Pressure Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork (Carnitas)

Pressure CookerMexicanPaleoPulled Pork

When you need pulled pork fast, make it in the pressure cooker! This recipe makes the perfect carnitas for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and many other Mexican dishes.

Photography Credit: Coco Morante

Want pulled pork in a hurry? With the pressure cooker, you can have tender, fall-apart pulled pork in just a little over an hour!

Elise’s low-and-slow slow cooker Mexican pulled pork is fantastic, but when I forget to plan ahead or want it to be ready a little more quickly, I make this speedy version in my Instant Pot.

Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork Carnitas

Whether you make this pressure cooker version or the slow cooker version, try to allow some time for the pork to come up to room temperature before you begin cooking. This helps the pork develop a better crust when you sear it, which means more browned flavor in the finished dish. An hour is ideal, but any amount of time you can give it will help.

Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork CarnitasElise’s spice rub includes chili powder, salt, brown sugar, and a blend of herbs and spices – this mix is so good that I just left it as is. In fact, the only real change that I made was to add some liquid to the pot – you need some in order to properly cook food in a pressure cooker.

You can use fruit juice, broth, or even water, but I went with pineapple juice for its tangy sweetness. I think this complements the spices in the rub nicely!

Pressure Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork (Carnitas) Recipe

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings


For the spice rub:

  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (if using regular table salt, only use 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Scant pinch of ground cloves

For the pulled pork:

  • 3 1/2 pound boneless pork shoulder roast, cut into two pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice, orange juice, or water

Optional toppings (pick a few!):

  • Sliced avocado
  • Sliced radishes
  • Thinly sliced red or green cabbage
  • Thinly sliced romaine lettuce
  • Diced red onions
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Crumbled cotija cheese
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Warm tortillas, corn or flour
  • Fresh squeezed lime juice
  • Salsa

Special equipment:


1 Season the pork: In a small bowl, combine the spice rub ingredients. Pat the pork dry with paper towels, then sprinkle with half of the spice rub. Turn and rub the spice into the pork until the pieces are evenly coated.

Leave the pork to absorb the rub and to take the chill off the meat, at least 15 minutes or up to an hour. (Room temperature pork will sear better!)

Pressure Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork Pressure Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork Pressure Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork Pressure Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork

2 Sear the pork: Select the “Sauté” program on your pressure cooker and add the oil to the pot. (If you are using a stovetop pressure cooker, heat the oil over medium heat.)

Use a pair of tongs to lower the pork into the pot so the side with the most fat is facing down. Sear for 5 minutes. Flip it over and sear it for 5 more minutes. Both sides should be browned.

Pressure Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork Pressure Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork

3 Sprinkle the remaining spice rub over the pork, then pour the pineapple juice over the top.

Pressure Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork

4 Cook the pork: Place the lid on your pressure cooker. Make sure that the pressure regulator is set to the “Sealing” position. Select the “Manual” program on the pressure cooker and set the time to 50 minutes at high pressure. (For stovetop pressure cookers, cook for 45 minutes at high pressure.)

It will take about 10 minutes for your pressure cooker to come up to pressure, and then the 50 minutes of actual cooking will begin.

Pressure Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork

5 Release the pressure: You can either perform a quick pressure release by immediately moving the vent from “Sealing” to “Venting” (be careful of the steam!), or you can let the pot depressurize naturally, which takes about 20 minutes. (For stovetop pressure cookers, perform a quick pressure release.)

Pressure Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork

6 Separate the pork and cooking liquid: Use tongs to transfer the pork to a large baking dish or sheet pan. Use heat-proof mitts to lift the inner pot out of the pressure cooker, pour the cooking liquid into a fat separator, then pour the liquid back into the pot. Reserve the fat.

(Alternatively, let the cooking liquid stand for about 10 minutes until the fat floats to the top, then use a shallow spoon to skim as much fat as possible from the surface.)

Pressure Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork Pressure Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork

7 Reduce the cooking liquid: Return the pot to the pressure cooker, select the “Sauté” program, and let the cooking liquid reduce for 10 minutes. (If you are using a stovetop pressure cooker, do the same thing over medium heat.)

Pressure Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork

8 While the liquid is reducing, use a pair of forks to shred the pork. 

9 Broil the pulled pork until crispy (optional for carnitas): To make crispy carnitas, place the pan of shredded pork 6 to 8 inches below the broiler and broil for 5 to 10 minutes until the tips and edges of the pork are browned and crispy.

It's fine to skip this step if you're making a recipe where you don't need the pork to be crispy.

Pressure Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork

10 Toss the shredded pork with the reduced liquid and serve: Return the pork to the pot with the reduced cooking liquid and toss to coat the pork evenly. If the pork seems a little dry, add a tablespoon or two of the reserved fat.

Serve it in tacos with the fixings listed above, or in burritos or rice bowls, or on a tostada salad.

Pressure Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork

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Coco Morante

Author of The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook. A self-taught cook and classically-trained soprano, Coco Morante writes and sings in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her husband and their beagle. For more recipes, visit her blog, Lefty Spoon.

More from Coco

Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork Carnitas

Showing 4 of 15 Comments / Reviews

  • JIM Fraser

    I have been searching for a quality carnitas recipe for some time. This is superb and very easy to prepare in an instant pot. I like to fry my shredded pork, adding the juice to make it even more delicious. This recipe has all the right spices and the prep time is easy. I had two frozen pork loins- don’t usually use the loins but they were immediately available. I had to cheat-defrosting them in the microwave. I then cut them into thirds and put them into a glass baking dish and added the rub. After searing I placed them back into the baking dish and worked the remaining rub into the pork pieces. Here I picked back up on the easy to follow recipe.


  • Kristen

    I have an 8 qt pressure cooker. If I double the recipe, do I need to increase the time?

  • Hugh P

    I’m also relatively new to pressure cooking/instant pot and am totally sold! We’ve made this twice already because it’s insanely good. Great exactly as written, and for sliders your favorite pulled pork application ;-) . The hint of cinnamon puts it over the top…all the subtle flavors come out in this one. Don’t skimp on step 10 either- the first time I thought it would be too wet and drippy for tacos/sliders, but it absolutely makes the dish even better!


  • Kelly K

    Okay… so I realized I didn’t have any chili powder, and decided to substitute with five spice, which may seem redundant or odd… BUT IT WAS AMAZING! Foodies who were at my house for dinner were raving about the recipe. Everyone was eating it as both sliders and pulled pork tacos. Definitely will be making this again!


  • Doti Alapai

    All of the recipes look and sound so delicious. Still a bit afraid to use the Instant Pot but will try it soon.

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