Instant Pot or Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

03.06.2018

These Instant Pot or Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas are the best! Easily just as good as what you’d find in any Mexican restaurant but you get to enjoy them at a fraction of the price in the comfort of your own home! They’re brimming with those rich, authentic flavors we all love from the classic pork carnitas tacos and they’re much easier to make than you’d think.

Instant Pot or Slow Cooker Carnitas

As a matter of fact the slow cooker or pressure cooker does most of the work. You just add everything to the slow cooker or Instant Pot then cook for 8 hours in the slow cooker, or 1 hour in the Instant Pot.

Then once the pork is nice and tender you shred it up and broil it on a baking sheet with some of the juices and a little oil. And you’ll end up with these delicious crispy little pieces of pork that you won’t be able to stop “taste testing.”

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Easy as that. Throw the carnitas into tortilla’s, add some cilantro and diced onions and tada. Such a satisfying dinner! All your friends/siblings/boss/grandma/dog will want this recipe!

Instant Pot or Slow Cooker Carnitas

If you don’t have a slow cooker or pressure cooker I’ve also made these in the oven.

Cut pork into 4 portions place in a large pot and cover, then and roast with the broth, juices and spices until it easily shreds with a fork, about 3 1/2 – 4 hours. Then proceed with the broiling method as noted.

And why didn’t I brown the pork first in the recipe? Because you brown it at the end after shedding so why brown it twice?

Instant Pot or Slow Cooker Carnitas

What are Carnitas anyway?

If you haven’t had Carnitas you are probably trying to figure out exactly what “Carnitas” means. It’s a spanish word meaning “little meats.”  It’s a Mexican dish and generally it’s made by braising or roasting pork then shredding it and simmering in lard or vegetable oil until crispy.

But here we switch that up and use the slow cooker/pressure cooker, and broil the pork it instead of sautéing it in oil to get that same crispy effect. Broiling it takes less time, creates less mess, and requires less oil.

Instant Pot or Slow Cooker Carnitas

And I go for semi-crispy. I like the ends of the meat to be nice and crispy but I recommend that you don’t overdue it. You don’t want to dry the meat.

I’ve made these carnitas all three ways, slow cooker, instant pot, and oven roasted. Each of them works great so use what you have and what’s convenient for you.

Instant Pot or Slow Cooker Carnitas

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Instant Pot or Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

These Carnitas are just as good as what you'd find in any Mexican restaurant! They have the best flavor and that crispy texture will have you reaching for piece after piece. This is one of those recipes that everyone in the family can agree on, they're just too good!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 7

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
  • 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice (about 2 - 3 oranges)
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • 2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced (2 Tbsp)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • Warmed corn tortillas, diced yellow onions, cilantro (for serving)

Instructions

Slow cooker method:

  1. Place pork in slow cooker. Pour in chicken broth, orange juice and lime juice. 

  2. Sprinkle in salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, coriander, chili powder and cayenne pepper, onions and garlic.

  3. Cover and cook on low heat 8 hours.

  4. Leave liquid in slow cooker, remove pork and shred with two forks.

  5. Spray a rimmed 18 by 13-inch baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

  6. Place pork on baking sheet, pour over 1 cup reserved broth (try and strain out onions when ladling broth out), drizzle with oil and toss and spread into an even layer.

  7. Position oven rack near broiler and preheat broiler to high.

  8. Broil until pork is browned and crispy in places about 3 - 6 minutes.

  9. Serve warm in tortillas with desired toppings.

Instant Pot method:

  1. Cut pork into 4 chunks and place pork in Instant Pot, pour over chicken broth, orange juice and lime juice.

  2. Sprinkle in salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, coriander, chili powder and cayenne pepper, onions and garlic.

  3. Cover and seal lid (make sure valve is set to "sealing" position), press "manual" (or high pressure) and select 60 minutes.

  4. Once cooking is done, let pressure come down naturally for 10 minutes then use quick release method to release any remaining pressure.

  5. Once steaming has stopped remove pork from pressure cooker while leaving broth in pressure cooker. 

  6. Shred pork and proceed with broiling method starting at step 5 above.

  7. Instant Pot method will take approx. 80 minutes + 10 minutes prep.

  8. Recipe source: Cooking Classy, recipe updated from archives originally shared July 2013.

Instant Pot or Slow Cooker Carnitas - these Carnitas are just as good as you'd find in any Mexican restaurant! They have the best flavor and that crispy texture will have you reaching for piece after piece. This is one of those recipes that everyone in the family can agree on, they're just too good! #mexican #recipe #carnitas #slowcooker #instantpot #pork #tacos

37 comments

  • suja md: Wow!! though I don’t have pork, the dish is too tempting, I definitely should give it try by substituting it for goat. July 5, 2013 at 4:59pm Reply

  • Elisa @ Insalata di Sillabe: Thanks for the inspiration! I was looking for something new to make for dinner tonight and I think I have to look no further now!

    xo, Elisa July 6, 2013 at 1:07am Reply

  • Susan: If you have access to ‘canela’ – Mexican cinnamon, that is really nice in dishes like this that cook for a long time. I find it in those little cellophane packages of spices that grocery stores have in the Mexican section. There is a recipe I make with chicken, apples and cinnamon that I use it for, which is much nicer than when I use regular cinnamon sticks. I’ve never seen fresh Mexican oregano, even though I live right on the border. This recipe sounds like it’s well worth trying. July 6, 2013 at 1:30pm Reply

  • Liz: Love this recipe. Thank you and have a great weekend! July 6, 2013 at 2:09pm Reply

  • Kati: >> (you want about 1/2-inch of broth when it’s done cooking to toss the shredded beef into).

    Think you meant pork here ;) July 6, 2013 at 9:29pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Haha yeah, I think I was thinking beef when I was writing it because my brother was telling me he liked these better than the shredded beef tacos I make :). Thanks so much for pointing that out :)! July 6, 2013 at 10:40pm Reply

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious: Yes, please! I love how you could do so much with carnitas too – tacos, quesadillas, or even a breakfast option with a fried egg. YUM! July 7, 2013 at 11:18pm Reply

  • Bree (Skinny Mommy): I love carnitas and these ones look delish! July 8, 2013 at 7:41am Reply

  • Shari Kelley: I can’t wait to try these! They look and sound so good. July 8, 2013 at 12:15pm Reply

  • Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking: This is a staple here in Austin! Strangely though, I’ve never made it. Time to change that with your killer recipe, Jaclyn! Thanks for sharing. July 8, 2013 at 2:49pm Reply

  • Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl: 100% perfect, pinning to make for dinner soon! July 13, 2013 at 1:21pm Reply

  • Marissa | Pinch and Swirl: My inlaws are from Memphis, so pulled pork in our house has always been the norm. BUT! I’m looking at these tacos and my mouth is watering. Time for carnitas to have a turn! :) July 14, 2013 at 9:33am Reply

  • Shawna: Left out the orange zest (no oranges), used refrigerated orange juice and subbed in dried oregano for fresh (one herb I just don’t have in my garden…)…oh my goodness, absolutely amazing! I actually compared pictures half way through and it looked just about identical to yours! Forgot to cover half way through, so turned out a bit darker but didn’t seem to affect anything. Totally different flavors than anything I’d done recently and so very, very easy…this recipe is going in my tried and true box! Thanks so much! July 21, 2013 at 5:37am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you liked these Shawna! Thanks for leaving a comment! July 26, 2013 at 9:24am Reply

  • Shari Kelley: I made these tonight for dinner, and they were so good! They were extremely flavorful and just the right amount of spicy. My husband and daughter loved it, too. Your recipes are always delicious. Thank you for sharing this one. July 22, 2013 at 10:33pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you family liked these Shari! Thanks for leaving another comment!! I’m happy to hear you like my recipes :)! July 23, 2013 at 8:30pm Reply

  • Kylie: It was a hit in our house last night! Not a complaint heard at the dinner table !! August 7, 2013 at 11:44pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad everyone liked it Kylie! Thanks for your comment! August 8, 2013 at 7:55am Reply

  • Valerie Turner: My son and I love carnitas, but my husband and daughter are allergic to beef and pork. I used this recipe in my slow cooker wth an old stew hen. It was delicious! August 10, 2013 at 12:54pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you family liked this Valerie! Thanks for leaving a comment! August 11, 2013 at 6:43pm Reply

  • Laura: I have just made this, and it came out beautifully.

    Next time I’m going to make this for one of our BBQs. I’m sure it’ll be a hit with our guests. September 14, 2013 at 8:46am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so happy you like dit Laura! I hope it’s enjoyed at the BBQ. Thanks for your comment! September 19, 2013 at 11:08am Reply

  • porter: I have made this recipe 3 times. Both my wife and daughter are vegetarian so I vacuum seal and freeze the leftovers. It warms up perfectly and i use it for for other dishes like black bean and potato breakfast hash with poached eggs. This recipe is perfect 5 stars. December 1, 2013 at 10:46am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so happy to hear you’ve made this 3 times. Thanks for letting me know you’ve enjoyed it and for a great review :)! December 7, 2013 at 10:00pm Reply

  • Steve: Reduce the zest and cinnamon (half stick) taste great will do again December 5, 2013 at 6:30pm Reply

  • Barbara: This is excellent. I think the zest and juice are what put it over the top for my family. December 7, 2013 at 9:49am Reply

    • Jaclyn: So happy to hear that Barbara! Thanks for your comment! December 7, 2013 at 10:15pm Reply

  • Shari davis: Wow after making this once it’s now the only way we cook pork in my house. I am a huge fan of mojo (cuban) marinade that is similar to this. So I have to add extra oj and lime juice. Enough to make u pucker. Awesome December 27, 2013 at 8:31am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so happy to hear you liked this recipe Shari! Thanks for leaving a comment! December 28, 2013 at 4:38pm Reply

  • Jeanne: I made this tonight and I nor my family liked it at all. I followed the recipe to the tee. All those spices don’t meld together at all. April 20, 2014 at 2:57pm Reply

  • Mary: Yum! I can’t get enough of this. I just learned how to make tamales and I needed a great filling. Made this recipe in the crockpot. Once cooked, I removed the broth (might use less water next time – there was a lot), leaving a tiny bit behind in the pot. Puréed the onion and added it back in. Shredded the pork, added it back. Then I put the broth in a pan on the stovetop and reduced it to about 1/3 to concentrate all that yummy flavor. Poured that over everything and stirred it up. Since this was for tamales, I did this instead of putting in the oven, though I’ll definitely try that another time for tacos as I do love those crispy bits! Thanks for a great recipe! October 27, 2014 at 8:06pm Reply

  • barb: My friends and family absolutely LOVE THIS RECIPE! I do brown my meat in a cast iron fry pan, as well as the onion rings but then put it all in a slow cooker for hours. Then shred and put back in the sauce. The orange & lime lighten up the flavor and the cinamon gives it such a good finishing touch. July 27, 2015 at 8:40am Reply

  • Kanani: Made this tonight and loved it! Thank you for another delicious recipe. Will definitely make it again! March 7, 2018 at 8:11pm Reply

  • Alex: I was wondering, do you think I could sub boneless pork chops for the pork shoulder or would that be a total disaster? Adjust cooking time maybe? I have nothing else in the house and I loooove carnitas. Thank you! March 20, 2018 at 10:05am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I wouldn’t use the pork chops, they don’t have the same fat marbling as a pork shoulder and would probably come out pretty tough and wouldn’t shred up. Sorry wish it could work! March 20, 2018 at 6:01pm Reply

  • Brooke Bolton: Was there a different version of this? I remember using a cinnamon stick, and zesting the limes/oranges. And more oregano. April 13, 2018 at 9:25am Reply

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