Instant Pot Carnitas

The authentic flavor of traditional carnitas in a fraction of the time. This Instant Pot carnitas recipe will give you incredibly juicy pulled pork with the golden crispy edges you expect from authentic Mexican carnitas. Your family and friends are going to be asking for these at every gathering.

juicy and tender carnitas

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas are seriously some of my favorite Mexican tacos! Carnitas literally means “little meats”. They are called this because the pork is chopped into small pieces after it’s cooked. Making them in the Instant Pot is super easy. You will be amazed at how delicious this dump and start recipe is!

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Authentic Taste Without the Long Wait

Making authentic carnitas, of course, takes a long time and the carnitas are usually made by braising the pork shoulder in oil or lard until it is tender. But as we all know, “ain’t nobody got time for that!” The Instant Pot has opened the door to so many amazing possibilities without the long wait.

a large bowl of shredded pork carnitas

These dump and start Instant Pot Carnitas are so tender and flavorful you would think they cooked all day long! After pressure cooking the pork shoulder or butt, you’ll want to crisp the carnitas on the stove to achieve that authentic crispiness along the edges. They are perfection!

instant pot carnitas
Essential Items

Here are some essential prep tools, utensils, and appliances I used to make this recipe.

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Prep Tools & Utensils

Here are the prep tools and utensils that you’ll need:

Featured Items

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23 Must-Have Electric Pressure Cooker Accessories

Make sure to check out my Ultimate List of Electric Pressure Cooker Accessories! I’ve included everything you could ever need to help make your pressure cooking quicker, easier, and even more convenient.

Making Carnitas in the Instant Pot

I’m lucky to have a husband that loves to experiment in the kitchen and comes up with amazing recipes! Since he knows I love carnitas so much, he was determined to come up with a recipe for Instant Pot Pork Carnitas so we could enjoy them at home!

Let me tell you, this boy is good at what he does! I was a little skeptical when I saw the ingredients, but once it was all said and done, I was ecstatic with the result! Homemade, delicious Pork Carnitas in under 2 hours. Just throw all the ingredients into the Instant Pot, and about an hour and a half later, voila!

a instant pot full of limes and lemons

Shred and Brown the Pork

Once the pork has finished cooking in the Instant Pot, remove each piece of pork and place it on a cutting board. You’ll then want to shred or chop the meat into small pieces.

juicy and tender carnitas

We love the crispy edges in traditional carnitas, so we like to place the cooked pork on an iron skillet for a few minutes to achieve those perfectly crispy edges. Ryan pretty much only cooks on his iron skillets when cooking on the stove. He loves them. And an iron skillet is perfect for browning these pork carnitas.

cooking carnitas in a skillet on the stove

Toppings for Instant Pot Carnitas

Warm up some tortillas, slice a few limes, and gather your toppings and you’ll be ready to enjoy! As for the toppings, you have to include some coriander leaves or cilantro. That is key! We love this cast-iron griddle for warming tortillas.

heating up corn tortillas on a skillet

We also like to add queso fresco and some fresh homemade pico de gallo. I personally top mine with my homemade Honduran cream as well!

a corn tortilla with carnitas cilantro and crumbled cheese sitting on a cutting board with a bowl of pico de gallo, a lime slice, and a bowl of sour cream

It’s Your Turn to Make Carnitas!

Did you make this Carnitas recipe yet? I promise these Instant Pot Carnitas will not disappoint! Try them out and let me know what you think! And if you still haven’t gotten an Instant Pot, what are you waiting for?! Check out my Instant Pot Unboxing and see why I think everyone needs one!

Let me know in the comments when you try these Carnitas! Also, if you can come up with another way to eat the Carnitas, let me know that as well!

5-Star Rating: If you loved these Instant Pot Carnitas, I’d appreciate it if you could give them a 5-star rating to show how much you loved them.

a corn tortilla topped with carnitas, crumbled cheese, and cilantro


Looking for more recipes to feed a crowd? Here are a couple more easy recipes that I know you’ll love:

Need a soup to go with your Carnitas? If you’re looking for a perfect soup to serve with this recipe, then try my Instant Pot Chicken Enchilada SoupInstant Pot Vanilla Jalapeño Corn Chowder, or Instant Pot Chili recipes.

For a full list of all my Instant Pot soup recipes, check out my Instant Pot Soup Recipes post.

Looking for the perfect side dish for these Carnitas? Try my amazing Homemade Guacamole and Homemade Pico de Gallo recipes.

More ways to cook pork shoulder: Have a pork shoulder but don’t know what to make with it? Here are more recipes you can make with Pork Shoulder in the Instant Pot.

Instant Pot Carnitas


4.45 from 20 votes
24 tacos
Cooking Method(s)
  • Pressure Cooking
Pressure LevelHigh
Program SettingManual / Pressure Cook
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Total Time
Recipe by: Valerie Cooper
The authentic taste of Mexican carnitas with incredibly juicy pulled pork and golden crispy edges.
juicy and tender carnitas

Essential Equipment



  • Place the pork shoulder into the Instant Pot.
  • Spread all ingredients over the top of the pork shoulder.
  • Squeeze juice from the oranges and limes over the pork before placing the rinds into the pot.
  • Pour the can of ginger ale over the pork shoulder.
  • Cook on ‘Manual’ or ‘Pressure Cook’, ‘High Pressure’ for 100 minutes.
  • Once the Instant Pot has completed cooking, use the natural pressure release NPR method. I usually let it NPR for 25 minutes and then release any remaining pressure.
  • Ensure that all the pressure has been released before opening the pot.
  • Carefully remove the pork from the Instant Pot and discard the remaining liquid.
  • Place on a cutting board and shred.
  • For crispy edges, brown your shredded pork in a skillet for a few minutes before serving.
  • You now have delicious pork carnitas. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1taco | Calories: 169kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 1828mg | Potassium: 412mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 280IU | Vitamin C: 17.3mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 1.9mg

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23 thoughts on “Instant Pot Carnitas”

  1. Im wondering if anyone has compared these to carnitas from an authentic Mexican variety? Im not criticizing, but 2 ingredients that are routinely used in American “Mexican” restaurants are chili powder and cumin.

    Chili powder has a very strong taste n is not used in México. Cumin is only used in some Mexican recipes and only sparingly as it also can be overpowering. But here in the US, they are 2 flavors that overpower in most restaurants we call “Mexican”

  2. These are great! I love the unique flavor the citrus and cinnimon bring. This has become a go-to recipe for us!

  3. Not a fan. I knew the ingredients sounded interesting but I tried it anyways. Tastes like the holidays which is not a flavor I want in my tacos. May be the cinnamon throwing it off for me.

  4. I just started using the 6quart Instant Pot Ultra and am wondering if I cut the recipe for Instant Pot carnitas in half how long would I pressure cook and should I make any other changes?

    1. Hi Darcy! You can use 4lbs of meat, but cut it into 2 pound pieces (approx). Cut the spices in half, but use the same amount of ginger ale. The cook time will be the same as it is based on any number of 2 pound pieces. Enjoy!!

  5. I’m pretty famous for my carnitas. I make them for every special occasion in our family. This recipe is quite different from mine. I may have to try it for something different.

  6. Well, this was the first time either of us has ever eaten carnitas, but there were no leftovers from a 2.5lb roast between hubby, myself and our toddler! I halved the spices and fruit and only used 1 cinnamon stick but the full can of ginger ale. Crisped them up on broil in the oven with a bit of the juices. COVERED them in fresh lime juice and cilantro with a bit of fire roasted salsa and sour cream. My husband asked when I’m making it again. Lol.
    Thanks, Valerie!

    1. Thank you so much, Marie!! I really appreciate your comment. It makes me so happy when someone enjoys one of our recipes! Carnitas is definitely a family favorite around here! Thanks for stopping by!!

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