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Instant Pot Carnitas can be prepped in minutes and yields flavorful, tender pork every time. This recipe will feed a large number of people or make great leftovers!
“We love this recipe and keep the cooked meat on hand all the time to throw together quick carnitas. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️” – Susan
Reasons You’ll Love Instant Pot Carnitas
- It’s EASY! Simply season the quartered pork and pressure cook it in the Instant Pot with the simple marinade.
- It’s freezer friendly. Carnitas are a great recipe to double and freeze. You can also fully cook it and freeze it in small portions. So many options!
- It feeds a lot of people. This recipe can easily feed 10+ people. Here are 25+ Slow Cooker Recipes for a Crowd if you want more ideas.
- It’s a Dump & Go Recipe. You do have to give it a quick broil at the end but that’s it!
- It can also be made in the Slow Cooker or Dutch Oven
Like most of our recipes, the ingredients are fairly simple. To make Instant Pot Carnitas, you’ll need:
- Olive oil – Avocado oil will also work
- 1 white or yellow onion
- 5 cloves garlic – Save time and use pre-minced garlic.
- 1 (3-4 pound) pork shoulder (also known as pork butt or Boston butt), trimmed of excess fat – Here is where we get meat you can trust.
- Seasonings: oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt & pepper
- Lime juice – Fresh is best!
- Orange juice
- Hot Sauce
How to Cook Pork Carnitas in the Instant Pot
The secret to getting divine Instant Pot Carnitas is cooking the pork just right.
After testing hundreds of recipes for our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, I’m pretty convinced that a pork roast (also known as a pork shoulder or pork butt) is one of the best cuts of meat to cook in the Instant Pot.
- Cut the pork into 4 equal pieces. Pat dry and rub seasoning over each piece.
- Cook in the Instant Pot.
- Transfer meat to a cutting board and shred. Broil the shredded meat
Recipe Testing Note
It’s worth noting that we’ve tested pork in the Instant Pot a lot of different ways. We found that pork roast cooks best when it is cut into a few pieces.
Not only does this make the cooking time go faster, but the meat gets more evenly cooked and shreds very easily. This is especially true when cooking pork roast from frozen!
Instant Pot Cooking Times Chart
After testing hundreds of Instant Pot recipes, we have honed in on the best timing and methods for cooking different types of meals in the Instant Pot.
Cooking Frozen Pork Shoulder in the Instant Pot
We have a lot of experience with Instant Pot Freezer Meals. Here is the best method we found to cook a frozen pork shoulder:
Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-3. Place the onion/garlic mixture, seasoned pork, lime juice, orange juice, hot sauce into a gallon-sized freezer bag or round freezer container. Seal and freeze.
Tip: Set the freezer bag in a bowl in the freezer for a few hours to help it freeze in the shape of the pressure cooker.
Prepare From Frozen: Turn on Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. Follow Steps 5-8, except cook at high pressure for 45-50 minutes with a natural release for 10 minutes and then a quick release.
How Serve Carnitas
One of the beauties of this meal is that it can be easily customized and served in so many different ways. That’s why I love this meal as one for large groups. Here are some ideas:
- Change up taco night by using this filling instead of ground beef. To take these OVER THE TOP, make our Cilantro Lime Aioli and Easy Pickled Red Onions to serve as a garnish–YUM!
- Top a leafy green salad with it and other toppings like roasted fresh corn shaved off the cob, diced bell peppers, red onion, and crunched-up tortilla chips.
- Throw this shredded pork in a quesadilla or on top of a “burrito bowl” with brown rice, beans, and your favorite Mexican toppings.
So many options! I personally almost always serve it with our Avocado Lime Salsa.
How long do I cook a pork shoulder in the Instant Pot?
If making a pork shoulder in the Instant Pot, you’ll want to cook it at high pressure for 45 minutes with a 10-minute natural release.
Can I make Carnitas in the Crock Pot?
You bet! We have all of the instructions written up for you in this Slow Cooker Carnitas recipe.
What kind of hot sauce do I use?
Any hot sauce will work. Most people have a favorite that they keep on hand. Personally, I use Frank’s brand, but I see Tabasco at most restaurants.
Did you make this? Snap a photo and tag us on Instagram at @thrivinghome so we can see your creations and cheer you on!
- 1–2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 white or yellow onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (4-5 pounds) pork shoulder (also known as pork butt or Boston butt), trimmed of excess fat
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup lime juice* (juice of about 4 limes)
- 3/4 cup orange juice* (juice of about 3 oranges)
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- chopped cilantro (optional for garnishing)
*Freshly squeezed is the best!
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Make It Now:
- Turn on Saute function and heat the oil. Saute the onion just until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper while it cooks. Stir in the garlic during the last 30-60 seconds. Press “Cancel”.
- In a small bowl, combine the oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper.
- On a cutting board, cut the roast into 4 or 5 equal pieces (THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT STEP!). Pat the roast dry with paper towels and then rub the seasoning all over each piece. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
- Add the seasoned meat, lime juice, orange juice, and hot sauce into the Instant Pot. Try not to stack the pork pieces if possible, but instead put in one layer along the bottom. This helps with even cooking.
- Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 45 minutes at high pressure. Naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes (or more if you prefer) and then use a quick release.
- Remove the pork to a cutting board, and shred with two forks.
- Optional: Preheat the broiler. Broil the meat on a rimmed baking sheet for 3 minutes. Using tongs, turn the meat over and spoon about ¼ cup of the juices from the Instant Pot over the meat. Broil another 3 to 4 minutes, or until the edges of the meat start to crisp up and turn brown. Remove from the oven and spoon another 1/4 cup of the juices over the cooked pork.
- Serve immediately in tacos, burritos, or salads, or enjoy a la carte. If serving in a corn tortilla, we suggest topping with diced avocado, pico de gallo, Cojita or Queso Fresco cheese crumbles, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges. To take these OVER THE TOP, make our Cilantro Lime Aioli and Easy Pickled Red Onions to serve as a garnish–YUM!
Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-3. Place the onion/garlic mixture, seasoned pork, lime juice, orange juice, hot sauce into a gallon-sized freezer bag or round freezer container. Seal and freeze. Tip: Set the freezer bag in a bowl in the freezer for a few hours to help it freeze in the shape of the pressure cooker.
Prepare From Frozen: Turn on Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. Follow Steps 5-8, except cook at high pressure for 45-50 minutes with a natural release for 10 minutes and then a quick release. (The frozen meat will cook approximately the same amount of time as from fresh.
Find our Slow Cooker Crispy Carnitas recipe here.
Find our Dutch Oven version of this recipe here.