Instant Pot Chicken Carnitas is a budget-friendly, kid-friendly dish that takes just 10 minutes to cook using pressure cooking. My kids love carnitas in tacos and burrito bowls, so I came up with a lighter version using chicken. This recipe is Paleo and Whole 30 friendly.
Carnitas is traditionally made with pork and cooked slowly. This recipe uses chicken instead of pork and cooks it fast instead of slow. I have used boneless chicken thighs as a lighter alternative to pork in many recipes with good results. You could use boneless chicken breast for an even leaner dish, but it will probably come out a lot drier than the chicken thighs.
This Instant Pot Chicken Carnitas is a fast version of my Slow Cooker Chicken Carnitas recipe. I love the option of using pressure cooking or slow cooking to make the same dish. Pressure cooking is great when you’re short on time and haven’t figured out what to make for dinner. Slow cooking is great when I know I’m going to have a hectic day and don’t want to worry about making dinner later in the day. The only difference is that slow cooking requires a little more planning ahead of time.
This is a one pot recipe. All the ingredients go into the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure fo 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, the chicken will shred easily with two forks. I’ve heard you can shred chicken with an electric mixer paddle or dough hook. So, if you don’t want to hand-shred the chicken, give that a try.
I like to crisp up the Instant Pot chicken carnitas in a pan with a little olive oil. The crispy bits add extra flavor to any dish you make using these chicken carnitas.
For a fun dinner idea, setup a taco or burrito bowl bar with a variety of toppings so everyone can make their own tacos or burrito bowl. It’s a fun, interactive meal and everyone can customize their own dinner.
For a Paleo or Whole 30 meal, make a burrito bowl with cauliflower rice, salsa, guacamole and chopped lettuce, or serve using lettuce or collard green wraps.
Click here to watch me demonstrate this easy recipe for Instant Pot Chicken Carnitas on News 12 Connecticut Chef’s Quick Tips.
Instant Pot Chicken Carnitas
- 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 medium onion sliced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 orange juiced
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Place all ingredients (except olive oil) in Instant Pot and toss well to coat chicken with spices.
Cover and seal Instant Pot. Cook at high pressure for 10 minutes. Let Instant Pot naturally release pressure for 15 minutes, then release remaining pressure.
Remove chicken from Instant Pot and shred with two forks.
Heat oil in a skillet and brown shredded chicken until crispy.
Serve in tacos, burrito bowls or salad.
For a Paleo or Whole 30 meal, make a burrito bowl with cauliflower rice, salsa, guacamole and chopped lettuce.
Angie@Angie's Recipes says
As much as I love chicken breast, I must say that chicken thighs taste so much better 🙂 This looks yummilicious!
Thanks Angie – I do think chicken thighs have more flavor than chicken breast – so in this particular recipe, they work nicely
Ella Yang says
Hi Jeanette! I just got an IP and have made one soup with it so far, and am intrigued about using it for meat dishes that usually require longer cook times. This carnitas recipe looks great – if I want to make it with pork (“The other white meat!”), which cut of pork should I use and would it need to cook longer? Any thoughts?
Hi Ella! Pork shoulder or pork butt is the most flavorful (but higher in fat). Using the IP generally reduces cooking time by 2/3. So if you use pork shoulder/butt cut into large pieces that usually takes about 2 1/2 hours on the stovetop, it will probably take about 50-60 minutes in the IP. Pork loin is leaner, so you could try that too. I would still cut it into large chunks – it will probably take less time than pork shoulder ~ 40 minutes in the IP.