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Instant Pot Carnitas (Paleo, Whole30 + Keto)

These easy pork Instant Pot carnitas might be best recipe we’ve ever made! Ok, that’s a bold statement, but these juicy carnitas flavored with fresh squeezed citrus juice and simple seasonings seriously have the best flavor. Even if you aren’t trying to eat Paleo, Whole30 or Keto, you’ll go crazy over these Instant Pot pork carnitas.

Instant pot carnitas in bowls with rice and spinach horizontal overhead image

Making Your Instant Pot Carnitas Feel Like You Slow Cooked Them

We love the Instant Pot but have to admit that cooking a large roast in it can sometimes turn out a little tough and hard to shred. Our tip for really getting that fork tender, fall apart texture you want in carnitas, is to first cube your roast. Cut it up into more manageable pieces. Then, use the sauté function on your Instant Pot to lock the juices in before you pressure cook your roast. The full instructions are of course in the recipe below, but these two tips will totally be a game changer for cooking with your Instant Pot if you aren’t already using them!

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The Seasonings And Citrus

We love using simple ingredients and playing with various seasonings to create delicious flavor combinations. My favorite part about these Instant Pot carnitas that Justin created is the combination of citrus (lime and orange) with savory seasonings. The chipotle powder really adds a little smoky deliciousness and a hint of spice. Spice ain’t your thing? You could use smoked paprika in place of the chipotle powder if you want to avoid the spice all together. But really, you’re going to love the rich and smoky flavors!

Instant pot carnitas in bowls with lime wedges, cilantro, rice and spinach overhead vertical image

Crisp Them And Serve Them Up! 

Once your Instant Pot carnitas finish pressure cooking, let the pressure naturally release for 20 minutes and then manually release any remaining pressure. We like to take one additional step after we shred the pork. We either place the pork on a sheet pan under the broiler or in a skillet on the stove for a few minutes to crisp up the edges. It’s totally optional, but gives this recipe that extra punch! Once the crispy edges have developed, remove from the oven or stove and serve up these Instant Pot carnitas! You can use broad leaf lettuce as a shell to keep them Whole30 compliant or indulge with some Siete tortillas! We find these tortillas at our local Natural Grocers.

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More Instant Pot + Crockpot Recipes To Try

Your Turn To Try These Instant Pot Carnitas

Go ahead and plan these Instant Pot carnitas into your meal plan! Then, use our tips for making them juicy, tender and delicious! Serve them up and enjoy! Let us know how it goes by leaving a comment below. Also, take a photo and tag us on Instagram @realsimplegood, so we can check it out!

Instant pot carnitas in bowl with lime wedges and cilantro overhead vertical close up image with text at top

Like this Recipe?


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Instant Pot Carnitas (Paleo, Whole30 + Keto)

4.32 from 77 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Servings: 8
Calories: 214kcal
These Paleo and Whole30 Instant Pot carnitas have me making all the heart eyes! All of them. So so yummy and the pork comes out super tender, juicy and flavorful! Even if you aren’t trying to eat Paleo, Whole30 or gluten-free, you’ll still go crazy over these Instant Pot pork carnitas.
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  • 3 lbs pork shoulder or butt, cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (about 2 oranges)
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp oregano (fresh or dried)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder
  • 2 tbsp ghee (or other cooking oil)

For topping/serving:

  • romaine lettuce (or sub Siete Tortillas or other sturdy lettuce)
  • cilantro
  • avocado
  • jalapenos, sliced
  • lime wedges
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  • Cut pork into cubes and set aside. Prep onion and garlic as noted.
  • Combine orange juice, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt and chipotle powder in a bowl or jar and mix well.

For the Instant Pot

  • Press the sauté button on the instant pot and add ghee. Once hot, add in the pork and brown it on all sides. Press cancel on the instant pot once the pork is browned.
  • Pour the juice/seasoning mixture all over the pork cubes and add in the diced onion and garlic.
  • 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 30 minutes at high pressure. Once the time is up, let the pressure naturally release on its own for 20 minutes.
  • Manually release any remaining pressure and remove the lid. Shred the pork with two forks.
  • Serve carnitas in lettuce wedges or tortillas with your favorite toppings.

For the Slow Cooker

  • Follow the first 2 steps in the recipe above. Then, heat a pan on the stove over medium heat and add ghee. Once hot, add in the pork and brown it on all sides.
  • Once the pork is browned, add it to the slow cooker. Pour the juice/seasoning mixture all over the pork cubes and add in the diced onion and garlic.
  • Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
  • Shred the pork with two forks. Serve carnitas in lettuce wedges or tortillas with your favorite toppings.

Optional step (for crispy carnitas):

  • Set your oven to broil.
  • After shredding the pork, use a slotted spoon to remove the pork and onions from the instant pot and place on a large sheet pan. Spoon some of the juices from the instant pot over the top of the pork in the sheet pan.
  • Place in the oven to broil for 6-8 minutes, until the pork begins to develop some brown and crispy edges. Watch carefully and cook to your preference.
  • Alternatively, you can simply transfer some of the pork to a skillet over medium heat and cook it until it’s crispy, stirring occasionally. This method is easiest if you are re-heating the pork leftovers from the fridge.


Nutrition facts are an estimate provided for those following a Ketogenic or low-carb diet and do not include the topping/serving items for this recipe. See our full nutrition information disclosure here

Nutrition (per serving)

Calories: 214kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 4g
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Instant Pot Carnitas (Paleo, Whole30 + Keto)

61 thoughts on “Instant Pot Carnitas (Paleo, Whole30 + Keto)

  • This was amazing. I didn’t stick to the recipe perfectly as I generally don’t measure and just eye balled it. Will certainly make this again.

  • This may be a stupid question, but I’m new to cooking.. should I look for pork shoulder that has the bone or without?

  • This is hands down my favorite recipe! I make it all the time. My husband just started dancing around the kitchen when I told him I was making them today!

  • our favorite, go-to carnitas recipe.

    we skip the lime and add it at the end, sometimes it causes a bad sour flavor in our instant pot. otherwise, amazing!

  • This recipe is amazing!!! I especially loved browning the meat at the end! We use this meat for so many different meals, nachos, haystacks, tacos… we love it!

  • My husband and I made this recipe for our Saturday date night in. Super easy and delicious! We topped the carnitas with guacamole, pico de gallo, and cilantro served over cauliflower rice and a side of roasted sweet potatoes. We’ll be enjoying as leftovers too!

  • Could this recipe be used with chicken or beef instead of pork? Would that change the cooking instructions?

  • OMG…these are some of the best carnitas I’ve ever had (restaurants and all!)…I agree with your first comments about your best recipe ever! So good, so easy and quick. These are amazing!

    • We are thrilled to hear you love this recipe as much as we do! Thanks so much for giving it a try and for taking the time to come back and share! We really appreciate it and hope you find some other new favorites to love on our site. 🙂

  • These are juicy and delicious. I tried a different Carnitas recipe berode and it was not as good as these. I did use 4 pounds of pork instead of three and did not change the measurements on anything. And it turned out amazing. I also used it in my crockpot on low for six hours. I seared it in a pan before it went in. Thanks for sharing!

  • At the top is says cooking time is 1 hr 20 minutes. Does that include the time to come to pressure and release pressure? In the directions it says to set the ip to 30 minutes, just wanted to clarify it’s really 30 minutes? Thank you!

    • Yes, you set the instant pot to cook for 30 minutes. The cooking time at the top of the recipe card is the total time, which includes prep, getting to pressure, cooking and the release time.

  • They smell delicious!! The bottom of my insta pot burned though, do you know why this is? I followed the recipe exactly. Hopefully they’ll still be ok to eat haha

    • Hmmmm, I’m not sure why the Instant Pot would burn with this recipe, there is plenty of liquid to prevent burning. We’ve made this numerous times and haven’t had any issue. I hope they tasted fine for you.

  • I made this last night and it was a hit! I’ve actually used a few different Instant Pot carnitas recipes since getting my pot but this one by far had the best flavor – and the shortest time!

  • Looks delicious but it’s not keto since it has the orange juice in it. It says it’s keto before clicking on the recipe via Pinterest.

  • Love this recipe and am doing a paleo/whole30 meal prep
    Party with friends. Tips on how this could be turned into a freezer meal to put in crock pot or instant pot at a later date?

    • We haven’t frozen this recipe so we can’t advise the best way to do that. I’m not sure what the cooking time would be to take it from frozen to warmed, but theoretically you could cook the entire recipe and just re-heat it.

  • OMGosh these are the best carnitas! I did double the recipe so I had to cook it longer but it was worth the wait. I also used 1 tsp of chipotle powder and 1 tsp of smoked paprika. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

  • This recipe is delicious. If I’m even shorter on time, could I make it without browning first? Would that change cook time?

    • We haven’t tried it without browning it first. The browning really locks in the juices and flavor and makes the pork easier to shred. If you do try it without browning first, you’d need to add 5-10 minutes to the cooking time. Let us know how it goes if you try it.

      • I did not brown the meat and cooked it for the 30 minutes as listed. Browning meat to get the maillard reaction isn’t necessary in the Instant Pot; I always skip this step. The two men in my house, and I, thought this was the best recipe EVER for pork shoulder! I didn’t have any citrus but substituted Mojo Criollo marinade and added the spices as listed. Served over Basmati rice tonight. Oh, my word! It was good. Congratulations on a great recipe.

  • If I increase the amount of meat (say the 7 lb pork butt I have), must I also increase the cooking time? I’m an instant pot newbie.

    • Yeah, you will have to increase the time. We’ve never made that big of a roast in ours, but I’d start by adding 10 minutes per extra pound. Another thought is that you might also have trouble fitting that much in there, especially for the browning step. You could do the browning in batches or some in your Instant Pot and then the rest in another skillet on the stove and then throw it all back in your Instant Pot for the rest of the cooking. Hope that helps. Let us know how it goes!

    • This recipe was incredible! Best pork carnitas I’ve ever had! So simple to make, all the ingredients are ones I always have on hand, and the spices and flavors were on point! Will definitely be making it again! Thanks for the recipe guys!

      • We’re so thrilled you enjoyed it, Zoe! Thanks so much for taking the time to come back and share! We really appreciate you trying our recipe, sharing on social media and being a part of our community! 😀

      • One thing l like to do with left over liquid, including the mushy onions, is to purée it (great excuse to get an immersion blender, otherwise use a regular blender-be carefully its boiling hot), then put In a small pan on the stove on high and cook down to a sauce to put on your wraps or tacos-good concentrated flavors.

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