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Crazy Good Instant Pot Pork Carnitas [+ Video]

23 Reviews

Pork Carnitas that are juicy are tricky to achieve at home, but we have figured out how to make crazy good Instant Pot Pork Carnitas in only 2 hours!

Pork carnitas crispy and shredded sitting on a sheet pan with lime wedges, orange slices and topped with chopped fresh cilantro.


Instant Pot Dinner Recipes

You have asked for more Instant Pot recipes and we have been answering! See all our Instant Pot recipes here. We are loving how quick we can get dinner on the table with these! Award Winning Instant Pot Chili, an entire Turkey Breast or Beef Stroganoff all in less than hour! And Better than Your Grandma’s Chicken Noodle Soup in just 15 minutes…are you out of your mind?! If you haven’t checked our our Instant Pot Cheat Sheet, you need to go print that baby off!

Making pork carnitas is usually a long process that requires simmering pork in lard for hours and hours. Skip the lard and forget the hours and hours and make these flavorful and tender pork carnitas in the instant pot for dinner tonight!

This dish is so versatile and easy! The obvious choice for these carnitas is to throw them into some corn tortillas and make tacos which is delicious perfection! They also can be used on tostadas or nachos, in burritos or rice bowls with our cilantro lime rice, or on a yummy panini or sandwich. The options are endless really!

Secret to the Best Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

The secret to these crazy good Instant Pot pork carnitas is in the citrus for the brine and the crisping of the meat after it has cooked in the pressure cooker. You can’t have carnitas without those irresistible crispy bits! The brine tenderizes the meat and infuses it with so much zesty flavor! You can skip the brine if you absolutely have to, but you’re going to miss it!! Read below for more brining details!

What Kind of Pork for Carnitas?

Pork butt is what you are after when it comes to carnitas. It has a higher fat content which makes the meat super juicy and tender. If you have the time, try our Best Pork Carnitas! You can also head there to read more about the best pork for carnitas!

What is the Difference Between Pork Shoulder and Pork Butt?

Pork shoulder and pork butt are the same thing. So if you’ve been wondering what the difference is between pork shoulder and pork butt, now you know!

Pork carnitas crispy and shredded sitting on a sheet pan with lime wedges, orange slices and topped with chopped fresh cilantro.

Other Names for Pork Shoulder

Here are some other names that you might see in your meat section at the grocery store when you are shopping for pork shoulder:

  • picnic shoulder
  • pork butt
  • Boston butt
  • Boston shoulder
  • Fresh pork butt
  • Boston butt roast
  • Shoulder roast

Can Carnitas be Frozen?

Yes, carnitas make a great freezer meal! To freeze them, allow them to cool completely and transfer them to a freezer bag. Leave a little bit of extra room in the bag since the meat will expand when freezing. Frozen carnitas should be eaten within 2-3 months.

Pork carnitas crispy and shredded sitting on a sheet pan with lime wedges and topped with chopped fresh cilantro.

What is a Brine and Why Do I Need Brine Pork?

The first step to making these easy instant pot pork carnitas is to make the brine. For this brine we use OJ, water, apple cider vinegar, bay leaves, brown sugar, salt and a whole host of spices (cumin, oregano, dried orange peel, smoked paprika and chili powder).

Brining is the process of adding moisture to muscle fibers within food and dissolving the proteins most often using high concentrations of salt. When pork is brined, flavors and moisture content are enhanced. We recommend that the pork for instant pot pork carnitas be brined for a minimum of 8 hours or overnight.

Pork carnitas crispy and shredded sitting on a sheet pan with lime wedges and topped with chopped fresh cilantro.

Steps for Making Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

  1. Brine the pork, which we have covered
  2. Pat the pork dry and cover in our dry rub (details below) and pour in the liquid
  3. Place in the instant pot and cook on high pressure for 2 hours with a 15 minute natural release
  4. Shred the pork while saving the juices and then crisp the pork (in batches) in a skillet on the stove
  5. Toss the pork with a little of the liquid from the instant pot until nice and juicy
  6. Top with all of your favorite toppings! We recommend this guacamole, restaurant style salsa or our creamy tomatillo cilantro dressing!

You are going love these juicy and flavorful pork carnitas that are perfect for any night of the week!

read more: Loved these Instant Pot pork carnitas? Try our Classic Pulled Pork Recipe next!


More INSTANT POT DINNER RECIPES you’re going to love:

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pork carnitas with fresh cilantro chopped up on top

Crazy Good Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

4.31 from 23 votes
Prep Time: 8 hours
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 45 minutes
Servings: 15
Juicy and flavorful pork carnitas perfect for any Taco Tuesday




  • 2 Cups Orange Juice
  • 4 Cups Water
  • 2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon Oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Orange Peel
  • 1 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder

Pork Rub

  • 3-4 Lb Pork Butt bone-in * see notes for using boneless or cubed pork shoulder
  • 2 Tablespoons Cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Oregano
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Dried Orange Peel
  • 2 Teaspoons Onion Powder
  • 2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Coriander


  • Canola Oil for Final Crisping
  • 1/2 Cup Orange Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Lime Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Chicken Broth


For the Brine

  • Combine all brine ingredients in a large pot and stir to combine.
  • Add the pork and place a lid on then stick it in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.

For the Pork

  • Remove the pork from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Mix the rub together and rub all over the pork.
  • Mix together the liquids and pour in the bottom of the instant pot.
  • Add the pork and lid, moving the valve to seal.
  • Turn to high pressure on manual and set the time for 2 hours.
  • Allow a natural release for 15 minutes then turn to vent.
  • Open and if the meat can be shredded remove and shred, reserving the liquid.
  • If it isn't tender enough, cook for an additional 30 minutes.
  • Once the meat has been shredded, heat a skillet over medium high heat with a drizzle of oil and cook the pork in batches to crisp the meat.
  • Toss with a little of the juices from the instant pot and serve!


  • For using a boneless pork butt, adjust the cooking time to 50 minutes, checking the meat and cooking for up to an additional 30 if needed
  • For using pork cubes, cook on high pressure for 30 minutes and a natural release for 15 minutes.
Left overs can be stored in the freezer in a heavy duty freezer bag.
Nutrition Facts
Crazy Good Instant Pot Pork Carnitas
Amount Per Serving (1 cup)
Calories 186 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Trans Fat 1g
Cholesterol 54mg18%
Sodium 4330mg188%
Potassium 492mg14%
Carbohydrates 14g5%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 11g12%
Protein 18g36%
Vitamin A 500IU10%
Vitamin C 22mg27%
Calcium 58mg6%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Pork carnitas crispy and shredded sitting on a sheet pan with lime wedges, orange slices and topped with chopped fresh cilantro.


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About the authors

carrian feik cheney oh sweet basil

Cade and Carrian have three children and love to spend time together whether it’s vacationing or snuggled up on the couch for a good movie.

And this family especially loves to eat.

They love everything from the keep you fit and healthy to the get out your sweat pants indulgent and everything in between.

But most of all, they love the memories made, shared and treasured and it’s all thanks to a meal shared together with loved ones.

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Recipe Rating


  • Thank you. What is the difference between this recipe your The BEST Pork Carnitas recipe. They look identical but the nutritional information is completely different. I’d love to try this but am working hard to stick to keto. Thanks

    • Reply
    • Hi Shannon! The only difference between these two recipes is the cooking the method. The brine, rub, and cooking ingredients are all the same with the same measurements. I’m not sure why the nutritional information was coming up so different, but it has been corrected now. Thank you for bringing that to my attention!

      • Reply
  • This looks fantastic! I am going to make it Friday. Do you keep the brine in the pot while it cooks along with the orange juice, lime juice and chicken broth?

    • Reply
    • Hi Kara! Thank you! I hope you love it as much as we do! No, you pull the pork out of the brine and pat it dry, then discard the brine. Then combine orange juice, lime juice and chicken broth in the Instant Pot and add the pork and follow the rest of the steps.

      • Reply
  • If I have a 6 pound bone in pork butt, would I double the cook time to 4 hours?

    • Reply
  • Oh my gosh, these are amazing! Carnitas are one of my favorite meats to stuff tacos and these are by far the most flavorful I’ve ever had! I put the pork in the marinade the night before so it marinated for just under 24 hours and the flavor profile was on point.
    I got a little ambitious with my pork, and made it with an almost 8 lb shoulder (I doubled the rest of the recipe) but I’m so glad I did! I’m in graduate school and now I’ll be able to freeze it and have enough pork for like.. the rest of the semester.. hahaha. 6/5 stars definitely

    • Reply
    • You are awesome Megan! Thank you so much for the feedback! Instant Pots are so great for busy students!

      • Reply
  • Hi, for step 3 are the “liquids” what you have listed under “cooking” in the recipe?

    • Reply
    • Yes, exactly! Enjoy!

      • Reply
  • Oh! so sweet and tasty, my family claps for me

    • Reply
    • Yay! So glad you enjoyed it!

      • Reply
  • Don you buy dried orange peel or make your own.looking forward to trying this!

    • Reply
    • Hi Cammi! Yes, we buy dried orange peel. You can find it with all the other spices or on Amazon!

      • Reply

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