Carnitas under Pressure

20130209-_MG_6595 web square

Oh how I loved this meal!  I mean, really, really loved it.  I want to have it at least once a month because I loved it so much.

What is it?  Citrus flavored Pork Carnitas cooked with the amazing, marvelous pressure cooker.

Here’s another view, just in case you don’t believe me.  I’m telling you, as I was preparing to write this post, my mouth was watering.  I told Yes!Chef! that he must make it again.  He promised me that he would.  You are now witness to this.

20130209-_MG_6592-Edit web

I added some store-bought salsa…yes, I did…because we had some in the fridge.  But, of course, it would be better with fresh, homemade salsa.  We served it with corn tortillas, refried beans and some fruit and avocado.

As usual, Yes!Chef! gets his Mis en Place done ahead of the actual cooking.  I’ve said this before, but the cooking process goes so much better if all your ingredients are prepared and ready to go before you ever turn on the stove-top.  I am so guilty of not fully prepping before I start cooking because I can’t wait to get the meal going.  I always run into trouble that way.

pork carnitas1 pork carnitas2

Y!C! loves the process…I love the end product.  His end product is better than mine because he takes his time with the process.  Part of the process is making sure the knives are sharp.  Yes!Chef! says to buy the best knives you can afford and keep them sharp.  Using sharp knives helps you to work faster and safer.

Yes!Chef! works so efficiently that he even had time to make us a cocktail while we were waiting for the meat to cook.

The meat (pork) was cut into nice size chunks and then tossed around in oil and spices.  You can brown up the meat in the pressure cooker, which makes this device quite convenient.

pork carnitas3

The pressure cooker is a marvelous cooking tool.  However, if you do not have one, you probably could cook the meat in a pot on the stove for several hours.  We use Magefesa Pressure Cooker and it worked great!  Magefesa also has videos with instructions how to use and care for this device.  Total cooking time for this dish in the Pressure Cooker was 25 minutes!  TWENTY-FIVE MINUTES for luscious, fall-apart, citrus and spice infused meat.  Yes!Chef! said this meat probably would have taken 2 1/2-3 hours in a more conventional way.

While we are waiting for the meat to cook, I will present my normal, totally unrelated photo adventure.  This weekend three of my very good friends (and excellent photographers) went on our annual photo adventure.  This year we hit one of my favorite spots:  San Francisco.  There are way too many things to see and photograph in SF, so we concentrated mainly on the Golden Gate Bridge, a true American Icon.


Our first stop was Baker Beach, which has a classic view of the bridge from the ocean side of the bridge, rather than the bay side.  Baker Beach is also famous for…nudity.  Anyone that knows me knows that I am a modest person and rather old-fashioned.  So my sense of decency was warring with my sense of adventure photography and wanting to get this beautiful shot (above).  (You need to know that I photoshopped a naked man out of this picture.)  I guess we were lucky that there were only a few naked bodies parading around the beach this day because it was a beautiful day, although I would think it was a bit too chilly for nudity.  (In my mind, any day is too chilly for nudity.  But, I digress.)  We also discovered that these nude men wait for the photographers to plant their tripods on the beach, pointed towards the bridge and the great surf crashing on the rocks.  Then, they wade around in the surf in front of your perfect shot so that you cannot take a picture without one of them in the shot.  So annoying.

I was quite surprised, then, to see a family with three young children venture down the beach.  Some of these naked old coots immediately paraded themselves around so that this family could view them in all their naked glory.  We photogs were fascinated with this whole circus and watched in stunned silence while the father set up shot after shot of the children with some of these naked men in the background.  So, I thought I would put together a quick warning sign for any photogs who may be thinking of a family photoshoot at this beautiful beach.

family and naked man web

After that we drove and hiked around for the rest of the day and into the evening looking for great angles and beautiful shots of this amazing bridge.

sanfran2 sanfran3

Being photographers, we can’t just use our DSLR’s for shooting.  We also use our camera phones and point and shoots…just because.  I love the little Instagram Photo ap (lower left picture) and frequently all four of us were busy sending pictures to instagram or Facebook while waiting for good light. (My handle is sierrasprings, in case you are interested in seeing some of my submissions.)

We waited around on the Headlands until after the sun set and we were not disappointed.

sanfran4 sanfran5

Then, we went back down to Fort Baker and did some night shots under the bridge.  It was a great day.  Unfortunately, Yes!Chef! did not come with us because 1.) he was catering a Valentine’s Dinner at a local winery and 2.) he would have been bored stiff.

After all that falderal, I’m sure you are ready to see the Carnitas.

pork carnitas4

What did I tell you?  Look at that meat.  Tender, juicy and amazing.

pork carnitas5

Yes!Chef! removed the meat from the Pressure Cooker and then strained all the solids from the juice at the bottom of the pan and then used a degreaser to remove the grease from the juice.pork carnitas6

He poured the juices over the meat and stuck the pan in the oven to brown up for a bit.

pork carnitas9

This meal was a true “Wowsers!”

He also made up some refried beans and chopped up some great Mexican cheese, Cotija cheese.

pork carnitas8

My youngest son and his good friend were quite appreciative of the meal set up before them, which made Yes!Chef! very happy.

pork carnitas10

This is so easy, you will want to try it this weekend.  How can you not?  The meat is tender, juicy, citrus-y and nicely browned.  I am swooning just trying to describe it.

Here’s the recipe that we got from a great bi-monthly publication called:  Cuisine at Home.  If you have not heard of this magazine or ever looked at it, you need to.  There are no advertisements and it is designed to teach techniques using great tasting recipes.  I would highly recommend this magazine.

Pressure Cooker Carnitas

Makes 8 servings
Total Time:  about 1 1/2 hours


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ancho or chipotle chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 3 lbs. boneless pork shoulder roast, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat part of a knife
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 cinnamon stick (3 inch)
  • 1 1/2 cups strained fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup strained fresh lime juice


  1. Whisk together oil, salt, cumin, chile powder, and pepper.
  2. Toss pork in oil-spice mixture.  Brown pork in pressure cooker over high heat.
  3. Stir in onion, garlic, oregano, and cinnamon stick.  Add orange and lime juices.
  4. Cover pressure cooker, lock on lid and bring to high pressure over high heat.  Cook pork at high pressure, 25 minutes.  Remove cooker from heat.  Allow pressure to release naturally.  Remove lid and transfer pork to a baking sheet.
  5. Preheat broiler to high with rack 6 inches from element.
  6. Degrease liquids from cooker in a fat separator; discard fat.  Shred pork with two forks on baking sheet.  Pour 1 cup strained cooking liquid over pork.
  7. Broil pork until it starts to crisp, about 10 minutes.  Stir and broil 5 minutes more.
  8. Serve pork with tortillas, avocado, salsa Verde, queso fresco and remaining cooking liquid.

That’s it!  Invite 7 of your closest friends or relatives and dig in.  Your friends will beg you to make this again next time they see you.  You will not regret making this recipe.  I promise.

20130209-_MG_6578-Edit web



Published by

Karen Schmautz


91 thoughts on “Carnitas under Pressure

    1. Yes, you do! I was kind of scared of it. I thought it might blow up or something. But there’s enough videos out there on how to use them, that it’s not that hard. The biggest problem is scorching. but, I let Y!C! worry about those kinds of things. 😉

  1. Stunning pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge!

    I make carnitas in the crockpot. After cooking on low for ten hours, the meat is tender and juicy and the tacos always turn out divine. One of my favorite Mexican dishes, for sure!

    1. Thank you for your kind comments. I love the crock pot and if I think about it ahead of time, I like to use it whenever I can. I’ve even gotten Yes!Chef! to acknowledge that it is a great cooking device. I think this recipe would probably work in the C Pot, but I’m not sure about the liquid amounts. It would be interesting to try.

  2. Flat. Out. Awesome recipe. I always love you guys recipes and this is one of my favorite dishes. I also lived in San Francisco and will be heading back that way in a few months. Keep these coming and take a look at what’s new on my site. Cheers!

    1. We found that the pressure cooker amps up the flavor while the slow cooker tamps down the flavor a bit. But I think it will still be a great recipe with the C-pot. You may need to add more spices to get the same flavor from the Crock. Y!C! just made the recipe again the other night and used Frozen Orange Juice and Lime juice from a bottle. It was just as tasty as the fresh.

  3. We love our pressure cooker, but I never thought to try it for carnitas (I use a Big Green Egg), but especially with all the snow about it sounds like a great idea. This is going up on my Food to Try Pinterest board. Thanks. Ken

  4. Just made your recipe this evening. For some reason, my pressure cooker (instant Pot) took forever to reach pressure & then didn’t release pressure. Regardless, the pork came out delicious. I am waiting for the broth to chill a bit so I can de-grease it using a DIY method I found online. Many thanks!

  5. I can’t believe that only took 25 minutes. Reason why so many people love pressure cookers, including myself. I’m drooling as I type this. I love citrus marinated carne! Photos look great, shoutout to whoever took those photos and editted them!

      1. Hi Karen,

        Kudos to you. I will definitely try it. I might even try adding a bit of cilantro since I sure love the cilantro/lime combo when doing carne asada marinades.

  6. Not only was this incredible for dinner, but I made a lunch out of leftover carnitas, pico de gallo, chili-corn salsa, sweet onion and avocado. It was AMAZING. I didn’t have chipotle powder so I used chili powder from New Mexico. I also didn’t have a cinnamon stick, so I used a scant teaspoon of ground cinnamon. This has probably been the best thing to come out of my electric pressure cooker….

  7. I am so happy I stumbled across this blog looking for a carnitas recipe. This definitely will not be the last time I visit.

    One quick question for Y!C! though, would there be an real benefit to pressure cooking the pork for more than 25 minutes? Or perhaps, is there a downside to pressure cooking it for over 25 minutes? Texturally and flavor wise that is.

    1. Like any other way of cooking, you don’t want to overcook (or undercook) meat in the pressure cooker. Overcooking could dry it out or change the texture. You can experiment with it and then let us know.

  8. The food and photos look AWESOME. I look forward to trying the recipe. I recently purchased a pressure cooker because I got tired of using pots and pans to make my food as they just seem to cook away all the nutrients. I used to help me pick. It’s really useful for anyone looking to buy. I’ll definitely be giving this recipe a try.

  9. I bought a pressure cooker for the sole reason of making this recipe – and it. was. sooooooo. good. I’m sold on my pressure cooker and I’m sold on this blog!

    1. You can pour the drippings in a bowl or glass 4 cup measure. Let the grease settle to the top and spoon off or use a turkey baster to remove. You can also put in the refrigerator until the grease coagulates at the top, but then you would have to reheat the meat and the drippings.

  10. My husband and I made these this weekend, and they were so, so good! Definitely going to be our go-to carnitas recipe from now on, and we can’t wait to make it for friends. We actually ended up cooking the meat for 45 min and the texture was still perfect. Thanks for the recipe!

  11. Greetings from Seattle and Happy New Year!

    First time visitor. Great site–fresh looking and fun to read. The carnitas look great, BTW.

    I saw another recipe for P/C carnitas that called for 45 minutes under pressure, which sounds like way too long. 25 minutes sounds about right. Considering this for our new years dinner.

    1. Seems like 45 minutes may be too long depending upon the amount of meat you are using. This is really a delicious meal. Somebody suggested throwing in some jalapeños, which might also be good. Hope you enjoy.

  12. I just made this carnita recipe for my family! My mother in law gave me her electric pressure cooker when they downsized to a assisted living facility and I have been searching for recipes to utilize this amazing piece of equipment! This is an excellent recipe! Everyone loved it! This would also be wonderful for nachos. Thank you so much for your blog!

  13. I have never posted a comment anywhere. This is my first. My husband and I LOVED this. It turned out just like the photo. The only thing I did differently was cooked it for 55 minutes, then broiled. I followed the meat chart in the IP book. It was pull apart tender. Will make this often. Thank you, Yes Chef!

  14. I have been making carnitas for Super Bowl for years now and this is the first pressure cooker AND LAST carnitas recipe I will ever be using! BEST FLAVOR EVER!!!! THANKS,

  15. Wow, how good was this! I never come back to leave comments, but felt it was my duty to let people know this was a winner!
    We served in corn tortillas with avo, shredded red cabbage and some home made roasted tomato salsa , so good for dinner and I was the envy of all of my co workers the next day!

  16. I jumped on the Instant Pot craze and this recipe rocks as the electric pot has a lower pressure than a stove top model I did 35 minutes were falling apart and so tasty

  17. This was the BEST carnitas I have ever made…ever had for that matter! The addition of the cinnamon stick was phenomenal. I’ve never left a comment before on a recipe blog, but had to for this recipe and for everyone that browses on this page. Thanks so much for this recipe!

  18. I made this awesome recipe in my brand new pressure cooker. My guests said “WOW”!! My husband is now convinced the pressure cooker was a great purchase. I had no leftovers and can’t imagine another recipe being better. This is a keeper!!

  19. Thank you SO MUCH for this recipe!! I am starting some searches for Whole 30 compliant recipes since I’m starting in January (yikes!) and this sounded SO good, I had to try it…absolutely amazing! I just got an instant pot and it worked perfectly! This amazing pork with homemade salsa was a hit!

  20. Thank you! Experienced cook here. I was getting disappointed in pressure cooked meats until this recipe. This is so delicious.

  21. I’ve made port carnitas before, but this recipe sounds interesting. I like to pick up fresh pico de gallo, or make it fresh myself. I prefer wheat torillas, but the corn ones would be great, too. Since my daughter’s boyfriend is on a low-carb diet, I figured I would get lettuce leaves for him to make his as wraps, since the rest of it is so low-carb. I have an electric multi-pot/pressure cooker, so I’m assuming the recipe would translate over to it? I really like that it has the citrus in it. I have a three-pound pork roast in my freezer that I bought specifically to make carnitas. I’ll have to try this recipe when I make them.

  22. Loved your photos! They need to be framed and hung where they can be seen every day just to be reminded of God’s beautiful grace! That recipe looks yummy, will try that soon!!

  23. So good! But what do I do with all this leftover sauce?! There has to be something I can’t make with it. Any recommendations?

  24. I made the Pork Carnitas for dinner today, and WOW, they are so delicious. What an explosion of flavor. Since I usually cook only for my husband and me, this actually made enough for two meals, so dinner is ready for tomorrow!!!!! Thank you for sharing this recipe.It is at the top of our list of favorites!

  25. This meal is so good! But it feels like such a waste to just throw away all that yummy leftover liquid. Do you ever cook something with it?

  26. Hi, I want to make this but my husband is not a big fan of cinnamon. Is it very noticeable? Can I leave it out?

  27. I will be making this for a crowd next weekend. I have a giant Instant Pot and will be making 12 lbs. of meat. Should I put four times the spices too? I plan on leaving the liquid as-is. Any suggestions would be appreciated! Thank you!

    1. Yes, I double the recipe of spices if I have more meat. It’s all about the surface area that needs covered by the spices. I keep the same amount of liquid. I usually try to make 5-6 pounds of this (doubling the spices usually) so we can have plenty of left overs. It’s no fun not having leftovers when it’s a long process to make this. 😀

  28. I’m going to do this in my Instant Pot this weekend. I love carnitas and this just makes me want it more! Thanks!

  29. I have made this quite a few times. My family loves it. It is best if it has some good marbling and fat in it. If it’s a lean piece of meat, it’s not nearly as good. From start to finish for me, this is a 3-hour process. It takes me 20 minutes to cut it and put the spices on it. Then 15-20 to sear it, get the other ingredients and then add it all together. 25 minutes to pressure means it needs about 30 to get up to pressure, then another 20 minutes to naturally release, maybe even 30. Then add in the cooking in the broiler of another 10-15 minutes to tear the meat apart and broil it.

    Just giving a realistic time for those who may look at this and think it’s a quick recipe. It isn’t. Give yourself a good 3 hours from start to finish for planning.

    Thanks for the great recipe!

  30. We just finished dinner. The flavor medley is drool-worthy. The texture from broiling the pork was fantastic. We will make this again. Now I’m off to share the recipe. Thanks for sharing it!

  31. I have made this recipe a dozen or more times. It is amazing! I have Mexican friends who ask me to make it when they come over, one friend told her mom not to make it anymore – she is spoiled! Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s