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Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas

By Polly Conner

It’s hard to not like Carnitas made in the Instant Pot. In fact, pork shoulder is one of my favorite cuts of meat to cook in electric pressure cookers! Coming from someone who has tested hundreds (yes, hundreds) of Instant Pot recipes, that means a lot. Carnitas can be prepped in minutes, they make a great freezer meal, and they feed a large number of people.

Instant Pot Carnitas

Instant Pot Carnitas | A One Minute Video

Instant Pot Carnitas

These Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas are by far one of my family’s favorite recipes. The seasoning and marinade, plus the Instant Pot cooking method, pack some serious tangy-smoky-citrusy flavor into the meat. After being pressure cooked in the Instant Pot and shredded, you’ll pop the meat under the broiler and broil until it begins to crisp up on the edges. You’ll find yourself going back to this recipe again and again!

Instant Pot Carnitas shredded

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.

  1. Cut the pork into 4 equal pieces. Pat dry and rub seasoning over each piece.
  2. Cook in the Instant Pot.
  3. Transfer meat to a cutting board and shred. Broil the shredded meat

It’s worth noting that we’ve tested pork in the Instant Pot a lot of different ways and found that pork roast cooks best in the Instant Pot when it is cut into a few pieces. In all of our Instant Pot pork recipes, we instruct you to cut it into four equal 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!

Pork shoulder cooked in an Instant Pot

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.

If you want to know how long to cook other cuts of meat, I’d strongly encourage you to download and print off our Instant Pot Cooking Times Chart. Tape it up in your pantry for future reference. You can thank us later. 

Can I make Carnitas is the Crock Pot? What About a Dutch Oven?

You bet! We have all of the instructions written up for you in this post.

The Perfect Instant Pot Freezer Meal

As if our Instant Pot Pork Carnitas weren’t good enough, I have even better news. They make an amazing Instant Pot Freezer Meal. Simply doubling the recipe and freezing a portion before cooking it will set you up for an incredibly easy dinner down the road.

Here are some great tips on making Instant Pot freezer meals if you want to learn more on that. We also have a printable Instant Pot Cooking Times Chart that would be helpful for anyone who uses their pressure cooker regularly.

Pork Carnitas as a freezer meal

How Serve with Pork 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.
  • 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.

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas in wraps
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Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas

  • Author: Polly
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1012 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Seasoned, marinaded pork roast gets cooked in the Instant Pot and then broiled until crispy in this easy, freezer friendly, and delicious recipe for a crowd.


Ingredients

  • 12 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!


Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. 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”. 
  2. In a small bowl, combine the oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. 
  3. On a cutting board, cut the roast into 4 or 5 equal pieces. Pat the roast dry with paper towels and then rub the seasoning all over each piece. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  4. Add the seasoned meat, lime juice, orange juice, and hot sauce into the Instant Pot. 
  5. 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.
  6. Remove the pork to a cutting board, and shred with two forks.
  7. 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 ¼ cup of the juices over the cooked pork.
  8. 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 cheese crumbles, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges. If serving on a salad, use those same toppings and try our Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette as the dressing.

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.

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas in wraps

Make sure to swing by and check out our other Instant Pot recipes.

Want More Freezer Meals for the Instant Pot?

We’ve got you covered. Hop over to this post highlighting 20+ Best of the Best Freezer Meals for the Instant Pot. It includes freezer meal instructions for EVERY recipe plus tons of pro tips and tricks we’ve learned over the years.


Want to Stock Your Freezer with 6 Meals in 1 Hour?

Try our SUPER POPULAR 1 Hour Freezer Prep sessions. We give you everything you need to throw together 6 delicious, family-sized freezer meals in just 1 hour! Anyone can do it with our simple instructions, organized shopping list, and pre-filled out freezer labels.

Slow Cooker Crispy Carnitas

By Polly Conner

This is the type of recipe our readers go ga-ga over. Slow Cooker Carnitas are a dump-and-go crock pot meal that’s easy to make, freezes well before or after cooking, and everyone loves them!

Slow cooker crispy carnitas

Why You Must Make Carnitas in the Slow Cooker

Pork shoulders are one of my favorite cuts of meat to cook in the slow cooker. Coming from someone who has tested hundreds (yes, hundreds) of slow cooker recipes, that means a lot. I have probably made this slow cooker recipe more than any other one for groups of people.

Pork shoulder shredded and broiled on a foil lined baking sheet

The seasoning and marinade, plus the slow cooking method, pack some serious tangy-smoky-citrusy flavor into the meat. After being cooked all day and shredded, you’ll pop the meat under the broiler and broil until it begins to crisp up on the edges. You’ll find yourself going back to this recipe again and again!

What Ingredients Do I Need to Make These?

Like most of our recipes, the ingredients are fairly simple. To make Slow Cooker Carnitas, you’ll need:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 white or yellow onion
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 (3-4 pound) pork shoulder (also known as pork butt or Boston butt), trimmed of excess fat 
  • Seasonings: oregano, cumin, chili powder, Salt & pepper
  • Lime juice
  • Orange juice
  • Hot Sauce
Ingredients for slow cooker carnitas

How Long Do I Cook Pork Shoulder in the Slow Cooker?

After testing hundreds of recipes for our slow cooker cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, we found that cooking one (3-4 pound) pork shoulder should take 7-9 hours depending on your slow cooker.

Oftentimes, people take the pork out too early because it appears to be tough and dry. However, the pork needs lots of time to break down the fibers holding the meat together. When cooked correctly, pork shoulder in the slow cooker should be tender, juicy, and shred easily.

Cooked pork carnitas on a wooden spoon coming out of the slow cooker

Get our Slow Cooker Times Chart

After years of testing slow cooker recipes for our website and cookbooks, we’ve developed a reliable cooking times chart for all different types of recipes. Never overcook or undercook a recipe in the slow cooker again!

Can I Cook Carnitas in a Dutch Oven?

While we love our crock pot, you for sure can make this in your dutch oven, too.

pork shoulder in a dutch oven

Simply follow the instructions in the recipe below, but instead of putting it all into a slow cooker, place the pork into a roasting pan or Dutch oven. Add 1 cup of water or broth. Cover tightly with the lid and roast the pork at 300ºF for about 4 1/2 hours, turning once at the half way point. Follow the broiling instructions after that!

Can I Make Carnitas in the Instant Pot?

Absolutely! When using the Instant Pot, you can have these done in almost an hour!

We have instructions for Instant Pot Carnitas here. Enjoy!

Make It Into a Freezer Meal

As if our Carnitas weren’t good enough, I have even better news. They work really well as a make ahead freezer meal.

Simply double the recipe and freeze an uncooked batch. This won’t take much more time at all and will set you up for an incredibly easy dinner down the road!

When you’re ready to prepare the frozen meal, thaw it using one of these safe methods. Then slow cook on low for 7-9 hours.

Pork carnitas in a freezer meal bag

Here are some great tips on making freezer meals, if you want to learn more about freezer cooking (our speciality!).

How to Serve Pork Carnitas

One of the beauties of this meal is that it can be customized and served in so many different ways. That’s why I love making carnitas for large groups. Here are some ideas of how to serve them:

  • Change up taco night by using this filling instead of ground beef.
  • 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.

Slow cooker pork carnitas on tortillas
Print

Slow Cooker Crispy Carnitas

  • Author: Polly Conner
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 9 hours
  • Total Time: 9 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 810 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

The seasoning and marinade, plus the slow cooking method, pack some serious tangy-smoky-citrusy flavor into the meat. After being cooked all day and shredded, you’ll pop the meat under the broiler and broil until it begins to crisp up on the edges. You’ll find yourself going back to this recipe again and again!


Ingredients

  • 1 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (3-4 pound) 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!


Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Over medium-high heat, 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. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper.
  3. Pat the roast dry with paper towels and then rub the seasoning all over each piece. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  4. Add the seasoned meat, onion/garlic mixture, lime juice, orange juice, and hot sauce into the slow cooker.
  5. Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours.
  6. Remove the pork to a wooden cutting board, and shred with two forks.
  7. Preheat the broiler. Broil the meat on a rimmed baking sheet for 3 minutes. (Tip: Cover the pan with foil for easy clean up.) Using tongs, turn the meat over and spoon about ¼ cup of the juices from the slow cooker 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 ¼ cup of the juices over the cooked pork.
  8. 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 cheese crumbles, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges. If serving on a salad, use those same toppings and try our Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette as the dressing.

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. Seal and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw 24-48 hours. Follow steps 5-8.

Want more slow cooker recipes?

Hop over to our round up of 25+ Slow Cooker Recipes for Groups of People.

slow cooker and crock pot Recipes for groups of people