Go Back Email Link

Super Flavorful Carnitas in the Instant Pot

Perfectly tender, the right amount of juicy, and crisped to a golden brown. Chunks of pork shoulder marinated in a powerful marinade, pressure cooked to perfection, and browned in the air fryer or broiler.
No ratings yet
Print Pin
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Carnitas, Instant Pot, Pork Shoulder
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Calories: 340kcal
Author: David Wayne
Cost: $16 - $27


  • Instant Pot
  • Air Fryer or Broiler


  • 4 - 8 lbs Pork Shoulder
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil


  • 8 Large Cloves Garlic sliced or diced
  • 2 Jalapenos sliced with seeds
  • 1 Red Onion Chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Zest
  • 1/4 cup Lemon Juice fresh
  • 1/4 cup Lime Juice fresh
  • 1 cup Orange Juice fresh
  • 1 Tbsp Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin
  • 1 Tbsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Granulated Garlic garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Crushed Red Peppers
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Chicken Bouillon
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1/2 cup water



  • Zest 1 lemon (1 Tbsp)
  • Juice 1 lemon, 2 limes, and 3 oranges
  • Slice or dice 8 large garlic cloves (12 medium garlic cloves)
  • Chop 1 onion and slice 2 jalapeños, seeds left intact
  • *The heat is cooked out in the Instant Pot
  • Add all marinade ingredients to a large bowl and mix well
  • Carefully cut the meat from the shoulder bone (scapula) and cut the meat into fist size chunks
  • *I leave the fat layer on for extra flavor
  • Use tongs to add the chunks of pork to the bowl of marinade
  • Carefully push all of the pork chunks under the marinade mixing them in as you go
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let marinade in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour but no more than 24 hours

Pressure Cooking

  • Rub 1 Tbsp of olive oil onto the inside of the Instant Pot with a folded paper towel
  • Use tongs to move the pork chunks from the marinade to the instant pot
  • Dump all of the marinade from the bowl into the Instant Pot with the pork
  • Put the Instant Pot lid on, seal the pressure release valve, press the pressure cook button and adjust the time to 30 minutes
  • *The Instant Pot will take about 15 minutes to come to pressure before the pressure cook time begins
  • After the 30 minutes of pressure cooking are finished, the Instant Pot will beep and display 00:00 minutes
  • Let the Instant Pot natural pressure release for 20 minutes and release the pressure
  • *I use a kitchen timer so I do not forget to release the pressure
  • Remove the lid after all of the steam has been released
  • Use long kitchen tongs to move the chunks of carnitas to a plate to rest for 10 minutes

Crisp the Carnitas

  • Cut the carnitas chunks into bite size pieces
  • Preheat your air fryer or broiler to 400°F for 5 minutes
  • Place the carnitas on an oiled air fryer basket or broiler pan
  • Air fry or broil at 400°F for approximately 5 minutes
  • Keep a close eye on them so they do not burn
  • Add more time if you'd like your carnitas more crispy

Build a Carnitas Masterpiece

  • Tacos: Fill corn or flour tortillas with carnitas topped with diced white onion, cilantro, and your favorite salsa
  • Burritos: Arrange a pile of carnitas into a line on one side of a burrito size tortilla next to a line of Pico de Gallo and sliced avocado, fold the sides inward and roll your burrito
  • Nachos: Add plenty of Carnitas to a bunch of tortilla chips covered in shredded cheddar cheese, air fry or bake to melt the cheese and top with Pico de Gallo and salsa
  • Fries: Try the same thing as the nachos but use crispy salted French fries instead of tortilla chips
  • Burrito: Bowl Spoon carnitas over a plate of Mexican rice, rinsed black beans, chopped onions, tomatoes and cilantro, sliced avocado, romaine lettuce chunks, shredded cheddar cheese, and your favorite salsa



Use the same marinade recipe and measurements for a 4 pound to 8 pound pork shoulder. 


Serving: 6oz | Calories: 340kcal | Protein: 32g