Instant Pot Carnitas Tacos Recipe

Who says transforming a pork roast into something that’s succulent and tender has to take a long time? Our guess is anyone who hasn’t tried the Instant Pot Carnitas Tacos recipe below!

  • By Taylor Isaac
  • March 5, 2018

Carnitas is a traditional Mexican dish that literally means, “little meats.” It’s typically made from seasoned pork shoulder roast that’s been braised or simmered for a long period of time in oil or lard. The pork is then wrapped in a warm tortilla and topped with lettuce, avocados, onions and salsa.

Yep, this quintessential Mexican taco is totally addictive!

Our Instant Pot Carnitas Tacos recipe shaves off a significant amount of time by cooking the pork shoulder under high pressure for 60 minutes (compared to 7 to 8 hours in the slow cooker) — without compromising any flavor!

“Wow! That Carnitas! So tender and flavorful. Gotta stir-fry that pork to get it crispy. We absolutely love the tacos!”

– Eileen T.

These carnitas were featured in May as part of our meal plan service. They were so well-received, we decided to convert the original slow cooker recipe (with help from our member-run Cook Smarts Instant Pot community) for pressure cooking in the Instant Pot — you’ll be blown away by how easy this recipe is!

Make these Instant Pot Carnitas Tacos for your next Taco Tuesday. Top with lettuce, avocados, onions, sour cream and salsa or set out the ingredients family-style to let everyone assemble their own.

These carnitas are so good, it’s hard to believe that you’ll have leftovers, but if you do, repurpose them into our Waffle Fry “Nachos” recipe! Of course, you can also freeze any extra pork for whenever you need a meal on the table, fast.

Want more Instant Pot recipes? Get access to our Free 10 Instant Pot Recipes here:

Instant Pot Tip:

Restaurant-style carnitas are usually braised and deep fried for tender pieces of pork with crisp edges. To get those crunchy bits, use the optional step to pan-fry the pork after cooking it in your Instant Pot.

(For more Instant Pot tips, check out our article here.)

Prepping Smarts

  • Chop veggies and herbs ahead of time with the help of our quick cooking videos:

How to Dice Jalapenos

Jalapeños have great flavor and can add heat to anything. See how to easily dice them here.


How to Mince or Crush Garlic

Garlic adds great flavor and aroma to any dish. Learn how to impart the flavors of garlic to any dish with this short video.


How to Chop & Dice an Onion

Learning how to dice an onion correctly will save you so much time in the kitchen.


How to Chop Cilantro or Parsley

Learn how to chop parsley using the 'pivot-and-fan' chopping technique with this short video.

Equipment Smarts

  • Instant Pot — used for majority of the cooking, from browning the meat to cooking it using high pressure
  • Cutting board – a handy surface to shred or chop your carnitas into taco-friendly sizes; the non-skid edges keeps the cutting board from sliding
  • Skillet – for frying the pork to give it deliciously crispy edges (so worth it)!

For more kitchen and equipment and tool smarts, visit our Essential Kitchen Cookware and Tools

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Instant Pot Carnitas Tacos

Pork shoulder roast is transformed into succulent and tender carnitas in this traditional Mexican taco dish.

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 1 hr

Total time: 1 hr 15 min

Serves: 8


  • Jalapenos - 1, chopped
  • Garlic - 6 cloves, chopped
  • Onions, medium - 1/4, finely diced
  • Cilantro - 1/4 cup, leaves torn
  • Pork, boneless shoulder roast - 2 1/2 lbs (sometimes labeled pork butt; if using bone-in, purchase a slightly heavier cut)
  • Oregano, ground - 3 tsp
  • Cumin - 2 tsp
  • Salt - 2 tsp
  • Black pepper - 1 tsp
  • Avocados - 2, sliced
  • Lettuce, romaine hearts - 2, chopped
  • Stock, any type - 1/2 cup
  • Tortillas, taco-sized, corn or flour - 16
  • Sour cream - for serving (sub plain or Greek yogurt)
  • Salsa, any type - for serving



  1. Jalapenos / Garlic / Onions / Cilantro – Prep as directed and store separately. (Can be done 1 day ahead)
  2. Pork – Rub pork on the top and sides with oregano, cumin, salt and black pepper.
  3. Avocados / Lettuce – Prep as directed.


  1. Heat Instant Pot on Sauté function. Brown the seasoned pork on both sides. Remove pork and cut into smaller pieces and then add back to Instant Pot.
  2. Combine pork, garlic, jalapenos and stock in the Instant Pot. Lock lid, set pressure valve to “sealing” and cook on Manual function for 60 minutes. Do a full natural release, or natural release for 15 minutes and then quick release.
  3. Transfer pork to a cutting board (reserve the cooking liquid) and shred.
  4. Optional step: If you’d like your pork crispy (like traditional carnitas), heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add some oil and then the portion of the pork for tonight’s dinner. Cook, without stirring until dark golden brown on the bottom. Stir and continue cooking until pork is crisp and golden brown in spots.
  5. Drizzle the shredded pork with some of the cooking liquid (you probably won’t need all of it, but it will add in some of the great flavor you achieved while cooking). Season with some salt and pepper.
  6. Warm tortillas according to package directions.
  7. Assemble tacos by topping tortillas with carnitas, lettuce, avocados, onions, sour cream and salsa (or set it all out on the table and let everyone assemble their own). Enjoy!

A little note: Some of the above links are Amazon affiliate links, which means we earn a small percentage from those sales. We use this affiliate revenue to support the continued growth of Cook Smarts. Thank you!

If you love this recipe and want more ways to use your Instant Pot, get our Instant Pot Cheat Sheet eBook for all the IP cooking times, as well as how to convert your favorite recipes for the Instant Pot – all for just $9.99. Also, consider joining our meal plan members who love getting exciting, healthy, and smart menus delivered to their inbox every week!

Instant Pot Carnitas Tacos Recipe via @cooksmartsInstant Pot Carnitas Tacos Recipe via @cooksmarts


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