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Instant Pot Pork Carnita Bowls

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Craving Mexican food? I’ve got your back with this recipe for Instant Pot Pork Carnita Bowls! Fill your bowl with the seasoned tender pork, cilantro lime rice, and fresh made Pico de Gallo and enjoy.

Instant Pot Pork Carnita Bowls image with text

If you don’t have an Instant Pot yet, now’s time to get one. Seriously, why didn’t I want one?! I love my small appliances as they make cooking in the middle of the summer in the south easier. Heating up the kitchen isn’t something that makes me want to cook. The summer temperatures make me want to sit with a glass of iced tea, music on, and my phone in my hand ordering dinner to be delivered.

However, this recipe for Pork Carnita Bowls definitely makes me want to cook and I don’t even mind using the stove top to make the delicious cilantro-lime rice. Add the fresh homemade Pico de Gallo and fill your bowl up. The pork roast is cooked perfectly and is mouth-watering delicious from all of the spices and herbs. Creating the burrito bowls is easy and everyone can add their favorite toppings. Great for picky eaters!

Pork carnitas made in the Instant Pot
Pork Carnita Bowls make dinner easy!

Table of Contents

pork carnita bowl up close with cilantro lime rice and pico de gallo
This is a delicious and filling meal that you will love as much as we do!

Instant Pot Pork Carnita Bowls

Using the Instant Pot to cook the pork makes so much sense. The flavorful dry rub seasoning coating the pork along with the other ingredients for the carnitas create a most delightful, tender pork that shreds beautifully.

There are several steps this recipe but most of them are done while the pork is doing its thing in the pressure cooker. Making the cilantro-rice is easy as is the recipe for the homemade Pico de Gallo. I’ll share a few tips later in this post that will make both of those recipes even easier for you.

Black beans and corn complete the carnita bowl ingredients.

I think what I love about this recipe (even more than using the pressure cooker), is that the leftovers are so great for the next day as tacos, quesadillas, or burritos.

containers of food for meal prep
Use this pork carnitas recipe to meal prep lunches or dinners for the week.

Do you Meal Prep?

Do you meal prep? If so, this is the perfect meal for that. Grab a few sectioned microwavable containers and evenly proportion all of the carnita bowl ingredients into the containers. Add your lime wedges and avocado slice (sprinkle some lime juice over them to prevent browning).

What is an Instant Pot?

Simply put, an Instant Pot is a multicooker that has many functions, including high pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice cooking, steaming, warming and sautéing — all in one appliance that helps speed up the cooking process. 

What are Carnitas?

Think of Carnitas (literally meaning “little meats”) like Mexican pulled or shredded pork.

What Cut of Pork is used for Carnitas

The cut of pork that is best for carnitas is a pork shoulder (also can use a pork butt) because of the higher fat content, which helps the meat stay super tender and juicy while it’s cooked.

How do I Store Leftover Carnitas?

You can store leftover carnitas in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Freeze the leftovers in an airtight and freezer-safe bag or container for up to 4 months.

bowl filled with delicious pork carnitas, rice, and garnishes

Ingredients and Equipment

You will need an Instant Pot

Dry Rub Ingredients:

  • ½ tablespoon chili powder
  • ½ tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Pork Carnita Ingredients:

  • 3½ – 4½ pounds pork shoulder roast, trimmed and cut into 6-8 chunks
  • 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, diced
  • ¾ cup chicken broth, preferably organic
  • ¾ cup fresh orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice

Cilantro-Lime Rice Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked rice, prepared according to package ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
  • Sea salt & black pepper, to taste
fresh made pico de gallo in white bowl

Pico de Gallo Ingredients:

  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Sea salt & black pepper, to taste

Remaining Bowl Ingredients:

  • 1 large avocado, sliced
  • 1 can black beans, drained, rinsed, and warmed
  • 1 cup whole kernel corn, warmed
  • 2 large limes, cut into wedges
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, for garnish
Overhead shot of a pork carnita bowl with all the garnishes

How to Make Instant Pot Pork Carnita Bowls

Step 1

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the dry rub; mix together. Rub the mixture over each piece of pork, covering the entire piece well. It helps to press the dry rub into the meat a little.

Step 2

Grab that Instant Pot (we love this one) off the shelf. Push the “Sauté” button on the machine and set to “High.” Side Note: DO NOT use lid while using the “Sauté” function on an Instant Pot. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and half the seasoned pork shoulder pieces to the container of the Instant Pot. Sear until pork is browned on all sides, approximately 2-3 minutes per side. Remove pork from container and place on plate. Repeat this step with another tablespoon of olive oil and the remaining pork. Remove browned pork from and place on plate with the rest; set aside.

instant pot on stove top
Instant Pot recipes make life a little easier when it comes to getting dinner ready.

Step 3

Next , add remaining tablespoon olive oil to the container, along with red onion and jalapeño. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, approximately 3-4 minutes.

Step 4

At this point, you will add the browned pork back to the pot, pour chicken broth, orange juice, and lime juice on top. Place the lid on and lock into place. Set the steam vent to “Sealing.” Press the “Manual” button and be sure the pot is on the “High” setting. Adjust cook time to 30 minutes. (Select 40 minutes for 4+ pound roasts).

Step 5

When the Instant Pot cook time is complete, allow the natural release of the pressure for 20 minutes before doing a quick release of any remaining steam. Once this is done, you can remove the lid and shred the pork. Note: If you prefer crisper carnitas, see the notes in the recipe card for broiling the cooked pork.

Step 6

While the pressure is releasing, this is the time to prepare the Cilantro-Lime Rice. Once the rice is cooked, add the lime juice and cilantro. Mix well and set aside to keep warm. Tip: If you have leftover rice, simply heat it in microwave and then add the lime juice and cilantro. You can even use Instant Rice to save time.

cilantro lime rice

Step 7

Drain and rinse the black beans. Heat them up either in a small saucepan or use a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave. Keep warm until ready to use. Also, heat up the corn and keep warm.

Step 8

While the rice is cooking you can mix together the ingredients for the Pico de Gallo in a medium bowl. Set aside until ready to use. Tip: If you prefer, you can buy already-made Pico de Gallo in your grocery stores produce department.

Step 9

It’s time to assemble the burrito bowls. Evenly divide the pork, cilantro lime rice, Pico de Gallo, sliced avocado, black beans, and corn between 4 to 6 medium bowls. To serve, top with chopped cilantro and fresh lime wedges, if desired. We like to add a dollop of sour cream and shredded cheese, too. Add your favorite toppings!

carnita bowl with lime wedges and avocado slices
This Instant Pot Pork Carnitas Recipe is great for your Mexican dinner nights

Tips, Tricks, and FAQs

  • It’s much easier to get through this recipe if you have everything you need ready and prepped before you start.
  • Use a pork shoulder or pork butt for best results.
  • You can make the dry rub, rice and the Pico de Gallo the day before.
  • Leftovers are great to use in tacos, quesadillas, and burritos.
  • This recipe is great to use in meal prepping lunches for the week. I love these meal prep containers for this reason.
  • Prefer crispy carnitas? Broil the shredded meat on a sheet pan in the oven for about 5 minutes – watch carefully as it can burn fast.
  • Carnitas can be cooked in a slow cooker – instructions are in the notes section of the recipe card.
  • Need a low-carb, gluten-free meal? Substitute the rice with cauliflower rice. Omit the black beans and corn. Sprinkle with shredded cheese or shredded lettuce.
finished meal with topping in bowl

Printable Instant Pot Pork Carnita Bowls Recipe

carnita bowl with lime wedges and avocado slices

Instant Pot Pork Carnita Bowls

Craving Mexican food? I’ve got your back with this recipe for Instant Pot Pork Carnita Bowls! Fill your bowl with the seasoned tender pork, cilantro lime rice, and fresh made Pico de Gallo and enjoy.

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Course: Dinner

Cuisine: Mexican

Keyword: burrito bowls, carnitas, instant pot, pork

Prep Time: 50 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Release time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients

Dry Rub Ingredients

  • ½ tablespoon chili poweder
  • ½ tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspon chipotle powder
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Pork Carnita Ingredients

  • 3½ – 4½ pounds pork shoulder (or pork butt), trimmed of visible fat, and cut into 6 – 8 chunks
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, diced
  • ¾ cup low sodium chicken stock (or broth)
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice

Cilantro-Lime Rice Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked rice, prepared according to package directions (see notes for tips)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Pico de Gallo Ingredients

  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Remaining Ingredients for Carnita Bowls

  • 1 large avocado, sliced
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) black beans, drained, rinsed and warmed
  • 1 cup whole kernel corn, frozen or canned, warmed
  • 2 large limes, cut into wedges
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the dry rub; mix together. Rub the mixture over each piece of pork, covering the entire piece well. It helps to press the dry rub into the meat a little.

  • Grab that Instant Pot (we love this one) off the shelf. Push the “Sauté” button on the machine and set to “High.” Side Note: DO NOT use lid while using the “Sauté” function on an Instant Pot. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and half the seasoned pork shoulder pieces to the container of the Instant Pot. Sear until pork is browned on all sides, approximately 2-3 minutes per side. Remove pork from container and place on plate. Repeat this step with another tablespoon of olive oil and the remaining pork. Remove browned pork from and place on plate with the rest; set aside.
  • Next , add remaining tablespoon olive oil to the container, along with red onion and jalapeño. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, approximately 3-4 minutes.

  • At this point, you will add the browned pork back to the pot, pour chicken broth, orange juice, and lime juice on top. Place the lid on and lock into place. Set the steam vent to “Sealing.” Press the “Manual” button and be sure the pot is on the “High” setting. Adjust cook time to 30 minutes. (Select 40 minutes for 4+ pound roasts).

  • When the Instant Pot cook time is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 20 minutes before doing a quick release of any remaining steam. Once this is done, you can remove the lid and shred the pork. Note: If you prefer crisper carnitas, see the notes in the recipe card for broiling the cooked pork.

  • While the pressure is releasing, this is the time to prepare the Cilantro-Lime Rice. Once the rice is cooked, add the lime juice and cilantro. Mix well and set aside to keep warm. Tip: If you have leftover rice, simply heat it in microwave and then add the lime juice and cilantro. You can even use Instant Rice to save time.

  • Drain and rinse the black beans. Heat them up either in a small saucepan or use a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave. Keep warm until ready to use. Also, heat up the corn and keep warm.

  • While the rice is cooking you can mix together the ingredients for the Pico de Gallo in a medium bowl. Set aside until ready to use. Tip: If you prefer, you can buy already-made Pico de Gallo in your grocery stores produce department.

  • It’s time to assemble the burrito bowls. Evenly divide the pork, cilantro lime rice, Pico de Gallo, sliced avocado, black beans, and corn between 4 to 6 serving bowls. To serve, top with chopped cilantro and fresh lime wedges, if desired.

Notes

Prefer crispy carnitas? Broil the meat on a sheet pan in the oven for about 5 minutes – watch carefully as it can burn fast.
Slow Cooker Instructions:

  1. I used a 6 quart slow cooker  for this recipe.
  2. To cook the carnitas in a slow cooker you don’t need to cut the pork shoulder into chunks, but do remove the big layer of fat from the top of the meat.
  3. Rub the dry rub over the meat as directed above. 
  4. Place the diced red onion and jalapeño in the bottom of the slow cooker pot.
  5. Place the prepared pork shoulder on top of the vegetables.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the chicken broth, orange, and lime juices, and pour over the pork.
  7. Cover and cook on low for 8-12 hours then follow the recipe to broil/grill the meat to crisp up (if desired). Check at the 8 hour mark.  Some slow cookers cook faster than others.  
  8. Assemble the bowls as directed in the recipe card.

Tips:

  • It’s much easier to get through this recipe if you have everything you need ready and prepped before you start.
  • Use a pork shoulder or pork butt for best results.
  • You can make the dry rub, rice and the Pico de Gallo the day before.
  • Leftovers are great to use in tacos, quesadillas, and burritos.
  • This recipe is great to use in meal prepping lunches for the week. I love these meal prep containers for this reason.
  • Need a low-carb, gluten-free meal? Substitute the rice with cauliflower rice. Omit the black beans and corn. Sprinkle with shredded cheese or shredded lettuce.

 

pork carnita bowl

Other Delicious Pork Recipes to Enjoy

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