Instant Pot Carnitas

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
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Juicy and crispy instant pot carnitas are made easy with just 5 ingredients! Tender pork is cooked in a tangy tomatillo salsa and citrusy marinade, shredded and then pan-fried until crispy. Serve these garlicky pork carnitas wrapped up in warm tortillas or over a bed of rice and beans.

Why You’ll Love This Instant Pot Carnitas Recipe

Packed with garlicky flavor, these crispy pork carnitas don’t require hours in the kitchen!

  • Easy: Sear the pork and then toss everything into the Instant Pot to let the carnitas practically cook themselves!
  • Crispy & Flavorful: Cooked with salsa verde, citrusy mojo marinade and fresh garlic, these carnitas are exploding with flavor. Pan fry them to crisp the edges to take them to the next level!
  • Budget Friendly: With just 5 ingredients, these carnitas won’t break the bank and are way cheaper than takeout.
  • Versatile: Served in tortillas, a burrito bowl, lettuce wraps, sandwiches or in an omelette, the options are endless.

Love hearty and flavorful pork roast dinners? Try this Cuban lechon asado, easy crockpot pulled pork or Puerto Rican roasted pernil.

Ingredients arranged in bowls for this instant pot carnitas recipe. Arranged from top to bottom: salsa verde, pork roast, oil, garlic and mojo marinade.

Recipe Ingredients

Garlic combines beautifully with the salsa verde, mojo marinade, and pork fat to make some extra flavorful cooking juices. Scroll down to the recipe card for exact amounts.

  • Boneless Pork Roast: Feel free to use a pork butt or boneless pork shoulder.
  • Vegetable Oil: Corn and canola oil are great as well.
  • Salsa verde: Any store-bought salsa verde is okay as long as it’s not avocado-based!
  • Mojo marinade: Use my homemade version or if using store-bought, I find the Badia mojo to have the best flavor.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic really is best for flavor, but garlic powder will work in a pinch.
Tacos with carnitas, corn salsa, and red onions.

How to Make Carnitas in Instant Pot

Just 3 simple steps are needed to make pork carnitas in instant pot: sear, cook and shred! Scroll to the recipe card at bottom of the post for full detailed instructions.

  • Sear: Use the pressure cooker to sear the pork on all sides. Pour the salsa and mojo marinade on top. Stir well.
  • Pressure Cook: Seal the Instant Pot. Set it to manual pressure and set it for one hour.
  • Shred: Do a “Quick Release” for the steam. Use two forks to shred the pork. Set it aside and reserve the cooking juices. You can serve the carnitas as is, or go the extra steps below to add more flavor with crispy edges.
  • Season the Pork: Cook garlic with oil in a large skillet (or back in the instant pot set to sauté) until fragrant. Mix in the shredded pork. Pour in some of the reserved cooking juices and let the pork absorb them.
  • Make Crispy: Spread out the pork and cook it until sizzling and crispy on the edges. Remove it from the heat, serve, and enjoy!
Bowl of Instant Pot carnitas with an Instant Pot in the background.

Chef’s Tips and Variations

  • Add Onion: Cut a large yellow onion into quarters and add the pieces to the Instant Pot. It’ll release lots of fragrance and flavor. You can also add thinly sliced onion when you sauté the pork with the garlic!
  • Crisp in Oven: Skip the pan-frying and spread out the carnitas on a baking sheet. Broil them for few minutes, watching closely, until crispy.
  • Chop Them: Chopping the carnitas will give you a meatier bite. Use a large knife to chop the carnitas into small chunks if you don’t want to shred them.
  • Make it Spicy: The best way to boost the heat is to use a spicy salsa. You can also add a diced jalapeño or Serrano peppers.
  • Crockpot: I have a slow cooker carnitas recipe if you prefer!
  • Save the Cooking Juices: Use as a base for my arroz con pollo or Mexican soups like this pork pozole verde!
Pork carnitas tacos with corn salsa.

What to Serve with Pork Carnitas

Instant Pot carnitas are the perfect dinner with homemade corn tortillas or flour tortillas for tacos and burritos. Serving them over mexican rice for a bowl-style meal is great too. For bean sides, try my refried beans, charro beans or Cuban black beans.

Serving these carnitas as tacos? Try these topping options:

  • Salsa: Traditional salsas, corn salsa or homemade Pico de Gallo.
  • Green: Diced avocado or guacamole, fresh cilantro and lime wedges.
  • Dairy: Mexican Crema, sour cream or crumbled Mexican cheese.
Close-up of Instant Pot carnitas.

How to Store & Reheat Leftovers

  • Fridge: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 
  • Freezer: Transfer to freezer-friendly bags or containers. Freeze for up to 3 months. For best results, thaw overnight in the fridge. 
  • Reheat: Microwave for up to a minute or two, stirring often, until warm. A pan over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes with a little oil will work great to re-crisp the edges. 
A bowl of juicy and crispy shredded instant pot carnitas topped with fresh cilantro.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Recipe
Yield: 8 servings

Instant Pot Carnitas

This garlicky and spicy Mexican-Cuban Instant Pot carnitas recipe is an easy dinner that'll spice up your taco nights.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions 

  • Turn instant pot on to sauté. Once hot, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Sear pork on all sides. Add salsa verde and mojo marinade on top of pork. Stir to combine.
  • For a 3 lb pork roast, cook at pressure for 65 minutes (I used the meat/stew setting). For a 2 lb pork roast, cook at pressure for 50 minutes.
  • Do a quick release of steam. Shred pork in a large bowl and reserve the liquid pork was cooked in.

Crispy Carnitas

  • In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. (You can also do this in the instant pot on the sear setting.)
  • Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add shredded pork and toss to coat in olive oil and garlic.
  • Add 1.5 cups of liquid you saved that the pork cooked in. Cook, tossing often until liquid has cooked out. Repeat this step. (You can continue doing this as many times as you want until the meat has tons of flavor. I usually do this twice and taste to see.)
  • Once your meat is flavored to your tastes, spread pork out into an even layer. (You may need to work in batches!) Cook over high heat, turning once or twice, until sizzling and crispy in spots.

Video

Notes

Store: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 
Reheat: Microwave for up to a minute or two, stirring often, until warm. A pan over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes with a little oil will work great to re-crisp the edges. 
Freeze: Transfer to freezer-friendly bags or containers. Freeze for up to 3 months. For best results, thaw overnight in the fridge. 
Add Onion: Cut a large yellow onion into quarters and add the pieces to the Instant Pot. It’ll release lots of fragrance and flavor. You can also add thinly sliced onion when you sauté the pork with the garlic!
Crisp in Oven: Skip the pan-frying and spread out the carnitas on a baking sheet. Broil them for few minutes, watching closely, until crispy.
Make it Spicy: The best way to boost the heat is to use a spicy salsa. You can also add a diced jalapeño or Serrano peppers.
Crockpot: I have a slow cooker carnitas recipe if you prefer!

Nutrition

Serving: 1 serving, Calories: 421kcal, Carbohydrates: 29g, Protein: 40g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0.05g, Cholesterol: 107mg, Sodium: 496mg, Potassium: 1209mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 25g, Vitamin A: 623IU, Vitamin C: 106mg, Calcium: 41mg, Iron: 1mg

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Jessica
For the past 15 years, Jorge & Jessica have loved getting to share their families' favorite recipes with all of you. They live in Florida with their 3 kids.