Instant Pot Carnitas

Our house-style carnitas, perfect for tacos, fried rice, snacking, or pretty much anything. Kinda a tex-mex meets asia style.

Takes roughly 15-minutes of prep/finishing, plus 25-minutes of waiting.


  • 3 lb pork shoulder, cut into 2” pieces
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp five spice
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves, torn
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 hot peppers (jalepeneo, ancho, or other), chopped [optional]
  • 8+ garlic cloves
  • 1 (navel) orange, zested and halved


In the instant pot, mix pork, salt, spices, garlic cloves, onion, peppers, and orange zest until evenly mixed.

Squeeze orange over mix. You can include the orange itself, but I feel it adds too much bitterness.

Seal lid and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes, then natural release.

Remove pork from pot, making sure to remove the garlic and bay leaves. Make sure to save the remaining oil and juices!

If you make a big batch, now is the time to separate out into freezer-safe containers. Make sure to include some of the cooking liquid.

For serving, you can either…

  • Spread onto a sheet pan, lightly crushing to release the meat strands. Broil until crisped up.
  • Heat a cast iron pan, and toss the pork with the juices, until crisp.

Serve however you like.


Leftover carnitas oil/juices make great fried rice flavoring.

Make sure to make some pickled red onions for a side!

I have tried adding a beer, but it turns out a bit more watery than I like.

If using a bone-in pork shoulder, save the bone for soup or broth. Otherwise, toss it into the instant pot, it’ll add additional flavor (and whatever meat you didn’t clean off) so it doesn’t go to waste.

See Also