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Instant Pot Chicken Carnitas Tacos

Get ready for a flavor fiesta with these Instant Pot Chicken Carnitas Tacos! Prepared with tender and crispy chicken marinated in a zesty citrus sauce and seasoned with a mix of delicious spices, it’s all made super easy in the Instant Pot!

Chicken carnitas tacos topped with avocado, onions, and corn.


 

Carnitas tacos, a beloved comfort food classic, are now a breeze to whip up. While chicken carnitas typically take their sweet time to cook slowly to create a juicy and tender masterpiece, imagine having the same luscious taste but in a fraction of the time! Enter my Instant Pot Chicken Carnitas Tacos recipe – it is your soon-to-be favorite ally for quick and fantastic Taco Tuesday dinners.

What Are Carnitas?

Carnitas is a savory Mexican dish that involves a two-step cooking process: braising pork until it’s tender and then cooking it quickly over high heat for that irresistible crispy exterior. In Spanish, “carnitas” means “little meats”. You can serve carnitas in tacos, on top of nachos, salads, or any other way you’d like. However, in this recipe, we will use chicken, not pork. If you take a few minutes to broil the chicken in the oven, you’ll get the most crisp and delicious shredded meat you’ve ever tasted!

Shredded chicken carnitas spread on a baking sheet.

Chicken Carnitas Ingredients

  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts/Thighs are cooked until tender and shredded to fill the tacos.
  • Ground Cumin adds a warm flavor to the chicken.
  • Oregano enhances the chicken’s flavor.
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Chili Powder gives a spicy touch to the carnitas.
  • Olive Oil is used for sautéing and browning the chicken and onions.
  • Yellow Onion & Garlic add a savory sweetness to the overall flavor.
  • Low Sodium Chicken Broth/Beer deglazes the pot and adds moisture for cooking the chicken.
  • Orange Juice infuses the chicken with a bright, citrusy flavor.
  • Lime Juice adds zest and acidity to balance the rich flavors.
  • Low Carb Flour Tortillas can be used to wrap the chicken carnitas filling.
  • Fresh Chopped Cilantro is used as a garnish to add an herbal touch to the tacos.
Seasoned chicken breasts cooking inside the Instant Pot.

How to Make Chicken Carnitas in the Instant Pot

  1. Chicken: Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and rub them with a blend of cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and chili powder. Use the Saute function on the Instant Pot to heat the olive oil and brown the chicken in batches. Take the chicken out of the Instant Pot and set aside.
  2. Cook the Aromatics and Deglaze: Sauté the onions and garlic in the Instant Pot, adding more oil if necessary. Use the chicken broth to deglaze the pot, stir in orange and lime juices, and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken back into the Instant Pot.
  3. Pressure Cook: Seal and set the Instant Pot to pressure cook on High for 10 minutes, then allow for a Natural Pressure Release.
  4. Set Oven to Broil: Preheat your oven to broil and line a baking sheet with foil.
  5. Shred the Chicken: Remove the chicken from the instant pot and shred it on a cutting board.
  6. Broil: Transfer the shredded chicken to the baking sheet, add a 1/4 cup of the liquid from the instant pot, stir to combine, and broil for 5 minutes; stir again and broil it for 5 more minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.
Top view shot of 3 chicken carnitas tacos garnished with corn, avocado slices, and lime slices.

How To Serve Chicken Carnitas

  • In Quesadillas: Make an authentic Mexican quesadilla with your favorite kind of cheese and these carnitas.
  • Over Nachos: Serve your carnitas over nachos to make an appetizer more filling, savory, and irresistible.
  • In a Salad: These carnitas will go wonderfully with your favorite leafy greens!
  • Over Rice: Serve chicken carnitas over rice and with a side of beans. You could also serve carnitas over this flavor packed Coconut Lime Cauliflower Rice!
  • In Tacos: Warm your tortillas, then load them up with chicken carnitas and top it all off with your favorite fixings. I personally love to use salsa fresca, diced avocado, onions, some lettuce, and maybe even a sprinkle of cheese.
Close-up shot of a taco filled with chicken carnitas, avocado slices, corn, and onions.

Storage

  • Store leftover carnitas in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. To store them long-term, freeze them for up to 3 months.
  • I recommend reheating your carnitas on the stove. Cook in a large skillet over medium-high heat until your carnitas are hot. It should take around 10-15 minutes.

More Instant Pot Recipes

ENJOY!

chicken carnitas tacos topped with avocado, onions, and corn

Instant Pot Chicken Carnitas

Katerina | Diethood
You'll be amazed at the speed and ease of making these Instant Pot Chicken Carnitas Tacos. It’s the ultimate shortcut to crispy, delicious carnitas flavored with lime, spices, garlic, and orange juice.
5 from 21 votes
Servings : 8
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Broil Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or you can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • cup low sodium chicken broth, or beer
  • ¼ cup orange juice, no pulp, freshly squeezed if possible
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • low carb flour tortillas, for serving
  • fresh chopped cilantro, for serving

Instructions
 

  • Lightly pat dry the chicken breasts with paper towels.
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and chili powder. Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken breasts.
  • Press the Saute function on the Instant Pot and add in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chicken breasts to the heated olive oil and brown on both sides. You will have to do this in batches; do not try to sear all chicken breasts at once. Remove the chicken and set aside.
  • Add the diced onions to the Instant Pot; if needed, add the rest of the olive oil. Cook the onions for 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 15 seconds.
  • Stir in the chicken broth and deglaze the bottom of the Pot while stirring. Add in the orange juice and lime juice; bring to a simmer.
  • Return the chicken to the Instant Pot. Cover and set to Pressure Cook on High for 10 minutes (12 minutes for chicken thighs). Then, do a Natural Pressure Release.
  • Remove the lid and transfer the chicken breasts to a cutting board. Shred the chicken.
  • Set your oven to BROIL and line a baking sheet with foil; lightly grease it with cooking spray.
  • Once the chicken is shredded, spread it out on the baking sheet.
  • Remove ¼ cup of the liquid from the Instant Pot and add it to the chicken; stir to combine.
  • Broil the chicken for 5 minutes; stir. Continue to broil for 5 more minutes.
  • Remove from oven and let stand for a few minutes before serving in tacos, quesadillas, over nachos, etc.

Notes

  • Chicken Variety: Feel free to use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts, but you’ll have to cook them a couple of minutes longer.
  • Spices: Don’t hesitate to tweak the spice mix to suit your taste. Adding a touch of smoked paprika or chipotle can elevate the flavor.
  • Rest: Allow the chicken to rest a bit before shredding; it helps retain the juices.
  • Broiling: Don’t skip the broiling step if you like crispy meat.
  • Toppings: Offer toppings like sliced avocados, pico de gallo, sour cream, or cheese to customize the tacos.
  • Tortillas: Warm the tortillas before serving.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. It makes an excellent filling for quesadillas or topping for salads the next day.

Nutrition

Calories: 179 kcal | Carbohydrates: 4 g | Protein: 25 g | Fat: 7 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4 g | Trans Fat: 0.01 g | Cholesterol: 73 mg | Sodium: 430 mg | Potassium: 500 mg | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 1 g | Vitamin A: 112 IU | Vitamin C: 9 mg | Calcium: 32 mg | Iron: 1 mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: chicken carnitas, instant pot carnitas, instant pot chicken recipes
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