One of my kids told me after my last tweaks to this recipe, “Mom, this is so good! I feel like I’m at Chipotle!” and that was highest praise from this particular child. My kids usually grow tired of recipes I’m testing for this blog. But this was one they happily ate as I continued to perfect it.
This recipe for carnitas has been on our table repeatedly in recent weeks. Cooked to perfection in a pressure cooker, carnitas can be used for tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, or taco salads.
Our kids enjoy their carnitas in tacos with all of the toppings, while I make mine into a grain-free carnitas bowl using my Simple Mexican Coleslaw recipe, along with guacamole and salsa. When I’m eating dairy, I’ll also add sour cream and cheese. So good! This makes a Trim Healthy Mama “S” meal.
I tested this recipe in a pressure cooker, the large Instant Pot. This is where pressure cookers really shine, as they cook meat quickly, and it comes out so tender. However, I also have provided notes on how to make this in a slow cooker, or stove/oven.
It’s worth noting that traditionally carnitas were slow-cooked in lard until tender and crispy, with not quite as many spices as this recipe has. That is a lovely way to enjoy a traditional recipe. But this recipe is easier for me to put together, and I find it plenty fatty enough just from the fat produced from the roast.
- Simple Mexican Quinoa Bowls
- Mexican Quinoa Salad
- Mexican Chocolate Dairy-free Ice Cream
- Lacto-Fermented Escabeche
- 7 Layer Mexican Dip
Tender Instant Pot Carnitas
- 3-6 pound pork butt roast or shoulder roast
- Salt and pepper
- Avocado oil, or oil/fat of choice
- 2 teaspoons onion powder (optional)
- 1 heaping tablespoon chili powder
- 1 heaping tablespoon ground cumin
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled, and minced
- 2 heaping teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ½ cup lime juice (orange juice is more traditional, and delicious as well, but we preferred lime).
- 2 teaspoons salt and generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
- Cut roast into, roughly, largish two-inch squares (mine were very irregular, and that’s fine). If they are very wet, pat dry, salt and pepper generously.
- Using the sauté function, heat enough oil in the Instant Pot until hot (but not smoking), and using tongs, place some of the squares into the bottom of the pan. Don’t overlap, and do multiple batches. Turn once, browning both sides. Remove to plate, and then repeat until you have finished all of the meat.
- Turn the sauté function off, add meat back into the IP, and add the rest of the ingredients.
- Put lid on, and hit “manual” and set for 40 minutes on high. Once done, let it release for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove lid, and remove meat into a large bowl. Shred with two forks (my kids like doing this!). We also remove any fatty pieces.
- Put into a serving dish and pour some of the sauce over it, and serve.
- OR, if you would like it browned, you can place on a large sheet pan, and brown it in the oven on broil for around five minutes. The other options would be browning it in a large frying pan on the stove. My kids prefer it straight from the IP.
Directions for slow cooker: Brown meat in a pan in as many batches as needed. Place in slow cooker, and add the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-5 hours, until the meat is fork tender.
Directions for stovetop/oven: In an oven-safe dish with a lid, brown meat in as many batches as needed. Add the rest of the ingredients, put the lid on, and place in a preheated oven at 300F, and bake for 3 to 4 hours until the meat is fork tender.