Instant Pot Crispy Pork Carnitas


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 tacos on a wooden tray

Crispy and tender, Instant Pot pork carnitas cook fast and make tacos that will quickly become a family favorite. The carnitas are also great in burrito bowls, salads, or wraps. Take it to the next level by whipping up a super-simple batch of Avocado Crema sauce to drizzle on top, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Is it too late for me to join the Instant Pot fan club? I realize that many of you have already been using and loving this thing forever, but I’ve only recently pulled mine off the top shelf. After playing around with some recipes and testing a bunch of new ones, I’m totally sold on the convenience of this machine. I’m also over the fear that it will explode in my kitchen. 😉

instant pot on a white countertop

Slow Cooker vs. Instant Pot

Part of my resistance to the Instant Pot was that I love slow cooking! I love how the slow cooker makes the house smell great, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever need to cook as fast as the Instant Pot allows. I was SO wrong. I’ll never give up the slow cooker completely, but since the Instant Pot has been in the rotation, I’ve definitely found pressure cooking to have its advantages:

  • Instant Pot cooks fast / allows for last minute cooking (obviously)
  • The Instant Pot insert is lighter and easier to clean
  • Instant Pot is more versatile – it can make more desserts, grains, yogurt, etc. and has functions like “saute” that many slow cookers don’t have
  • The Instant Pot insert fits more easily in the fridge (so I can load it ahead)
  • It’s easier to adjust recipes in the Instant Pot – add or subtract a few minutes rather than hours

pork in instant pot

Prefer to make these Crispy Pork Carnitas in the slow cooker?

Check out Slow Cooker Crispy Pork.

pork in the instant pot

Last week we decided a couple hours before dinner that we wanted tacos (my girls are way into taco night at the moment). I put a pork shoulder in the Instant Pot while we walked down to the neighborhood block party. When we came back – dinner was ready in 20 minutes! It felt like a serious win.

The key to the crispy + tender combo of these Instant Pot Pork Carnitas is these two steps:

1) Cook pork shoulder on high until easy to shred, ~60 minutes. It comes out super tender.

cooked pork in the instant pot

2) Cook shredded pork in a skillet until crisp, ~10 minutes. The edges become super crisp.

The second step makes these so good. Spread all of the pork all in a pan over medium-high heat and let it cook, without stirring (very important), until crisp on the bottom. Flip the whole thing and fry the other side until crisp.

chopped pork in instant pot

Break it apart and pile it into tacos! The carnitas are so flavorful that I like the tacos simple, topped with avocados, sour cream, cilantro, a few red onions, and a squeeze of lime juice. But sometimes I am in the mood to throw some coleslaw on top as well.

 tacos on a wooden tray

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carnitas tacos on a wooden tray
5 from 2 votes

Instant Pot Crispy Pork Carnitas

Crispy and tender, Instant Pot pork carnitas cook fast and make tacos that will quickly become a family favorite. This is a versatile recipe that can also be used in burrito bowls, salads, or wraps.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 8 people


  • 6-quart Instant Pot / pressure cooker
  • Skillet


  • 4 lbs Boneless Pork Shoulder (also called "Pork Butt"; see note)
  • 1 cup Water
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Cooking Oil


  • Cut pork into 2-3 large pieces. Trim off excess fat. (Note, if the pork is bone-in, you can just slice off a few pieces around the bone and leave the bone and any attached meat in the pot. The meat on the bone will easly shred off at the end of cooking.)
  • Add water and then pork to the Instant Pot insert.
  • Season the pork pieces with salt and pepper (go easy on the seasoning at this stage - you can add additional seasoning later).
  • Lock the lid and use the manual setting to cook the pork on high for 60 minutes.
  • When the pork is done allow the pressure to naturally release for at least 15 minutes. Release any remaining pressure manually.
  • Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pork to a paper-towel lined plate. Shred using two forks. If it won’t easily shred, move pork to a cutting board and roughly chop with a knife. (Reserve the cooking liquid.)
  • When you are ready to serve the pork, heat a skillet over high heat. Add cooking oil and then pork (you many need to cook it in batches). Let pork cook on one side until very crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. If the pork looks dry as it cooks, add some of the reserved cooking liquid about 2 Tablespoons at a time (repeating this step as needed if the pork again looks dry during cooking). Season with some salt and pepper as it cooks.
  • Flip pork and cook on the other side until crisp. Break pork apart and serve.


A good rule of thumb is to cook pork shoulder for about 15 minutes / lb. You can cook a larger or smaller pork shoulder roast but adjust for weight. 
Bone-in pork shoulder will work in this recipe. Increase the weight of the amount used by ~25%. Discard bones after cooking.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 304kcal | Protein: 51g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 136mg | Sodium: 124mg | Potassium: 857mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $9.50
Calories: 304
Keyword: instant pot, pork, tacos, tex mex
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

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  1. Hi this recipe looks amazing! I recently moved to Sweden and for the life of me, I cant find this cut of pork anywhere, Would using those long tube looking “loins” work just as well?

    1. Hi Rebecca – that’s so strange! Maybe they call it something else there? We lived in Thailand for years and could often find a similar cut that was sold chopped up. Pork loins would definitely work here. They are much more lean and need a much shorter cooking time – usually about 15 minutes for the whole loin. It won’t shred like pork shoulder or pork butt, but you can definitely just slice or chop it into bite-sized pieces before searing it in a pan. It won’t look exactly the same, but the flavors will be great.