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Easy Instant Pot Keto Carnitas

Easy to pop in the instant pot and serve a crowd, keto carnitas are the perfect low carb dinner choice. Made with the pork butt cut of meat, it’s packed with Mexican flavors, and as a bonus is super kid-friendly!

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Plate of shredded keto carnitas

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Oh, how I love pulled pork carnitas. It’s such an easy thing to make for a crowd. Also, it just feels more special than my everyday go-to ground beef taco meat. Not that it’s not fabulous also!

The secret to great keto carnitas involves several elements. First of all, it’s important to get a good slow cook. It’s even better when we can speed that process up in the Instant Pot!

Secondly, the right mix of spices is very important. Now, the perfect blend will vary from person to person. However, I’ve found what I like as a starting point, and then individuals can doctor it to their tastes with toppings from there. A simple base of cumin, oregano, and cilantro is a great way to get started.

Third, my secret weapon is the panfry.

Yep, the pan fry. It is optional, and I don’t always do it for a crowd. However, it definitely takes the carnitas to the next level. A simple batched panfry will crisp the edges of the meat and leave a juicy middle.

It’s so much better than crisping it in the oven, although that can be done too.

But enough talking. Shall we get to it? How do you make easy keto carnitas in the Instant Pot or other pressure cooker?

🍽 Equipment

First things first.

What equipment do we need to make keto carnitas?

🥘 Ingredients

  • 4 lb pork butt (pork shoulder)
  • 2 ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ cup chicken bone broth
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped (optional)

Pork rub

  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp dried cilantro
  • 1 tbsp avocado or olive oil
Ingredients for keto carnitas and Instant Pot

When selecting any ingredients, buy as fresh as you can, and organic if possible. For meat, I usually order from ButcherBox for good quality I can trust.

However, in a specialty or grocery store, look for a good quality pork, heritage breed, or ask the butcher for more information on the source of the meat. It never hurts to ask questions and be picky!

I like ButcherBox because they deliver 100% grass-fed beef, organic chicken, heritage breed pork, and wild-caught seafood directly to your door with free shipping. I’m giving you $15 off your first box if you click on my link here: ButcherBox. You can thank me later…

There are also other similar companies for meats. I’m just not as familiar with those.

🍖 Pork butt vs pork shoulder

I often get a pork butt in my ButcherBox, which is one reason we originally came up with this recipe. After the kids’ laughter has subsided as they discuss the pork butt, they can then be reminded a pork butt is actually a cut of meat from the shoulder of the pig.

Who knew? A pork butt is not from the rear of a pig. Rather, it’s from the shoulder.

Well, then why not call it a pork shoulder?! Why indeed.

The pork shoulder and the pork butt are two different cuts of meat from the shoulder area of the pig. A cut of pork butt is higher on the foreleg, while pork shoulder is farther down.

They are both relatively tough and fatty cuts. This means they both benefit from long, slow cooking methods or the pressure cooker. 

In our case of keto carnitas, I tend to prefer the pork butt because it is a good square hunk of meat with fat marbling throughout. The marbling makes for the fall apart, easy to shred, moist meat we love in good carnitas.

Now shall we pull out that Instant Pot? Let’s begin.

Overhead cast-iron pan of keto carnitas

🔪 Instructions

First of all, pull out the Instant Pot and gather together all the other needed equipment and ingredients.

Many recipes begin by applying the spice rub to the meat and searing the outside all around. I skip this step, although I have tried it in the past. For me, it does not change the flavor or texture of the meat when it’s finished cooking in the pressure cooker.

Therefore, to me it’s a waste of time, and I’d rather spend that time with a little panfrying at the end to get that delicious crisp. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

How to make keto carnitas

To begin, rinse and dry the pork butt, and cut it into quarters. When in quarters, the meat tends to cook faster and is easier to shred when ready.

Second, rub it all over with salt and pepper. Then combine the rub ingredients in a bowl, the oregano, cumin, cilantro, and avocado or olive oil. Apply the rub all over the pork as well.

Next, place the pork in an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker. Pour over it the bone broth and lime juice. Now, top it with the onion, jalapeño (if using), and minced garlic.

After that, close the lid and pressure cook on high for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Once it’s finished, let pressure release naturally at least for 10 minutes before completely releasing.

Then, carefully remove the pork pieces to a large plate or dish. Let it cool slightly and use two forks to shred the meat.

Instant Pot Keto Carnitas in a cast-iron skillet

💭 Top tip

Next, as my top tip, skim the fat off the remaining juices left in the Instant Pot. I do this instead of spending a ton of time trimming the excess fat off the raw meat at the beginning. Because truly, who likes trimming fat off of raw, slippery meat? Not me!

Overhead keto instant pot carnitas on a plate

Now, use the sauté function on high for 10 to 15 minutes to reduce the liquid to a sauce for the meat. Stir from time to time to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot. Pour the sauce into a dish and set next to the stove.

Cast-iron pan of keto carnitas

🍳 Panfrying vs. Instant Pot sauté

The process of crisping the meat can be done in the pan or on the sauté function of the Instant Pot. Personally, I prefer to panfry because the Instant Pot doesn’t always get as hot as I would like for frying.

However, it can be done either way and is your choice.

To crisp the meat edges, heat 1 tbsp of avocado or olive oil in the Instant Pot on sauté or in a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Spread the pork almost an inch deep in the pot/pan and spoon over about ¼ cup of juices.

This is completed in batches, so don’t worry that all the meat doesn’t fit in one go of it.

Wait until the juices evaporate and the bottom side is golden brown and even crusty. Flip the meat over with a spatula and barely sear the other side. It’s best when some meat is seared and the middle still juicy.

Continue the process in batches until all the meat is ready.

Then serve it up hot with extra juices, chopped fresh cilantro, sour cream, avocado, or other toppings. Also, I like to add a salad or cilantro lime cauliflower rice on the side.

🥣 How to store keto carnitas

Easy keto carnitas can be kept in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for four to five days.

If you know you won’t be using the entire recipe at once, skip the panfrying step and store the meat in the freezer or refrigerator until ready to use. In a freezer bag or air-tight freezer container, the meat will last well up to a month.

To reheat the meat, simply follow the panfrying process step to heat through. This will heat the meat and crisp the edges to make it just as good as when first made.

The meat juices tend to congeal when chilled and stored. Either use a spoon to spoon the congealed juices on the meat as it’s heated, or warm it all together beforehand. The juices will melt and become liquid again when warmed.

Also, if you are cooking keto for one, you can divide the recipe into individual portions. Separate each portion into a freezer bag or other freezer-safe storage container.

Freeze and take one serving out at a time as needed.

Bite of keto carnitas with sour cream

Easy keto family dinners

I’m all about that first word, easy. Especially when it comes to making a dinner for the family. As a mom running my own business, I’m constantly busy, and a simple recipe for a home-cooked meal gives me more time to spend with the kids.

Lately, I am all about the kitchen gadgets that simplify my life. The Instant Pot is just awesome, and the Ninja Foodi goes even beyond. I love how my husband goes on about how convenient the Ninja Foodi is, and how moist it makes any meat.

This recipe can be made in either pressure cooker, or even adapted to the slow cooker or oven. See the recipe card below for those variations.

Enjoy the flavors, and add more spice as you wish! I love how easy this recipe is and how it allows more time to spend around the table with the family!

Mangia, mangia!

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Tag me in your recipe pics on Instagram @explorermomma.

If you LOVE this recipe please consider giving it a five-star rating in the review area below!

🍲 More keto dinner recipes

  1. Keto Beef Tips With Gravy
  2. Easy Keto Butter Chicken
  3. Keto Jambalaya
  4. The Best Keto Chili With Bacon

📖 Recipe

Close-up of keto carnitas on a plate

Instant Pot Keto Carnitas

Yield: 16
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Easy to pop in the instant pot and serve a crowd, keto carnitas are the perfect low carb dinner choice. Made with pork butt/shoulder, they're packed with flavor and super kid-friendly.

Ingredients

  • 4 lb pork butt (pork shoulder)
  • 2 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chicken bone broth
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped (optional)

Pork Rub

  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp dried cilantro
  • 1 tbsp avocado or olive oil

Instructions

  1. Rinse and dry the pork butt/shoulder, and cut it into quarters.
  2. Rub it all over with salt and pepper.
  3. Combine the rub ingredients then rub all over the pork.
  4. Place the pork in an Instant Pot, and pour over it the bone broth and lime juice. Top with the onion, jalapeño, and minced garlic.
  5. Pressure cook on high for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Let pressure release naturally.
  6. Remove the pork pieces to a large plate or dish. Let it cool slightly and use two forks to shred the meat.
  7. Skim the fat off the remaining juices in the Instant Pot. Use the sauté function on high for 10 to 15 minutes to reduce the liquid to a sauce for the meat. Pour the sauce into a dish.
  8. Heat 1 tbsp of avocado or olive oil in the Instant Pot on sauté or a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Spread the pork (in batches) in the pot/pan and spoon over about 1/4 cup of juices. Wait until the juices evaporate and the bottom side is golden brown and crusty. Turn the meat over and barely sear the other side. It's best when some meat is seared and some still juicy.
  9. Repeat step 8 in batches until complete.
  10. Serve hot with extra juices, chopped fresh cilantro, sour cream, avocado, or other toppings. Add a salad or cauliflower rice on the side.

Notes

Other cooking methods:

Slow cooker

Follow all directions the same but cook in a slow cooker on high for 5-6 hours, until meat begins to fall apart, ready to shred.

Oven

Follow all directions but put pork in a roasting pan instead of the Instant Pot. Add 2 cups bone broth around the pork. Cover tightly with foil, roast at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours, then roast for another hour uncovered. Add water if the liquid dries out too much. There should be 1 1/2 to 2 cups of liquid when finished cooking. There is no need to pan-fry because the oven will crust the pork. Shred the meat and drizzle with juices.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 313Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCarbohydrates: 1gNet Carbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 21g

*Nutrition Facts per MyFitnessPal.com. For most accurate facts, calculate your own with the exact ingredients you use in the recipe.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @explorermomma on Instagram and hashtag it #explorermomma. Thanks a bunch!

Nutrition Disclaimer

Please be aware I am not a medical specialist or nutritional professional. On this blog, I share recipes and what works for me. Please do not take anything on this blog as medical advice and always consult with your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program.

I use MyFitnessPal.com to calculate nutrition facts as a courtesy to my readers, and I remove erythritol from the final carb count and net carb count because does not affect my own blood glucose levels.  

This is as accurate as possible, but it’s best to independently calculate nutritional information on your own with the specific ingredients you use. I expressly disclaim any and all liability of any kind with respect to any act or omission wholly or in part in reliance on anything contained in this website.

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