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Instant Pot Carnitas – Pork Braised Tacos

Instant Pot CarnitasFill 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 you can make 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 pressure-cooks or braises until it’s tender enough to shred, which is how it gets the name carnitas or ‘little meat’ in Spanish.

WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

  • Pork Rub: Generously coat the pork in salt, cumin, chipotles en adobo, black pepper, cinnamon, and Mexican oregano.
  • Pork Shoulder: Pork shoulder or butt is ideal for making carnitas; the higher fat content helps the meat maintain its juiciness throughout the cooking process.
  • Onion: Onions combine with 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- measure with your heart.
  • Jalapeño: Finely diced jalapeños bring the right amount of heat for most, but if you crave something spicier, use serrano chili instead.
  • Aromatics: Cinnamon sticks and bay leaves infuse the meat as it cooks.
  • Orange Juice and Lime: Tenderize the pork with orange and lime juice.
  • Liquid Smoke: The secret ingredient for our carnitas is liquid smoke; it gives the pork a nice, smoky flavor without cooking it on the grill or over an open flame.

HOW TO MAKE INSTANT POT CARNITAS

Combine salt, cumin, chipotles en adobo sauce, black pepper, cinnamon, and oregano in a small bowl to make the pork rub.

Make a flavorful paste for the pork.

Remove the skin and bones from the pork and then cut it into 1-2 inch pieces. Add the meat to a mixing bowl and massage the rub into the pork.

Coat the pork in the rub.

Warm oil in an Instant Pot on saute mode until smoke. Add the pork and let it cook until it begins to brown, for about 5 minutes. Cook in batches and return the meat to the Instant Pot.

Sear the pork to get a nice crust.

Add onion, garlic, jalapeño, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, orange juice, lime juice, and liquid smoke.

Add the remaining ingredients to the Instant Pot.

Secure the lid and cook on manual high pressure for 40 minutes, and naturally release for 20 minutes before removing the lid.

Seal and cook on high pressure.

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.

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

Preheat oven to 500° F (260° C). Cover the meat with liquid smoke and cook for 4 minutes, until the top layer becomes crispy.

Crisp the pork in the oven before serving.

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

Garnish our Instant Pot Carnitas with onion and cilantro.

COOKING TIPS

  • When broiling the pork at the end, the crispier, the better- I say! After the first broil, I move the pork around on the baking sheet and repeat the process a few times to get the ends nice and crispy.

SEARCHING FOR MORE LIKE THIS? 

If you love this recipe, try one of our other Mexican-inspired meals!  

Garnish our Instant Pot Carnitas with onion and cilantro.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

WHAT TO DO WITH THE LEFTOVERS 

  • FRIDGE – Store leftovers in an airtight container; they will keep for 3-4 days.
  • FREEZER – I prefer to store the pork in a freezer-safe container or bag and reserve the juices in a separate bag. Carnitas will freeze for 3 months. When you’re ready to eat, let the pork and marinade defrost in the fridge overnight.
  • REHEAT – Reheat carnitas by frying the meat in a cast-iron skillet or frying pan or in the oven on a rimmed baking sheet. When the pork is thoroughly reheated, drizzle it with the reserved juices. Prepare your tortillas and toppings, and enjoy!
  • 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

Are carnitas keto? Are they low-carb?

Yes, replace orange juice with water and add one teaspoon of Chicken Better than Bouillon for added flavor. These macros account for the pork in the taco and not the tortilla or any of 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 one net carb per tortilla. I tried to link them for you, but only the bulk order option was available on Amazon.

Garnish our Instant Pot Carnitas with onion and cilantro.

Instant Pot Carnitas – Pork Braised Tacos

Tressa Jamil
Fill a warm corn tortilla with our deliciously flavored pork shoulder and top it with fresh cilantro and red onion for Instant Pot carnitas you can make in the comfort of your own home.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 28 mins
Total Time 1 hr 58 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 346 kcal

Ingredients
  

For the Rub:

For the Carnitas:

  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 5 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1-2-inch pieces
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, stem 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
  • lime wedges, to garnish

Instructions
 

  • Combine salt, cumin, chipotles en adobo sauce, black pepper, cinnamon, and oregano in a small bowl to make the pork rub.
  • Remove the skin and bones from the pork and then cut it into 1-2 inch pieces. Add the meat to a mixing bowl and massage the rub into the pork.
  • Warm oil in an Instant Pot on saute mode until smoke. Add the pork and let it cook until it begins to brown, for about 5 minutes. Cook in batches and return the meat to the Instant Pot.
  • Add 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, and naturally release for 20 minutes before removing the lid.
  • 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.
  • Preheat oven to 500° F (260° C). Cover the meat with liquid smoke and cook for 4 minutes, until the top layer becomes crispy.
  • Serve the carnitas on corn tortillas and garnish with onion and cilantro.

Video

Notes

Cooking Tips:
  • When broiling the pork at the end, the crispier, the better- I say! After the first broil, I move the pork around on the baking sheet and repeat the process a few times to get the ends nice and crispy.
 
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

Nutrition

Serving: 2 TacosCalories: 346kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 20gFat: 27gSodium: 139mgFiber: 1gSugar: 5g
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.