INSTANT POT CRISPY CARNITAS

This Instant Pot Carnitas recipe is quick and easy to make in the pressure cooker, perfectly crispy and juicy, and so delicious!

This Instant Pot carnitas recipe is a game-changer.

After years and years of making my go-to crispy pork carnitas recipe in the slow cooker — letting the pork slowly and steadily simmer all day long until it is perfectly tender and shred-able — I’ve now become a total convert to making pressure cooker carnitas instead.

Why?  Well mainly, this Instant Pot carnitas recipe is just crazy fast.  Instead of having to plan 5-8 hours in advance to make carnitas in the slow cooker, this pressure cooker carnitas recipe can be ready to go from start to finish in just over 1 hour, making this recipe legit do-able on a weeknight or anytime you’re craving some carnitas stat.  

It also succeeds in making carnitas that are extra-juicy and crispy, thanks to a quick broil in the oven and a toss in those leftover cooking juices after the Instant Pot has worked its magic.  It’s also seasoned with a zesty garlic-citrus mojo sauce, making each bite of pork extra flavorful even before any extra salsas or toppings are added.  But more than anything, I just love this carnitas recipe because it is irresistibly, unfailingly, crowd-pleasingly, gotta-go-back-for-seconds-(and-thirds)-ingly, deliciously GOOD.

Bonus — it’s also good served up so many ways!  These carnitas are, of course, absolutely fabulous served up in tortillas as carnitas tacos.  But if you’re looking for a different spin on carnitas (especially if you have leftovers and want to mix things up a bit for the second round), these carnitas are also delicious served up in burritos, burrito bowls, quesadillas, enchiladas, tostadas, salads, or even in carnitas soup as well.

So if you are a fellow fan of carnitas, pull out your pressure cooker and let’s make a batch together!

INSTANT POT CARNITAS | 1-MINUTE VIDEO

CARNITAS INGREDIENTS:

To make pork carnitas in the Instant Pot (affiliate link), you will need the following ingredients:

  • Pork: Whichever cut of boneless pork roast that you prefer (I typically use pork shoulder), cut into 2-inch chunks with the excess fat trimmed off.
  • Salt, pepper, oil: For seasoning and cooking the meat.
  • Mojo sauce: A citrusy garlic sauce that we’ll make with beer (or chicken stock), garlic, fresh orange juice, lime juice, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper.
  • Salsa: I love serving carnitas with a juicy fresh mango salsa or pineapple salsa (as pictured below).  But any type of salsa that you love — red, green, fruit, etc. — will work.
  • Toppings: I recommend lots of chopped fresh cilantro and finely-chopped red or white onion.

HOW TO MAKE CARNITAS:

To make this pork carnitas recipe, simply…

  1. Make the mojo sauce. Whisk together those garlicky citrus sauce ingredients until combined.
  2. 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.
  3. Pressure cook. Add the sauce to the pork, then pressure cook on high for 30 minutes, followed by a natural release.
  4. Shred. Once the pork is cooked, go ahead and give it a good shred with two forks.
  5. (Optional) 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…
  6. 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.

POSSIBLE VARIATIONS:

Want to customize your own homemade carnitas recipe?  Feel free to…

  • Make it spicy.  Add a diced jalapeño or serrano chile pepper (seeded, for less heat) into the Instant Pot if you would like to kick things up a spicy notch.
  • Make it smoky. I also love adding a diced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (with an extra tablespoon of sauce) into the Instant Pot to make the carnitas a bit more smoky.
  • Use chicken. If pork isn’t your thing, you’re welcome to make this carnitas recipe with boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breasts) instead.

WAYS TO SERVE CARNITAS:

There are so many fun ways to serve this carnitas recipe!  For example, they would be delicious in:

  • Tacos (hard or soft)
  • Burritos or burrito bowls
  • Enchiladas, taquitos, quesadillas or tostadas
  • Nachos or chilaquiles
  • Salads (warm or cold)
  • Soup or chili
  • …and so much more!  Be creative!

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