Learn how to make the most delicious and juicy Instant Pot Carnitas, the perfect weeknight meal that will leave you with leftovers.
Carnitas are such a wonderful thing to make for the family or as a meal to share. Our Slow Cooker Carnitas recipe is a fan favorite, which is why we’re excited to bring you an Instant Pot variation!
What cut of meat should I use?
This recipe calls for a 2.5 – 3 lb. boneless pork shoulder roast. A pork shoulder is an excellent cut of meat for carnitas because it’s got a good amount of fat layered in and typically comes in larger cuts. Pork shoulders can also be known as a pork butt.
Size matters: If you get a cut of pork shoulder that weighs less than 2.5 lbs. you will likely need to lower your cook time. If you get a pork shoulder that is larger than 3 lbs. you will likely need to increase your cook time.
How to Make Instant Pot Carnitas
Step 1: Pulled Pork Dry Rub
Creating a delicious dry rub for your pork is very important for the end flavor. For this step, you’ll need the following spices OR you can simply use our homemade pork dry rub recipe if you have it in your cabinet!
- chili powder
- garlic powder
- salt (don’t skimp on the salt!)
Step 2: Sear Pork in Instant Pot
In my opinion, one of the best parts about carnitas is the crispy parts. In order to get some great, crispy texture, you’ll want to sear all edges of your pork shoulder. You can do this right in your Instant Pot on the sauté feature. YAS.
Make sure to use enough oil as a 3 lb. pork shoulder is pretty big! We suggest browning for 2-3 minutes on each of the 4 sides. Don’t skimp on this part, people!
Step 3: Pressure Cook
Now it’s time to add a few more things into your Instant Pot (green chiles and water) along with the seared pork to pressure cook away.
How Long to Cook Instant Pot Carnitas
Set your Instant pot to high presser and then set the timer to 90 minutes. Make sure you seal the vent before setting the time.
It will take around 10-15 minutes to build up enough pressure for your timer to start counting down, so be patient. Once the 90 minutes are up, you’ll hear it beep. Open the vent and let all of the steam out to quick release your Instant Pot pulled pork.
STep 4: Shred and Serve
Once your pulled pork carnitas are done cooking, shredding should be VERY easy. If your pork still seems a little tough, we suggest cooking it a little bit longer to make it tender and easy to shred!
Remove any fatty parts of the pork and discard it. Then, take 2 forks and shred away. We like to keep all of the sauce/liquid because there is such great flavor. If you remove any of it, you may need to add more pork dry rub to amp the flavor up!
Want to make them extra crispy?
Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and then spread the shredded pork on the baking sheet. Broil on high for 3-5 minutes and then toss. Continue broiling until the edges are nice and crispy!
We know that these IP carnitas serve a crowd, but they’re also great for meal prep because you can serve it in so many different ways. Here are some creative ways to serve your Instant Pot carnitas!
- Tacos (serve in a tortilla)
- Meal Prep Bowl (serve with brown rice and fajita veggies like this recipe)
- BBQ Pork Sandwiches (mix in your favorite bbq sauce similar to this recipe)
Carnitas pretty much taste good in anything savory and boy do we have some ideas for you to make the best out of your leftovers!
- Chili: add pulled pork to chili
- Mac and Cheese: make our homemade mac and cheese and add carnitas!
- Nachos (top on tortilla chips like this recipe)
- Breakfast skillet (mix with breakfast potatoes and scrambled eggs)
Can you freeze carnitas?
You can absolutely freeze carnitas. Let them cool completely and then transfer into a freezer-safe gallon-size bag. Remove as much air as possible and seal. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Our Fav Instant Pot Recipes
- 42 Healthy Instant Pot Recipes
- Instant Pot Moroccan Chicken
- Instant Pot Korean Beef
- Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
- Instant Pot Pork Chops
Instant Pot Pork Recipes
Watch How to Make This Recipe!
[adthrive-in-post-video-player video-id=”3v1YijWm” upload-date=”2018-09-04T09:00:00.000Z” name=”Instant Pot Carnitas” description=”Is there anything better than fall off the bone pork carnitas tacos? Learn how to make the most delicious and juicy Instant Pot Carnitas recipe with a few simple ingredients.”]
Instant Pot Pork Carnitas
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2.5-3 lb. boneless pork shoulder roast
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-4 oz. can green chilis
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 lime juiced
- First, place pork shoulder on a large plate or cutting board.
- Prepare pork dry rub by placing spices into a medium bowl. Mix until combined.
- Pour spices over the pork shoulder and massage spices into the meat, making sure to be generous! This adds so much flavor. Set aside.
- Turn on the Instant Pot's saute feature and add olive oil. When olive oil is fragrant, sear pork shoulder for 2-3 minutes on each side. The goal here is to get each side nicely browned.
- Turn the Instant Pot's saute feature off and pour green chilis over the pork shoulder. Add water, and cover Instant Pot.
- Turn pressure valve to seal >> turn the Instant pot to high pressure >> and set the timer to 90 minutes. It will take up to 15 minutes for pressure to build inside the Instant Pot. Once this happens, it will start counting down from 90 minutes.
- When the Instant Pot beeps, quick release pressure by turning pressure valve to vent.
- Take cover off Instant Pot and then remove any large fat chunks from the pork.
- Use 2 forks to shred the remaining pork. It should be fall-off-the-bone and easy to shred. If it's not, consider pressure cooking for a longer amount of time.
- Once shredded, squeeze on lime juice and mix.
- Serve immediately OR make them extra crispy!
- To make your carnitas extra crispy, spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Then, transfer carnitas onto baking sheet and evenly spread out. Broil on high for 3-5 minutes. Then, toss and continue broiling until the edges are nice and crispy!
Tips & Notes
- Spice Rub: option to use 3 tablespoons of our homemade pork dry rub instead!
- Burn notice: if you get the burn notice, you need to add a few more tablespoons of liquid to the pot.
- Option to remove some of the liquid before shredding. Do note that you'll be getting rid of a lot of flavor if you do that!
This was so good! It tasted just like chipotle’s! My husband totally fell in love with these carnitas. Thank you for sharing! We we most definitely be making this again!
Aw Kelly, we’re blushing! So happy you and your husband loved these carnitas!
Made this tonight for dinner—first time I made pork shoulder in my instant pot. It was delish, and the whole family enjoyed it!!
Sooo delicious! My go to recipe for carnitas. To prevent the “burn” notice, add a few extra tbsp of water before starting. Also crisping it up at the end is the bomb!
Yours looks so delicious!!
Great recipe! I made the mistake of draining 2/3 of the liquid. If you’re thinking the same as I did, reserve it instead of tossing in the sink. The pork really soaks up a lot once shredded. I used a hand mixer to shred, done in 20 seconds!
This recipe is the bomb! I made it today and loved it! It has a lot of flavor and was super yummy as carnitas. Tomorrow I will try it in pulled pork BBQ sandwiches. Thanks for a wonderful recipe.
So glad you love these Instant Pot Carnitas!
How long do you suggest I cook a 4.5 pound and should I add in more water?
Start with the same amount of time and maybe add a few tablespoons more of water!
Soooooo I had never cooked in my (newly acquired) instant pot. This is the first thing I made… I even had a 7.15lb pork roast with a bone… I quadrupled the spices and sautéed the meat in halves, cooked it in quarters(for 110minutes)… This was the best tasting pork I have made…..ever. Everyone, it’s delicious. I also didn’t have green chilies, so I added a chipotle pepper I had and chicken broth (I was terrified of burning anything this first time around). So. Good. I bet it’s just as delicious with the green chiles.
Thank you for the really clear steps for what to do with your instant pot!! I really appreciated that as a first time user. I look forward to making this again and again!
Thank you so much for your review! I can’t wait for you to try our other IP recipes!
How long do you suggest cooking a 3.54 boneless pork shoulder roast and should I add in any additional liquid at the beginning?
Hi Michele! I’d cook it the same amount of time with the same amount of liquid!
Can I make this with pork top loin roast?
I wouldn’t recommend a pork loin for this recipe. It does not have enough fat!
This was delicious! Definitely worth the time. I cut pork loin into about 1 pound sections pan, browned
but only cooked in instant pot on HIGH for about 55 minutes and was still very tender. I was thinking 90 minutes seemed like a long time and worried about it being dry. Served with rice and corn mixture and refrained beans it was like going out for supper! Only problem was I had to do the work🥴
I really liked this recipe. It was easy to use as a single person….sandwiches, tacos, nachos. I did add some cumin when reheating the serving size I desired.
LOVE all of fitfoodiefinds recipes. Just tried this one today and 10/10!
I was looking for an instant pot carnitas recipe that left the pork shoulder whole rather than having to cube the meat (lazy me!) similar to the conventional oven recipe I had made previously. This worked beautifully. Merging the two recipes, I added 2t crushed corainder seed and 1T ground cumin. With 47oz of meat I’d already de-boned, the middle was not quite falling apart at 90 minutes, so put that section back in for 8 more minutes and it was perfect. Could not stop snacking on it while making burritos for the freezer! Thanks so much
Such a crowd pleaser! I sauteed onions and garlic first and cooked them down with the meat for just a bit more flavor; turned out great! This was a huge hit with my in-laws!
Hi! What did you use for garnish at the end radishes and…cilantro? Thanks!
Yes! And red onion!
I’m surprised that you didn’t use cumin …
What if I’m starting earlier, can it sit in there on warm for a few hours (before I release the valve and shred it)? Will that ruin anything?
Thank you! This was a cinch to prepare, and perfect in one shot. I could only find pickled jalapeños, and since I’m a level one spice gal, I omitted the cayenne and subbed hot smoked paprika. I can’t keep myself frm snagging pieces.
What a great recipe…thanks!! I used the pork butt I had on hand & added onion powder to the dry ingredients. Turned out fantastic! We’re gonna try nachos w/it tomorrow & I’m sure it’ll be a hit!! Thanks again for the versatile recipe 😁
Are there just 2 tablespoons of water in the entire recipe/pot?
That is correct, plus the lime juice. The meet will give off a ton of natural juices!