These Chicken Carnitas are the perfect easy dinner for any night of the week and can be made in the slow cooker or Instant Pot! Seasoned with lime juice, cilantro, and spices, this is a healthy meal option for busy families!
Seasoned with cumin, garlic, chili powder, lime juice, and other seasonings, this chicken carnitas recipe can be made in the slow cooker or the Instant Pot!
- They’re super easy to make. Just put the meat and seasonings into your crockpot or Instant Pot and come back to delicious tender chicken carnitas!
- They’re really versatile. They’re great as tacos, but can also work for burrito bowls or eaten plain with Authentic Mexican Rice.
- They have the best flavor combos. Between the smokiness of the cumin and the zest of the lime and cilantro, this combination of flavors is classically Mexican and delicious.
Chicken Carnitas in the Slow Cooker or Instant Pot!
The slow cooker and the Instant Pot are two of my favorite kitchen appliance that makes cooking dinner so incredibly easy.
Slow cookers bring out an incredible depth of flavor in meats that always makes everything mouthwatering!
If you don’t have a slow cooker, I highly recommend you get one. They’re inexpensive, come in many different sizes and make getting dinner on the table so much easier. Here’s the slow cooker that I have.
If you have time to let the slow cooker do the work (as little as 4 hours), then go the slow cooker route. But if you’re in a hurry and don’t have time, then the Instant Pot will do just the trick!
The pressure cooker will have these chicken carnitas ready in only 30 minutes! I have the 6-Quart 9-in-1 Duo Plus Instant Pot and I love it.
Tips for the best Chicken Carnitas
- You’ll definitely want to use fresh lime juice for this recipe. It makes such a difference.
- If the chicken isn’t quite done cooking when the timer goes off, not big deal. Just toss it back in and set it to cook for another 30 minutes to 1 hour (depending on how cooked it is).
- Be sure and taste as you go! Everyone’s tastes are a little different so you may want to add more salt or pepper after the chicken cooks
Chicken Carnitas Variations
- If you don’t have chicken, you can make this recipe with pork. However I recommend following this pork carnitas recipe instead.
- Add in a little cayenne pepper to crank up the heat! Use 1/4 teaspoon for a little heat and 1/2 teaspoon for more heat.
- If you’re out of cilantro (hey, sometimes it happens), try adding in some ground coriander to the spice mix before cooking the chicken. About 1 teaspoon should do it.
This recipe was originally published in 2017. It was updated in 2019 with more helpful tips and a revised ingredient list. Below is the old recipe version just in case you’re looking for it:
- 2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- 1.5 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro