Easy Instant Pot Carnitas and Piñata® Apple Salsa


My picky son is OBSESSED with these Instant Pot Carnitas and truth be told he is pretty into that Piñata® Apple Salsa too! It isn’t often that I hit one out of the park these days with him.  However, this one is a home run. Honestly, some days it feels like I spend more time trying to get him to eat than I do cooking. It’s SO frustrating!

There is one dish though that he is always down for – carnitas!

Like, we’re talking 3 sides of carnitas in a kid’s Chipotle DIY taco kit! (Just in case you don’t know what that is, it’s a whole lot.) Anyways, seeing as though my wallet/food blogger pride can’t handle hitting up our local Mexican fast food chain 3-4 times a week. I decided I better learn how to make them.

Upon my first trip down the Google rabbit hole, I realized that traditional carnitas took WAY too much time for me.

I just don’t have 3-6 hours to wait for carnitas to cook in the oven. I’m going to imagine that you don’t either!  So, I devised a time-saving plan using my trusty Instant Pot to cook the meat to perfection. Then I shred it, toss it with some of the cooking liquid, and spread it into an even layer on a sheet pan. A quick 5-8 minute stint under the broiler to finish it off, and voila! It all creates irresistible carnitas that are still moist and tender on the inside while being crispy on the outside.

In case you missed the memo from The Brady Bunch all those years ago, pork and apples are a match made in heaven!

While Alice opted for pork chops and applesauce for the Brady kids, I am opting for a fresh apple salsa for our carnitas. I ultimately decided to go with Stemilt Piñata® apples for my salsa because I love their sweet and tart taste and long-lasting pineapple finish. It’s just the perfect match for those savory Instant Pot Carnitas!

Easy Instant Pot Carnitas and Piñata® Apple Salsa


  • For the Instant Pot Carnitas
  • 1 (3-3 1/2 pound) boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into 2-to 3-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano, crushed in the palm of your hand
  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper, smoked paprika, chili powder or cayenne also work great
  • 1 Cara Cara orange, quartered ( A Navel orange will work too! )
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
  • For the Piñata Apple Salsa
  • 1 Stemilt Piñata apple, cored and diced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

These easy Instant Pot Carnitas are kid-approved! Easy to make and even better to eat, these carnitas will have everyone coming for seconds!

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  • Yield
    6 servings
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To make the carnitas:

  1. In the bowl of an Instant Pot combine the prepared pork shoulder, water, onion, cumin, salt, oregano, and chipotle pepper.
  2. Toss to coat the meat and onions in the spices.
  3. Squeeze the juice from the orange wedges over the meat then add the orange pieces to the Instant Pot as well.
  4. Lock the lid in place and set the pressure knob to sealing.
  5. Select pressure cook or manual on the Instant Pot panel then set the pressure to high and the time to 25 minutes. Once the cook cycle has completed allow the pressure to naturally release for 15 minutes before carefully opening the steam vent to release any remaining pressure.
  6. Preheat the oven to high broil and lightly grease a sheet pan with 1 tablespoon avocado oil.
  7. Discard the orange segments then transfer the cooked chunks of pork to the prepared sheet pan.
  8. Set the cooking liquid aside.
  9. Shred the chunks of pork with 2 forks then drizzle the remaining tablespoon of avocado oil over the pork.
  10. Toss to coat. Place the sheet pan under the broiler and allow the carnitas to crisp up in spots, about 5-8 minutes depending on how crispy you like them.
  11. Once crisped to your liking, toss the carnitas with some of the cooking liquid and serve.

To make the Piñata Apple Salsa

  1. Combine all of the ingredients and stir well.
  2. Set aside for at least 15 minutes to let the flavors develop.

To assemble:

  1. Serve these carnitas with cooked rice, Piñata apple salsa, and charred corn tortillas!

Nutritional Information

Per Serving

  • Calories: 151
  • Carbohydrate Content: 18g
  • Fat Content: 5g
  • Cholesterol Content: 19mg
  • Protein Content: 8g
  • Sodium Content: 1094mg
  • Serving Size: 1/2 pound plus 1/4 cup salsa
  • Sugar Content: 9g