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Instant Pot Pork Carnitas Fiesta

45 minutes. Cook
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Pork Carnitas, a beloved Mexican dish, has a rich history that dates back centuries. Originating in the state of Michoacán, this dish was traditionally prepared by braising pork in lard until it reached a crispy, golden perfection. Today, we’ll be bringing you a modern twist on this classic recipe, using the convenient and speedy Instant Pot. Our Instant Pot Pork Carnitas Fiesta is a true crowd-pleaser, perfect for gatherings, weeknight dinners, or any occasion when you want to savor the vibrant flavors of Mexican cuisine. In this article, we’ll delve into the history of Pork Carnitas, provide a detailed recipe, and offer expert tips to ensure your culinary success.

Historical Context: Pork Carnitas, which translates to “little meats,” has its roots in the Mexican state of Michoacán. It’s believed to have originated in the 16th century, a time when copper mines in the region were flourishing. Miners would often eat Carnitas as a hearty and energy-boosting meal during their long shifts underground. The dish was made by slow-cooking pork in lard until tender and then crisping it up for texture. Over time, Pork Carnitas evolved into a celebrated Mexican street food and made its way into households worldwide. In recent years, the Instant Pot has become a game-changer for home cooks, allowing us to achieve the same tender and flavorful results in a fraction of the time.


Sear the Pork Start by setting your Instant Pot to the “Sauté” function. Add the vegetable oil and heat it until shimmering.

Carefully add the pork chunks to the Instant Pot. Sear them on all sides until they develop a golden-brown crust. This will take about 5 minutes. Work in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pot.

Saute the Aromatics Once the pork is nicely seared, add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the pot. Sauté for another 2-3 minutes until the onion turns translucent and fragrant.

Season and Deglaze Sprinkle the ground cumin, smoked paprika, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper over the pork and onion mixture. Stir well to coat the meat evenly with the spices.

Pour in the chicken broth to deglaze the pot, scraping up any flavorful browned bits from the bottom. This adds depth to the dish.

Pressure Cook Add the bay leaves, orange juice, and lime juice to the Instant Pot. Give everything a good stir.

Close the Instant Pot lid, ensuring the valve is set to “Sealing.” Select the “Pressure Cook” function and set the timer for 30 minutes at high pressure.

Natural Release and Shred Once the cooking time is up, allow the Instant Pot to naturally release pressure for 10 minutes. Then, carefully release any remaining pressure manually.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the pork from the cooking liquid and transfer it to a large skillet. Use forks to shred the pork into bite-sized pieces.

Crisp Up the Pork Heat the skillet with the shredded pork over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the edges of the pork become crispy and browned. This should take about 10 minutes. If you prefer extra crispy carnitas, you can cook them a bit longer.

Serve and Enjoy Warm the corn tortillas either on a dry skillet or in the microwave.

Fill each tortilla with a generous portion of the crispy Pork Carnitas. Top with chopped fresh cilantro, diced red onion, sliced radishes, crumbled queso fresco, and a drizzle of your favorite salsa or hot sauce.

Serve your Instant Pot Pork Carnitas Fiesta with a side of lime wedges and enjoy the explosion of flavors and textures in each bite.

Expert Tips:

  • For an extra layer of flavor, marinate the pork chunks in the orange and lime juices with the spices for 30 minutes to 1 hour before searing.
  • If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can still make this recipe in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until the pork is tender, then follow the crisping step in a skillet.
  • Carnitas are versatile; you can also use them as a filling for burritos, quesadillas, or even serve them over rice and beans.

Conclusion: The Instant Pot Pork Carnitas Fiesta takes a historical Mexican favorite and brings it to the modern kitchen. By harnessing the power of this convenient appliance, you can enjoy tender, flavorful Pork Carnitas in just a fraction of the time it traditionally takes. The rich history and heritage of this dish are preserved, even as it adapts to contemporary tastes and cooking methods. So, gather your friends and family, set up a taco bar, and savor the delicious flavors of this Instant Pot creation. It’s a fiesta you won’t want to miss!


prep time
15 minutes.
cooking time
45 minutes.
6 servings.
total time
1 hour.


  • Instant Pot

  • Tongs

  • Cutting board and knife

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Large skillet

  • Slotted spoon

  • Forks for shredding pork

  • Serving platter

  • Taco holders (optional)


  • 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

  • 2 bay leaves

  • Juice of 2 oranges

  • Juice of 2 limes


Sear the Pork
Saute the Aromatics
Season and Deglaze
Pressure Cook
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