Chipotle has had their share of food safety concerns as of late, but it’s hard not to love their food. I love their carnitas, but I do wish I could add a bit of crispy to them for added texture. This Crispy Instant Pot Carnitas recipe does just that.
To round things out, I’ve also included recipes for things like burrito bowls, breakfast bakes, quesadillas, tacos, and all kinds of stuff to pair with the carnitas. And just in case you’re reading this and don’t own an Instant Pot, I’ve included instructions on making the carnitas in a crockpot.
Update: If you have a Ninja Foodi, you should check out my latest pork tenderloin crispy carnitas recipe.
Ingredients for Crispy Instant Pot Carnitas
This recipe was inspired by Food for Life’s Weight Watchers Instant Pot Cookbook. I made a few tweaks to make preparation a bit easier and cut the ingredient list down.
As you’d expect from one of my recipes, these crispy carnitas are crazy simple and high in protein. You’ll only need 5 ingredients, 3 of which are optional.
Starting from the top, you’ll need 1.5 pounds of pork tenderloin. These are typically packaged at this weight, so you should be able to just pick one up and run. I’ve yet to find a Mexican or Southwestern marinated tenderloin in the store but if you come across one, that may work well here.
If you find a marinated tenderloin that fits your fancy, you won’t have a need for further seasoning. The recipe calls for fajita seasoning, but you could use a taco seasoning or your own mixture of spices. I personally enjoy the smokiness of the fajita seasoning. If you use a marinated tenderloin or a marinade/seasoning of your own, be sure to account for calorie differences.
For the base of your Instant Pot or crock pot, the recipe calls for one cup of light beer. If you don’t want to buy beer for one recipe, you can definitely use water instead. I typically stay away from any calorie-containing liquids in my recipes but thought the beer seemed sympatico with carnitas.
Final Notes for Instant Pot Carnitas
Feel free to add onions, peppers, and other vegetables to the Instant Pot or crockpot. I decided against them since I planned on using these crispy carnitas in other recipes.
So to recap, all you really need is the pork, a liquid, and some type of carnitas friendly seasoning. The video below gives a look at what to expect in terms of tenderness when your pork is done in the Instant Pot before going in the oven to crisp. If you get the timing right (which may vary between Instant Pot models or other pressure cookers), the pork will almost fall apart.
What to Make with Your Instant Pot Carnitas
You can’t go wrong with these combos:
- Replace the chicken in my Buffalo Chicken Empanadas or Baked Chicken Tacos
- Burrito Bowls with Pan Roasted Corn & Black Beans and Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice
- Healthier Chilaquiles
And check out my crispy chicken carnitas recipe for more ideas.
And then you have the basic recipes like quesadillas, tacos, and more. Check out my Instant Pot ground turkey tacos recipe for a killer cheesy tacos tutorial.
Easy Instant Pot Carnitas Recipes
You can never go wrong with taking a low cal flatbread like Joseph’s Lavash or FlatOut wraps and pan toasted with a bit of cheese for quesadillas. And to take things up a notch, I like throwing in the mixture from the high protein burrito bowls and making tacos or super loaded quesadillas.
Okay, I think you’re ready to roll. You’ll find the recipe card below.
If you make these Instant Pot Carnitas, let me know how what you think! Take a pic and tag me on Instagram @mason_woodruff or join my free Facebook group and share it with the Proton Party.
Crispy Instant Pot Carnitas
A high protein, low calorie Instant Pot or crock pot recipe for crispy carnitas.
- 1.5 pounds (24oz) Pork Tenderloin, or pork loin filet
- 1 C Light Beer
- 1 Tbsp (15g) Minced Garlic
- 1 Tbsp (15mL) Lime Juice
- 1 packet Fajita Seasoning
- Add all ingredients and cook on manual for 30 minutes, using a quick release. Depending on the thickness of your tenderloin, you may need to adjust the time up or down slightly. The pork should be tender and easily shredded with forks in the next step.
- Once the pork has fully cooked, remove and shred with two forks. (If the pork is overcooked, it might be easier to chop with a knife.)
- Preheat an oven to 450F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the shredded pork and bake for 8 minutes.
- While the pork is in the oven, saute the remaining sauce in the Instant Pot until thick.
- After removing the pork from the oven, top with thickened sauce and enjoy!
- Each serving has 3 Smart Points.
- If you're using a crock pot, cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3-4 hours. And if you're doubling the recipe and using 3lbs of pork, cook for 45-50 minutes in the Instant Pot or 8 hours on low in the crock pot. You'll also want to cut a giant chunk of meat into smaller pieces for even cooking.
- Entire recipe: 840 Calories | 139P | 37C | 15F
- Per 1/6 Recipe (~3 oz cooked weight): 140 Calories | 23P | 6C | 2.5F
- You can use any liquid you'd like in place of the light beer.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 3 oz cooked weight
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 140Total Fat: 2.5gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 23g
Monday 20th of July 2020
I have made this several times. It’s become a staple in the house for a higher protein meal.
To make it lower calorie, I have substituted the beer with a diet ginger beer (0 calories) or for more of a lime flavor I have also done lime polar water (lime seltzer water if you don’t have the Polar brand).
Wednesday 27th of November 2019
This is my go-to instant pot meal! Anytime someone asks for an easy and delicious instant pot meal, this is the first one I suggest. The beer. The lime. It’s so good. And then the flavor plus the crunch. Out. Of. This. World
Sunday 24th of November 2019
I can confidently say I make this at least once a month. It’s very versatile so you can make a batch and throw it in some tacos, on a salad, in the bbq Mac and cheese, you name it. Also who can complain when you can just leave it to cook in the crockpot and it’s nice and fall apart tender when you get home!?
Monday 14th of October 2019
One of our favorite recipes! Although we used to make it just as the recipe stated, my daughter was recently diagnosed with celiac disease, so we can't make it with beer anymore. Any recommendations for an alternate liquid? My first thought was a chicken/vegetable broth.
Sunday 8th of September 2019
Yummy! This is going in my rotation for monthly meals and I'll use the leftovers for lunch.