Instant Pot Carnitas – Afropolitan Mom
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Instant Pot Carnitas

This Instant Pot Carnitas is basically roasted pork, tomatillo salsa, cilantro, and onions seasoned to perfection and served over rice or with tacos. A nice remake of the classic Mexican cuisine with an authentic flavor.
Instant Pot Carnitas

What are Carnitas?

Carnitas (pork or chicken) is a traditional Mexican dish that involves slow-roasting pork butt for 3 – 4 hours. It originated from a small town – Quiroga, Michoacán, the town is famous for its Carnitas. The Best Pork Carnitas are easy, cooked to perfection in an instant pot or slow cooker, and comes out juicy and crisp every single time!

The BEST Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Easy Carnitas Ingredients and substitutions

  • Pork butt, belly, or shoulder. Preferably either pork shoulder, pork butt or pork belly is the preferred meat for Carnitas if you want to stay true to the authentic way but pork loin will also work and you can also use boneless, skinless chicken breast or chicken thighs in its place with great result.
  • Onion. Diced onion prefer and it doesn’t matter if it’s a red or white onion.
  • Garlic. I prefer minced garlic but you can probably dice it or use the paste. 
  • Apple cider vinegar. This is used to help tenderize the meat so it comes out nice, juicy, and fork-tender. 
  • Chipotle Chili Pepper.  You can use regular chili pepper but for an authentic flavor, chipotle pepper will be best. 
  • Seasonings – ground cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper to taste.
  • Lime Juice. If you don’t have lime substitute with orange juice or lemon juice and if you’re up for it, try a combination of both. 
  • Tomato Pasta. Use can also use seasoned tomato sauce with Cilantro, Onion & Garlic
  • Water. In an ideal would, pork broth would be perfect but chicken broth or water will suffice. 

How To Make Instant Pot Carnitas

How to make Instant Pot Carnitas- steps-by-steps

Tips for the BEST Instant Pot Carnitas 

  • Ensure you use the best cut of meat – pork shoulder, butt, or belly is preferred. 
  • Saute as directed to allow the flavors to come through 
  • Feel free to use any combination of pork shoulder, pork butt, and pork belly for variety in fat content 
  • Cook until tender, the whole idea is to have a melt in your mouth pork
  • Don’t be afraid to play with your spices – smoked paprika, jalapeno, cayenne, bullion, ground coriander, or ground annatto seeds any of these will go a long way in bringing out the flavors. 

How To Serve

It’s usually served with tortillas, however, they are also great as a burrito or served over cilantro rice.  Here are some options to serve them with:

What to make with Carnitas meat

There are lots of ways to use up your leftover pork carnitas, from burritos to enchiladas the list is endless and it offers many ideas for the next day lunch or even a whole new meal for the next couple of nights. Put the carnitas on crunchy fried tortillas and top it with pickled onion, cabbage, cilantro, and chile de Arbol salsa for a festive treat. Turn your leftover carnitas meat into a delicious pork carnitas rice bowl by combining carnitas meat with cooked rice, pico de gallo, guacamole, crumbled queso fresco, and salsa verde. 

Easy Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Storing and Freezing Carnitas 

  • To store: Leftover carnitas should be stored in the refrigerator, in a sealed container, for about 3 to 4 days. 
  • To freeze: You can store these fairly easily in the freezer for up to 6 months.  For best results make sure it’s completely cooled, place in an airtight container or freezer bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • To reheat: Reheat carnitas in a skillet, the microwave, or in a preheated oven. The best option is a skillet though. 

More Instant Pot recipes you’ll enjoy

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Instant Pot Carnitas

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 2.5 lbs. pork shoulder
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 TBSP minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 3 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil


    1. Turn your instant pot on to sauté function. Set aside and allow to heat up while you make the marinade.
    2. Ina small bowl or measuring cup, add your water, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Mix well until fully incorporated.
    3. Once your instant pot is hot, pour in your cooking oil. Add your onions, and sauté for about 3 minutes until cooked well.
    4. Place your pork in the Pot, and pour the marinade over the meat, and top with the minced garlic.
    5. Close the Instant Pot by twisting the lid on and closing the valve by pushing it away from you. Set the instant pot to high pressure for 1 hour. It will take some time to build to pressure.
    6. Once your timer is done, allow the instant pot to naturally release for another 15 minutes. Once the 15 minutes is done, manually release the instant pot by using a hot pad or towel to twist the valve toward you and open.
    7. Remove the meat from the instant pot to a cutting board. Shred with two forks.
    8. Enjoy your pork carnitas with rice, and a taco topped with cilantro and lime, or just by itself! Enjoy!

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