Pork Carnitas

Carnitas is Mexico's version of pulled pork. This version uses a pressure cooker to cook the pork and then crisps up the meat in a skillet before loading it into tortillas for the perfect taco, but you can adapt it for your slow cooker too.

Jump to Recipe (or scroll for photos and riveting information...)
Advertisement - Continue Below
A silver tray with pork carnitas tacos on a wooden table with a tray of taco fixings in the background.

Pork Carnitas Tacos

Pork carnitas is basically a Mexican version of pulled pork with a delicious flavor and crispy fried edges, making it the best taco filling there is. It consists of tender, juicy pieces of pork that are slow-cooked until they are fall-apart tender and then shredded and crisped up on the stovetop in the final stages of cooking. Pork carnitas can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, but one of the most popular ways to serve it is in tacos. You can use corn or flour tortillas and any toppings you like to make a delicious meal that’s fun to eat.

Looking down into a pressure cooker with seasoned pork inside.

Pressure Cooker Pork Carnitas

If you’re short on time but still want to enjoy the deliciousness of pork carnitas, the pressure cooker is your friend. By cooking the pork under high pressure, it will be ready in a fraction of the time it takes to cook in a slow cooker or on the stove – about 55 minutes. The flavor will come from the seasoning you put on the pork chunks, along with the Jalapeño, onion, orange, garlic and beef stock. After an hour, let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes and then shred the pork.  

A hand squeezing half an orange into a pressure cooker with seasoned pork inside.

Pork Carnitas Seasoning

The seasoning is an essential part of making delicious pork carnitas. There are many different ways to season the pork and there is no right or wrong way. This recipe uses oregano, cumin, cayenne, coriander and cinnamon along with salt and rubs it onto the pork before cooking. Of course, you can adjust the seasonings the way you like it, but I love this combination of flavors and find it works so well with the orange that is added into the mix. 

Pork butt being shredded on a wooden cutting board with a green towel in the background.

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

If you have all the time in the world, you can also make this pork carnitas in the slow cooker. You’ll follow the same directions as for the pressure cooker, but instead of pressure-cooking for 55 minutes, set the slow cooker to low for 8 to 10 hours, or high for 4 to 6 hours. Then, shred the pork and give it a quick sauté before loading it into your tacos. 

Pork carnitas in a skillet with taco fixings in the background.

Pork Carnitas Toppings

As for how you top your taco, that is very personal, isn’t it? Some popular toppings include chopped onions, fresh cilantro, crumbled queso fresco, diced avocado, pickled Jalapeños, and a squeeze of lime juice. It’s also nice with a little cabbage slaw instead, and some guacamole or salsa on the side is never a bad idea.

A hand holding a pork carnitas taco over a silver tray of more tacos.

Featured Recipe Techniques

More about the skills used in this recipe.

Cooking School
General Tips for Pressure Cooking

It is important to understand your Pressure Cooker to use it properly. Use the items below as guidance to continue...View Technique

General Tips for Slow Cooking

These tips and tricks will ensure successful slow cooking, giving you the moist and tender results you're looking for.View Technique

Advertisement - Continue Below

Pork Carnitas

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Cook Time: 55 m
  • Pressure Release Time: 20 m
  • Total Time: 1 h 30 m
  • Servings:


  • 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 onions cut into wedges
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed
  • 2 Jalapeño peppers seeded and sliced
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 oranges
For Serving (optional):
  • Flour tortillas or taco shells
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Lime wedges
  • Fresh cilantro leaves


  1. Cut the pork shoulder into chunks that will fit into your pressure cooker.
  2. In a small bowl combine the oregano, cumin, cayenne, coriander, cinnamon, and salt. Rub the spice mix over the chunks of pork and set aside.
  3. Pre-heat the pressure cooker using the BROWN/SAUTE setting. Add the oil to the pressure cooker and sauté the onions, garlic, and Jalapeño peppers for a few minutes.
  4. Place the pork chunks in the cooker and pour in the beef stock. Cut the oranges in half and squeeze the juice into the cooker and toss the squeezed orange halves into the cooker as well.
  5. Pressure-cook on HIGH for 55 minutes.
  6. Let the pressure drop NATURALLY and carefully remove the lid. Remove the pork to a resting plate and let it rest for 10 minutes. Using two forks, shred the pork chunks completely.
  7. Remove the orange halves from the cooker and skim the fat off the liquid in the pot. Reset the cooker to the BROWN/SAUTE setting and let the sauce reduce to about 1¼ cups.
  8. To serve the carnitas, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add a little oil to the skillet and fry the shredded pork in batches until it has a few crispy parts. Pour some of the sauce over the crispy pork to moisten to taste.
  9. Serve the pork in taco shells or flour tortillas with your favorite toppings. Drizzle some additional sauce on top if desired.
Advertisement - Continue Below
Advertisement - Continue Below
Advertisement - Continue Below

Comments (3)Post a Reply

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe is absolutely delicious and definitely one of my new favorite dishes! Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe, I will definitely be making it again and again. Keep up the good work!

    1. Yes, you can cook pork carnitas in a slow cooker on high for 6 to 7 hours or on low for 9 to 10 hours.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *