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Instant Pot carnitas

Instant Pot Carnitas Recipe

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  • Author: Stephani Jenkins
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 50
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Diet: Gluten Free


This recipe is a family favorite in our house! We can cook it once and it will feed us for several meals!


Units Scale
  • 34 lb. pork butt roast
  • 1/4 c. lard or avocado oil
  • 1/2 c. fresh orange juice (save two of the peels)
  • 2 juiced limes (save two of the peels)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Add 1/2 c. water or broth
  • 1 Tbs. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. salt (Use the code kitchenstewardship for 15% off of your first purchase), plus more for salting the meat
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • Your favorite taco fixings (traditionally, you serve carnitas with corn tortillas, diced onion, cilantro, salsa, and hot sauce)

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  1. Using a sharp knife, cut the meat into large 2-inch chunks.
  2. Heat the lard or oil in a large skillet on the stovetop or the Instant Pot on the sauté setting. You will get better results if you use the skillet instead of the Instant Pot to brown the meat. I know, I know, I hate using extra dishes. But the sides of the Instant Pot are too high to properly brown the meat, and you will end up steaming it more than browning it.
  3. While the lard heats, generously salt (Use the code kitchenstewardship for 15% off of your first purchase) the meat on all sides. Brown the meat in the skillet until it is dark brown, then flip it with a pair of tongs to brown the other side.
  4. While the meat browns, arrange the onion, lime peels, orange peels, garlic cloves, and bay leaves in the bottom of the Instant Pot. Pour in the water or broth.
  5. Measure out the rest of the seasonings into a small bowl.
  6. Use the tongs to transfer the meat to the Instant Pot. Pour the orange juice and lime juice over the meat and then sprinkle it with the seasonings. Close the Instant Pot, seal it, and set it to cook on high pressure for 30 minutes.
  7. When the Instant Pot is finished cooking (you can either wait for the pressure to release naturally or use the quick-release button), preheat the oven to 450 F. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the meat onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Discard the orange peels, lime peels, and bay leaves. The meat will be fall-apart tender, but resist shredding it.
  8. Bake it for 10-15 minutes, until the meat is nicely browned and the juices are almost gone.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven and shred the meat with two forks.
  9. Traditionally, carnitas are served on heated corn tortillas with diced onion cilantro, salsa, and hot sauce. I’m not gonna tell you how to eat your tacos, but I highly recommend you try the traditional toppings at least once!
  10. Store leftovers in a glass (preferred) or plastic container in the fridge for up to three days.


For Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas: Follow the same recipe, but cook the meat, onions, seasonings, etc. in your slow cooker for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. 

A Quick Note on Ingredients: Traditionally, carnitas are cooked with the simplest of seasonings. Everyone has a different combination they love the best, and some of the most authentic recipes (according to the internet) simply use salt and maybe some garlic. In my opinion, it’s all in how you cook them. Don’t skip the cooking steps (brown, cook, then crisp). You can skip some of the spices if you need to. The lime juice and orange juice add amazing flavor to the final product, but they aren’t absolutely necessary for a good carnitas taco. Experiment, make this recipe work for you, and enjoy another real food dinner in the Instant Pot!


  • Serving Size: 3-4 oz,
  • Calories: 752
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Sodium: 537mg
  • Fat: 49g
  • Saturated Fat: 17g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 3g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 70g
  • Cholesterol: 245mg