You won’t believe how quickly these Instant Pot Chicken Carnitas Tacos come together! This popular Mexican recipe includes perfectly tender and crispy chicken cooked in a fresh citrus sauce plus flavorful spices.
The Best Instant Pot Chicken Carnitas
Chicken carnitas are traditionally slow cooked, but what if I told you there’s a quicker and easier way to make equally yummy carnitas? This Instant Pot recipe is a life saver when it comes to quick dinner ideas. Carnitas tacos are a classic comfort food meal that has never been simpler to prepare!
Not to mention, these carnitas are packed with flavor. From chili powder to minced garlic and fresh lime juice, this weeknight dinner has it all. There are also tons of tasty ways to serve your carnitas!
What Are Carnitas?
Carnitas are like a crispier and even more flavorful version of pulled pork. The meat is cooked until it’s tender, and then it’s shredded into smaller pieces. If you take a few minutes to broil your shredded chicken in the oven, you’ll get the most crisp and delicious shredded meat you’ve ever tasted!
You can serve carnitas in tacos, on top of nachos, salads, or any other way you’d like.
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts: You could also use chicken thighs, as long as they’re boneless and skinless.
- Ground Cumin
- Salt & Pepper
- Chili Powder: Feel free to adjust the amount of chili powder you use to satisfy your tastes.
- Olive Oil
- Diced Onion
- Minced Garlic
- Orange Juice: Opt for orange juice with no pulp. And, if possible, use freshly squeezed OJ.
- Lime Juice
- Low Sodium Chicken Broth or Beer
- Flour Tortillas: If you want to make carnitas tacos, be sure to have your favorite (low carb) flour tortillas on hand.
- Fresh Cilantro: Garnish your dish with chopped cilantro, if desired.
How to Make Chicken Carnitas
- Dry Chicken: Lightly pat dry the chicken breasts with paper towels.
- Make Spice Rub: In a small mixing bowl, combine cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and chili powder. Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken breasts.
- Heat Oil: Press the SAUTE button on the Instant Pot and add in the olive oil.
- Sear Chicken: Add the chicken breasts to the heated olive oil and brown on all sides. You will have to do this in batches; do not try to sear all the chicken breasts at once.
- Remove Chicken: Remove your chicken from the Instant Pot and set it aside.
- Cook Onions & Garlic: Add the diced onion to the Instant Pot; if needed, add more olive oil. Cook the onions for 2 minutes. Then, stir in the garlic and cook for 20 more seconds.
- Deglaze: Deglaze the bottom of the Pot with chicken broth while stirring. Then, add in the orange juice and lime juice; bring to a simmer. Once simmering, return your chicken to the Instant Pot.
- Pressure Cook: Cover and select PRESSURE COOK on HIGH for 10 minutes.
- Release Steam: Do a Natural Release.
- Set Oven to Broiler: While the chicken is cooking, set your oven to BROILER and lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray. This is an optional step for broiling the chicken.
- Shred Chicken: Remove the cover from the Instant Pot and transfer your chicken breasts to a cutting board. Shred the chicken.
- Arrange Chicken on Baking Sheet: Add your shredded chicken to a prepared baking sheet. Remove 1/4 cup of the liquid from your Instant Pot and add it to the chicken; stir to combine.
- Broil Chicken: Broil the chicken for 5 minutes, stir, and continue to broil for 5 more minutes.
- Remove from Oven: Remove your chicken from the oven and let it stand for a couple minutes before serving.
How to Make Chicken Carnitas 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.
More Ways to Serve Instant Pot 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!
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- Store leftover carnitas in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They’ll stay fresh for 2-3 days. To store them long-term, freeze them in a sealed bag with all the air squeezed out 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
Tools Used in this Recipe
Instant Pot Chicken Carnitas
- 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
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth, or beer
- 1/4 cup orange juice, no pulp, freshly squeezed if possible
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- low carb flour tortillas, for serving
- fresh chopped cilantro, for serving
- 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 button on the Instant Pot and add in 1 tablespoon 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 chicken and set aside.
- Add the diced onion 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 20 seconds.
- Deglaze the bottom of the Pot with chicken broth while stirring. Add in the orange juice and lime juice ; bring to a simmer.
- Return chicken to the Instant Pot. Cover and set to PRESSURE COOK on HIGH for 10 minutes. 12 minutes for chicken thighs. Do a Natural Release.
- Remove cover from the Instant Pot and transfer chicken breasts to a cutting board. Shred the chicken.
- While chicken is pressure cooking, set your oven to BROIL and lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Once chicken is shredded, spread it on the baking sheet.
- Remove ¼ cup of the liquid from the Instant Pot and add it to the chicken; stir to combine.
- Broil chicken for 5 minutes; stir. Continue to broil for 5 more minutes.
- Remove from oven and let stand for a couple minutes before serving in tacos, quesadillas, over nachos, etc.
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.