Pressure cooker carnitas with bold flavors of salsa verde and plenty of seasonings will become your new favorite Instant Pot or Ninja Foodi pork dinner.
These pressure cooker carnitas came about quite by accident. Using what I had in the house I made some of the most amazingly tender pork in my Instant Pot. You’ve gotta’ try these. (affiliate links present, originally published 3/20)
Instant Pot Carnitas
It was one of those days where I had defrosted a pork roast and realized it needed to be cooked. Thought about what we had in the fridge that would bring all the flavors to the next level and threw it all together. It. Was. Amazing.
With that said it was so good I made it again a few months later, but forgot to thaw it ahead of time. NO problem!! I threw in my frozen pork roast and that worked just as great as the first go around!
FIRST – You should sign up for my free newsletter so you get new posts emailed to you twice a week and never miss out on anything! Now let’s start with a few basic tips:
- Make sure to Bookmark our InstaPot recipes page. We add new ones each week!
- Then PRINT this —–> Instant Pot cooking times cheat sheet that will help you understand how long meat, vegetables and beans take to cook in your pressure cooker.
For reference, this is the pressure cooker I have (a 6 quart) and use for all recipe creations.
Ninja Foodi Carnitas
One night when my family came home from eating at a restaurant everyone said they had the best shredded pork ever, now that was a challenge. I wanted to see if I could make something similar to that at home for much less but tasting very similar. They described what it was like and how it was served so I went to creating.
- It was such a hit after they ate it I thought I’d share it with all of you.
You can really call this whatever you like. It did have a Mexican flavor to it with the salsa verde I used so the closest thing I could compare them too would be Instant Pot carnitas. You can see how I prepared it here. Theirs was shredded but I knew I could get the same taste but in small chunks, that way each piece would really soak up all those flavors, it worked.
Get out whatever electric high pressure machine you have at home and let me tell you how I did this and the tweaks we have made along the way in the years since we made it first.
2 Lbs Pork Carnitas in Pressure Cooker
2 – 3 pounds is about what I use. If you do use a piece with a bone in it take into account that that weight will be removed so you are going to want a slightly larger piece to account for that. I leave all the fat on while it’s being cooked because that offers more flavor. When done I will then trim that off, discard and enjoy the leaner protein pieces.
What cut of meat is carnitas?
Carnitas are the Mexican version of pulled pork really. It’s traditionally made with a pork shoulder, sometimes called a pork butt. This is usually used because of the higher fat content which helps the meat stay super tender and juicy when it’s cooked.
I used a pork roast because that’s what I had on hand and it came out just as amazing.
Are carnitas healthy?
Well that depends. The fat content is a bit higher than other meats but it is a high protein meal that’s packed with TONS of flavor. All in moderation when it comes to all different types of food I say. If you are following a keto friendly diet it is a winner for sure. The “sauce” is tomatillo based and keeps this a really low carb dinner idea.
Pressure Cooker Pork Carnitas
This is what we use. Of course you can adjust the heat with the amount of chili powder or red pepper flakes. If you don’t want it spicy at all then just omit. What is listed makes it mild.
- 2.5 lb. pork shoulder or roast
- I prefer if the bone is already removed
- I’ll only slice off really thick large areas of fat off the outside, but leave quite a bit on
Now, cut into cubes that are about 1.5″ x 1.5″ in size. The smaller they are the faster they will fall apart and become pork tender. If I find pieces on sale like you see here I will pick it up and make that that night. You need to be flexible when you are on a budget I say. You never know what you are going to find so if you have a few favorite recipes for each meat you can throw it together when you find a stellar deal.
Shoulder, roast, or loin works but a cut that does have some fat to it is best if you have a choice in the matter. Reason for this is that fat = flavor. I don’t like chewing on it so I will trim all of that when it is done but before cooking it I will leave a better part of that on the outsides.
This is the salsa verde I make all of the time. If yo don’t want to make from scratch you can certainly buy jars at the store, I have done that before when I was in a rush. I buy a few and keep them on hand so I can make this quickly, as a kind of go to meal when I don’t really want to think when I’m cooking.
- Onion diced
- Minced garlic
- 3 tbsp or 5 fresh garlic cloves diced
- Chili powder
- Salt and pepper
If you notice there is no cooking liquid per say added. That is okay! There is moisture in the salsa and when cooked the meat emits liquid as well so there’s plenty when done. I have had plenty of questions regarding this and I wouldn’t share anything that didn’t work perfectly so just believe in the steps y’all.
Ninja Foodi Carnitas Recipe
I used my Ninja Foodi pot to make this batch which worked fantastic. The only prep work is just cubing the meat, the rest is just thrown in and stirred together before setting it to pressure cook.
- Mine had one bone in it which I removed.
- Once I added everything in as you see below I put that bone back in and when it was dinner time gave it to our puppy (she was in heaven).
- Feel free to leave all of the fat on and cube it into 1×1″ pieces, or remove some which is what I did.
Can you use pork chops for carnitas?
Not really. You need a fattier piece of meat like the pork shoulder or roast to make pressure cooker carnitas. Reason being, it has fat that will render down well and make it really tender with tons of flavor. Pork loin and pork chops are pretty lean.
I mean it is not like you CAN’T use them it is just better if you have a bit more marbling. With that said I will make exceptions to my rule if I find a killer sale I just can’t pass up. There was once where the store had super thick chops they had for like .99 a lb that I just couldn’t pass up, I did use those for this and it was delicious.
Instant Pot Pork Carnitas
Now if you put the entire piece of meat in there without cutting it up at all it would take a lot longer to cook, break down, and be tender enough to pull it apart. This is why I almost always cube my meat before I put it in. That way you not only cut down on the cook time, but it’s already cut into bite size pieces so it’s ready to eat right away.
- Cut the pork into 1×1″ pieces and put into your electric pressure cooker
- I would recommend this non stick pot if you don’t already have one
- Throw all your other ingredients inside and stir everything together so the meat is nice and coated.
Close your pressure cooker lid and seal your steam valve. Set to 25 minutes on high pressure for cooking time.
- Allow steam to naturally release for 5 minutes before doing a quick release.
- Remove lid and use forks or your tongs to shred the meat into the sauce.
- If you want some of the liquid to evaporate set your pot to saute for about 5 minutes, then turn off.
Serve inside tortillas with toppings or on top of a bed of pressure cooker rice like you see here. There are tons of possibilities as far as that goes. If you want a low carb meal then you can just enjoy as is right out of the pot.
What can I make with pork carnitas meat?
They are so versatile! You can fill any taco or burrito with this, make pork quesadillas, OR use them as a topping for nachos! Include them in a salad like this Chipotle Carnitas Salad! Serve them with the typical onion/cilantro topping typically seen served on Mexican food trucks OR a good Guacamole or Pico De Gallo!
Do you put cheese on carnitas?
If you ask us, cheese goes on everything! It is not typically served with it though. Put on top of a bed of refried beans with grated cheddar cheese. Place coriander, lime, onion, tomato and avocado onto a plate. Or serve inside baked potatoes topped with red tomato salsa.
What do you eat with tacos?
First off you can make Instant Pot tacos a variety of ways, oh let me count the ways! While I like to load them up with all the things, including avocado slices, my kids like them more plain. That is why a bar is a great idea when serving these. You can lay out all the fixings and allow every person to construct their own.
- Black beans on the side is a given
- Coleslaw gives them a fresh cool ingredient amongst the heat
- Brown or white rice is a cheap option
- Throw a pot of corn in for just 2 minutes and enjoy
- Chips and salsa always works
Of course if you really feel like you need to sear the pork beforehand to get those crispy bits you can set to saute after you dice it up. Add a bit of olive oil and have at it, or rub with a bit of oil, set on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes to crisp them up too. You can also cook these all day on low in your slow cooker but I’m all about fast!
- After this try our roast in a pressure cooker too. If you’d rather make a batch of slow cooker pork carnitas, we have a recipe for that too!
Want to see a few of my favorite things that I am totally obsessed with?? Take a peek and see how many you might already have…twinsies!
Pressure Cooker Carnitas
- Remove bone and cube pork into 1×1" pieces, put them into your pot.
- Add all other ingredients and stir together so meat is coated.
- Close pressure cooker lid and seal steam valve and set to high pressure for 25 minutes.
- Allow for a natural release of steam for 5 minutes, then release the rest quickly.
- Lift lid and use forks or tongs to shred meat (will fall apart). If you want some of the liquid to evaporate you can set pot to saute for about 5 minutes and then serve inside tortillas or on top of rice.