How to Make Irresistible Instant Pot Carnitas

Move over, slow cooker—these Instant Pot carnitas come together in under an hour and are just as tender and flavorful.

Our Instant Pot carnitas are perfect for your next taco night, with rich and authentic flavors. Traditionally, carnitas are made by braising pork until tender. Then, they’re sauteed until browned and crispy. This can take several hours, so we’ve simplified the method by using a pressure cooker.

Want to impress your family? Learn how to make homemade tortillas, too!

Easy Instant Pot Carnitas Recipe

I love this Mexican carnitas recipe from reader Patricia Collins because she shares her fresh citrus secret to create a ridiculously flavorful dish.


  • 1 boneless pork shoulder roast (3 to 4 pounds), cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 3 large navel oranges
  • 1 large lemon
  • Canola oil or bacon drippings
  • 16 flour tortillas (8 inches), warmed

You may also want to gather toppings, like chopped tomatoes, shredded cheddar cheese, sliced green onions, sour cream and sliced avocado.

How to Make Instant Pot Carnitas

Step 1: Season the pork

Place pork in a 6-quart Instant Pot and season with salt and pepper. Top with just a sprinkle of garlic and cilantro, then squeeze the fresh juice from cut oranges and lemons over the meat.

Step 2: Pressure cook

Lock the lid of the Instant Pot and make sure vent is closed. Select manual setting, adjust pressure to high and set your time for 25 minutes. Once the meat is finished cooking, allow pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes, then quick release. Is instant pot quick release safe?

With a slotted spoon, remove the cooked meat and drain well on paper towels. Transfer the cooking liquid to a glass measuring cup (like a Pyrex) and let the fat rise to the surface. Skim fat from the surface and place in the cooker insert. You can discard any remaining cooking liquid.

Step 3: Saute carnitas

Select the saute setting on your Instant Pot and adjust to high heat. Add enough canola oil or bacon drippings to measure about ½-inch deep. When the oil is nice and hot, add pork, in batches. Fry up the first round until crispy and golden brown. Remove this batch of carnitas and keep warm. It should smell amazing right about now! Repeat with the remaining pork.

Step 4: Serve warm

Once all your meat is perfectly cooked and crisp, serve warm wrapped in a tortilla. Top with diced tomato, shredded cheddar, green onion, a dollop of sour cream and avocado to your heart’s content.

Find more secrets for quality Instant Pot cooking.

Can I Freeze Carnitas?

Yes—these Instant Pot carnitas are freezer-friendly! Simply freeze cooled pork in freezer containers. When you’ve got a carnitas craving, partially thaw in the fridge overnight. Then, saute your meat in batches until warm and crisp, just like you did before. Repeat as needed, until that craving subsides.

Check out these easy Instant Pot recipes for more quick and easy meals.

Serve with a Mexican Side Dish for Taco Night
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Jenna Urben
Jenna is a recipe developer, food writer and content creator based in Texas. She is Taste of Home’s go-to writer for allergy-friendly and vegan recipes that don’t sacrifice flavor or texture, such as coconut cream, vegan chicken nuggets and kale pesto. As someone with food intolerances herself, Jenna knows first-hand the challenges of cooking in a dairy- and egg-free kitchen. Her food blog, The Urben Life, features hundreds of allergy-friendly recipes that the whole family can enjoy and has been spotlighted by Parade, TODAY Food and Stylecaster.