Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Main Course

Recipe courtesy of Louisiana Kitchen & Culture

Serves a crowd


As pictured here, we used finished carnitas to build a platter of nachos, with black beans, queso, sour cream, and plenty of fresh salsa. Use them to make tacos, fill burritos, tamales, and enchiladas. Other delicious garnishes are guacamole, fresh cilantro, lime wedges, chopped white onion, minced or sliced jalapeños, etc. In the unlikely event of leftovers, freeze them in freezer bags with as much of the air as possible squeezed out of the bags.

  • 1 3-pound pork butt
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed and coarsely chopped
  • coarsely chopped jalapeño or serrano pepper to taste
  • 1½ cups lager-style beer, in all
  • 1 tablespoon New Mexico chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ¾ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 long strip of orange peel, any pith removed
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 long strip of lime peel, any pith removed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into 2 to 3 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican

Pork Carnitas

Click image to enlarge



Cut pork into 2- to 3-inch pieces and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Set electric pressure cooker sauté setting on high. Add the oil and, working in batches, brown pork on all sides, removing to a platter as each batch is finished. If there are browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, add a splash of beer and scrape the pan; add the onion, garlic, and hot pepper to the rendered fat and cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the chile powder and cumin and cook, stirring constantly, until very fragrant, about 1 minute (this is an important step to building flavor). Return the pork to the pan and turn pieces to coat; add the beer, orange juice and peel, lime juice and peel, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, and oregano.

Seal and set the time for 60 minutes. When the timer beeps, let pressure release naturally for 20 minutes then vent.

Using a large slotted spoon, lift out pork pieces and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet; set aside to cool. Strain the cooking liquid and discard the solids. Let the broth settle and skim off and reserve as much fat as possible; it is very flavorful. Measure ½ cup of the broth and set aside; reserve the remaining broth for another use (such as making a pot of black beans).

When the pork is cool enough to handle, shred it, discarding any excess fat and gristle. Heat 2 tablespoons of the reserved fat in a large Dutch oven over medium heat; add the shredded pork and reserved ½ cup broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until broth has evaporated and pork is well browned; taste and adjust seasoning.

Feeds a crowd.

Note: Commercial chili powder generally contains paprika, cumin, and oregano; often, the only actual chiles present are those used to make the paprika. We like to mix our own to taste, with an assortment of different kinds of pure chile powders at different heat levels, plenty of cumin, both smoked and sweet paprika, dried oregano, and granulated onion and garlic. Sometimes we grind our own chile powders from dried chiles that have been toasted first. You can find a variety of ground and whole dried chiles in well-stocked markets and any number of online sources.


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