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Instant Pot Carnitas – Pork Braised Tacos

Let’s make Instant Pot carnitas! Fill a warm corn tortilla with our deliciously flavored pork shoulder and top it with fresh cilantro and red onion for restaurant-style carnitas street tacos in the comfort of your own home.

Garnish our Instant Pot Carnitas with onion and cilantro.

WHAT IS CARNITAS?

Carnitas are a popular Mexican dish made with pork butt or shoulder. The meat is pressure cooked or braised until it is tender enough to shred, which is where carnitas gets the name, “little meat.”

WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

  • Rub: Combine salt, cumin, chipotles en adobo, black pepper, cinnamon, and Mexican oregano to flavor the pork.
  • Pork Shoulder: Pork shoulder or butt is ideal for carnitas; the higher fat content helps the meat maintain its tender juiciness throughout the cooking process.
  • Onion: Onions combine with the tender, shredded pork for the perfect bite.
  • Garlic: I suggest using four cloves, but don’t let my recipe tell you how much garlic to use- go for it.
  • Jalapeño: Finely diced jalapeños bring the right amount of heat for most people. If you crave something spicier, use a serrano chili instead.
  • Aromatics: A cinnamon stick and bay leaves subtly infuse the meat as it pressure-cooks.
  • Orange Juice and Lime: Tenderize the pork with orange and lime juice.
  • Liquid Smoke: A key ingredient for our carnitas is liquid smoke; it gives the pork a nice smoky flavor without cooking on the grill or over a flame.

HOW TO MAKE INSTANT POT CARNITAS

Make a flavorful paste for the pork.

MIX – In a small bowl, combine salt, cumin, chipotles en adobo sauce, black pepper, cinnamon, and oregano to create a rub.

Coat the pork in the rub.

CUT AND COAT – Remove the skins and bones from the pork and then cut it into 1-2 inch pieces. Add the pieces to a large mixing bowl and massage the rub into the pork.

Sear the pork to get a nice crust.

BROWN – Warm oil in an Instant Pot on saute mode. Add the pork and let it cook until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Cook in batches and repeat until all the meat has had a chance to cook.

Add the remaining ingredients to the Instant Pot.

ADD – Return the meat to the Instant Pot, along with onion, garlic, jalapeño, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, orange juice, lime juice, and liquid smoke.

Seal and cook on high pressure.

COOK – Secure the lid and cook on manual high pressure for 40 minutes. Allow 20 minutes for natural release.

Shred the pork and spread it onto a rimmed baking sheet.

SHRED– Remove the pork from the Instant Pot using a slotted spoon, leaving the juices behind. Allow the meat to cool some before shredding it. Then, spread it onto a rimmed baking sheet.

Crisp the pork in the oven before serving.

BROIL – Pre-heat oven to 500° F | 260° C. Cover the meat with liquid smoke and cook for 4 minutes, until you begin to see crispy bits. The more crispy bits, the better. You may even want to move the meat around and repeat this process a few times.

Garnish our Instant Pot Carnitas with onion and cilantro.

SERVE – Serve the carnitas on warm corn tortillas and garnish with onion and cilantro.

Garnish our Instant Pot Carnitas with onion and cilantro.

WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVERS 

  • FRIDGE – Store leftovers in an air-tight container; they will keep for 3-4 days.
  • FREEZE – For best results, reserve some meat and juice before broiling. I prefer to put the pork into a freezer-safe container or bag and store the reserved juices separately in another bag. The carnitas will freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat, let both defrost in the fridge overnight.
  • REHEAT – Reheat the carnitas by frying them in a cast-iron skillet or frying pan. When the pork is thoroughly reheated, drizzle the meat with the reserved juices. Prepare your tortillas and toppings, and enjoy! To serve, pour the contents of the bag into a bowl and warm it in the microwave for thirty seconds.
  • REPURPOSE –  Don’t feel like making tacos for the second night in a row? No worries, use the leftover meat to make enchiladas, nachos, sliders, quesadillas, breakfast burritos, or Mexican pizza.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Is this recipe keto? Is it low-carb?

Yes, replace the orange juice with water and add 1 tsp of Chicken Better than Bouillon for added flavor. These macros account for the pork in the taco and not the tortilla or any the toppings. The serving size for this dish is three tacos.

Carbs – 2 Net Carbs
Protein – 44g
Fat – 38g

We recommend serving the carnitas with a low-carb tortilla. I like Mr. Tortilla because they are only 1 Net Carb per tortilla. I tried to link them for you, but only the bulk order option was available on Amazon affiliates.

Garnish our Instant Pot Carnitas with onion and cilantro.

Instant Pot Carnitas – Pork Braised Tacos

Tressa Jamil
Instant Pot carnitas are made with juicy, shredded pork; the meat is later roasted until crisp so you can enjoy restaurant-style carnitas street tacos in the comfort of your home.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 28 mins
Total Time 1 hr 58 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 10 People

Ingredients
  

For the Rub:

For the Carnitas:

  • 2 tbsp Avocado Oil
  • 5 lb Pork Shoulder cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 large Red Onion diced
  • 4 Garlic Cloves minced
  • 1 Jalapeno stems and seeds removed, diced
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • cup Orange Juice no pulp
  • ½ cup Lime Juice about 2-3 limes
  • Liquid Smoke to taste

For the Assembly:

  • Corn Tortillas warmed
  • Cilantro chopped
  • Red Onion finely diced
  • Limes to garnish

Instructions
 

  • In a small bowl, combine salt, cumin, chipotles en adobo sauce, black pepper, cinnamon, and oregano to create a rub.
  • Remove the skins and bones from the pork and then cut it into 1-2 inch pieces. Add the pieces to a large mixing bowl and massage the rub into the pork.
  • Warm oil in an Instant Pot on saute mode. Add the pork and let it cook until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Cook in batches and repeat until all the meat has had a chance to cook.
  • Return the meat to the Instant Pot, along with onion, garlic, jalapeño, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, orange juice, lime juice, and liquid smoke.
  • Secure the lid and cook on manual high pressure for 40 minutes. Allow 20 minutes for natural release.
  • Remove the pork from the Instant Pot using a slotted spoon, leaving the juices behind. Allow the meat to cool some before shredding it. Then, spread it onto a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Pre-heat oven to 500° F | 260° C. Cover the meat with liquid smoke and cook for 4 minutes, until you begin to see crispy bits. The more crispy bits, the better. You may even want to move the meat around and repeat this process.
  • Serve the carnitas on warm corn tortillas and garnish with onion and cilantro.

Notes

  • Nutrition Disclosure: The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.
 
  • Web Story: Check out our web story for our pork carnitas recipe!
Keyword instant pot carnitas
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and follow @thejamilghar or tag #thejamilghar on Instagram!
Recipe Rating




Lynne

Thursday 4th of August 2022

Love making pork! I used the leftovers on top of nachos!

Tressa Jamil

Friday 5th of August 2022

Ooo, I have actually never made nachos with the leftover carnitas. I need to try that; thank you for the reccomendation.

Giangi

Sunday 31st of July 2022

I am so in love with this recipe. And I LOVE that I can use my IP to do it. Life changing for me. The flavors are divine together. My family love it and will make it again soon. Thank you.

Tressa Jamil

Monday 1st of August 2022

I am glad it was easy for you to make and that you enjoyed it!

fede

Sunday 31st of July 2022

Super delicious! I made this carnitas and it was so super easy to make.

Tressa Jamil

Monday 1st of August 2022

Thank you, happy you enjoyed it!

Bianca

Saturday 30th of July 2022

Absolutely obsessed with this carnitas recipe! Will be making this many more times

Tressa Jamil

Saturday 30th of July 2022

Such high praise!Thanks for taking the time to comment.