Instant Pot: Mexican Pulled Pork

Now that we're settling in with our school routine, I''ve planned some meals this week that will take us around the world to taste the flavors of other countries. We're starting the week with some Mexican eats and a favorite Mexican dish of ours is carnitas. It is 'Taco Tuesday' after all!

Filipinos love their pork. It's clearly evident in our cuisine and it's one of my favorite proteins simply because it's one I ate a lot of growing up. Mexican cuisine uses a fair amount of pork and I love their preparation of carnitas. I've made a few carnitas recipes before, one of which was a Rick Bayless recipe that involved deep frying. Looking for a healthier alternative that didn't sacrifice flavor, I came across the following recipe from my Cook's Illustrated magazine, which I adapted for an electric pressure cooker.

What makes this recipe delicious is the citrus juices that infuses the pork with a lot of flavor. This recipe is a time saver for those busy weeknights, especially when made in the Instant Pot. Pork butt is seasoned and simmered in a citrus marinade of lime and orange juices. The pork is then pressure cooked to absorb all the seasonings and citrus marinade. When done pressure cooking, the pork is then removed from the pot so that the remaining juices can reduce and thicken. The sauce used to glaze the roasted pork right before it's placed under the broiler to get some crisp edges and a slight smoky flavor. To complete the meal, I made my Chorizo Mexican Rice. Mmmm... if that doesn't tempt you to make this, I don't know what will!

Mexican Pulled Pork (Carnitas)
recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated June 2008

Instant Pot: Mexican Pulled Pork


  • 1 4-pound boneless pork butt, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 small onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 medium orange, halved and juiced (seeds removed)


  1. Plug in the IP with insert set in place.
  2. Press SAUTE and add all the ingredients in the Instant Pot; heat the ingredients until they begin to simmer, stirring to combine the spices and meat.
  3. Secure the lid of the IP and ensure the valve is set to SEALING.
  4. Press MANUAL and adjust the time to 45 minutes on HIGH pressure.
  5. The display will reflect ON while the IP comes to pressure. Allow a few minutes for your IP to come to pressure.
  6. Once at pressure, the display will reflect 45 (the number of minutes you initially set) and will begin to countdown to 0 minutes. 
  7. When the IP beeps after pressure cooking for 45 minutes, allow your IP to naturally release pressure for 15 minutes. While naturally releasing pressure (also known as NPR or NR), the display will reflect numbers counting up from 1. The numbers indicate how many minutes the IP has stopped cooking since it beeped (or how many minutes it has been naturally releasing pressure). No need to touch your UP while it naturally releases pressure. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.
  8. When the display reflects 15 (which is 15 minutes since the IP has beeped) all pressure should have naturally released. If not, turn the setting on top of your IP to VENTING. Doing so allows the IP to quickly release any remaining pressure (also known as QPR or QR). I use a wooden spoon to carefully turn the setting to avoid close contact with the potential steam. You may also want to turn your IP away from cabinets to allow the released steam to escape freely. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.
  9. Open up your IP when the pin has dropped (allow a few minutes for this to happen). Meanwhile, preheat broiler.
  10. Remove the bay leaves and onion from the Instant Pot and discard. Place the pork in a bowl and set aside. 
  11. Press SAUTE and let the remaining liquid come to a boil. Let it boil until it thickens up and is reduced to about 1 cup.
  12. In the bowl, pull each piece of pork in half using two forks. Pour the reduced liquid over the pork and add salt and pepper to taste. Place the coated pieces of pork on a wire or cooling rack set on a baking sheet. 
  13. Broil the meat for 5 to 8 minutes on each side until well browned. You can pull the pork further if you want and then serve immediately in warm tortillas. Garnish with salsa, cheese, etc as you'd like.
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