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Instant Pot Pork Carnitas Tacos

Traditional pork carnitas for tacos take 3 to 4 hours to cook, but with the Instant Pot, they take just one hour! The pork turns out just as tender, juicy and delicious.

A plate with a flour tortilla, pork carnitas, avocado and cilantro

Happy National Taco Day! Yes, I really am celebrating. I love tacos. Plus, tacos are one of the only foods that my picky-eater-son will always eat without complaint. OK, maybe not completely without complaint, if I happen to buy the "too spicy" Trader Joe's taco seasoning packet.

Anyway. I could tacos multiple times per week. There are so many combinations of fillings, it's hard to get tired of tacos.

A piece of pork shoulder with diced onion and jalapeno in an Instant Pot

One of my favorite fillings is carnitas, a Mexican pork dish that's typically braised over the course of 3 to 4 hours, to break down the collagen (connective tissue) in the pork, making it easier to shred.

I don't know about you, but I rarely have 3 to 4 hours (plus prep and resting time) to sit around and wait. That's where one of my favorite gadgets, the Instant Pot, comes in. Using pressure cooking, this dish is ready in an hour.

Two pork carnitas tacos on a blue plate in front of a pile of carnitas meat.

Now, carnitas literally translates to "little meats" in Spanish, and sometimes someone will cook beef or even chicken in this style and call it carnitas, but if you see it on a menu, it's almost always pork carnitas tacos.

It appears that citrus juices aren't a traditional ingredient of carnitas, but I love the subtle taste of lime in these carnitas, so I always put it in. If you're not a fan, you can reduce the amount of lime juice by half, and substitute more chicken broth for the orange juice.

Traditional pork carnitas take 3 to 4 hours to cook, but with the Instant Pot, they take just one hour! The pork turns out just as tender, juicy and delicious.

Carnitas are typically served on corn tortillas, but I always find them gummy. Maybe I just haven't had good corn tortillas? Anyway, I always serve tacos on flour tortillas, but go with whatever you prefer.

I've listed topping options in the recipe card below. For a side, I like rice (plain, or with cilantro), refried beans (some people put those in the taco along with the carnitas), or jicama slaw.

Traditional pork carnitas take 3 to 4 hours to cook, but with the Instant Pot, they take just one hour! The pork turns out just as tender, juicy and delicious.

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas Tacos

Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Traditional pork carnitas take 3 to 4 hours to cook, but with the Instant Pot, they take just one hour! The pork turns out just as tender, juicy and delicious.

Ingredients

For the carnitas

  • 4 pounds pork shoulder
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 white onion, roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • juice of 4 limes
  • 3 cups orange juice
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

For the tacos

  • Tortillas (flour or corn)
  • Pico de gallo
  • Avocado slices
  • Cilantro

Instructions

  1. Trim any excess fat off of the pork shoulder and cut it into 4 chunks. Combine the salt, cumin, ojregano and pepper, and rub all over each chunk of pork.
  2. Press the saute button on your Instant Pot, and once hot, add a thin coating of canola oil. Saute the pork shoulder, in batches if necessary, on all sides.
  3. Add the remaining carnitas ingredients, and return any pork chunks back to the instant pot, nestling them in the liquid.
  4. Set the Instant Pot to Pressure Cook on high, and set the device's timer for 30 minutes.
  5. After thirty minutes, let the pressure reduce naturally for 10 minutes, then manually turn the valve to "venting."
  6. Once the venting is finished, open the pot. Shred the pork with two forks. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
  7. Serve on tortillas with pico de gallo, avocado slices and cilantro.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 764Total Fat: 45gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 26gCholesterol: 163mgSodium: 1064mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 4gSugar: 11gProtein: 48g

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Happy National Taco Day!

Thank you to Valentina from The Baking Fairy for hosting this one-day event! Check out all the delicious recipes we made for the occasion:
Autumn Pork Tacos by The Freshman Cook
Chorizo and Sweet Potato Breakfast Tacos by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
Egg and Bacon Loaded Breakfast Tacos by Cheese Curd in Paradise
Garbage Plate Tacos by The Spiffy Cookie
Huevos Rancheros Tacos by Our Good Life
Instant Pot Pork Carnitas Tacos by The Redhead Baker
Lobster Roll Street Tacos by Daily Dish Recipes
Old-School Hard Shell Tacos by Karen’s Kitchen Stories
Seared Albacore Tuna Loin Soft Tacos by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Shrimp Tacos with Apple Pomegranate Salsa by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Tacos de Calabacitas by Tip Garden
Vegan Nopales Tacos with Charred Corn and Black Bean Salsa by The Baking Fairy
Vindaloo Pork Belly Street Tacos by Palatable Pastime
Walking Taco Bar by For The Love of Food
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