Make Mexican pork carnitas the easy way with your handy dandy Instant Pot. This simple recipe makes perfectly tender pulled pork that is briefly broiled in the oven to add a crisp edge to some of the meat pieces. It’s mouthwateringly good!
Pork carnitas are one of those dishes that many people think you can only find at a quality Mexican restaurant or taqueria, but what if I told you that you can make incredible carnitas at home with your Instant Pot? Well, you can!
This easy recipe is a riff on the authentic Mexican carnitas that my grandmother used to make. She grew up near Queretaro and was actually a member of the Otomi people. I have fond memories of her making mole, nopales (cactus pads), and carnitas in her kitchen. She cooked everything low and slow for hours, but today we’re making carnitas fast and easy. I don’t think she would mind as long as the end result is good food that’s full of flavor. 🙂
What are Carnitas?
“Carnitas” literally means “little meats.” It’s a Mexican dish that originated in the state of Michoacán and is made by simmering pork for hours in a copper pot until the meat is fall-apart tender. Then the heat is turned up to crisp the outsides of the pork, and once that is all done the meat is shredded into small, bite-sized pieces. You can also make carnitas with chicken or beef, but traditionally it is made with pork.
What Kind of Pork to Use
For this recipe, we are going to use a boneless pork roast that has been cut into cubes. I also trim the fat off to make the dish slightly healthier, but to be honest, carnitas is not health food. Nothing wrong with that – as with most things in life, it’s all about balance.
Can I Use Chicken or Beef Instead in this Recipe?
No. The cooking times and process for this recipe were intended for a pork roast, not other kinds of meat.
Ways to Use Pork Carnitas
There are so many ways to eat carnitas! My personal favorite is in a torta, which is a kind of Mexican sandwich made with bolillos. You can also use carnitas to make tacos, flautas, burritos, and enchiladas. My birria enchilada recipe would work well with extra carnitas, as would this birria quesadillas recipe or these quesabirria tacos. Just switch out the birria meat for carnitas.
If you want to have some carnitas for breakfast, you can cook them with eggs. Simply mix the meat in with seasoned eggs and scrambled the eggs until they are cooked. This method is similar to how you would cook machaca (dried spiced beef) with eggs to make a machaca burrito.
How to Store & Reheat Extras
Let your carnitas cool completely, then store them as follows:
- Fridge: Place the carnitas in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave until warmed through, or on the stovetop in a pan drizzled with a touch of olive oil.
- Freezer: Transfer cool carnitas to an airtight, freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and then reheat as described above.
Instant Pot Pork Carnitas
This simple recipe makes perfectly tender pulled pork that is briefly broiled in the oven to add a crisp edge to some of the meat pieces. It’s mouthwateringly good!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Broiler: 6 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 6 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Instant Pot
- Cuisine: Mexican
- 1 (4-5lbs) boneless pork boneless pork roast, cubed and fat trimmed
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 orange, juiced
- 1 1/2 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- Fresh cilantro, to garnish (optional)
Prep the meat. Trim the fat off of the pork roast and cube the meat into 1-inch chunks. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper.
Add ingredients to the Instant Pot. In the bottom of the instant pot, drizzle the oil and then place the meat on top. Add in the chopped onion, broth, garlic, lime juice, orange juice, cumin, oregano, and chili powder. Cover and lock the lid, turning the valve to sealed. Pressure cook on high for 30 minutes and allow for 15-minute natural release.
Crisp up the cooked pork. Once the carnitas has had a natural release, lightly shred the pork with two forks and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle the top of the pork with the juices from the instant pot. Place the meat under the broiler on high for 3 minutes and then take out to stir the meat and drizzle with more juices if needed. Broil for an additional 3 minutes and then remove from the oven.
Serve. Sprinkle the meat with fresh chopped cilantro, if desired. Serve in tacos, tortas, burritos – whatever you like!
Keywords: pork carnitas, carnitas queretaro, instant pot carnitas, carnitas michocan