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instant pot carnitas tacos with onion on platter

Easy Instant Pot Carnitas (So Juicy!)

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  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8-10 1x
  • Category: Main Courses
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Mexican-Inspired

Description

This Instant Pot Carnitas recipe features beer-braised pork shoulder flavored with citrus, garlic, aromatics and spices. The end result? Tender, juicy, and oh so succulent pork shoulder made easily in under 1 hour via the Instant Pot! You can quickly transform fall-apart tender carnitas into crispy carnitas with a quick broil or fry in a skillet for restaurant-worthy, homemade tacos. Alternatively, serve up your carnitas in a variety of other tasty ways. Slow cooker carnitas instructions included, too!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 lbs boneless pork shoulder/Boston butt, cut into chunks
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to season
  • 23 tablespoons high-heat oil, for browning (I use avocado oil)
  • ⅓ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1012 cloves of garlic, finely minced or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle/can of beer- I use Modelo, (or 1 ½ cups chicken broth/stock)
  • for carnitas tacos assemblyoptional: tortillas, finely chopped onion, sliced radish, fresh chopped cilantro, lime wedges, etc.

Instructions

  1. Season the pork shoulder: Place the pork shoulder chunks into a large bowl and generously season pork with salt and pepper. Use your hands (fitted with disposable gloves, if desired) to massage the seasoning into the pork, ensuring all pork is well seasoned.
  2. Brown the pork: Coat the bottom of a 6-quart (or larger) Instant Pot with oil, and set it to the high sauté function. When hot and ready, work in batches (careful not to overcrowd the pot), add seasoned pork into the pot in an even layer. Cook the pork on all sides until a deep brown crust appears, about 1 minute on each side. Then transfer the browned pork to a clean plate/platter and repeat the process with the remaining batch of pork. 
  3. Assemble the braise: Return all browned pork chunks back into the pot along with any residual juices collected. Add the orange juice, lime juice, onion, cumin, oregano, garlic, brown sugar, and bay leaves into the pot. Cover ingredients with beer (or broth/stock) and gently stir to combine all ingredients.
  4. Pressure cook: Cover the IP with lid to seal, and set to the manual high pressure function- set the time for 45 minutes. After the cooking cycle is complete, let pressure release naturally in the “vent” position or according to manufacturer’s instructions, until all steam has ceased.
  5. Shred the pork: Remove the pork chunks from the pot and place onto a large baking sheet/platter. Then use two forks or your hands (fitted with disposable gloves, if desired) to shred the pork into bite-sized pieces. Note: I like to save some of the cooking liquid in the pot to pass over the carnitas to keep it juicy when storing/ not serving right away- highly recommended.
  6. For crispy carnitas- optional: You can crisp up your carnitas 2 ways- in the oven or on the stovetop! For the oven method, set the oven to broil. Add shredded carnitas on a baking sheet or oven-safe vessel. Pass some of the cooking liquid over the carnitas. Broil for a few minutes, until the top of the carnitas are golden brown and lightly crisp. For the stovetop method, add the desired amount of carnitas into a skillet over medium-high heat. Pass some of the cooking liquid over the carnitas. Pan-fry the carnitas, tossing often, until golden brown and lightly crisp.
  7. Serve carnitas: Taste the pork and adjust seasoning to preference by adding more salt/pepper, if needed. Serve up carnitas as you desire or assemble carnitas tacos (as pictured), mmm so good. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. Slow cooker carnitas instructions: If your slow cooker has a sauté function, brown the meat in it, otherwise sear the pork chunks on the stovetop until browned. Then place all of the browned meat into your slow cooker vessel along with the remaining ingredients. Cook on low for 6-7 hours. Once done cooking, check for pork tenderness and transfer tender pork to a large baking sheet to shred. Follow instructions above for crispy carnitas. Enjoy!
  2. Storing leftover carnitas: First, let the carnitas cool down to room temperature. Then place leftover carnitas into airtight containers with some of the cooking liquid. Store in the refrigerator for 4-5 days or store in the freezer for 3-4 months. Reheating carnitas: If frozen, let carnitas thaw overnight in fridge. For best results, gently reheat carnitas on the stovetop over low heat, stirring often, until warmed through.