Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas (with Air Fryer Lid)

Taco Tuesday just got a whole lot more exciting! 

Carnitas are basically the Mexican version of pulled pork except they’re braised in more of a citrus-infused sauce combined with a glorious dry rub. What’s more? The final steps give this succulent meat a crisp leaving you with the best of both worlds: tender AND crispy meat with every bite! 

Done brilliantly in the Instant Pot and finished to a crisp with the Air Fryer Lid (or your oven), this recipe is beyond easy, is very impressive on the eyes and its rich flavors are sure to be a crowd favorite. 

Here’s How I Made It! (scroll to the bottom for the fully-written recipe): 

Begin with a large Spanish onion… 

…and slice it into quarter wedges. 

Take two pretty limes… 

…and squeeze them ’til they cry. 

Now take a bunch of basic spices… 

…and blend them together. 

Now it’s time to focus on Porky Pig. Get a pork shoulder/butt (boneless is even better) and slice it into thick strips (Costco has them already sliced). If using a bone-in butt, don’t slice and leave whole. 

Then, take each strip… 

…and cover it in the spice rub. 

Do this until all of the pork slices are rubbed with the spices. 

Now, add some beer (or broth) to the Instant Pot… 

…along with some orange juice (this is a citrus-infused flavor, remember)… 

…and lime juice (again, citrus). 

Toss in some garlic too. 

Give it all a stir. 

Now take the quartered onion wedges… 

…lay them in the pot, round-side down… 

…and then rest the strips of seasoned pork on top of the onion. 

If you go over one layer, simply lay the strips in a criss-cross fashion on top of the other strips below. 

Secure the pressure cooking lid and cook at high pressure. 

When done, you’re gonna have a whole lot more liquid in the pot from when you started! 

Use some tongs and transfer the SUPER-TENDER pork (it’s literally going to shred apart)… 

…to a large mixing bowl. Make sure you transfer the onions over to the bowl too! 

Reserve about 1/3 of the broth from the pot… 

…and pour as much as you wish over the pork. It will be absorbed by the pork once it’s shredded and cools a bit. 

Then, discard (or freeze) the rest of the broth and return the liner pot to the Instant Pot, 

Now, take two forks… 

…and simply shred that melt-in-your-mouth pork into nice, sizable strands. 

And now it’s time to CRISP our pork into Carnitas! 

Take the Air Fryer Lid and hit Broil for 8 minutes. (If using an oven, transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet and broil for 5-10 minutes, flipping once)) 

When done, marvel at what amazing and beautiful transformation just took place in the pot. Crispiness! 

Stir the Carnitas so that the bottom meat now has a chance to come to the top… 

…and broil again for a few minutes more. 

And there you have it folks, Crispy Carnitas perfection! 

Take the beautiful Carnitas… 

…and transfer to a serving dish. 

Now these Carnitas are already loaded with perfect flavor, but should you wish to give it even more, add in some salsa of your choice… 

…and/or some taco sauce… 

…and toss it into the Carnitas. 

Now, the sky’s the limit on how you wish to serve them! I felt like a warm tortilla… 

…topped with cheese. 

Oh boy oh boy oh boy! 

Once you sink your teeth into these Carnitas, it’s going to be foodie heaven. 

I mean, just LOOK at it! Juicy AND crispy at the same time! 

Even your loved ones are going to look dumbfounded by the sheer joy of the experience! 

Perfect on their own, in a tortilla, taco, salad or over nachos!

Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas (with Air Fryer Lid)
Yield: 6

Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas (with Air Fryer Lid)

Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas (with Air Fryer Lid)

Carnitas are basically the Mexican version of pulled pork. They employ a light citrus infusion and are undeniably scrumptious either on their own, wrapped in tortillas, on a salad or even on nachos!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 32 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 37 minutes


  • 3-6 pounds boneless pork shoulder or butt cut into slices per pound ratio; so 3 pounds means cut into 3 slices (Costco sells them already sliced and this is also known as “Country Style Ribs”). NOTE: If you can only find a bone-in pork butt/shoulder, don’t worry about cutting the meat before cooking; Just cook it all at once and remove the meat from the bone before you shred – it should fall off easily
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup beer (I used Corona, but any lager beer of your choice will do. If you refuse to use beer, use a broth flavor of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (preferably pulp-free)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • 1 large Spanish onion, sliced into quarter wedges


  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup salsa of your choice
  • 1/4 cup taco sauce (I used Ortega)
  • Tortillas (flour or corn), warmed


  1. Mix the onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, seasoned salt, black pepper and chili powder (if using) together until well blended. Rub the seasoning all over the pork strips.
  2. Pour the beer (or broth), orange juice, lime juice and garlic in the Instant Pot and stir. Then, place the quartered onions in, round side down as a foundation, and lay the pork strips on top of them (in a criss-cross fashion if the bottom layer reaches capacity and you’re using more pork).
  3. Secure the lid and press Manual or Pressure Cook at High Pressure for 60 minutes (same time no matter how much pork you’re cooking). When done, allow a 10 minute natural release (meaning you do nothing for 10 minutes until the display reads either “00:10” or “L0:10”) followed by a quick release.
  4. Remove the pork and onions with tongs and place in a bowl (the pork is going to fall apart, which is perfect). Reserve about 1/4 cup of the juices (reserve more if using more pork) that are in the pot and discard (or freeze) the rest. If your butt/shoulder had a bone in it before you cooked, remove the meat from it now and discard.
  5. You can now easily shred the pork and onion with a pair of forks. Pour the reserved broth over the shredded pork and use enough so it’s not drowning in it, but gives it enough moisture.
  6. Now it’s time to crisp those Carnitas up and this can be done in 2 ways (See yellow “Jeffrey Sez” section):
  7. Add the Carnitas back to the Instant Pot (make sure the pot is empty) and use the Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid on the Broil setting for 8 minutes. Then take the meat from the bottom of the pot and move it to the top and give it an additional 4 minutes on broil. The shredded pork should be about 50% roasted and 50% soft when done and mixed together.
  8. Transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet and pop in the oven for 5-10 minutes on broil, flipping once midway through (keep an eye on it as all ovens vary). Just be careful not to go for too long so you don’t dry it out.
  9. If using, stir in the taco sauce and salsa.
  10. Transfer to a serving dish and serve on its own, in a warm tortilla or taco with your favorite toppings, on a salad or over nachos!

Jeffrey's Tips

How much you wish to crisp your Carnitas is up to you, but DO make sure you crisp them a bit. This is what makes them Carnitas! If you want them crispier, broil them longer. If you want them less crispy, go for less time! Just check on them as you broil until you’ve reached the desired consistency. Simple as that.

Reader Interactions


  1. Bri

    Have you ever made this from a frozen roast? Last time I made this recipe I cut the pork into sections and froze half. Is it necessary to defrost first, or can I just adjust the cooking time?

  2. Cynthia Warner

    I made the Carnitas again today. Awesome recipe by the way. To I used a London Broil and added some salsa verde. It was amazing. I served it on corn tortillas with finely shredded green cabbage, green onions, and sour cream with lime wedge. It was great. Don’t airfry for 8 then 4 minutes it just gets dry. I did 6 minutes and mixed it up. Now thats what Im talkin about.

  3. Andrea L Barber

    I made this last night. HUGE hit. I was terrified of my new air fryer lid. It could not have been easier to use. My family loved this. One tip….I shredded it with my mixer, like I do chicken. I got a little carried away and shredded it too much. It was a wee bit mushy. I will stick to forks next time.

  4. Kate

    I’ve made this many times and the flavor is fantastic. I have noticed it’s hit or miss with dryness though. Occasionally it comes out perfectly juicy, but others quite dry even before the air frying step. Any idea why that would be? I use the country style ribs from Costco so they are relatively uniform in size and still get mixed results. Should I try pressure cooking for less time?

  5. Wendy

    Hi Jeffrey. Love all your recipes! This is my first attempt at using my air fryer lid so wish me luck! I was only able to find a bone in roast and it’s about 5.5 lbs. I see you say not to worry about cutting. How should I adjust cooking time? Thanks in advance!

  6. Nicole

    I have made this dish several times. We love it more and more each time. Thank You for the delicious recipe! All the best!

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