instapot carnitas tacos

Here at No Takeout we want to provide you with all the tips and tricks to make it easier for you to eat your favorite foods without leaving home. In this tutorial we provide you a recipe for making carnitas in an Instant Pot that taste just as authentic as you’d expect to get at a specialty carnitas taco stand in Mexico.

What is it about carnitas that makes us want to gather and celebrate? I’d like to think it’s the labor of love. Maybe it’s what we love about BBQ and slow cooked stews. It demands we stop and take time to enjoy. Unfortunately, we don’t always have time for the process and just need the miracle now. So, like all other Instant Pot meals that defy the cook times we’ve always known, here’s carnitas tacos on the quick.

Let’s take a look at what makes authentic carnitas and then we’ll explain how we imitate the long slow cook and the flavors that come along with carnitas that have been stewed all day.

Slow cooked meat is nothing new – it’s been happening since the beginning of time.

What Makes Authentic Carnitas

In its basic form the carnitas dish is slow cooked pork. Just like an every day pot roast or  pulled pork. What makes carnitas unique from any other dish is;

  • Citrus flavors
  • Earthy/Nutty/Sweet flavors from cumin and Mexican oregano
  • Fat

ingredients and instant pot

closeup of pan

removing meat from pan

tortillas heating up on cast iron

closeup of tacos with toppings

completed taco

Carnitas Tacos Instant Pot Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 – 5 lbs Butt in large 4 inch chunks w// fat
  • 7 Strips Orange Zezt (2 oranges)
  • 6 garlic gloves
  • 1/2 – 3/4  large white onion (plus 1/2 finally chopped onion for toppings)
  • 1/2 cup agave
  • 2-3 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Teaspoons crushed dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed OJ
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (blender)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (for meat)
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 4 whole cloves (without stems)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon lard
  • 3 tbs whole milk
  • 3/4 cup Beef broth
  • 1/4 cup Beef broth
  • 3/4 cup water

Instructions

Cube pork, toss with salt 1/2 teaspoon, and pepper.

Prepare dutch oven or skillet over medium-high heat. Add lard, once shimmering add cubed pork in two or three batches (do not crowd pan). Brown on each side by letting each side sit for about 1 – 2 min before flipping. Add meat to Instant Pot once browned. Once all meat has finished browning and been added to the Instant Pot, deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup beef broth and add to Instant Pot.

While meat is browning prepare the mixture and turn on Instant Pot to low to begin preheating.

Liquid Puree

Add the following to the blender and puree until smooth; water, beef broth, onion, garlic cloves, marjoram, thyme, black pepper, cumin, whole cloves, 1 tablespoon salt.

Pour pureed  mixture into Instant Pot. Once Instant Pot comes to a simmer allow to cook for 6 minutes, then add OJ, lime juice, milk, and bay leaves. Add additional beef broth (or whatever liquid water, beer, chicken broth, etc) as needed to ensure meat is mostly covered.

Cooking

Set Instant Pot for high pressure cook with 50 minutes on the clock. Be sure the lid is set to close and the vent is set to sealing. It will take about 10 minutes for the Instant Pot to reach pressure and then an additional 1o minutes for the Instant Pot to depressurizes at the end of the cook. Total time is 70 minutes. If you’re really pressed for time you can set the time to 40 minutes instead of 50 but I think the extra 10 minutes makes enough difference in the quality to make it worth it.

At this point, you’re carnitas are technically done. But I recommend one additional step before serving the meat up into tacos.

Crisping

Remove the amount of cooked meat chunks from Instant Pot that you plan on serving and place in a cooking tray. Break up meat chunks into smaller pieces but do not shred, cooking try should not be crowed to allow meat to slightly crisp. Place cooking tray into broiler and set to 500°F for 10 to 15 minutes until meat is slightly crisped on edges. Do not over roast as you still want nice size juicy chunks of meat. The key here is to get small pieces of crisped edges.

Serving

Here’s the fun part, cut up whatever toppings you like, your favorite salsas, and create a taco bar of sorts for your guests.

If you want to keep it simple and traditional, top with cilantro, red onion, pickled jalapenos and add a squeeze of juice.

Warm up the corn tortillas, add meat and toppings.

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