Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

What’s better than digging into fresh carnitas after waiting through hours and hours of slow cooking? Instant Pot Pork Carnitas without all the waiting, that’s what!

We’re taking it down from 8 hours to 1 1/2, and pan searing after shredding to concentrate the flavor. The result is tender and juicy carnitas so flavorful they don’t need much more than some cilantro, lime.

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Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

  • Author: Fresh. Out.
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 2
  • Total Time: 17 minutes
  • Yield: 1012 servings 1x
  • Category: Entree, Main Dish, Party Food
  • Method: Instant Pot, Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Mexican


Make these Instant Pot Pork Carnitas for dinner, game day, parties, or even office potlucks. Easy delicious, and Paleo compliant.



For the Carnitas

  • 4-lb boneless pork shoulder/butt roast (do not remove fat)
  • 5 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 whole cloves or a generous pinch of ground cloves
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice 
  • 1/2 cup hot tap water
  • 2 tbsp mild diced green chile peppers, drained (canned)
  • 1 tbsp Swerve Brown Sweetener, packed
  • 1 tbsp dried Mexican oregano*
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp ground cumin (make it a tablespoon if you really like cumin)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • Avocado oil for pan searing the pork

For Serving:

  • Cassava tortillas, soft grain-free tortillas, or tortillas of your choice
  • 1/2 small head red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • Additional toppings, as desired


For the Prep

  1. Place the bay leaves and cloves in the bottom of the Instant Pot, and then place the rack for the pork.
  2. Rinse the pork under cold water and pat dry with paper towel. In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, Mexican oregano, and cumin. *We’re using Mexican oregano because it complements this dish so much better than its Mediterranean counterpart. You can use either, but it is absolutely worth picking up some Mexican oregano. The flavor is outstanding.
  3. Drizzle olive oil over pork and rub to coat evenly, then sprinkle with the dry mixture and rub in on all sides. Place the seasoned pork in the Instant Pot, fat side up, and top with chopped onions.
  4. In a large measuring cup, mix the Swerve with the hot tap water and stir to dissolve. Add the orange and lime juice, garlic, and diced chile peppers (you can sub jalapenos if you like it hotter) and stir to combine, then pour over pork.   

Cooking the Pork

  1. Set Instant Pot to HIGH for 1 1/2 hours and allow natural release, for a 4-pound boneless pork shoulder/butt roast. NOTE: We have not tried this with a larger cut of pork in Instant Pot, so default to manufacturer instructions for additional cooking time with larger cuts.
  2. The cooked pork will be fall-apart tender and shreds easily. Transfer cooked pork to a large plate and tent with foil to rest and cool slightly, then shred with two forks, removing any excess fat. Keep covered with foil until ready to sear. Do not sear until ready to serve (see notes).  
  3. Strain juices from Instant Pot into a fat separator or large measuring cup and skim off the fat. Reserve the strained liquid for searing the pork. This liquid will be very flavorful and will concentrate further while searing. Do not add salt at this time. 

Searing the Pork

  1. When ready to serve, heat a large skillet or sauté pan over high heat and add up to a tablespoon of avocado oil, just enough to coat. Spread a portion of the pork in a single layer in the pan, and drizzle with up to 1/4 cup of reserved juice per batch.
  2. The liquid will caramelize and evaporate quickly, and the bottom of the pork should be brown and crispy. As soon as this occurs, transfer pork to a covered serving platter or bowl. Repeat until all batches are crisped on one side.
  3. Reserve and heat remaining juice and pour some over the pork just before serving. Serve any remaining liquid with pork.

Serving the Pork

  1. Serve with orange and lime wedges, over fresh spinach or mixed greens as a salad, in lettuce cups, with Cassava Coconut Tortilla Chips, or small buns as sliders.
  2. Top with, diced onions, shredded, red cabbage, jalapenos or chiles, avocado or guacamole, shredded jicama, cilantro, tomatoes, diced peppers, or vegetables of choice.
  3. We chose red onions, cilantro and shredded red cabbage with a twist of lime juice to let the flavor of the carnitas really shine.  


Store leftover pork with juice to keep moist and reheat in a covered pan on low to avoid drying. 

If making ahead of time, do not sear the pork. Simply separate the liquid from the cooked pork and store in airtight containers. Cool the pork enough to be easy to work with then shred and place in zip top bags with as much air removed as possible. You can refrigerate for 2-3 days or freeze up to 3 months. 

If freezing, portion the pork and liquid out into desired serving sizes so you can thaw what you need, when you need it. This works great for small families and singles. 

Thaw completely in fridge and reheat juice on low before crisping and serving. 

For party serving, transfer crisped pork to a slow cooker that has been preheated on “keep warm” and add reserved juice as needed to keep moist.

Keywords: Carnitas, Pork Carnitas, Instant Pot, Paleo


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