Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas Tacos

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Pork roast is one of the most economical cuts of meat but sometimes it’s just, well – bland. Let me share with you a recipe that is not only simple, but SUPER flavorful. Thanks to an Instant Pot and some simple but delicious seasonings, you can have this Instant Pot Pork Carnitas on the table for your Taco Tuesday in no time at all.

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas Tacos
Instant Pot Pork Carnitas Tacos

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In our house we love tacos, we love them SOOOO much in fact – you may find them on the dinner menu more than once a week.

I have made these Pork Carnitas many times and they really are becoming a favorite. The Instant Pot makes the hands on preparation time super short (maybe 5-10 minutes to throw together). The Instant Pot keeps the mess minimal and does the cooking work for you!

So what are Pork Carnitas?

Carnitas means “little meats” in Spanish. It is a Mexican dish traditionally made from pork. The pork meat is either made crispy and fried or as a tender and slow-cooked Mexican version of pulled pork.

Traditional pulled pork carnitas is cooked (braised really) FOR HOURS in a flavorful liquid or sauce.

This Instant Pot version, because the meat is pressure cooked – it is still super tasty and very tender BUT it is ready a lot FASTER than the traditional dish. This recipe will pressure cook for about an hour but very little preparation time is required.

Pork roast is one of the most economical cuts of meat but sometimes it's just, well - bland. Let me share with you a recipe that is not only simple, but SUPER flavorful. Thanks to an Instant Pot and some simple but delicious seasonings, you can have this Instant Pot Pork Carnitas on the table for your Taco Tuesday in no time at all.

We really enjoy ground beef tacos and even chicken tacos but to mix things up Instant Pot Pork Carnitas is a real favorite.

It is rich and flavorful, tender from the pressure cooking and slightly caramelized form the tomato salsa and the pork drippings. I’m telling you once you try pork tacos you may never go back to plain ole’ ground beef ever again.

What you will need:

Pork roast is one of the most economical cuts of meat but sometimes it's just, well - bland. Let me share with you a recipe that is not only simple - it's SUPER flavorful and really pretty FAST. Thanks to an Instant Pot and some simple but delicious seasonings, you can have this Instant Pot Pork Carnitas on the table for your Taco Tuesday.

One of the reasons this Instant Pot Pork Carnitas recipe is a go-to for me is because you can make it with very few ingredients – most things I always keep on hand in pantry or fridge.

We get a pig processed every year so I also tend to have pork roasts (shoulder or butt) in my freezer.

Another reason to love this recipe is it can be made from a from a FRESH or FROZEN pork roast. That is the beauty of an Instant Pot my friend. Especially if you are like me and don’t meal plan that far in advance.

Did you know you can safely cook frozen meats like roasts and whole chickens in an Instant Pot?

I know I’m not the only one who forgets to take the meat out of the freezer! My Instant Pot has saved me more than once. . . I just run hot water over the meat long enough to allow me to remove the wrapping. I season it accordingly and place it right in the pressure cooker. The high heat and pressurized cooking method allows the meat to come to a fully cooked, safe temperature without thawing first. You could never do that in a traditional oven or slow cooker.

Here’s what you need to make the Instant Pot Pork Carnitas:

Pork Roast (shoulder or butt – about 2 pounds)

Olive Oil

Salt, pepper & ground cumin

Chopped garlic & onion

Jarred Salsa (any kind you like)

Fresh (or dried) cilantro

Water or broth (chicken or veggie)

How to make Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas seasoned and seared

Drizzle the olive in the bottom of the instant pot pan & press the “sauté” setting. 

While the pot is getting hot, season the roast with salt & pepper. 

Instant pot pork carnitas flipped to sear

Add the roast to the instant pot and sear on each side for 2-3 minutes until nicely browned. (You could skip the searing step but browning adds more flavor.)

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas with cilantro, onion and garlic

Once the roast is seared pour the salsa over the top. 

Sprinkle on: cumin, minced garlic, chopped onion and a handful of torn or rough chopped fresh cilantro. ( You can used dried cilantro if you don’t have fresh – about 2 Tablespoons.)

Add the broth or water to the pot and place lid on the Instant Pot. 

If you are cooking a frozen roast you would add less liquid (see the printable recipe for full instructions!)

Instant pot pork carnitas tender and finished

Place the vent to the seal position and press the “Meat/Stew” button and set the cook time for 60 minutes at HIGH PRESSURE.

Once the cooking time is up let the instant pot depressurize naturally then remove the lid or let it stay warm until ready to eat.

If you have time, I recommend turing the “saute” function back on and letting the cooking liquid in the pot reduce by half. Stirr occasionally to make a rich, flavorful sauce. This also concentrates and caramelizes the flavors.

shredding instant pot pork carnitas

Remove the roast from the pot and shred with two forks. 

Pour some of the concentrated cooking liquid/sauce over the top (as much as you like!) And serve it with your favorite tacos, rice & beans or alongside a fresh Mexican slaw. 

Do I have to use an Instant Pot?

NO you sure don’t. Of course this is technically an Instant Pot recipe but you can certainly make this in a crock pot or dutch oven.

In a crock pot or dutch oven, because of liquid evaporation you would want to add enough broth or water to cover the roast by half.

In a dutch oven oven:

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees, cover dutch oven (or roasting pan) with lid or foil and cook for 4-5 hours (about 2 1/2 hours per pound) or until fork tender & meat easily shreds.

In the crock pot:

In the crock pot, cook on high for the same amount of time as you would in the oven (about 2 1/2 hours per pound).

What if my pork roast is frozen?

The Instant Pot makes cooking meat – even tender fall off the bone roasts from frozen possible. If you choose to use a frozen pork roast use only 1 cup of water or broth instead of 2. (Frozen meat will give off some liquid of its own.) 

Making Instant Pot Pork Carnitas from frozen will require that you increase the pressure-cook time on the “Stew/Meat” setting to 3 hours. That is pretty impressive to go from fully frozen to tender fall off the bone meat!

If you are making this roast in the crock pot or the oven you will have to make sure the roast is properly thawed before cooking.

What if the sauce turns out too thin?

Depending on whether you choose to cook your meat from frozen or thawed, you may end up with different amounts of cooking liquid.

That is OK! I always remove my roast to a platter and shred it with two forks and while I prepare all the taco fixins’ I like to press the “saute” button and let the cooking liquid reduce to make a flavorful, rich sauce to spoon over the shredded pork. – make sure to stir occasionally to prevent the sauce from burning.

The flavor of this sauce is just hard to explain – rich, salty/sweet, earthy, slightly caramelized and just scrumptious! If you cook your roast in crock pot or oven, you could remove the meat to shred and pour the cooking liquids in to a pan to reduce by half on your stovetop.

Here are some tasty topping ideas for Instant Pot Pork Carnitas:

Get my Instant Pot Coconut Lime Rice recipe here:

I know will love this Radish Microgreen Mexican Slaw!

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This post may contain Amazon Affiliate Links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. See my full disclosure at homemakingwithoutfear.com. Furthermore as an Amazon Associate, I may earn from qualifying purchases.

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Perfect bite of instant pot pork carnitas

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Yield: 6-8 people
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 5 minutes

This Pork Carnitas recipe is made super tender & simple in the Instant Pot. Ingredients are also simple but super flavorul. This recipe is sure to be a Taco Tuesday favorite.

Ingredients

  • 1 Pork Roast (should or butt) - approximately 2 pounds
  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 cup of prepared (store bought or home canned) salsa
  • 2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 onion (chopped) - yellow or red
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro (OR about 2 Tablespoons dried)
  • 2 cups of (chicken or beef or vegetable) broth OR water

Instructions

  1. Drizzle the olive in the bottom of the Instant Pot Insert & press the "sauté" setting.
  2. While the pot is getting hot, sprinkle the roast with salt & pepper.
  3. Once the oil is hot and rippling in the pot - add the roast to the Instant Pot and sear on each side for 2-3 minutes until nicely browned. (You could skip the searing step but browning adds more flavor.)
  4. Once the roast is seared pour salsa over the top.
  5. Sprinkle on: cumin, minced garlic, chopped onion and a handful of torn or rough chopped fresh cilantro. ( If you don't have fresh, you can used dried cilantro - about 2 Tablespoons.)
  6. Add broth or water to the pot and place lid on the Instant Pot. (see notes if using frozen meat for how to adjust liquid amounts)
  7. Place the vent to the seal position and press the "Meat/Stew" button and set the cook time for 60 minutes.
  8. Once the cooking time is up let the instant pot depressurize naturally then remove the lid or let it stay warm until ready to eat. Remove the roast from the pot and shred with two forks.
  9. If you have time, I recommend turing the "saute" function back on and letting the cooking liquid in the pot reduce by half. Stirr occasionally to avoid sticking and to make a rich, flavorful sauce. This also concentrates and caramelizes the flavors.
  10. Pour some of the concentrated cooking liquid/sauce over the top of the shredded pork and serve in your favorite tacos or alongside a fresh Mexican Slaw.

Notes

The Instant Pot makes cooking meat - even tender fall off the bone roasts from frozen possible. If you choose to use a frozen pork roast use only 1 cup of water or broth instead of 2. (Frozen meat will give off some liquid of it's own.)

Also increase cook time from 1 to 3 hours on high pressure if your roast is frozen.

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