Instant Pot Carnitas

Instant Pot carnitas in flour tortillas.
Diana Rattray
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 50 mins
Total: 70 mins
Servings: 8 servings

If you want your carnitas right away, there is no better method than the pressure cooker. This Instant Pot carnitas recipe takes very little prep time, and only about 50 minutes of cooking time. Lime-infused pickled onions make a tasty topping, take just a few minutes to prepare, and can be made a day in advance.

Use the suggested garnishes or add your family's favorite toppings. Sour cream, avocado slices or guacamole, cheese, and salsa verde are some other excellent choices.


  • For the Pickled Onions:
  • 1 red onion
  • 1/3 cup lime juice (2 to 3 limes)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon cilantro (finely chopped)
  • For the Pork:
  • 1 (4-pound) boneless pork shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano (Mexican or regular dried)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, cut into rings
  • 1 onion (medium; peeled and quartered)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 limes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • Tortillas (flour or soft corn, warmed)
  • Garnish: lime wedges
  • Garnish: cilantro leaves
  • Garnish: radish slices
  • Garnish: diced tomatoes (or salsa)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. 

    Ingredients for Instant Pot pork carnitas.
    Diana Rattray
  2. Peel the red onion and slice off the ends. Cut the onion in half lengthwise and slice each half thinly. In a small bowl or jar, combine the sliced onion with 1/3 cup of lime juice, 3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. If desired, add 1 teaspoon of finely chopped cilantro. Set aside.

    Add the lime juice and seasonings to the red onion.
    Diana Rattray
  3. Pat the pork shoulder dry with paper towels, and cut it into large chunks.

  4. Choose the high sauté setting on the Instant Pot and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Working in batches, brown the pork in the hot oil (about 8 minutes total).

    The browned pork is layered in the Instant Pot.
    Diana Rattray
  5. Cancel the sauté function, and put all the browned pork in the pot. Add the oregano, cumin, and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Toss with the pork, then add the jalapeño rings, quartered onion, and bay leaves. Cut the 2 oranges and 2 limes in half and juice them; add the juice to the pot along with the chicken stock. 

    Add the vegetables and liquids.
    Diana Rattray
  6. Lock the lid in place, and make sure the steam release valve is in the sealing position. Select manual (or pressure cook button), high pressure, and set the time to 40 minutes. When the time is up, let the pressure release naturally (this will take about 20 to 30 minutes).

  7. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Preheat the broiler.

  8. Remove the pork pieces to a cutting board using a slotted spoon. Shred or chop the pork, and arrange the pieces in a single layer on the foil-lined baking sheet. Broil the pork for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until the edges are crisp.

    Instant Pot carnitas on the baking sheet.
    Diana Rattray
  9. Arrange the pork in tortillas and garnish with the pickled onion, cilantro, salsa or diced tomato, and radishes, if desired.

    Pressure cooker (Instant Pot) carnitas in flour tortillas.
    Diana Rattray
  10. Enjoy!

Glass Bakeware Warning

Do not use glass bakeware when broiling or when a recipe calls to add liquid to a hot pan, as glass may explode. Even if it states oven-safe or heat resistant, tempered glass products can, and do, break occasionally.


  • There are a few ways to get a nice char on tortillas. If you have a gas stove, place a tortilla over the lowest flame. Move it frequently until the tortilla is warmed and there are some char marks, then flip it over and repeat on the other side. You can also char it directly using a kitchen torch, or place in a dry cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the tortillas, flipping to warm and toast both sides.
  • To simply soften and moisten the tortillas, sprinkle a clean dish towel or paper towels with water; wrap the tortillas in the towels and microwave them for 30 seconds.

Recipe Variations

  • Searing the pork pieces enhances the flavor, but feel free to skip that step if you are short on time.