You are sure to fall in love with this recipe for Instant Pot Carnitas! With the help of the pressure cooker, you can make the most tender, juicy Pork Carnitas ever!
I have been making Pork Carnitas for years.
Or at least what I THOUGHT to be Pork Carnitas…….Do you know the actual definition of Pork Carnitas?
According to wikipedia, Carnitas are made by braising or simmering pork in oil or preferably lard until tender.
You guys, I have been doing this carnitas thing all wrong! I do NOT simmer my pork roast in lard or oil!
But guess what? My recipe for Instant Pot Shredded Mexican pork still tastes a LOT like traditional carnitas–tender, juicy, and full of flavor. Just minus the lard!
Pork Roast For Carnitas
This recipe for Instant Pot Carnitas can be made with either pork shoulder, pork butt, or pork loin.
- Pork Butt or Boston Butt)–A pork butt is marbled evenly throughout the roast and usually uniform in size. A very tender roast that shreds easily and stands up to bold flavor.
- Pork Shoulder (or Picnic Roast)–Has less marbling than a pork butt and typically comes with skin on that needs trimmed.
- Pork Loin Roast–Pork Loin Roasts are quite a bit leaner, which is ideal if you are watching fat or calories. However, you may find it is a bit tougher to shred pork loin after cooking. To ease the process, cut your pork loin into 2-3 inch chunks BEFORE cooking. Follow directions as stated, but cook for 20 minutes on high pressure. You can opt to keep your pork loin whole and cook for 25 minutes per pound, but you may find that your pork loin roast will need to be sliced verses shredding easily with 2 forks.
I recommend Pork Butt for Instant Pot Carnitas because it is well marbled and uniform in size making this cut of pork the juiciest, tender meat for shredding.
How To Make Pressure Cooker Carnitas
Step One: Sear Pork Roast (OPTIONAL!)
- Turn your pressure cooker to Saute and pour in 1 tablespoon oil.
- Wait until your pressure cooker reads Hot, and then sear your meat 2-3 minutes per side until browned.
Step Two: Cook the Pork Loin in the Instant Pot
- Cooking pork loin in the pressure cooker is as easy as hitting manual button.
- Set cook time for 20 minutes per pound on high pressure for fresh pork loin
- Set cook time for 30 minutes per pound for frozen pork loin.
*If you have cut your pork loin into smaller roasts, set for the time of the largest piece of meat (ie–if you have two 2 lb roasts, cook for 40 minutes instead of 80 minutes total. Alternatively, if you are cooking 2 inch chunks of pork loin, I find that 20 minutes total time is perfect.)
Step Three: Shred the Cooked Pork
- After the cook time has elapsed on the instant pot, let pressure release naturally. This is an extremely important step if you want to achieve tender pressure cooker meat.
- Once pressure has released, open Instant Pot.
- To shred the pork, I break it into 2-3 large chunks with a butter knife.
- Place hand-held mixer right into the instant pot, turn to medium low and shred away.*The juice the pork has cooked in, will splash a bit, but the inner pot is deep enough, I don’t find this to be much of an issue. *You could also just remove your pork loin from the pressure cooker and use two forks to shred the meat or shred in a stand-mixer if desired.
What if the pork roast is not tender after cooking time?
If after your pork has cooked and pressure has been NATURALLY released, and your pork roast will not easily shred for you, don’t panic. This can easily happen with a leaner cut of meat like pork loin if you don’t cut into smaller chunks before cooking.
- Cut your pork into chunks and place back in your pressure cooker right inside the cooking juices.
- Set the pressure to high and cook for an additional 10 minutes and let pressure release naturally again. Your meat should be perfect at this point!
Crispy Instant Pot Carnitas
If you desire those crispy edges on your pork roast for contrast in texture, take a few minutes to crisp up your Pulled Mexican Pork.
- Turn your broiler on your oven to high.
- Spread your shredded pork loin on a large rimmed baking sheet, along with 1/2 cup of the cooking juices.
- Place the baking sheet under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until the juice has begun to evaporate and the meat begins to brown.
- At this point, you can flip the meat, add an additional 1/2 cup cooking liquid and repeat the process on the remaining side, or you can serve as is.
I love to serve these carnitas with a simple slaw that helps cut through the richness of the pork.
- Mix 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice with 1 teaspoon honey (or sugar), and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Toss with 2 cups shredded cabbage.
- Refrigerate for at least 20 minute prior to serving.
How to Serve Instant Pot Mexican Shredded Pork
- In tortillas with cheese, cabbage, and or sour cream
- In a Pork Carnita Bowl
- Over a Baked Potato or Sweet Potato
- As a topping for Mexican Cobb Salad or Mexican Pizza.
Tips for Instant Pot Pork Carnitas
- Pro Tip: If you are purchasing a large pork roast (any variety) and it is too large for your pressure cooker, simply ask your butcher to cut for you. Your butcher will do this for FREE–you just have to ask!
- Freshly squeezed orange juice is best, but any orange juice you have will work.
- If you don’t want to use chicken stock in this pork carnitas recipe, I suggest a light beer. Just remember that if using beer, these Instant Pot Pork Tacos, will no longer be gluten-free or paleo.
- Shredded Mexican Pork will keep safely in your refrigerator for 3-4 days and will freeze for up to 3 months.
More Instant Pot Recipes
- Instant Pot Rotisserie Chicken
- Instant Pot Chicken Marsala
- Pressure Cooker French Dip Sandwiches
- Instant Pot Lasagna
Instant Pot Carnitas
- 1 tablespoon oil optional
- 1 3-4 pound pork roast shoulder or butt is preferred
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup chicken stock or light beer
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- tortillas, shredded cheese (cheddar or queso fresco), shredded cabbage
- OPTIONAL: Turn your instant pot to saute and add in oil. Season pork roast liberally with the kosher salt. When Instant Pot reads "Hot," add pork loin to instant pot and sear until browned on each side. (Skip if you are in a time crunch or using a frozen pork roast.)
- Mix together orange juice, stock, cumin, oregano and garlic powder and pour over pork loin.
- Seal pressure cooker and be sure vent is pointing to "sealed." Set pressure to high and cook for 20 minutes per pound (60 minutes for 3 pounds or 80 minutes for 4 pounds.)
- Once cook time has elapsed, let pressure release naturally.
- Shred pork with 2 forks or kitchen mixer (stand or hand-held mixer both work.)
- If you want to crisp the edges of the shredded pork, place meat on rimmed sheet pan with 1/2 cup cooking liquid and broil under high heat for 3-5 minutes per side.
- Serve Mexican pork with tortillas and shredded cheese, over rice, or over baked potatoes.
- For Pork Loin Roast: If using pork loin instead of pork butt or shoulder, you may find it is a bit tougher to shred after cooking. To ease the process, cut your pork loin in 2 inch chunks BEFORE cooking. Follow directions as stated, but cook for 20 minutes on high pressure. You can omit to keep your pork loin whole and cook for 20 minutes per pound, but you may find that your pork loin roast will need to be sliced verses shredding easily.
- For FROZEN pork roast: Do NOT sear the meat, omit the oil, and add 10 minutes to cooking time per pound (30 minutes per pound.)
To Make Instant Pot Carnitas, You May Need
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