Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Sometimes the best meals are worth the wait. These instant pot pork carnitas come together quick and make a great base for tons of recipes. Let me show you how to make this easy instant pot dinner tonight!

How to make pork carnitas in the instant pot

Growing up in South Texas I always had the best Tex-Mex food around. Seriously, there was a taco shop on every corner around town. I got used to eating homemade tortillas, enchiladas and tacos.

But what about making these traditional Tex-Mex dishes at home? Oh that’s the best part! You can make recipes like these easy pork carnitas in the comfort of your home!

What are instant pot pork carnitas?

Carnitas literally mean “little meats” and are a traditional Mexican dish made by simmering meats in oil. The oil (traditionally lard) helps to break down the meat and leaves it tender and full of flavor.

Carnitas end up being a soft meat base for tacos, enchiladas and more. They get their crispyness from broiling them in the oven after they have been slow roasted.

easy instant pot carnitas recipe

Instant pot pork carnitas ingredients

Not only are these pork carnitas easy to make, they are also full of flavor. To make these in your instant pot you will need:

  • Chicken broth
  • Orange juice
  • Lime juice
  • Spices
  • Olive oil
  • Pork shoulder roast
  • Onion
  • Jalapeno
  • Garlic

Liquids – The chicken broth, orange and lime juice make up the base of the marinade for the carnitas. Mix together these three ingredients and set them aside until after you sear the meat.

Spices – The spices for this recipe are pretty typical in Mexican inspired dishes. You will need chili powder, smoked paprika, oregano and cumin. All of these can be found in the spice section of the grocery store.

Olive oil – Olive oil is needed to sear the meat before letting it pressure cook. You can use butter or another oil such as vegetable or canola.

Pork shoulder roast – A shoulder roast (or sometimes called pork butt) is the best cut of meat for these carnitas. It has the right amount of fat to keep the meat juicy during cooking but also shreds perfectly.

Onion, jalapeno and garlic – These add extra flavor to the carnitas and can be found in your produce section.

What cut of meat is carnitas? Like I mentioned above, pork carnitas work best with a pork shoulder roast, sometimes called a pork butt.

easy pork carnitas in the instant pot

How to make pork carnitas in the instant pot

Once you have gathered all your ingredients, you will also need to grab:

  • instant pot
  • medium bowl
  • whisk or fork
  • knife
  • cutting board
  • prepared cookie sheet

Step 1 – In a medium bowl, whisk together the orange juice, chicken broth, lime juice and all the spices, except the salt and pepper. Set aside.

Step 2 – Trim and cut the shoulder roast into smaller chunks and meat. Season with the salt and pepper.

Step 3 – Press the SAUTE button on your instant pot and place the meat in the pot. Sear the meat on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Do this is batches so that all the meat browns evenly. Remove as needed to cook entire roast.

Step 4 – Add the meat back into the pot along with your marinade and the onion, jalapeno and garlic.

Note – If you want the extra heat, leave the seeds in the jalapeno. If you do not, slice the jalapeno and remove this seeds.

easy instant pot dinners - what is an instant pot

Step 5 – Place the lid back on the instant pot, set the valve to SEALING and press MANUAL for high pressure cooking for 30 MINUTES. Once the cooking time is up, allow 20-25 minutes for the “natural release” of the steam inside the Instant Pot. After that time, perform a manual “quick release” to vent any remaining steam to release lid, if necessary.

Step 6 – Use two forks to pull apart the meat and transfer it to a prepared cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet under the broiler along with some of the juices from the instant pot.

Step 7 – Allow to broil for 4-5 minutes, adding more juice to the meat if necessary. Remove, allow to cool and serve!

Pork carnitas in the crock pot

Looking to make these pork carnitas in the crock pot? You can grab the easy crock pot pork carnitas recipe here. It’s a great option if you don’t have time to watch over your instant pot.

pork carnitas

What can I make with pork carnitas meat?

Once you have your cooked meat you can use it in:

Pork carnitas side ideas

Some sides that would be perfect for this easy instant pot dinner are:

Storing pork carnitas

The best way to store these instant pot pork carnitas is to allow them to cool completely. Place in an airtight container and keep in the fridge. They should keep for up to 1 week, if stored properly.

pork carnitas

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Yield: 4 servings


  • ¾ c. chicken broth, preferably organic
  • ¾ c. fresh orange juice (approximately 2 large oranges)
  • 3 T. lime juice
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • ½ t. smoked paprika
  • 1 t. dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3½ - 4 lbs. pork shoulder roast, trimmed and cut into 6-8 chunks
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, diced
  • 2-3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and chopped


1. In a medium bowl, whisk together chicken broth, fresh orange juice, and lime juice with the chili powder, smoked paprika, Mexican oregano, and ground cumin. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste, and set aside.

2. Push the “Sauté” button on Instant Pot. Once the display reads “On,” add 1 tablespoon olive oil and half the pork shoulder pieces to the container. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste, and cook until pork is browned on all sides, approximately 1-2 minutes per side.

Note: DO NOT use lid while using the “Sauté” function on an Instant Pot!

3. Once browned, transfer seared pork to a plate and repeat this process with additional olive oil and the rest of pork. Remove browned pork from the Instant Pot and set aside.

4.    *Optional Step: Add remaining tablespoon olive oil to the container, along with red onion, jalapeno, and fresh garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, approximately 3-4 minutes.

5. Add browned pork back to the pot and pour chicken broth/orange juice mixture over top. Add lid and seal, making sure the steam release handle is positioned toward “Sealing.” 

6.  Press the “Manual” button and set the time to 30 minutes at high pressure. Once the cooking time is up, allow 20-25 minutes for the “natural release” of the steam inside the Instant Pot. After that time, perform a manual “quick release” to vent any remaining steam to release lid, if necessary.

7.    A few minutes before the steam is fully released, preheat oven broiler to high and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Transfer pork to the prepared baking sheet and gently shred with two forks. Drizzle with ¼ cup juices from the Instant Pot and toss to combine before spreading into a thin, even layer.

8.    Place pork under broiler for 4-5 minutes, then remove from oven and add a little more juice before turning the meat to brown the other side. Place back under broiler for another 4-5 minutes or until the pork is nice and crispy on the edges.

9. When finished broiling, remove baking sheet from oven and serve immediately with the reduced cooking liquid, fresh lime wedges, and chopped cilantro. Enjoy!


The instructions for this recipe include a couple of optional steps that can be omitted to save time. For example, the aromatic blend of onion, jalapeno, and garlic does not need to be sautéed before cooking the pork, but doing so deepens and releases more flavor. In addition, the pork can be shredded and served as soon as it is done cooking.
However, the extra step of tossing it with some cooking liquid and broiling under high heat delivers the delicious, crispy edges found in traditional carnitas recipes.

This recipe was made using the Instant Pot Duo series.

Kelley Easy Instant Pot Recipes

Hey y'all! I'm Kelley!

I am a Texan living in the woods of mid-Michigan with my husband, 4 kids and a whole farm of animals. I heard amazing things about the Instant Pot and knew that I had to give it a try. Many of these recipes are family favorites, and I want your family to enjoy them as well!