Cooked in citrus juices, these juicy carnitas tacos have so much flavor. The pork is melt-in-your-mouth tender thanks to the pressure cooker and is then broiled for crisp edges. Load it onto a taco shell and pile it on with the freshest toppings for a taco night to remember!
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Pork Carnitas Street Tacos
Have you ever bit into a taco and thought to yourself, this is the best thing I’ve ever eaten? Only to bite into another one the next time and think the same thing? Then you wonder how much it would cost to hire a taco truck to park in your backyard.
That’s probably where my desire to share all of the best taco recipes comes from. The excitement of knowing that every taco is the BEST taco! Fish tacos, steak tacos, shredded beef tacos, slow cooker pork tacos, and ranch chicken tacos are just some of my favorites!
Now, I’m taking my Instant Pot carnitas recipe and using it to make the ultimate carnitas tacos recipe made with fall-apart juicy pulled pork finished under the broiler for those crispy edges and extra flavor. Just like my birria tacos recipe, it is so much better at home than any street food taco!
Fill up warm tortillas, pile on your favorite toppings, and enjoy one of my favorite Mexican recipes in every bite!
Why This Recipe Works
- No need for that taco truck ;) 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.
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.
How to Make Carnitas Tacos
- 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.
- 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.
Yes! Hard shells are not Mexican, in fact, they’re completely American. Even still, they can be used if you like that crunch factor.
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!
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.
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Carnitas Tacos Recipe
- 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
- 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.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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