broil the carnitas.

What goes with instant pot carnitas?

Instant Pot Carnitas really don’t need anything to go with it. They are a fun meal that is pretty filling, however, if you are looking for a side or two, here is a list of my favourite accompaniments:

Love this recipe? Here are some other Instant Pot recipes you may love:

Low Carb Chicken Taco Soup

BBQ Pulled Pork

Low Carb Ribs

Fully Loaded Chicken Vegetable Soup

Low Carb Korean Beef

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These Instant Pot Carnitas are dripping with flavour and ready in a fraction of the time. Load up corn tortillas or enjoy them low carb with lettuce wraps!
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5 from 1 vote

Instant Pot Carnitas

These Instant Pot Carnitas are dripping with flavour and ready in a fraction of the time. Load up corn tortillas or enjoy them low carb with lettuce wraps!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Canadian, Low Carb, Mexican
Keyword instant pot carnitas, low carb carnitas, pork carnitas
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 415kcal
Author Aleta

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs pork shoulder roast
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 jalapenos
  • 3 limes juiced
  • 1 ¼ cup bone stock or broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil divided

Rub

  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Instructions

Equipment Needed

Directions

  • Mince the garlic, dice the onion and jalapeños and set aside. Trim the extra fat from the pork shoulder and cut into 8 portions. Combine the rub ingredients and massage into the pork.
  • Turn the instant pot on to Saute and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Once hot, sear 1/2 the meat on all sides, remove from the pot then sear the second half of the meat. Remove the second batch of seared meat then pour in ½ cup bone stock to degalze the pot by scrubbing off all of the little blackened bits with a wooden spoon.
  • Return the meat to the pot, pour in the rest of the stock then, without stirring, add the onion, garlic and jalapeños. Juice the limes over top of the other ingredients, then secure the instant pot lid. Turn the steam release valve to the sealed position then, using the pressure cook mode, pressure cook for 70 minutes.
  • Once complete, you can allow your instant pot to naturally release, or go ahead and carefully, using all the necessary precautions, quick release.

Optional

  • Let's crisp up this meat for some extra flavour and texture. Heat oven to broil.
  • Place a strainer inside a large heat safe bowl. Open the lid of the instant pot and dump the entire contents into the strainer to separate the juice from the meat. 
  • Dump the contents of the strainer out onto a baking sheet. Use two forks to pull all the meat into large chunks and spread evenly throughout the baking sheet. Discard any big chunks of fat. Pour 1/2 cup of the remaining juices over the meat and broil for 5 minutes, flip the meat over and broil for another 5 minutes.
  • Serve on corn tortillas or butter lettuce wraps!

Notes

See post above for slow cooker method and optional ingredients.

Expert Tips

  1. How spicy do you want your carnitas to be? If the answer is zero spice, discard the seeds and the white membrane. Dice the whole pepper except the stem if you want it spicy! I prefer to keep most of the seeds but discard the membrane for a mid level spice degree.
  2. The pork just needs a very quick sear on each side to lock in moisture and add flavour.
  3. Be sure to scrub off all of the little bits of black from the bottom of the Instant Pot during the deglazing step. If this process is skipped, you could potentially get the dreaded ‘burn’ error, where you would have to empty the contents from the pot, scrub it, add the goodies back and start the pressure cooking setting all over again!
  4. Make sure that vent it set to the sealed position! Nothing worse than ‘pressure cooking’ for 70 minutes only to come back and realize it never got to full pressure! Yup, you’d have to reset it for another 70 minutes of proper pressure cooking.
  5. If you are going to quick release, use a heat safe glove to relieve the pressure and stand backthe steam is super hot, you don’t want to get in its way!
  6. You do not have to remove the fat, but I prefer not to eat it. Totally up to you!
  7. The step to broil the carnitas is to make the tips nice and crispy. It’s extra delicious but not necessary, this step is up to you!

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition facts are an estimate only! The ingredients you choose could have different nutritional values than the ingredients I have used.  
Deduct fibre from the total carbs to get 3.2 g net carbs per 1/2 lb serving
 

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5lb | Calories: 415kcal | Carbohydrates: 4.4g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 27.1g | Sodium: 566mg | Fiber: 1.2g

2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    We absolutely love pork carnitas in our house! My husband and I have different tastes in food, but this is one we can definitely agree on. I have an instant pot, but admittedly, I mostly use it for soups and chili. I always resort to my slow cooker to cook pork. I may have to give this one a try in my instant pot. You just can’t beat how fast it is!

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