You guys…I have been so, so, so, so, excited to start this series of Instant Pot recipes kicking off today! I’ve got eight coming your way, starting with these amazing carnitas that are too delicious for words. I have been hearing many things about the Instant Pot for the last year or so, and as the hype continued to go up and up and up, I finally decided to go ahead and get one. Well, I didn’t get one, but I put it on my Christmas list and it was delivered to my door thanks to my mother and father in law (thanks Rhonda and Ed!).
I was highly skeptical that it would be anything other than a speedy, glorified crock pot. I wasn’t sure the food would be any better than what I could throw together on my stove top. But I decided to get one anyway and decide for myself how I felt about this SUPER popular new little (except it’s not little) piece of cooking equipment.
So, first thoughts:
- I was very intimidated by all the buttons and had zero idea where to even start
- I was super unprepared for the time it takes to “come to pressure” and “naturally release.” When I had heard “pasta in 4 minutes,” I thought that legit meant FOUR minutes start to finish. But nah. Unfortunately.
- The pressure release is terrifying. Just picture me crouching behind my counter and poking the valve over with my longest wooden spoon. It’s loud and sudden. Weeks and many recipes later, I still use a wooden spoon and stand far away 😬. It’s like popping the Pillsbury biscuit can times a million.
SO – as for the intimidation with all the buttons…I remedied that by literally ignoring them completely and only using the manual high pressure setting. And then I would just google the cook times for whatever I was making on high pressure. Example: Google “Instant Pot Chicken” and look at a few different people’s high pressure cook times (they are almost always the same across multiple websites) and go from there!
Why not use the buttons? Only because the manual high pressure setting results in a lower cook time for the most part, and it’s just easy. You can totes ignore this advice, but this is how I always used it, and everything was AWESOME.
As for the time it takes to come to pressure and naturally release, this was disappointing to me at first just because I had different expectations, but once I adjusted those expectations, it didn’t bother me anymore. It still is SO MUCH faster and easier (and way tastier) than other cooking methods.
In conclusion: I LOVE IT SO MUCH.
Now that we’ve discussed the Instant Pot in general, let’s discuss these carnitas.
Oh…my gosh. These carnitas. These carnitas turned me from a Instant Pot skeptic to an Instant Pot fanatic. For two reasons.
- The speed these carnitas were done in. These were cooking for FORTY FIVE FREAKING MINUTES (not counting the time it took to come to pressure, which really wasn’t that much.) To put that in perspective, my normal carnitas recipe slow simmers in the oven for FOUR hours. In my house, that means that these are only made on special occasions when I attempt to have enough forward thinking to prepare a 4 hour + meal. So the Instant Pot gives me the ability to make these carnitas an easy weeknight meal, which is insane.
- The flavor and tenderness. I am not exaggerating when I say this might be the most tender and juicy bite of meat I’ve ever had. I thought my original carnitas were good…these blow those out of the water. SO. MUCH. MORE. tender and juicy. Like I couldn’t even pull the meat out of the pot with two forks because it was so tender and falling apart. I had to use a slotted spoon. And forget shredding the meat with two forks – all I had to do was push down on the chunks of pork with a fork and it fell apart! Seriously…my mind was blown.
I don’t know what kind of crazy black magic is going on with this Instant Pot, but I am officially riding the Instant Pot train HARD, people.
I love, love, love to eat these carnitas on a toasted corn tortilla with some cilantro, lime juice, and cotija cheese, but you can do lots of different things with them if you aren’t bout that taco life (…but, why? Tacos are BAE). You can make a southwestern style salad with the carnitas, you can make soup with the meat, you can eat them plain with a side or two, you can make carnitas nachos – there are so many possibilities.
Seriously the highlight of my day was eating these as leftovers until they were gone. I’mmmmmm obsessed.
So, I have to tell you a crazy and spontaneous story. Right now I am in North Carolina, which was highly unplanned. My mother in law came to visit me this past weekend from Thursday through Sunday. Sunday came around, and we just got to talking about how it would be really fun for me to fly back with her and stay in NC for a while. My husband is deployed and coming home soon, and the last several weeks of deployments draaaggggg super slowly, so I love to pack them full of things to make the time go by quickly, so this trip seemed extra appealing.
We seriously were leaving to take her to the airport in an hour and a half, and we were talking about me coming with her – SO last minute. I looked into a few things, like who would watch Boone and Blitz, if plane tickets were even available, etc…Well we got the details worked out and decided to pull the trigger and make it happen.
At this point, we had an HOUR – one hour – until we had to leave for the airport, and I had to pack a week’s worth of stuff for me and for my six month old baby…side note – it took me like a full day to prep for my week long Christmas trip for Ford and I to go to NC, so an hour was CRAZY. We whirled around the house like two little tornados, packing anything and everything as fast as we could while Rhonda called Ed (her hubby), giving him a list of things he needed to get before we arrived (like a car seat so we could get to their house from the airport 😳), and an hour later we were sitting on the plane to North Carolina, catching our breaths and looking at each other like…”we crazy.”
We got in at about 11 pm, Ford went right to sleep, and we’ve been hangin’ out here since! Luckily I had lots of blog posts photographed and ready to post, so I’m just doing all my work from here this week! So, that has been my super spontaneous experience this week. It was fun and exciting 😀.
For real you guys…if you’re on the fence about the Instant Pot, it is AMAZING. Love it. These carnitas are reason alone to make the purchase 😍.
This recipe is 6 Freestyle SmartPoints per serving.Print
Instant Pot Carnitas
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 45 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 9 servings
- 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, fat trimmed off
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 32 oz box fat free chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil (another oil with a high smoke point will also work [like canola or vegetable])
- 1 onion, quartered
- 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
- Cut your pork into large, fist sized pieces
- Mix your spices (chili powder, cumin, oregano) and salt together in a small bowl, and rub into all sides of the meat until evenly coated
- Turn your Instant Pot onto the saute setting on high and add half your coconut oil. When hot, brown your pork in batches on all sides, using the rest of the coconut oil as the pan gets dry
- When all the pork has been browned, add back into the pot, pour in your chicken broth, and add your onion and garlic
- Stir to combine, place the lid on your Instant Pot, make sure the valve is turned to “sealed,” and cook the pork on high pressure (manual setting) for 45 minutes
- When the 45 minutes are up, quick release the steam, remove the meat from the pot using a slotted spoon, and shred
- If desired, place the shredded meat on a baking sheet and pop under the broiler in your oven for several minutes until the meat lightly browns. This is a traditional step with carnitas, and I love the flavor and depth it adds!
If you want to make carnitas tacos with these like pictured in the blog post, toast yellow corn tortillas, add about 1/4 cup of carnitas in each tortilla, and top with lime juice, cilantro, and crumbed cotija cheese.
Other uses: nachos, salad, burritos, soup, or just plain jane!
Don’t have an Instant Pot? Check out my recipe for Crispy Slow Roasted Carnitas that are made in the oven!
- Serving Size: 1/2 cup meat
- Calories: 233
- Sugar: 1 g
- Sodium: 700 mg
- Fat: 12 g
- Carbohydrates: 3 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 28 g
- Cholesterol: 93 mg
If you make this or any of my other recipes, be sure to Instagram it and hashtag #thegarlicdiaries!
In the mood for more yummy pork recipes? Check these out: