Welcome to my recipe for instant pot crispy pork carnitas. Amazingly tender, crispy and juicy - what's not to like?
No need to slow cook for hours. you can have perfect carnitas ready in around an hour.
I have tried to make my carnitas as close to the original Mexican style as possible and I think they are just as good with so much less effort.
How to make instant pot crispy pork carnitas
My carnitas are so easy to make with everything done in one pot so theirs less washing up. Bonus!
Just cut up the pork into around 5cm (2-inch cubes). Now add the cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, chili powder, smoked paprika, sugar and coriander. season to taste and mix everything together to coat the pork. Squeeze the juice out of 2 oranges and a lime. Add this to the pot along with the bay leaves. Now add the rinds of the orange and lime with the rind side down (this gets maximum taste and means less waste).
Add the chicken stock and put the lid on. Set on high pressure for 35 minutes. When the time is up leave under pressure for another 15 minutes (it doesn't matter if you forget or need more time as it will stay on keep warm perfectly well until you want it). Take the lid off after the pin has dropped and remove most of the liquid (save this for later). Shred the pork using 2 forks and then put the air fryer lid on. Set to broil for 12 minutes (don't worry if you haven't got an air fryer lid as you can remove to an ovenproof dish and grill - broil - in the oven).
Remove the lid and stir the pork every few minutes to expose more of the meat to the heat. Add back extra liquid to keep it slightly moist. When the time is up, add some more of the reserved liquid until it reaches the desired consistency. Now serve and enjoy!
What are the ingredients for instant pot pork carnitas?
With mostly store cupboard ingredients my pork carnitas are really convenient to make:
- Pork joint (I used shoulder)
- Ground cumin
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Chili powder (I used mild, but if you prefer it spicier use hot instead)
- Smoked paprika
- Brown sugar
- Ground coriander
- Salt and pepper
- Bay leaves
- Chicken stock
- Coriander (to garnish)
Although it's quite a long list most of the spices should be store cupboard staples and so your shopping list should be easy.
What to serve with instant pot pork carnitas?
I served mine with crispy tacos and tortillas for some variety. They were garnished with coriander (cilantro) and we had a side serving of rice and a green salad. We also had guacamole and sour cream to make them even more special. Carnitas would also be great in burrito bowls or quesadillas.
Are there any substitutions I can do if I don't have all the ingredients?
In short - yes there are.
- Although pork is the main ingredient, carnitas are also great with beef or chicken. The recipe would work the same in this case with all the timings being the same for beef. For chicken, the time under pressure could be reduced to around 15 minutes.
- Garlic and onion powder could be swapped to fresh garlic (around 4 cloves) and fresh onion (1 medium onion finely chopped).
- Fresh chili could be used instead of powder and in this case, I would recommend using 1 whole chili finely chopped including the seeds (if you prefer it mild - leave the seeds out as this is where most of the heat is).
- Brown sugar is not essential and could be swapped for honey or even left out.
- Vegetable stock or even water would be suitable instead of chicken stock.
As you can see, the recipe is reasonably flexible and lack of ingredients should not be an excuse to miss out on this great recipe.
Is instant pot carnitas keto-friendly?
Yes, they are. Even with the small amount of sugar added my carnitas are keto-friendly. You could omit the sugar if you are worried that it is too much for your particular diet. Unfortunately, the tacos, tortillas and rice would not be suitable to accompany the carnitas, but a big leafy green salad and maybe some cauliflower rice would keep you in ketosis.
Are instant pot crispy pork carnitas healthy?
My carnitas are high in protein and low in carbohydrate and added sugars. They will make a good addition to any balanced diet.
Is it possible to scale the recipe up or down?
The recipe is very flexible and you could easily double all the ingredients in all pots 6l (6qt) and above. The recipe would also half well, especially in the 3l (3qt) pot. In either case, you would leave all the timings exactly the same.
Instant pot crispy pork carnitas
- Instant pot
- 1.5 kg Pork shoulder
- 1 tbsp Ground cumin
- 1 tbsp Garlic powder
- 1 tbsp Onion powder
- 1 tbsp Oregano
- 2 tsp Chili powder I used mild.
- 2 tsp Smoked paprika
- 2 tsp Brown sugar Honey would also be good.
- 1 tsp Ground coriander
- Season to taste
- 2 Whole Bay leaves
- 2 Whole Oranges (juiced)
- 1 Whole Lime (juiced)
- 200 ml Chicken stock Vegetable stock or water would also be OK.
- 1 Bunch Coriander (cilantro) To garnish.
- Cut the pork into around 5 cm (2inch) cubes and add to the instant pot.
- Now add the cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, chili powder, smoked paprika, sugar and ground coriander. Season to taste and coat the pork.
- Add the bay leaves and then juice the orange and lime on top. Put the rinds in the pot (pulp side down.
- Now add the chicken stock and put the lid on. Set at high pressure for 35 minutes.
- When the time is up leave for a further 15 minutes and then do a quick release.
- Remove the lid and drain off most of the liquid (reserve this for later). Now shred the pork using 2 forks.
- Put on the air fryer lid and set to broil for 12 minutes. Stir to expose new bits of pork every 3 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy.
In the video, the pork joint was just 1.2kg (just less than 3lb) and this was slightly too small for my family. We loved it all the same and it did make 2 x serving plates worth of meat.
I made mine using an 8l (8qt) instant pot and I have also made it in the 6l (6qt) pot. I haven’t made it in the 3l (3qt) pot, but I’m sure it would work just as well with the same timings.
Leftovers will keep for up to 4 days in the fridge and will freeze well for around 6 months. Carnitas are great the next day and make a perfect sandwich filling. Using my recipe, I had around 500ml (1 pint) of liquid leftover. I warmed this up and served with some crusty fresh bread for a delicious soup 2 days after making the carnitas.
For some interesting information and history of carnitas, please click here.
I hope you have enjoyed my recipe for instant pot crispy chicken carnitas. please take a look at some more of my pork and meat recipes:
- Instant pot sweet and sour pork
- Instant pot taco pasta
- Instant pot barbacoa beef
- Instant pot Korean beef
- Instant pot white chicken chili
If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please leave them in the box below and I would be delighted to help.