Originally published April 1, 2018. Last updated January 18, 2020.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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Instant Pot Carnitas (Paleo, Whole30 + Keto)
- 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)
- romaine lettuce (or sub Siete Tortillas or other sturdy lettuce)
- jalapenos, sliced
- lime wedges
- 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.