Pressure Cooker Carnitas has to be one of the best meals you can serve your family for Taco Tuesdays. Using a pressure cooker or instant pot saves you so much time and energy!
This carnitas recipe is flavorful, crispy and moist, and you would never believe we took any short cuts. With only 30 minutes of prep, and an hour of pressure cooking, you can have a restaurant worthy meal any day of the week.
Keep reading to learn my method and some of the toppings I recommend for these tasty tacos!
- Pork – Pork shoulder, aka pork butt, works best for this recipe. It has a higher fat content and stays very moist and flavorful when pressure cooked. Buy it without the bone so it’s easier to cut. I cube it into small pieces before cooking, so that it cooks through more quickly.
- Herbs and spices – This recipe is fairly traditional in that I use oregano, bay leaf and cumin to flavor the pork. Feel free to omit any ingredients you don’t enjoy, or perhaps consider adding red pepper flakes or ground coriander as they would go well with the flavors in this dish.
- Toppings– Salsa verde and raw, chopped white onion are popular toppings for carnitas. I don’t love plain raw onion, so I use pickled red onion. Sliced raw or pickled jalapeno, and cheese, such as queso fresco, queso blanco, cotija cheese, or even feta are great options too.
Step by Step Process
These Pressure Cooker Carnitas couldn’t be easier to make. First, cut the meat into 2 inch chunks and coat in oil, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper.
Place the pork in the pressure cooker with chopped onion, minced garlic, orange peel, bay leaf and orange juice (image 1). Pressure cook on high for one hour and natural release (image 2).
While the pork cooks, prepare all of the toppings. To make the quick pickled onions, add onions, vinegar, sugar and salt to a bowl and allow to pickle at room until ready to use.
After the meat is cooked, shred using two forks. You can eat the meat like this, but it’s even better crisped up.
Heat a small, nonstick pan and add in oil. Then, place some meat in the pan and allow it to crisp for several minutes on one side (see image below).
Warm the tortillas, and build your tacos any way you desire!
Recipe FAQs and Tips
Cook pork shoulder or pork butt for 1 hour at high pressure. Cut the meat into 2 inch chunks before cooking, so it cooks through evenly.
It takes approximately 15 minutes to naturally release pressure from a pressure cooker.
- Crisp the meat– For an especially satisfying taco, crisp up the shredded pork in a pan with oil after it pressure cooks. Make sure to add some of the cooking juices from the pressure cooker into the pan so the meat doesn’t dry out too much when you crisp it up.
- Re-purpose leftovers– If you have leftovers, you can serve this meat over rice, in a soup, in a burrito, in a salad or in a sandwich roll. The possibilities are endless.
- Make extra and freeze- You can cook a large batch, and freeze the extra cooked meat in a sealed container for up to three months.
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These Crispy Pressure Cooker Carnitas take less than half the time of an authentic recipe and no one would know you took any short cuts! You can serve these tacos to your family or friends any night of the week.
- 2–2 ½ lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2 inch cubes
- 3 tbsp olive oil or oil of choice, divided
- 1 small white onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- 2, 3-inch orange peel strips
- Juice from 1 orange
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
Quick pickled red onions:
- ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
- ½ cup sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 4 tsp sugar
- 4 tsp kosher salt or 3 tsp fine salt
- Mini corn tortillas, for serving
- Lime wedges, for serving
- Salsa verde (green salsa)
- Pickled or fresh jalapeños
- Queso Fresco*
- Season meat: Season pork with oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. Toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Pressure cook: Place pork in pressure cooker. Top with onion, garlic, bay leaf and orange peel strips. Squeeze over orange juice. Season with additional salt and pepper. Pressure cook on high for 1 hour with natural release.
- Pickle onions: While pork cooks, add sliced onion, vinegar, sugar and salt to a bowl. Cover and allow to sit out and pickle at room temperature.
- Shred pork: Remove pork from pressure cooker and shred. Season with additional salt and pepper, as desired. Save juices to toss pork in as needed.
- Crisp pork: Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Add remaining tablespoon of oil to pan. Add some of pork and 1-2 tablespoons of juice to pan in a single layer. Cook undisturbed for 4-5 minutes or until well-browned and crispy on bottom side. Crisp in batches, if needed.
- Warm tortillas: Heat tortillas over gas flame on stove top or inside the oven until just warmed through.
- Serve: Place pork and desired toppings into tortillas, and enjoy.
Any pressure cooker or Instant Pot will work for this recipe. Adjust as per manufacturer’s instructions.
You can substitute cotija, queso blanco or feta cheese.
If you have leftovers, serve over rice, in a burrito or sandwich, or in a salad or soup.
You can also freeze leftover carnitas in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to three months.
- Category: Main
- Method: Pressure cook
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Serving Size: 6 oz meat, three tortillas & toppings
- Calories: 450
- Sugar: 3g
- Sodium: 100mg
- Fat: 13g
- Saturated Fat: 3g
- Unsaturated Fat: 10g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 25g
- Fiber: 3g
- Protein: 50g
- Cholesterol: 140mg
Keywords: pressure cooker carnitas, instant pot carnitas, carnitas tacos