This crispy carnitas recipe is one of the best meal prep recipes on my blog. You can make tacos, burritos or bowls, nachos, salads, and all kinds of dishes with this Mexican pulled pork.
Every serving is packed with flavor and 24 grams of protein with just 4 grams of carbs, 6 grams of fat, and 3 WW Smart Points. That leaves tons of room for tortillas, cheese, and other fixin’s!
Ninja Foodi Carnitas Recipe Walkthrough
Thanks to the Foodi, this is an easy recipe that stays in one pot aside from a little prep and shredding the pork. And the ingredient list is a simple one so I doubt you have many questions. Still, I’ll touch on any potential ingredient modifications as we go.
Step 1: Coat Pork Tenderloin(s) in Olive Oil and Carnitas Seasoning
You can do this in a bowl like the recipe calls for or by hand on a cutting board like I initially did with my Ninja Foodi bbq pulled pork recipe. I think I like the bowls better because you can add what I’m calling a flavor potion in step 2 to make sure no oil or spices go to waste.
It’s also a great way to keep your hands clean!
Here’s what you’ll need for the carnitas seasoning:
- salt and pepper
The only notes I’d add here would be on the salt and cinnamon. If you’re using table salt as opposed to kosher salt like the recipe calls for, you’ll want to cut it in half. And if you’re wondering about the cinnamon, just trust me. (But yes, you can leave it out.)
Step 2: Make a Flavor Potion for Pressure Cooking
I know lots of my readers love simplicity and appreciate shortcuts. So, I figured this route would alleviate any need for chopping veggies and work loads of flavor into the recipe all at once.
Add the following to a food processor:
- chicken broth
If you don’t have broth on hand, you can use water. And if you’re a cilantro hater, just leave it out!
Step 3: Sear the Pork Tenderloin with the Foodi’s Sauté Function
That’s it for ingredient prep. Now it’s time to cook.
The only thing you can mess up in this step is not letting the pot heat up enough before adding the pork tenderloin. You can flick a little water in the pot to test the heat. If it sizzles, you’re probably good to go.
Sear each side of the pork tenderloins for 2 minutes. Nothing fancy here.
Step 4: Add the Flavor Potion and Pressure Cook
Pour the blended ingredients into the pot around the edges and move the pork around to fully coat the bottom of the pot. Seal and cook with high pressure for 12-14 minutes.
I hate to give a time range, but every pork tenderloin (and user) is different. If you have a food thermometer and the pork hasn’t reached an internal temp of at least 160F, you can seal and cook for another minute or two.
Note: If you want to make a smaller batch with just 1 pork tenderloin, follow the recipe as written but cut the chicken broth in half. The cook time should be about the same.
Step 5: Reduce the Remaining Liquid while You Shred the Pork
Like I mentioned in my buttermilk pan fried chicken breast recipe, letting your proteins rest for at least 5 minutes after cooking is always a great idea. Even though you’ll be mixing the pulled pork back in the remaining liquid before broiling, letting the meat rest will make shredding much easier.
As for reducing the remaining liquid, you want carnitas, not pulled pork soup. It doesn’t have to be a flawless sauce, just reduce it long enough to thicken. If you let the pork rest and then shred (about 8-10 minutes total), it should be perfect timing.
Bonus tip: Meat claws make shredding cooked meat so much easier.
You can find the meat claws I use, along with all my other recommended kitchen equipment, on my Amazon storefront. Other shredding options include the classic two fork method or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
Step 6: Use the Foodi’s Broil Function to Make Crispy Carnitas
This is an optional but highly recommended step. Not only does it create crispy edges, the pork soaks up all the remaining juices during broiling. I did it for the BBQ pulled pork I mentioned earlier as well as my Ninja Foodi Greek chicken breast, and I’ll probably continue doing it for every protein I prep in the Foodi.
If you want even crisping, you can stir halfway through or broil in two batches.
If you’re using an Instant Pot or slow cooker, you can transfer the pork to a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and use your oven’s broil function.
How to Serve Your Crispy Carnitas
- nachos with homemade thin corn tortilla chips
- the tacos pictured are on street taco tortillas with diced onion, jalapeño, cotija cheese, cilantro, and lime juice (the salsa macha from my chicken carnitas tacos is another great addition)
- you could swap carnitas for beef in my cheesy beef baked tacos or chicken in my air fryer taquitos or air fryer quesadillas
- with smoked charro beans or air fried Mexican potatoes
- roasted corn salsa like I served with my pressure cooker barbacoa beef or my spin on esquites
- 2 Pork Tenderloins (16oz each)
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp Cumin
- 2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Oregano
- 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
For Pressure Cooking
- 1 small (140g) Onion, peeled and halved
- 1 small (100g peeled) Orange, halved
- 2 cloves (10g) Garlic, peeled
- 1 handful (3g) Cilantro
- 1/2 C (120g) Low Sodium Chicken Broth
- Place the pork tenderloins in a large bowl with the olive oil. Mix the dry spices together before sprinkling over the pork. Use a rubber spatula or your hands to evenly coat the pork in the oil and spices. Set aside.
- Add the onion, orange, garlic, cilantro, and chicken broth to a food processor and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds on high.
- Turn the Foodi's sauté function on HI and let the pot heat up. Once hot, add the pork tenderloins. Cook for 2 minutes before flipping and cooking another 2 minutes.
- Add the pressure cooking ingredients to the pot, moving the pork tenderloins around to evenly coat the bottom of the pot with the mixture. Seal the Foodi and pressure cook on HI for 12-14 minutes* with quick release pressure. The pork should reach an internal temp of 160F at its thickest point. Transfer the pork tenderloins to a bowl to rest for 5 minutes before shredding.
- While the pork rests, turn the Foodi's sauté function back to HI to reduce the remaining liquid to a thick sauce, stirring occasionally.
- After the pork rests, shred and add back to the pot with the thickened sauce. Stir to evenly coat and use the Foodi's broil function** for 10-15 minutes for crispy edges.
*Use 12 minutes for long, thin tenderloins and 14 minutes for thicker tenderloins.
**If you're using an Instant Pot, use the sauté function to reduce the sauce before mixing with the shredded pork tenderloin. Add the pork to a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and use your oven's broiler to make crispy carnitas.
Each 3.25-ounce serving of crispy carnitas has 3 WW Smart Points (blue plan).
For Slow Cooker Carnitas
Sear the pork tenderloins in a large skillet and cook in a crockpot on low for 3-4 hours or high for 2-3 hours. Once the pork reaches an internal temp of 160F, transfer to a bowl to rest/shred. Transfer the remaining liquid to a saucepan over high heat to reduce to a sauce. Toss the pulled pork in the sauce and crisp on a baking sheet under your oven's broiler, if desired.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Servings Serving Size: 3.25 ounces
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 165Total Fat: 5.9gCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 23.4g