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Featuring tender, flavorful pork with perfect crispy edges, this Crockpot Express Carnitas recipe cuts down cook time by hours!
I love pressure cooker Carnitas. This is one of my favorite Crockpot Express recipes. I generally use this carnitas recipe in tacos and burrito bowls, or as a topping for nachos.
The flavor of this pressure cooker carnitas recipe is rich and deep. The meat is tender and succulent, and it makes a delicious filling for tacos and burritos.
Using the pressure cooker allows for very tender, juicy meat with a melt-in-your-mouth texture. The sauce made of citrus juices and fresh garlic gives the carnitas an amazing flavor.
Making Crockpot Express Carnitas (rather than slow cooked or braised in the oven) cuts down on several hours of cook time. And thanks to the broiler, you’ll still get those crispy edges you expect in good carnitas.
What are carnitas?
The Spanish word “carnitas” literally translates to “little meats.” Traditionally, Mexican carnitas is braised or roasted pork (cooked low and slow) that’s shredded or cut into small pieces and usually served in a tortilla.
We enjoyed some delicious carnitas on our food tour in downtown Cancun. When I came home, I wrote down everything I could remember so I could create my own version of carnitas in the pressure cooker. 🙂
What’s the difference between carnitas and al pastor?
While both carnitas and al pastor are pork-based recipes, the cooking style and seasonings are quite different. Al Pastor (loosely meaning “shepherd style”) is pork that’s marinated and seasoned with achiote and cooked vertically on a spit.
It comes from central Mexico and is thought to have been introduced as a cooking style by Lebanese or other Arab immigrants. The cooked meat is very red in color because of the seasonings used.
As mentioned above, carnitas are made by slowly roasting or braising pork in a citrus based marinade. It’s shredded, rather than cut from a spit. Both are delicious, in my opinion!
Which cut of pork is best for pressure cooker carnitas?
Crockpot Express Carnitas are best made using inexpensive cuts of pork with lots of marbling like Boston Butt, Pork Shoulder or Picnic Roasts.
Ingredients needed for Crockpot Express Carnitas:
- pork shoulder/butt roast
- salt and pepper
- chicken broth
- freshly squeezed orange juice (one large orange)
- freshly squeezed lime juice (two limes)
- minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
- chili powder
- dried oregano
Steps for making carnitas in the pressure cooker:
Step 1. Cut the pork into large chunks and season generously with salt and pepper. (Just 3-4 large chunks is fine for cooking, but more surface area means more seasoning, so feel free to cut more!
Step 2: In a bowl, mix all the other ingredients
Step 3: Pour the broth mixture into the inner pot of the Crockpot Express (pressure cooker) and then add the chunks of pork. Close the lid and cook.
Step 4: After cooking, shred the meat in the pot with the cooking liquids (or remove to a bowl to prevent scratching the inner pot.)
Step 5: Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the shredded meat and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Broil for 3-5 minutes until the edges get nice and crispy.
Serve on tortillas, in a burrito bowl, or make nachos! The most traditional way would be to use corn tortillas and top with salsa or cilantro and onions. But enjoy these Crockpot Express Carnitas any way you want to!
Crockpot Express FAQs
NPR simply means after the cooking cycle is complete, let the Crockpot Express naturally release pressure through the bobber valve. This starts automatically as soon as it’s done cooking. Always use NPR when cooking meats or things like soup that might splatter. See more here: 10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Using my Crockpot Express
Yes. Some steam will be released from the valve as it comes to pressure. Usually, the HEAt display will go off and switch to the timer countdown within 1-2 minutes of the steam releasing from the valve.
Yes! It’s perfectly safe to cook frozen meat in the pressure cooker. However, it will take longer for the pot to preheat and begin cooking. For best results, always thaw meat first. But in a pinch, cooking from frozen will work.
The E6 error is similar to the “burn notice” on the Instant Pot. Typically, it means there’s not enough liquid and the pot. You can read more about the Crockpot Express E6 Error here.
Crocpkot Express Carnitas
- 3-4 pound pork shoulder/pork butt
- salt and pepper
- ½ cup chicken broth
- ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice one large orange
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice two limes
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic about 6 cloves
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 3-4 pound pork shoulder/pork butt, salt and pepperCut the pork roast into large chunks (2-3 large chunks is fine, or cut smaller for more surface for seasonings) and season generously on all sides with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- ½ cup chicken broth, ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice, ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice, 2 Tbsp minced garlic, 1 Tbsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp dried oreganoIn a bowl, mix all the other ingredients.
- Pour the broth mixture into the CPE and then add the chunks of pork.
- Close and lock the lid, turning the steam release valve to closed.
- Press Meat and adjust time to 45 minutes (high pressure.) Press Start/Stop.
- When the cooking cycle is done, allow a full natural pressure release (about 15 minutes.)
- Remove the lid and shred the meat in the pot (be careful not to scratch your inner pot!)
- Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the shredded meat and place on a foil lined baking sheet.
- Place the baking sheet on the top rack in the oven and broil for 3-5 minutes until the edges get nice and crispy.
- Top with freshly chopped cilantro and onions and a squeeze of lime. Serve in tortillas or over rice!