Crispy pressure cooker carnitas are juicy, fall apart tender, and ready in only 1 hour and 10 minutes! Made from a blend of Mexican spices, pork shoulder, broth, and lime juice, they’re easy to make, use simple easy-to-find ingredients, and are perfect for serving in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and enchiladas!
This recipe is sponsored by The National Pork Board. All opinions expressed here are my own.
It’s time to put that pressure cooker to good use and make some crispy pork carnitas!
I’ve been making my easy carnitas recipe in the slow cooker for as long as I can remember, but after finally learning to use my pressure cooker to the fullest, I’m excited to share how to make crispy carnitas in the pressure cooker!
Instead of taking 4-8 hours in the slow cooker, this recipe takes only a little over an hour to make in the pressure cooker from start to finish. It’s a huge timesaver and allows me to have more time to make memories around the dinner table with family, which is so important. Everyone who has ever tried this recipe absolutely loves it, which is a testament to how simple yet flavorful pork dishes like this one can help bring people together!
Pork dishes like carnitas and chile verde always transport me to the streets of Mexico where I used to travel to every year as a kid to visit my grandparents. There would be lots of street vendors with taco carts set up along the busy streets selling tacos de carnitas with all the fixings like chopped onions, cilantro, pico de gallo, sliced radishes, lime wedges, Mexican crema, and more. There was no better place to be.
Now that not a lot of people are travelling, I’m taking full advantage of cooking up these delicious and flavorful pork dishes to help transport me out of my kitchen and into new and exciting cuisines that spark joy and happiness.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Pork Shoulder: This cut of meat has a higher fat content, making it flavorful and juicy. It has that fall-apart tender quality that we all know and love. Pork shoulder is extremely popular in Mexican cuisine, and it’s often a go-to meat because it provides an easy and fun way to escape from the boring dishes and recipes that we make come in our day-to-day lives.
- Seasonings: Cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt, and black pepper. These spices and seasonings are a good mix of the flavors that I grew up with in my Mexican kitchen, and pair beautifully with the tender and juicy pork!
- Broth: Needed to make sure the pork cooks perfectly in the pressure cooker. I used chicken broth, but you can also use beef or vegetable broth.
- Lime Juice: Used in the cooking process and at the end to add a nice kick of citrus that brightens up the flavor of the carnitas.
How to Make Pressure Cooker Carnitas
First, cut the pork shoulder into large chunks and season with all the dry spices. Toss together until fully coated.
Next, add the lime juice and broth to the pressure cooker. Place the seasoned pork on top and cover with the lid. Pressure cooker on high for 40 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes. Once the 15 minutes have passed, manually release the remaining pressure.
Uncover and shred the carnitas with 2 forks. The pork will be fall-apart tender and will easily shred!
At this point, you can mix in the juice of 1 lime, some chopped cilantro, and serve it immediately.
If you want to go the extra step and get the carnitas nice and crispy, keep following along!
To crisp up the carnitas, transferring the shredded pork to a large baking sheet along with about 1/3 cup of the juices. Place under a broiler for 10 minutes, giving the pork a stir halfway through.
Toss the carnitas with another splash of the juices, top with cilantro and serve!
Helpful Tips and Substitutions
- Do I have to crisp up the carnitas? No, crisping up the carnitas under the broiler is totally optional. You can serve them right out of the pressure cooker after shredding.
- Looking for a leaner option? You can use a center cut pork loin or a pork sirloin roast instead of pork shoulder. The flavor won’t be exactly the same since it’s not a very fatty cut like pork shoulder is, but you’ll still be able to shred it and use it the same way in tacos and burritos! However, I don’t recommend you crisp it up under the broiler since it will dry it out.
- Don’t have chicken broth? You can use vegetable or beef broth. If you don’t have either, you can use plain water in a pinch.
Storing and Freezing
Pressure cooker carnitas can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days in an airtight container.
To freeze any leftovers, place the carnitas and all the juices in an airtight freeze-safe container or zip-top bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Let the carnitas thaw in the fridge overnight and then reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through.
Crispy carnitas are typically served as tacos in fresh corn tortillas topped with cilantro, diced onions, and fresh lime wedges.
Some other tasty options include:
- stuffed in enchiladas made from flour tortillas and topped with red enchilada sauce
- on top of tostada shells with some refried beans and cotija cheese
- in a Mexican sandwich called a torta ahogada that’s drowned in a red chile and tomato sauce
- in a burrito bowl with some Mexican rice, black beans, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream