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Pressure Cooker Pork Carnitas

Pressure Cooker Pork Carnitas

Pressure Cooker Pork Carnitas are your new favorite filling for burritos, tacos, or taco bowls. Crispy edges, tangy citrus and tasty spices, and smoky flavors are yours with your pressure cooker or Instant Pot.

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I don’t own an Instant Pot. Not yet.

I’m sure I’ll get one eventually, but for now, I’m happy with my traditional 6-quart Presto Pressure Cooker. VERY happy. Pressure cooking is like bending time. If you’re a busy working parent, or just plain busy, either a stovetop pressure cooker or an Instant Pot would be a worthwhile investment.

Pork shoulder was the first meal I made in my pressure cooker, and I’ve enjoyed cooking pork with it ever since. It’s like a time machine. Meat braised in a pressure cooker comes out tender and juicy, in a fraction of the time it takes to smoke or braise the same cut. It’s all about long-cooked texture and flavor.

These Pressure Cooker Pork Carnitas are a great example of just the right texture and flavor. The extra step of frying the shredded meat in a skillet is worth it – you’ll love the crispy edges. I love some smoke flavor with pork, so I started out with a little bacon. Not much, just one strip. And I used the bacon fat to brown the chunks of pork shoulder, so all that flavor is put to good use. Mmm.

The citrus juices and spices in this recipe make for some fantastically-flavorful and juicy meat. Adding the reduced cooking liquid to the crisped meat makes it more than a filling for tacos or burritos. We served ours without tortillas, with a side of Mexican Cauliflower Rice (recipe coming soon!), chopped avocado, and my new favorite condiment – Quick Pickled Red Onions.

The next night, we made fresh polenta and served leftover Pressure Cooker Pork Carnitas on top, with some hot sauce and more pickled onions.

Next time, I’m going to try a Chipotle-style burrito bowl. And you can be sure this recipe will be in our family’s frequent rotation.

Pressure Cooker Pork Carnitas

Pressure Cooker Pork Carnitas

Course Main Course
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8 servings


  • 1 slice bacon diced
  • 3.5 lbs pork shoulder or butt
  • 1 medium white onion chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 oranges juiced
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Cut pork shoulder into 8 pieces. Season on all sides with salt and black pepper.

  2. In a pressure cooker over medium-low heat, render diced bacon until brown and crisp. Add pork pieces to pressure cooker. Brown on all sides.

  3. Add onion, garlic, and bay leaf to pressure cooker.

  4. Stir together orange and lime juice, chicken stock, cumin, coriander, chipotle, cinnamon, and oregano. Add to pressure cooker.

  5. Cook on high pressure for 40 minutes. Let pressure release naturally.

  6. When pressure has released, open pressure cooker. With a slotted spoon, remove pork and place in a bowl. Discard bay leaf.

  7. Place pressure cooker containing remaining juices over medium heat and  boil gently to reduce and concentrate the liquid, about 10 minutes.

  8. Meanwhile, shred the pork with two forks, or with your fingers.

  9. In a wide skillet, heat 1 tbsp canola oil over medium-high heat. Add shredded pork, and fry until it begins to crisp along the edges, turning occasionally.

  10. Measure out 1/4 cup of reduced cooking liquid, and add it to the pork in the skillet. Remove from heat.

  11. Serve with rice (try Mexican Cauliflower Rice!), chopped avocado, and Quick Pickled Red Onions.

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