Crispy Pork Carnitas


Super Easy Crispy Pork Carnitas (Instant Pot or Slow cooker recipe)

Whether it’s in your head or written down somewhere, most of us have a list of those go-to recipes or meal ideas that are family favorites and pretty easy to put together, even at the last minute. 

Those meals have changed over the years to accommodate expanding palates palates and various dietary needs. Although some items will always be on the menu (like my grandmother's brisket!), now there’s a whole new crop of faves including zoodles with homemade pesto, shepherd’s pie and this recipe for crispy pork carnitas. 

Carnitas requires virtually no hands-on cooking time, makes lots of leftovers (cook once, eat twice!) and it’s the perfect accompaniment to a huge variety of vegetable side dishes which keeps the meal healthy, colorful, varied and interesting. 

Some year-round favorite sides include cabbage slaw, sautéed greens, fried plantains and the mandatory guacamole and salsa. In the spring we often add blanched sugar-snap peas or asparagus and in the summer we are all about fresh tomatoes and zucchini. 

cabbage and carrot slaw.jpg

Corn tortillas or the almond four tortillas from Siete Foods make the perfect wrap, and a little bit of freshly chopped cilantro is the perfect finishing touch.

You can have the leftovers for lunch in a salad or for breakfast with a fries egg on top. It’s super yummy the next day!

Carnitas (slow cooker or Instant pot recipe)


  • 3 pounds pork shoulder (also sold as "Boston butt)
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt 
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic minced (or 1 tsp. garlic powder)
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or 1 tsp. cinnamon)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime (and an orange if you like)

*if you are using a slow cooker you can also add 4 carrots cut into matchsticks and add them with the onions. I don’t encourage doing this in an instant pot as the carrots turn to mush.


  1. Mix together all the spices and massage all over the pork shoulder. If you have time you can do this the night before and wrap in plastic wrap in the fridge but I’ve made this without that step and it’s good either way.
  2. Put the onions (and the carrots if you are using them) in the bottom of the slow cooker or instant pot sleeve and then add the meat. Pour the lemon and lime juices into the bottom of the pot and pour a little bit onto the meat.
  3. If you’re using a slow cooker, cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  4. If you’re using an instant pot, lock the lid, close the pressure valve and cook on high pressure for 35 minutes. You will need house the “manual” button and program it for 35 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally (about 20 minutes) before removing the meat.
  5. Remove the meat from the pot and put it into a big bowl. Pull it apart and shred it with 2 forks. Remove the onions and carrots with a slotted spoon and mix them in.
  6. Put the mixture on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment and broil on high for 5 minutes to get a nice crispy texture.
                Mexican spices

                Mexican spices

                      Crispy carnitas!

                      Crispy carnitas!