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Instant Pot Carnitas Rice Bowl

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Are you a fan of Carnitas? if so you will love this super simple and easy Instant Pot Carnitas Rice Bowl. Carnitas known as “little meats” in Spanish are so good and this delicious pressure cooker pork and rice dish is no exception! Trust me, you’ll love it!

Carnitas meat is fantastic to use in so many dishes. You can use carnitas in tacos, burritos, quesadilla, and nachos. This recipe combines carnitas with rice and makes a great filling meal for the family.

You may want to serve this with a fresh mango salad or a pineapple salsa!

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Why You’ll Love This Recipe

For anyone who hasn’t experienced the glory of a delicious and easy Instant Pot pork carnitas rice bowl, let me just say that you’re missing out. These juicy, flavor-packed carnitas are made with just a few simple ingredients and can be on the table in less than an hour.

Plus, they’re infinitely adaptable – serve them on tacos, burritos, nachos, or simply eat them straight off the fork. Trust me, once you’ve tried these carnitas, you’ll be hooked!

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Ingredients for Easy Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

So what exactly do you need to make Instant Pot pork carnitas? First and foremost, you’ll need a good quality pork shoulder. Look for a cut that is well-marbled with fat – this will ensure that your carnitas are nice and moist. Next, you’ll need some aromatics to flavor the meat.

  • Pork Shoulder: Main protein source, known for tenderness and rich flavor in slow-cooked carnitas.
  • Medium Onion, Diced: Adds savory depth and texture, enhancing the overall flavor profile.
  • Minced Garlic: Infuses a robust and aromatic garlic flavor, contributing to the savory richness.
  • Water: Serves as the cooking liquid, aiding in pork tenderization and creating a flavorful broth.
  • Lime Juice: Provides a zesty and citrusy element, adding brightness and balancing pork richness.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Contributes a tangy acidity, enhancing the overall complexity of the carnitas.
  • Tomato Paste: Adds depth and a touch of sweetness, enriching the flavor profile.
  • Cumin: Brings warm and earthy notes, complementing pork and other spices for a well-rounded taste.
  • Chili Powder: Adds a hint of smokiness and moderate heat, contributing to bold and flavorful carnitas.
  • Salt: Enhances natural flavors, ensuring a well-seasoned and balanced dish.
  • Cooking Oil: Used to sauté and brown pork, adding a rich and savory layer to the carnitas.
Ingredients For easy Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

How to Make a Carnitas Rice Bowl?

To make a delicious carnitas and rice bowl, you will need to start by preparing the carnitas. If you’re in the mood for Mexican food, but don’t want to spend hours cooking, then this recipe is for you.

With the help of an Instant Pot, you can have a delicious Instant Pot carnitas rice bowl on the table in less than an hour. And best of all, it’s a one-pot meal, so there’s minimal cleanup afterwards.

Step One: Turn Instant Pot On

Turn your Instant Pot on to saute function. Set aside and allow to heat up while you make the marinade.

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Step Two: Create Marinade

In a small bowl add your water, lime juice apple cider vinegar, tomato paste, cumin, chili powder and salt. Mix well until fully incorporated.

Step Three: Saute Onions

Once the Instant Pot is hot, pour in the cooking oil. Add the onions and saute for around 3 minutes until cooked well.

Step Four: Add Pork To Pot

Place the Pork into the pot and pour the marinade over the meat. Top with minced garlic.

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Step Five: Pressure Cook

Close the Instant Pot lid by twisting the lid. Close the valve and set the Instant Pot to high pressure for 1 hour. It will take some time to build pressure before the one hour of cooking time begins.

Once done, allow the meat to naturally release for 15 minutes.

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Step Six: Manually Release Pressure

Once the 15 minutes has of natural release is complete, manually release the Instant Pot by using a hot pad or towel to twist the valve toward you and open.

Step Seven: Shred Meat

Remove the meat from the Instant Pot to a cutting board. Shred with two forks. Enjoy the pork carnitas with rice, on a taco topped with cilantro and lime or just by itself.

What To Serve With Carnitas?

Complement your Carnitas Rice Bowls with these delicious side options:

  • Black Bean Salad: A refreshing black bean salad with corn, tomatoes, and cilantro adds a burst of freshness.
  • Mexican Street Corn (Elote): Grilled corn on the cob slathered with mayonnaise, cotija cheese, and chili powder for a flavorful and creamy side.
  • Guacamole: Creamy avocado, tomato, onion, and lime create a classic guacamole that adds richness and freshness.
  • Mexican Rice: Serve alongside traditional Mexican rice seasoned with tomatoes, onions, and spices.
  • Refried Beans: Creamy refried beans make a hearty and classic Mexican side dish.
  • Salsa Verde: Tangy and spicy salsa verde adds a kick and zesty flavor to your bowl.
  • Cilantro Lime Rice: Light and fluffy rice infused with cilantro and lime complements the carnitas perfectly.
  • Queso Fresco: Sprinkle crumbled queso fresco on top for a mild and slightly tangy cheese flavor
  • Pico de Gallo: Fresh pico de gallo with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and lime juice adds a burst of flavor.

Feel free to mix and match these sides to create a well-rounded and satisfying Carnitas Rice Bowl experience.


Here are some variations to customize the Instant Pot Carnitas recipe:

  • Citrus Burst: Experiment with different citrus fruits like orange or grapefruit juice for a varied citrusy flavor.
  • Beer-Infused: Replace some or all of the water with your favorite beer for a unique depth of flavor.
  • Pineapple Pleasure: Add pineapple chunks or juice for a tropical twist that pairs well with the savory carnitas.
  • Adobo Influence: Include a couple of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for a smoky and spicy kick.
  • Herb-Infused: Toss in fresh herbs like oregano, thyme, or rosemary for added aromatic complexity.
  • Sweet and Spicy Maple Glaze: Mix in a touch of maple syrup and a pinch of red pepper flakes for a sweet and spicy glaze.
  • Mexican Cola Twist: Substitute water with Mexican cola for a hint of sweetness and caramelized flavor.
  • Garlic-Lover’s Delight: Double up on the minced garlic for an extra punch of garlic goodness.
  • Smoky Paprika Magic: Add smoked paprika for a smoky flavor that complements the richness of the pork.
  • Mango Madness: Incorporate diced mango or mango puree for a fruity and exotic dimension.
  • Hoisin Harmony: Introduce hoisin sauce and a touch of soy sauce for an Asian-inspired fusion.

How To Store Carnitas Meat?

To store carnita meat properly and maintain its quality, follow these steps:


If you have leftover carnita meat, store it in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.


For longer storage, freeze the carnita meat. Portion it into freezer-safe containers or resealable bags, removing as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Label containers with the date for reference.

Reheating Carnitas

Gently reheat refrigerated or thawed carnitas meat in a skillet or microwave. If using a microwave, add a splash of water or broth to maintain moisture.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does The Word Carnitas Mean?

Are you a fan of Carnitas? if so you will love this super simple and easy Instant Pot carnitas rice bowl. Carnitas known as “little meats” in Spanish are so good and this delicious pressure cooker pork and rice dish is no exception! Trust me, you’ll love it!

What Cut Of Meat Is Best For Carnitas?

Pork shoulder or pork butt is commonly used for carnitas. These cuts are well-marbled and become tender and flavorful when slow-cooked.

Can I Use A Different Type Of Meat For Carnitas Bowls?

While pork is traditional, you can experiment with other meats like chicken, beef, or even a plant-based alternative to create different variations.

Can I Make Carnitas Bowls In A Slow Cooker?

Yes, you can adapt the recipe for a slow cooker. Cook the pork on low for 6-8 hours or until tender.

How Do I Prevent The Rice In Carnitas Bowls From Becoming Mushy?

Cook the rice separately and fluff it with a fork before serving. This helps maintain a fluffy and non-mushy texture.


Instant Pot Carnitas Rice Bowl: Packed With Flavor

Yield: 2-3
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

These Instant Pot rice carnitas bowls are delicious, easy to make and packed with flavor.


  • 2.5 Lbs Pork Shoulder
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 TBSP minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 3 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil


  1. Turn your instant pot on to sauté function. set aside and allow to heat up while you make the marinade
  2. In a small bowl or measuring cup, add your water, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, and salt. mix well until fully incorporated.
  3. Once your instant pot is hot, pour in your cooking oil. add your onions, and sauté for about 3 minutes until cooked well. 
  4. Place your pork in the pot, and pour the marinade over the meat, and top with the minced garlic.
  5. Close the instant pot by twisting the lid on and closing the valve by pushing it away from you. set the instant pot to high pressure for 1 hour. it will take some time to build pressure.
  6. Once your timer is done, allow the instant pot to naturally release for another 15 minutes.
  7. Once the 15 minutes is done, manually release the instant pot by using a hot pad or towel to twist the valve toward you and open.
  8. Remove the meat from the instant pot to a cutting board. shred with two forks.enjoy your pork carnitas with rice, and a taco topped with cilantro and lime, or just by itself! enjoy!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1849Total Fat: 137gSaturated Fat: 46gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 79gCholesterol: 510mgSodium: 2845mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 135g

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instant pot carnitas recipe

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