What readers are saying about this recipe
I’ve made this a few times now and each time I amazed at how simple it truly is to make! And of course it is so delicious, it has become a weekly staple.Rachel
Simple + Versatile
We love this recipe, not just because it’s delicious, but because it’s super simple and versatile. That ends up being the winning combo for us. We love meal prep recipes that we can easily make a big batch of and then use it repeatedly throughout the week in different ways.
These chicken carnitas can be enjoyed several ways. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Tacos – with Siete tortillas or corn tortillas if you tolerate corn ok.
- Bowls – you can make a bowl with rice or cauliflower rice, veggies, greens, avocado and throw some chipotle aioli or one of our other Whole30 sauces on top for good measure.
- Roasted Veggies – just pair this flavorful chicken with your favorite roasted veggies and call it good.
- Stuffed potato – stuff a sweet potato or regular potato if you eat them with these carnitas.
Easy shredded crispy chicken
An easy tip for making your Slow Cooker or Instant Pot chicken carnitas crispy is to put them on a sheet pan and broil them for 7-10 minutes before serving. This is an optional tip to get those crispy bits.
Storage + Re-heating Tips
When you go to store your carnitas for leftovers, make sure to store them in the extra juices so that when you re-heat them, you infuse them again with the flavorful sauce. Our preferred way of re-heating these carnitas is in a pan on the stove. This also makes them crispy and delicious.
Some Other Slow Cooker + Instant Pot Recipes
- INSTANT POT ITALIAN BEEF (PALEO, WHOLE30 + KETO)
- INSTANT POT WHITE CHICKEN CHILI (PALEO, WHOLE30 + KETO)
- SLOW COOKER BEEF POT ROAST WITH VEGETABLES (PALEO + WHOLE30)
- CROCKPOT LASAGNA SOUP (PALEO + WHOLE30)
- EASY HARISSA CHICKEN RECIPE (PALEO + WHOLE30) – INSTANT POT + SLOW COOKER
Your Turn To Make This Chicken Carnitas Recipe
Plan to meal prep these chicken carnitas, and then mix up how you eat them throughout the week. Enjoy healthy chicken dinners or lunches that are friendly for any diet – Keto, Paleo and Whole30!
We hope you love this recipe as much as we do!
Don’t forget to leave a quick star rating and review below, we read every comment and truly appreciate your feedback. Also, be sure to browse the rest of our delicious, healthy recipes to find some other favorites too!
Chicken Carnitas (Juicy & Crispy!) – Slow Cooker or Instant Pot
- 4 lbs (1.81 kg) boneless skinless chicken thighs, (can sub chicken breasts)
For the carnitas sauce:
- 6 cloves (6 cloves) garlic, peeled and smashed
- 3/4 cup (186 g) fresh squeezed orange juice, (about 2 oranges)
- 1/4 cup (60.5 g) fresh squeezed lime juice, (about 2 limes)
- 1 tbsp (1 tbsp) cumin
- 1 tbsp (1 tbsp) chili powder
- 2 tsp (2 tsp) oregano, (fresh or dried)
- 2 tsp (2 tsp) salt
- 1 tsp (1 tsp) chipotle powder
- romaine lettuce, (or sub tortillas or other sturdy lettuce)
- chopped cilantro
- sliced avocado
- sliced jalapenos
- lime wedges
- Prep garlic as noted. Combine orange juice, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt and chipotle powder in a bowl or jar and mix well.
- Prepare any optional toppings/serving items to have them ready for when the chicken is finished cooking.
For the Instant Pot:
- Place chicken in the Instant Pot and add in the garlic. Pour the carnitas sauce all over the chicken and toss to coat.
- Secure the lid on the instant pot and close the pressure valve. Press the “manual” button (or “pressure cook” button) and set the time to cook for 25 minutes at high pressure. Once the time is up, carefully quick release the pressure manually.
For the slow cooker:
- Place chicken in the slow cooker and pour the carnitas sauce all over the chicken.
- Place lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.
- When the chicken has finished cooking in either the Instant pot or slow cooker, remove the lid and shred the chicken with two forks.
- Serve chicken carnitas in bowls, lettuce wedges or tortillas with your favorite toppings.
Optional step for crispy chicken carnitas:
- Set your oven to broil.
- After shredding the chicken, use a spoon to remove the chicken from the instant pot or slow cooker and place on a large sheet pan. Pour or spoon the juices from the instant pot or slow cooker over the chicken in the sheet pan.
- Place in the oven to broil for 7-10 minutes, until the chicken begins to develop some brown and crispy edges. Remove the chicken halfway through and mix it up with a spoon or tongs to help coat all of the chicken with the juices.
- Watch the chicken carefully under the broiler and cook to your preference.
I did this in the instant pot tonight and we loved it!
Happy to hear that Vicki! Thanks for coming back to leave a review, we appreciate it 🙂
Making the carnitas tonight in my Instapot. Kind of a silly question, wondering if I have to put the rack in the Instapot to hold up the chicken. In the recipes I have done so far with the Instapot, I’ve had to use this for the meat. Can the chicken just go directly into the pot?
Yes, it just goes directly in. Enjoy 😊
Excellent dish! I used a reduced sugar OJ since it was in the house, and added cilantro stems to the dish in the instant pot, it gave a great flavor and they were easy to remove when shredding the chicken. I also seasoned the chicken and browned it using the sauté setting in the instant pot. It turned out great. Thank you for the wonderful recipe!
You’re very welcome, your version sounds great!!
This was so good! Made it with breast as they were out of thighs. Still juicy and tender and flavorful!
Hi! When you try it with chicken breast do you alter the time? Thigh meat has always been juicy when using the recipe, the breast seemed more on the dryer side? I love this recipe regardless!
I haven’t and I think you could try adding in more broth if you use breasts to keep it from drying out. Thighs just have a little more fat so they stay juicier and are better for slow cooking.
This was super easy and very good! Since there are only 2 of us, I cut the recipe in half and tossed it in a covered casserole dish; baked at 350 for about 75 min. Shredded the meat and left it uncovered in the oven while I created rice bowls w/mixed greens, assorted chopped vegetables, rice, and avocado. This would be great wih nachos. Thanks for a quick and easy recipe.
You’re very welcome Jane, glad it worked for you!
I don’t see anything about putting and water or stock in the IP. I’ve never cooked anything in the IP without liquid to build up the pressure. Is this right?
Hi Josh – Good question. There is one cup of liquid in the carnitas sauce made up of the orange and lime juice. This is sufficient to allow the IP to pressurize. Enjoy!
Thank you. I realized this was a dumb question after I re-read the recipe and made this. Very delicious
Love how easy this is to make! Can’t to try this out for dinner.
We hope you love it! We’d love to hear how it goes! 🙂
My entire family loves this recipe! So, so good!!
That’s so great to hear Rosie, thanks for coming back to leave a rating and review 🙂
Delicious and so easy!
I have an instant pot Duo/Air Fryer. Can I switch lids and use the air fryer for the broiling? Also, is it possible to do PIP rice along with the chicken?
We haven’t tried either of these so we can’t say. the air fryer lid might work but would only crisp up the top layer of the pork. We’ve found spreading it out on a sheet pan works best. However, it still tastes great without this step so you can save the extra work if needed 🙂
I made this for dinner last night after searching Pinterest for something easy to make with boneless skinless chicken thighs. Had all the ingredients, threw everything in my InstantPot, and cooked for 30 minutes on manual since my chicken thighs were frozen. The meat turned out amazing! We ate it in warm corn tortillas topped with guac. So good! We had leftovers and I used the meat in Cafe Rio style salads tonight. It would be great in tacos, burritos, nachos, quesadillas, enchiladas, salads, you name it! It’s going into my rotation for sure.
That’s great to hear Rachel, thanks for coming back to leave a rating and review 🙂
Really tasty, everyone loved it. Crisping under the broiler is a definite, so good!
how much is a serving size?
We didn’t measure in cups or grams, but if you divide the total out into 8 equal portions that’s the approximate serving size.
The whole family loved this!
Love to hear that Andrea! Glad you enjoyed the recipe and we really appreciate you coming back to leave a rating and review 🙂
I made this tasty dish in my Instant Pot because I’m always looking to expand my cooking skills with the Instant Pot. I did the optional step in crisping my chicken under the broiler, and it was worth the effort! Yum! I served these with avocado slices and baked sweet potatoes. My son and husband raved over this dish and my husband continued to eat leftovers for a couple of days, putting the chicken in corn tortillas. Thanks for this great, simple dinner idea!
You’re welcome, glad you all enjoyed the recipe!
Hi! Is your nutritional value of 391cal based on the total of 6 servings?
Just trying to input into MyFitnessPal 😅
Yes, the nutrition information is per serving
This was SO easy and yummy. Lots of leftovers great as salad topper, with eggs for breakfast or with roasted veggies for dinner! Will be making in the instant pot on repeat.
I haven’t tried it with eggs for breakfast yet – great idea! Glad you’ve enjoyed this versatile recipe.
I’ve made this a few times now and each time I amazed at how simple it truly is to make! And of course it is so delicious, it has become a weekly staple.
Thanks Rachel, so glad you’re enjoying this one :).
This recipe is amazing! Super easy and made the house smell great all day. I used chicken breasts and slow cooked it for 8 hours. Will definitely be doing this weekly. My kids loved it too which is a nice bonus:) Thanks again for another amazing recipe!!!
We’re so glad it was a hit for everyone! Thanks so much for sharing on Instagram and for coming back to leave a rating and review. We appreciate it! 🙂
Another winner! Sooooo good!
Thanks Christina, so glad you liked the recipe!
This was super easy, super quick (in the InstantPot) and SO YUMMY! This will def become a staple recipe at our house. I cut the recipe in half (just 2 of us) and there was still lots of leftovers – which I am happy about! We put it in lettuce wraps for dinner tonight, but this could also be quickly thrown on a salad, or mixed with rice/corn/beans for a mexican bowl… really versatile chicken to have in the fridge! Will make again!
We’re so glad you guys enjoyed it! Thanks so much for trying our recipe and for sharing on IG and coming back to leave a review. We appreciate it SO much! 🙂
“Prep onion and garlic as noted”
I don’t see any mention of onion in the ingredients.
What am I missing?
Sorry about that, the recipe is now updated.
There directions say to prep onion, but onion does not appear on the ingredient list.
Sorry about that, the recipe is now updated to remove the mention of onion.
How much onion? It’s not in the ingredient list but it’s the first item to prep in the recipe!
Sorry about that. We actually took out the onion from the recipe! The recipe is now updated.