Pork Carnitas (Instant Pot and Slow Cooker)

This Pork Carnitas recipe, made either in the Instant Pot or Slow Cooker, is an easy and flavorful dinner or meal prep for a healthy start to the New Year. It’s Whole30, Paleo and Keto friendly and pairs with so many different sides (including this Healthy Cole Slaw recipe) that makes it a no-brainer to put on your cooking list now.

Pork carnitas recipe

Pork Carnitas (Instant Pot and Slow Cooker)

This recipe is a favorite at our Food Editor Kelli’s home. It’s on rotation at least twice a month and served for both dinner and then for lunch a few days of the week. It’s so easy to put together in either the slow cooker or the Instant Pot and with minimal ingredients. It’s also versatile in how you serve it: you can put it in tortillas as a kid-friendly dinner, serve it with cauli-rice if you’re doing the low-carb thing, or as Kelli’s favorite over a simple slaw for a quick meal that can be eaten for lunch over a few days.

Pork carnitas instant pot

We love the simplicity in the flavors here: the pork isn’t inundated with too many spices but really relying on the basics: an onion, a teaspoon of chili powder and a pinch of garlic and cinnamon. Wondering about the cinnamon? There is no sugar in this recipe, but the cinnamon gives it the most subtle hint of warmness that you couldn’t detect what it is, but would surely be missing out if it wasn’t included. Trust us on this one.

We’ve included recipes for both the long method in the slow cooker, or the faster version in the Instant Pot. For the Instant Pot version there isn’t any liquid included in the ingredients. The onion and the pork will release so much liquid that it isn’t needed and will safely come up to pressure.

Pork carnitas slow cooker

After the pork is fork-tender you can do the optional step of broiling the carnitas until they’re nice and crispy. Garnish with a bit of lime and a splash of the cooking liquid and this meal is simplicity at it’s finest. Check out the Healthy Cole Slaw recipe to pair it with!

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Shredded pork carnitas

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Pork Carnitas (Instant Pot and Slow Cooker)

This Pork Carnitas recipe, made either in the Instant Pot or Slow Cooker, is an easy and flavorful dinner or meal prep for a healthy start to the New Year. It’s Whole30, Paleo and Keto friendly and pairs with so many different sides that makes it a no-brainer to put on your cooking list now.

  • Author: Lexi
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 1x

Ingredients

Scale

For Carnitas:

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 23 pound boneless pork butt, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 lime (to garnish)

To serve:

Instructions

For Carnitas (Instant Pot)

  1. Place all of ingredients in a 6 or 8 quart Instant Pot, close the lid and set the vent to sealing.
  2. Cook on Manual High Pressure for 60 minutes, and let it natural release for at least 10 minutes (but you can let it fully naturally release if desired).
  3. Pre-heat broiler to 500ºF.
  4. Shred the pork and using a slotted spoon place carnitas on a rimmed sheet pan and place under the broiler until nice and crispy, about 5 minutes. Spoon some of the cooking liquid and the juice of 1/2 a lime over the carnitas.
  5. Serve with cole slaw, tortillas or with caulirice.

For Carnitas (Slow Cooker):

  1. Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 7-8 hours until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender.
  2. Pre-heat broiler to 500ºF.
  3. Shred the pork and using a slotted spoon place carnitas on a rimmed sheet pan and place under the broiler until nice and crispy, about 5 minutes. Spoon some of the cooking liquid and the juice of 1/2 a lime over the carnitas.
  4. Serve with cole slaw, tortillas or with caulirice.

Notes

  1. Don’t throw away the liquid remaining in the bottom of the Instant Pot / Slow Cooker, it’s super flavorful and should be spooned over the crispy carnitas! There is some fat in there, so you can store it separate so you can scoop it off when it’s cold, but we didn’t feel this was necessary we just stored and leftovers all together.
  2. Not it isn’t a mistake the no added liquid is included in these instructions! For both the Instant Pot version and Slow cooker there isn’t any liquid included in the ingredients. The pork releases so much liquid that it is not needed. We are aware the it states the Instant Pot needs 1/2 cup of liquid at least to work, so we initially tested it with 1/2 cup of liquid but it resulted in an extreme amount of liquid at the end because the pork and onions releases so much that going forward we did not use any added liquid in the beginning and ours cooked up beautifully during testing, with no error in our IP. We tested it in two different Instant Pot’s (a 6 qt. and an 8 qt.) with no error. If your Instant Pot has an error message, as we’ve gotten one comment with that, go ahead and put in 1/2 cup liquid, either water or broth. You may need to reduce the liquid after the cooking time. You are looking for a resulting flavorful broth!

Nutrition

  • Calories: 321
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Sodium: 368mg
  • Fat: 13.3g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.7g
  • Carbohydrates: 12.5g
  • Fiber: 3.4g
  • Protein: 37.2g
  • Cholesterol: 104mg

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Instant Pot or Slow Cooker Carnitas

31 comments
January 6, 2019

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31 Responses

  1. This recipe is always a hit every time I make it! I think I’ve shared it with no less than 50 people.

  2. These are the BEST carnitas! The spice blend is perfect, they always come out perfectly tender and fall apart with the touch of a fork! I only add about a half a cup of water to my instant pot and it creates a great little broth to drizzle over before I broil the meat. This is definitely my go to recipe!

  3. Talk about a staple menu item! I seriously make this at least once a week. My family loves it!

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