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Carnitas Tacos

Juicy carnitas tacos are restaurant-worthy with tender pork that has the best crispy edges. Make your carnitas easily in the Instant Pot then load up your taco shell with toppings for the best taco night!

Other taco recipes we love include shredded beef tacos, slow cooker pork tacos and birria tacos recipe!

Holding a carnitas tacos.
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Best Carnitas Tacos Recipe

Tacos are some of my favorite Mexican recipes. From fish tacos to steak tacos and ranch chicken tacos these are just some of my favorites!

Now, I’m taking my Instant Pot carnitas recipe and using it to make an ultimate carnitas tacos recipe with fall-apart juicy pulled pork finished under the broiler for those crispy edges and extra flavor. It’s much better at home than any street food taco!

Why This Recipe Works

  • Better at home. Homemade carnitas tacos are even better than takeout. You can customize the seasoning and spice to your liking, and you can have a variety of toppings for everyone.
  • Minimal prep work. Coat the pork with dry rub and let the Instant Pot do its thing. Prep the toppings in the meantime, and you’re done! Couldn’t be easier.
  • More than just tacos. Tacos carnitas is one thing, but the filling can be used for burritos, quesadillas, nachos, and more.

Recipe Ingredients

Instant pot carnitas ingredients on counter.

Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.

  • Pork: Both the pork shoulder and pork butt can be used in this recipe as both do well with tenderizing cooking methods. Either the pressure cooker or the slow cooker. Despite the word “butt” the pork butt is actually from a different part of the shoulder. Trim the excess fat from a 4 lb cut and slice it into 3 pieces.
  • Dry rub: Taco seasoning, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper. I have a homemade taco seasoning that I use that’s an easy blend of chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt, and pepper.
  • Jalapeno: This is optional if you like a bit of spice in your carnitas tacos. If you use it, I recommend removing all of the seeds as that is where the heat comes from. If you like yours super spicy, you can keep some in.
  • Juice: Along with water, using orange or apple and fresh lime juice helps to break down the fibers in the meat making it even more tender and flavorful.
  • For the tacos: Use flour tortillas or gluten-free corn tortillas, guacamole, fresh cilantro, and chopped red onion.


If you’re looking for a low-carb version of carnitas tacos, skip the tortilla wraps altogether and use the filling to make a taco salad instead. It’s also great for burrito bowls, on top of rice (or again, salad), along with beans and other tasty toppings.

How to Make Carnitas Tacos

Showing how to make carnitas tacos in a 4 step collage.
  • Season and sear the pork. Mix the dry rub seasoning and rub it all over the pork until well coated. We’ll sear the pork first using the saute method to get a nice crust on the outside and lock in moisture and at the same time cook the onions and jalapenos. Make sure to rotate the pork every 2 minutes so all sides get browned.
  • Add liquids and cook. Pour in the water and juices then seal the lid on the Instant Pot. Cook on HIGH pressure for 45 minutes followed by a Natural Release for 15 minutes. Release any remaining pressure and once the pin drops, it’s safe to carefully open the lid.
  • Crispy under the broiler. Shred the pork with a couple of forks and allow it to sit in the broth for a few minutes. To crisp up the ends and edges of the shredded pork, transfer the meat to a foil-lined baking sheet and arrange it in a single layer. Broil on the middle rack for 5 minutes. Toss with a bit of juice and then broil for another few minutes.
  • Assemble the tacos. Place some of the carnitas inside the taco shell, add your favorite toppings, and enjoy! I love adding guacamole, cilantro, and onions to my carnitas tacos.

Expert Tips

  • Make them in the crockpot. Slow cooker carnitas are just as easy!
  • Keep the tortillas warm and soft. Remove them from the fridge beforehand to allow them to come to room temperature. To warm them up, pile them onto a plate and place a damp paper towel on top. Microwave for 30 seconds.
  • Finish with freshly squeezed lime juice. It’s a great way to brighten up the carnitas tacos filling. Serve with extra lime wedges on the side.
  • Best served immediately. Shells will get soggy the longer they sit.

Favorite Tacos Toppings

Load up your carnitas tacos or keep it simple. That’s the beauty of being able to make each one your own!

Here are just a few ideas:

Holding a carnitas taco.

Recipe FAQs

Can I make carnitas tacos with hard shells?

Yes! Hard shells are not Mexican, in fact, they’re completely American. Even still, they can be used if you like that crunch factor.

Would pork loin work?

It would but you’ll need to add a couple of tablespoons of fat to the pot because of how lean the pork loin is. Traditionally tacos de carnitas is made by simmering pork in some type of fat, either lard or oil, so this isn’t a stretch!

Can carnitas tacos be kept frozen?

Certainly! Freeze leftover shredded pork once it has cooled completely. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and keep frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reuse as desired.


Keep leftovers of your carnitas tacos filling plus the juice in an airtight container for up to 3 days. You’ll be glad you kept the juice to keep it moist when reheated.

Reheat using a skillet or large pot on the stove over medium-low heat or the microwave.

Carnitas meat on corn tortilla.

Other Mexican-inspired favorites to try: easy chicken flautas, Mexican salad, and easy refried beans.

More Easy Mexican Recipes

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Carnitas meat on corn tortilla.

Carnitas Tacos Recipe

5 from 5 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
Juicy carnitas tacos are restaurant-worthy with tender pork that has the best crispy edges. Make your carnitas easily in the Instant Pot then load up your taco shell with favorite toppings.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Release Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 8





  • 1 Tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder/pork butt , excess fat trimmed (cut into 3 pieces)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion , diced (optional)
  • 1 jalapeno , deseeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup orange , or apple juice
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 2 large limes)


  • 16 corn or flour tortillas
  • Guacamole
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Chopped red onion



  • In a small bowl, whisk together the taco seasoning, kosher salt, oregano, cumin, and black pepper. Rub all over the pork until well coated.
  • In the bottom of an Instant Pot set to Sauté function, heat the olive oil. Add pork, onion, and jalapeno, if using. Sauté 3 to 5 minutes, flipping the pork every 2 minutes, until browned on all sides.
  • Add the water, orange juice, and lime juice.
  • Close and seal the Instant Pot. Cook on HIGH pressure for 45 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes before carefully removing the lid.
  • Transfer pork to a cutting board. Remove any excess fat and shred into smaller pieces. Return to the Instant Pot to let the juices soak into the meat. Let sit 5 minutes.
  • Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven and turn on the oven broiler. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Transfer pork to the baking sheet and broil 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and toss with 1 to 2 Tablespoons juice from the Instant Pot. Return to the oven another 3 to 5 minutes, or until the meat has reached your desired crispiness. Enjoy while hot!


  • Place pork inside of tortillas. Add your favorite toppings. I love to add guacamole, cilantro, and onions.


Slow cooker. Don’t have an Instant Pot? Don’t worry, you can make slow cooker carnitas just as easily.
Storage. Store leftover pork in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Hold onto the juice, as well, to keep the pork from drying out when reheating.
Reheat. Warm leftovers in a large pot over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
Freeze. Freeze pulled pork in an airtight freezer-safe storage container up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.


Calories: 346kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 93mg | Sodium: 447mg | Potassium: 617mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 93IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American

Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

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