Instant Pot carnitas is Mexican style pulled pork that's pressure cooked to tender perfection, and then broiled until crispy. Carnitas is perfect for pulled pork tacos, rice bowls, burritos and more.
If you're looking to make the best Instant Pot pulled pork tacos, these pork carnitas are exactly what you need. They are so easy to make, require only a few ingredients, and can be topped and served with any sides that you like.
I love to meal prep a big batch of carnitas to use in multiple meals like tacos, casseroles and salads through the week.
Why you'll love it
- Really easy carnitas
- Flavorful pulled pork
- Uses affordable ingredients
- So easy to customize
- Kid friendly
- Easy meal prep pork entree
- Really versatile
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Pork shoulder: This is the perfect cut of pork to make pulled pork with. Pork shoulder has fat marbled in between the meat, which means that it becomes fall-apart tender after cooking. You can also use pork leg, but avoid using lean cuts like pork loin or tenderloin, as these are not suitable to make pulled pork with.
Lime + garlic: Adds flavor to the pork. These can be omitted if you like, but I highly recommend adding them.
You can find full instructions + ingredient measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of this page
One: Add the ingredients to an Instant Pot, and seal the lid. Cook on the PRESSURE COOK or MANUAL setting for 45 minutes, then release the pressure and remove the lid.
Two: Use two forks to shred the meat and make pulled pork. Remove the meat from the liquid, and place it on a sheet pan, or in a roasting dish.
Three: Broil or grill the pulled pork for about 5 minutes, or until it is crispy on top. Serve with your favorite side dishes, or use in your favorite recipes.
- Customize the seasoning to suit your preferences. See the Variations section below for some excellent options.
- Pull the pork meat using two forks, pulled pork claws, or even an electric hand mixer.
- Try to remove any large chunks of fat from the surface of the pork, as this is unpleasant to eat. You can also remove pieces of fat after cooking.
- Be careful when releasing the pressure and opening the lid on the Instant Pot. The steam is really hot. I recommend using oven gloves, or turning the pressure valve with a utensil.
You can also use the pulled pork in other dishes, or serve it as an entree paired with your favorite side dishes. I love to pair it with Instant Pot Mexican Rice, Mexican Potatoes, Chili Lime Rice, Air Fryer Tortilla Chips and my favorite Black Bean Corn Salad
Spicy carnitas: Add some chili powder to the seasoning, or mix some hot sauce into the pulled pork before you broil it.
Easy seasoning: Use your favorite seasoning mix in this recipe. Keep it simple by using store bought seasoning packets like taco powder, or try other variations like mojo sauce.
Other cuts of pork: I only recommend using pork shoulder or pork leg for this recipe. Other cuts of pork, like pork loin, will not become as tender when cooking, and is not suitable for pulled pork. Check out my Instant Pot Pork Roast if you're looking to cook pork loin!
Store any leftover pressure cooker pork carnitas in a sealed container in a refrigerator for up to 4 days, or freeze it for up to 6 months.
Defrost the pork in a refrigerator overnight, and reheat it before you serve it with side dishes, or use the meat in any of your favorite recipes.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, it is absolutely possible to overcook pork, but it's not very easy to do so, as it would take several hours. If the meat is tough, it's most likely undercooked rather than overcooked.
The best cut for carnitas, or any pulled pork, is pork shoulder. This is because fat is marbled throughout the meat, which makes it really tender.
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You might also like these recipes
- Instant Pot Pork Loin
- Instant Pot Pulled Pork
- Slow Cooker Carnitas
- Instant Pot Chicken Tacos
- Swordfish Tacos
- Buffalo Chicken Tacos
Instant Pot Carnitas
- Remove large chunks of excess fat, as well as the rind, from the pork shoulder. Cut the meat into 2-inch wide pieces.
- Add the water to the Instant Pot, followed by the meat, seasoning, limes cut into halves, and minced garlic.
- Seal the lid, and cook the meat on PRESSURE COOK or MANUAL setting. Set the timer to 45 minutes. The Instant Pot will take about 10 minutes to gain pressure before the timer starts counting down.
- After the meat is cooked, perform a quick release according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Remove the pork shoulder from the Instant Pot. Shred the meat with two forks, and discard any chunks of fat.
- Place the shredded pork shoulder on a lined sheet pan or baking tray. Place it under a grill, and broil for 4-5 minutes, or until the meat is a little crispy.
- Serve the pork carnitas as tacos, or use in your favorite dishes.
- Store leftover carnitas in a refrigerator for up to 4 days, or freeze it for up to 6 months.
- Feel free to replace the seasoning with your favorite flavors, like taco seasoning.