Instant Pot Carnitas - The Juiciest Mexican Pulled Pork Recipe! (2024)

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

Make juicy and flavorful Mexican pulled pork in your pressure cooker! Instant Pot carnitas are perfect for tacos, burrito bowls, taco salads, and more.

Instant Pot Carnitas - The Juiciest Mexican Pulled Pork Recipe! (1)

Juicy Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

My slow cooker pork carnitas is one of my most popular pork recipes. With so many requests for an Instant Pot version, here it is! This method is much quicker than the oven or slow cooker, and perfect for weeknights and making ahead.

These Instant Pot carnitas come out of the pressure cooker unbelievably juicy and tender. Every bite of this Mexican-style pork melts away in your mouth, while the zesty flavor from chipotle peppers combined with seasonings lingers long afterward.

Why You’ll Love This Instant Pot Recipe

I love having a big batch of carnitas ready in the fridge during the week, and I’ll freeze the extras for even more delicious meals down the road. Here are more reasons to love this recipe:

  • Quick and easy. Instant Pot carnitas needs simple ingredients and only 20 minutes of hands-on prep before your pressure cooker takes over.
  • Full of flavor. I brown the pork and then season it with a mouthwatering blend of spices and aromatics. The Instant Pot concentrates all that delicious flavor, and the result is juicy, caramelized, and tender pulled pork that you’ll want to eat right out of the pot.
  • Make-ahead friendly. This recipe makes a big batch of carnitas. It’s perfect for feeding a crowd or freezing leftovers for easy meal prep.
  • Versatile. Use your pork carnitas in all sorts of Mexican dishes, and reheat leftovers to add to sandwiches, taco bowls, and more. See further on for easy serving ideas!
Instant Pot Carnitas - The Juiciest Mexican Pulled Pork Recipe! (2)

What Are Carnitas?

Carnitas is Spanish for “little meats”, and it’s exactly that: small pieces of pork that are slow-cooked until juicy and tender. Basically, it’s a variation of pulled pork, Mexican style. Carnitas are a staple all throughout Mexico, where recipes are traditionally made from pork shoulder cooked in lard.

Carnitas are used to fill everything from tacos to burritos and as a topping on bowls and nachos. They’re also irresistible on their own as a main dish or plucked straight from the pot. This homemade version skips the excess fat. These Instant Pot pork carnitas come out flavorful and juicy without it!

Ingredients You’ll Need

Let’s have a quick look at the key ingredients in this zesty pork carnitas recipe. Don’t forget to scroll to the recipe card for the full ingredient amounts and recipe details.

  • Pork: This Instant Pot recipe works best with a boneless pork shoulder roast, trimmed and quartered.
  • Garlic: You’ll need about 6 fresh garlic cloves, sliced into slivers. I stuff these right inside the pork to help distribute the flavor.
  • Seasoning: We’ll season our pork shoulder with a combination of cumin, homemade sazon seasoning (or your preferred store-bought blend), dried oregano, dried adobo seasoning, garlic powder, bay leaves, salt, and pepper.
  • Broth: I like to use low-sodium chicken broth and adjust the salt levels to taste.
  • Chilies: Chipotle peppers in Adobo bring the heat to this Mexican pulled pork recipe.

Can I Use a Different Cut of Pork?

Pork shoulder (or pork butt) is the traditional choice. You can try this recipe with other cuts if you’d like. However, when choosing your pork, remember that leaner cuts (like pork loin or pork tenderloin) may not cook up quite as tender or juicy as fattier cuts.

Instant Pot Carnitas - The Juiciest Mexican Pulled Pork Recipe! (3)
Instant Pot Carnitas - The Juiciest Mexican Pulled Pork Recipe! (4)

How to Make Instant Pot Carnitas

There’s no need to preheat the oven or slow-cook this carnitas recipe for hours. This Mexican pulled pork comes together in a fraction of the time in the Instant Pot:

  1. Brown the pork. Give your quartered pork shoulder a liberal sprinkle of salt and pepper. With your Instant Pot set to saute, brown the pork with a bit of oil until it’s seared on all sides, then take it out to cool.
  2. Add garlic. Next, using a sharp knife, make 1-inch cuts all over the pork. Stuff these small holes with your garlic slivers.
  3. Season. Afterward, rub the pork all over with a combination of cumin, sazon, oregano, adobo seasoning, and garlic powder.
  4. Combine. To the Instant Pot, add broth and chipotle peppers, followed by the seasoned pork and bay leaves. Seal the pot and pressure cook the pork on high for 80 minutes.
  5. Shred. Once the pressure has been released, open the IP and use a pair of forks to shred the pork into small pieces. Then, stir everything together with the juices that have accumulated in the pot. Finally, pluck out the bay leaves, and season to taste.
Instant Pot Carnitas - The Juiciest Mexican Pulled Pork Recipe! (5)
Instant Pot Carnitas - The Juiciest Mexican Pulled Pork Recipe! (6)

Tips for Success

The Instant Pot makes this recipe practically fool-proof. Keep these tips in mind for the perfect pork carnitas:

  • Don’t trim away all the fat. I keep this recipe lean by trimming the pork shoulder before pressure cooking. I recommend trimming the skin but leaving some fat intact, though, as it adds flavor.
  • Always brown the pork first. Don’t skip this step! Browning the meat brings out the flavor and helps seal in the juices.
  • Crisping up these carnitas is optional. You can serve this recipe straight from the Instant Pot. However, if you’d like to crisp up your carnitas, spread the shredded pork out on a baking sheet and pop it under the broiler for a few minutes. Keep an eye on the meat so that it doesn’t burn.
  • Brown and season the pork the night before. Follow the recipe as directed, right up until you would add everything to the IP. Instead, cover and refrigerate your seasoned pork shoulder overnight. It will be all ready to go the following day.
Instant Pot Carnitas - The Juiciest Mexican Pulled Pork Recipe! (7)

Ways to Serve Pork Carnitas

Wondering what to serve with carnitas? There are plenty of ways to turn this flavorful Instant Pot pulled pork into a meal. Try these ideas:

  • Tacos. Carnitas tacos are one of our favorite ways to enjoy Mexican pulled pork. Serve carnitas over corn tortillas topped with guacamole and pico de gallo salsa, or your choice of taco fixings.
  • Quesadillas. Juicy pork makes a tasty filling for homemade quesadillas (swap the chicken for carnitas instead) or baked enchiladas.
  • Bowls. Serve carnitas over a bed of cilantro lime rice, along with diced avocado, corn salsa, and crumbly cotija cheese or shredded Monterey Jack.
  • Rice and beans. Pair with Mexican rice and refried beans or authentic frijoles con todo.
  • Salad. Leftover carnitas are great to serve over a fresh green salad drizzled with creamy tomatillo dressing.
Instant Pot Carnitas - The Juiciest Mexican Pulled Pork Recipe! (8)

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

This carnitas recipe makes a huge batch, so there’s a good chance that you’ll have leftovers! Carnitas are wonderful for meal prep because you can cook this up over a weekend and have lunches for days. Use leftovers in tacos, sandwiches, or as a topping for taco salads and nachos.

  • Fridge: Store leftovers airtight in the fridge for 4-5 days. Reheat your carnitas in a skillet on the stovetop, in the microwave, or under foil in the oven until warmed through.
  • Freezer: Freeze carnitas in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.

More Mexican-Inspired Recipes

  • Ropa Vieja
  • Instant Pot Chicken Taco Chili
  • Carne Guisada (Latin Beef Stew)
  • Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
  • Shrimp Tacos
  • Salsa Verde Chicken

Have you tried this carnitas recipe and loved it? Leave your thoughts in the comments! Also, remember to rate it and share your photos and videos on Instagram or Tiktok.

Instant Pot Carnitas - The Juiciest Mexican Pulled Pork Recipe! (9)

Instant Pot Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)

4.76 from 66 votes






This is the best Instant Pot Carnitas recipe! Make quick and juicy Mexican pulled pork in the pressure cooker to use in tacos, burrito bowls, taco salads, and more.

Cuisine: American

Instant Pot Carnitas - The Juiciest Mexican Pulled Pork Recipe! (10)

Prep: 20 minutes mins

Cook: 1 hour hr 20 minutes mins

Total: 1 hour hr 40 minutes mins

Print Rate Pin SaveWW Points

Yield: 11 servings

Serving Size: 1 /2 cup


  • 2 1/2 pounds trimmed, boneless pork shoulder blade roast, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 6 cloves garlic, cut into sliver
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sazon, I used homemade
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry adobo seasoning, I used Goya
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


  • Season pork with salt and pepper.

  • Press saute on the instant pot, spray with oil and brown the pork on all sides for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

  • Using a sharp knife, insert blade into pork about 1-inch deep, and insert the garlic slivers, you’ll want to do this all over.

  • Season pork with cumin, sazon, oregano, adobo and garlic powder all over.

  • Pour chicken broth, add chipotle peppers and stir, add bay leaves and place pork in the Instant Pot, cover and cook using the pressure cooker setting on high pressure for 80 minutes.

  • When the pressure releases, shred pork using two forks and combine well with the juices that accumalated at the bottom.

  • Remove bay leaves and adjust cumin and add adobo and mix well.

Last Step:

Please leave a rating and comment letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business to thrive and continue providing free, high-quality recipes for you.


Serving: 1 /2 cup, Calories: 160 kcal, Carbohydrates: 1 g, Protein: 20 g, Fat: 7 g, Saturated Fat: 3 g, Cholesterol: 69 mg, Sodium: 397 mg

Did You Make This Recipe?

Post a pic and mention @skinnytaste or tag #skinnytaste!

Follow Us Pin This Rate This


  • Dinner Ideas
  • Egg Free Recipes
  • Freezer Meals
  • Gluten Free
  • Instant Pot Recipes
  • Latin Recipes
  • Lunch
  • Pork Recipes
  • Pressure Cooker Recipes
  • Recipes
  • Weight Watchers – WW Recipes
  • Whole30 Recipes
Instant Pot Carnitas - The Juiciest Mexican Pulled Pork Recipe! (2024)


What is the secret to good carnitas? ›

Carnitas seasoning – rub pork with a simple spice mix of oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. Flavour for cooking – top pork in slow cooker with onion, garlic and jalapeño, then pour over orange juice (the secret ingredient!).

Why is my pulled pork tough in the instant pot? ›

No matter which cut of pork you use, DO NOT release the pressure right away. The slow release will keep the meat tender. An immediate release can be why your Instant Pot pulled pork is tough. It will cause the meat to seize and toughen.

What is the secret to tender pulled pork? ›

Apple cider vinegar: Adds a little tanginess and helps to tenderize the pork. Without it, the pork tastes flat. Adding the vinegar wakes everything up. Fish sauce or Worcestershire: Seasons our cooking liquid and adds a nice burts of umami, which makes the pulled pork even more delicious.

What is the difference between pork carnitas and pulled pork? ›

Pulled Pork. Both carnitas and pulled pork are cooked slowly for several hours, and great to make in the slow cooker or instant pot. Unlike pulled pork, however, carnitas are finished by roasting the meat in the oven until browned and crisp.

How do you keep pork carnitas moist? ›

You'll see the pork slowly cooked in a big pot of lard in many authentic recipes (Woah and yum!). However, to make our carnitas recipe a little more home-friendly, we slow-cook our pork with a few aromatics and a few tablespoons of oil to keep it moist.

Why do you add milk to carnitas? ›

Adding the oranges is very much like braising pork Cuban-style for the traditional cubano sandwich. The milk acts as a tenderizer, a secret I learned while growing up watching dad make his carnitas which, by the way, were always exceptionally tender.

How do you make pulled pork more moist? ›

Try brine: Choose a wet marinade rather than a dry one. Dry rubs may work fine but brine or a wet rub will add that extra moisture along with the flavor that will penetrate deep inside the meat. Keep a spray bottle handy: Keep spraying the meat during smoking or reheating to replace the lost moisture.

Is pulled pork better in Instant Pot or slow cooker? ›

Slow cooking the meat means it never has the chance to toughen up and will be extra silky and tender. Pressure cooking is faster, though you may lose a little bit of the tenderness. If you're going for the pressure cook method, be sure to get a pork shoulder or pork butt, as opposed to a pork loin.

Why is my pork shoulder not tender in the Instant Pot? ›

It is more common to undercook pork in the Instant Pot than overcook it. If the meat seems tough, it is most likely undercooked and needs additional time.

Why do you put orange juice in carnitas? ›

The orange juice in the cooking liquid provides acidity that helps break down the meat so it's extra tender and juicy.

How do you keep carnitas from drying out? ›

For our carnitas, we want the temperature of the confit cooking fat to be about 200°F (93°C) or a little higher. At this temperature, we won't be drying out the surface of the meat cubes while we heat their centers.

How do you make carnitas not dry? ›

Just go for water, then. Water and a touch of neutral flavoured vegetable oil or lard or suet if you have any of those. And don't overdo the water, just sprinkle a few spoonsful and keep the meat covered. Another alternative is to add a bit extra water and then cook off the water when you're ready to serve.

What is the best oil for carnitas? ›

Vegetable oil: Traditional carnitas recipes use lard as their cooking fat, but we'll use vegetable or canola oil today.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Mr. See Jast

Last Updated:

Views: 5609

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (55 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Mr. See Jast

Birthday: 1999-07-30

Address: 8409 Megan Mountain, New Mathew, MT 44997-8193

Phone: +5023589614038

Job: Chief Executive

Hobby: Leather crafting, Flag Football, Candle making, Flying, Poi, Gunsmithing, Swimming

Introduction: My name is Mr. See Jast, I am a open, jolly, gorgeous, courageous, inexpensive, friendly, homely person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.