These Instant Pot Carnitas are out-of-this-world tender and juicy and for very good reasons. For any dish requiring pulled pork, the ideal cut is pork shoulder (pork butt) because it is well marbled giving it wonderful flavor. But, it is also a tougher cut. This is where the Instant Pot shines - making tough cuts of meet marvelously tender without long braising times.
This Carnita recipe takes a less expensive, tougher cuts of pork and turns it into a tender and moist shredded pork that explodes with flavor.
Getting the right cut of pork. You may find that your local grocer calls a pork shoulder, Boston butt or pork butt. Pork butt and pork shoulder are the same cut of pork from the shoulder of the pig. "Butt" is an old English term that means the widest part which for a pig is the shoulder. Hands down, the best cut of meat for shredding is pork shoulder.
How Long Does It Take to Cook a Pork Shoulder
Generally for most slow cooked pork shoulder recipes, it will take you up to 12 hours of cooking time. If you are roasting, braising, or grilling you also need to monitor moisture levels so your dinner isn't ruined.
If you weren't sure how awesome the Instant Pot is, then this is the recipe that will make you fall in love with your Instant Pot. You can pressure cook pork shoulder in less than 2 hours.
Here are some factors that can add time to the process to help you plan your meals.
- Chopping the onions, mincing garlic, measuring out the ingredients can take you up to 10 minutes. Add another 5 minutes for shredding the pork after cooking.
- Heating the oil in the pot and browning the pork will take about 8 minutes. Sautéeing the onions and garlic will take another 6 minutes.
- The time it takes for your IP get up to pressure can take about 8 to 12 minutes. A few factors that can affect this timing include altitude, ingredient temperature, and the size of your pot. For me this is about 10 minutes; less than 1000 feet above sea level, warm and room temperature ingredients, and a 6 quart Instant Pot.
- Pressure cooking for 60 minutes.
- Letting the pot stand until the float valve drops down when the pressure is released, can take 10 to 15 minutes.
- Sautéeing the pork about 5 minutes to give it that nice crispy texture that makes carnitas taste so amazing.
- Assembling time depends upon how hungry everyone is!
Steps to Tender, Juicy Shredded Pork for Carnitas
Pat pork shoulder dry. Rub pork all over with salt and pepper.
Add oil to the Instant Pot and heat until shimmering.
Sauté pork for about 8 minutes or until browned. Remove pork.
Sauté onions and garlic in the pot.
Add chicken stock, orange juice, orange zest, herbs, and spices; stirring. Return pork and juices to the pot.
After pressuring cooking for 60 minutes, using tongs, transfer pork to a bowl or cutting board.
Using 2 forks shred pork into bite-size pieces. Discard any excess fat.
Topping tortillas with moist, tender pulled pork, cilantro, and cotija cheese. Ready to serve with limes and salsa.
Suggested side dishes to serve with Carnitas:
Storing: Pulled pork for Instant Pot Carnitas can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
Instant Pot Carnitas
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 3 ½ lb boneless pork shoulder cut into 2 pieces
- 1 tablespoon canola oil approx.
- 2 sweet onions, coarsely chopped such as Vidalia
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ½ cups Chicken Stock or ready-to-use chicken broth
- 1 orange, zest and juice from see tip
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 bay leaves
- 24 corn tortillas (taco size)
- Cotija cheese crumbled
- Chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges optional
- Salsa optional
- Cut roast into 2 pieces that will each fit easily inside the pot. Pat pork dry. Rub pork all over with salt and pepper.
- Set your Instant Pot to sauté on Normal. When the display says Hot, add 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil and heat until shimmering. Working with one piece at a time, add pork and cook, turning, for 8 minutes or until browned on all sides, adding more oil as needed between batches. Using tongs, transfer pork to a plate as it is browned.
- Set aside ½ cup chopped onions for garnish. Add the remaining onions to the fat remaining in the pot and cook, stirring often, for 5 to 7 minute or until softened. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant. Press Cancel. Stir in chicken stock, orange zest, orange juice, oregano leaves, red pepper flakes, and bay leaves, scraping off any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Return pork and any accumulated juices to the pot, turning to coat.
- Close and lock the lid and turn the steam release handle to Sealing. Set your Instant Pot to pressure cook on High for 60 minutes.
- When the cooking time is done, press Cancel and let stand, covered, until the float valve drops down. Remove the lid. The pork should be fork-tender. (If more cooking time is needed, continue pressure cooking on High for 5 minutes, then quickly release the pressure.)
- Transfer pork to a large bowl or cutting board. Using two forks, shred pork. Discard any excess fat.
- Meanwhile, discard all but ⅔ cup liquid from the pot. Discard bay leaves. Set your Instant Pot to sauté on High. Add shredded pork to the pot and cook, stirring often, until liquid has evaporated and pork is slightly crispy.
- Garnish with cotija and cilantro. Serve with salsa and lime wedges, if using.
Process photos 1 to 5 Courtesy of the National Pork Board, Des Moines, Iowa
Originally published 3/18/2020 and updated 3/20/2020.