Instant Pot Carnitas

Does the world need another Instant Pot carnitas recipe? Probs not but I still have one for you. And you’re welcome. You can consider this my shock and awe share because I didn’t see an Instant Pot sitting on my counter thing coming.

Hand holding taco filled with carnitas over a bowl of black beans, carnitas, rice, cilantro and jalapeno pepper slices next to stack of tortillas on marble.

I’m old enough and smart enough to know that never is NEVER a sure thing. And lately, I’ve been feeling the future of our food and what’s on our plates bending in a new direction. (Towards more plants and less meat!) I guess I  didn’t see that one coming either.

Without a plan, I started throwing in plant-based meals here and there and seeing what the family and I noticed. While we did notice, I didn’t hear anybody missing the meat. Hmm. Are we full? What did we like? Do we want it again? Surprisingly, we are all a bit rocked that the answer has been yes, yes, and more, please.

My point on eating more plants and yet this post being on carnitas? Bwahaha. I guess it means this one is worth it but not because it’s the only star on the plate. These beans and this rice can be made in your new Instant Pot. Batch make the parts, and you have my kind of perfect meal prep, which in my opinion is to go ahead and prep the parts. Don’t worry about packing it up like this pretty little jar!

Unless you are walking out the door, in which case this is also perfect.

When at home, put a fresh over-easy egg on top, pass the hot sauce, perhaps a new cassava tortilla and everybody’s happy. Maybe the best part is its extraordinary ability to be breakfast, lunch, or dinner for whoever and however you put it together.

For the curious Instant Pot or the pressure cooker owners, this gem is for you!

instant pot carnitas

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  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or bacon fat
  • 3-4 pound boneless pork shoulder
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 oranges zested and squeezed to about 1 cup of juice
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 4 cloves of garlic peeled but left whole
  • 2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup white onion chopped
  • 2 teaspoons oregano


  • Trim large pieces of fat off of pork shoulder. Save fat and add to the pot before cooking for flavor.
  • Cut pork into 2-inch pieces.
  • Press [Saute], then press [Adjust] to [More] mode on your Instant Pot. In 10 seconds, your pot is ready to saute your meat. Add oil for a few seconds to cover the bottom of the insert and saute all meat sides in batches, placing browned pork in a bowl until all pieces are brown. Keep all meat in the extra bowl to rest and saute onions for about 3 minutes. Add some more oil as needed.
  • Add meat and all the remaining ingredients back into the Instant Pot insert, including reserved fat pieces, and stir to combine, scraping up browned bits if possible.
  • Close the lid of the Instant Pot. Press [Manual] and set the time for 30 minutes.
  • When time is up, let the pork naturally release for about 20 minutes and then release the remaining pressure manually.
  • Finishing Option 1: To eat immediately
    Shred meat and use juices to add moisture as needed, and skip the sauce thickening process as detailed next.
  • Finishing Option 2: To cook down the sauce with stove and oven
    With a slotted spoon, strain meat pieces onto a rimmed baking sheet with about 1/2 cup of juices poured on top. Put remaining juices in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer vigorously while the sauce cooks down to a thicker sauce. Broil pan with meat until the tops of meat chunks start to crisp. Remove from the oven. Discard fat pieces and shred meat. Pour thicker sauce on top and stir together before serving.
  • Finishing Option 3: To cook down the sauce with stove top only
    Remove pork pieces and pour all juices into a saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until thick and reduced as you desire. Add pork pieces back in (removing all fat portions) and stir and shred until meat is pulled apart and ready to eat.
  • Finishing Option 4: To save or freeze for later
    Cool the meat and juices in the Instant Pot pan, then package into a storage container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Proceed with either of the options above, removing the fat layer on top as you wish, or use some in your recipe for flavor. Or you can put cooled meat and juices into the freezer once cooled and when you decide to thaw, proceed with the oven or stove-top reheating instructions above.

This post contains affiliate links to products I know and love. I recommend any of them for this recipe!


This equipment section may contain affiliate links to products I know and love.
Servings :8 servings
Author: Heather Bursch
Keywords: Carnitas, Instant Pot, Mexican, tacos
Did you make it? Mention @heatherbursch or tag #shemadeit so we can admire your work!

If you don’t see yourself getting an Instant Pot, don’t say “never” or you’ll have one by month’s end. Do, however, click on over to this stove-top crispy shredded pork carnitas or this oven-roasted slow-roasted pork shoulder for recipes that have not been replaced by the pressure cooker but give it just a little bit of competition.

As for the winds of change and more plant-based meals coming, follow me on @heatherbursch or check back here to see where it goes.

~ Heather

Last Updated on June 11, 2022 by Heather Bursch

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