How to Make Carnitas in the Instant Pot

Have carnitas tacos without the long wait.
carnitas and all the fixings

Carnitas and all the fixings

We love Carnitas, and we love it, even more, when it’s quick in the Instant Pot. Using Taco Sauce gives great meat flavor, then finishing it in a Dutch oven makes it simple and tasty. We like it with guacamole, sour cream, salsa, and beans.

What Cut of Pork?

Pork shoulder is perfect for this. It has plenty of fat, which makes it juicy and gives nice crispy edges. It also happens to be a relatively inexpensive cut of meat, so I usually have an extra one in my freezer. The shoulder is a tough cut of meat, so it does very well in the Instant Pot and tenderizes easily.

Seasoning for Carnitas

A while ago, my very good friend, who happens to be Hispanic, gave me a bottle of La Victoria Taco Sauce. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, so I threw a pork shoulder in the slow cooker with the bottle of sauce and let it cook all day. It was great, but it took all day. Enter Instant Pot.

You can adjust the seasoning rub to your liking. If you don’t like a lot of spice, then you could omit the cayenne. If you want it screaming hot, add more cayenne.

The Sides

Serve it with tortillas and salsa. You can make your own if you wish. We like to have fresh guacamole, chopped onions and cilantro, and beans to go with it. Have a cold beer with it, and enjoy your tacos!

If you want to make beans to go with your tacos, then remove the meat from the Instant Pot and put it in the refrigerator while the beans are cooking. Reserve the liquid in the pot and add some of the liquid in the pot for the Carnitas to the liquid for the beans.

carnitas and all the fixings


Have carnitas tacos without the long wait.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Crisping: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Cuisine: Mexican
Difficulty: Easy
Newsletter: 2020-04-30
Servings (slide to adjust): 8
Calories: 300kcal


  • 2 pounds pork shoulder

~~ -- For the Rub -- ~~

  • ½ teaspoon Garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon Onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon New Mexico Chili
  • ½ teaspoon Coriander
  • 2 tablespoon Olive oil

~~ -- For the Instant Pot -- ~~

  • 12 ounce Taco Sauce, La Victoria preferred
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Beef Base
Ingredients necessary for the recipe step are in italic.


  • Mise En Place
    Mise en place Carnitas
  • Cut the pork shoulder into 1-inch pieces.
  • Mix the rub together. Put the pork into a bowl, cover with the rub and mix it all together, making sure all pieces are covered.
    carnitas rub
  • Put olive oil in a Dutch oven and heat it until it starts to shimmer.
  • Add the pork.
  • Brown it on all sides. Set aside.
    carnitas browned
  • Mix the beef base and taco sauce together.
  • Put the browned pork into the Instant Pot with the garlic clove and bay leaf. Don't clean out the Dutch oven.
  • Cover with the pork with the taco sauce mixture. Put on Pressure for 40 minutes, then 10 minutes Natural Release then Quick Release.
  • Remove the pork from the Instant Pot and put it back into the Dutch oven. Put the heat on high and start browning the pork again. If it seems dry, you can add some bacon fat or butter.
  • Break the pieces of pork apart with a fork while browning it and let the pieces get crisp on the edges.
  • Serve with guacamole, tortillas, sour cream, salsa, and beans or rice. Enjoy!


If you want to make beans to go with your tacos, then remove the meat from the Instant Pot and put it in the refrigerator while the beans are cooking. You can add some of the liquid used for the carnitas to the liquid for the beans.


Calories: 300kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 21gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 209mgPotassium: 389mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1g
Got Questions? Let me know!Mention @arbpen or tag #arbpen!
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About arbpen

As an award-winning and serious home cook, I seriously believe there is no reason why you can't have a restaurant quality meal at home. One of the good things about eating at home is to save money, so armed with a good menu plan, a shopping list, and an appreciation of good food, we can all have gourmet food on a budget.

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