Pressure cooker Carnita is fast, delicious, and best of all this pulled pork can be used in a myriad of traditional Mexican recipes and modern interpretations, like these lettuce cups.

This recipe is the base for making pulled-pork that to go in a tamale or drip with BBQ sauce between two slices of bread. In that vein, I added an ingredient that is used in Mexican cuisine, but not authentic to Carnitas: bitter chocolate powder.

Spice Mix for pressure cooker pulled pork

Bitter chocolate is one of those ingredients that can either shout out its presence or just add a little “something” while still being stealthy enough to be your secret ingredient!

The cooking liquid in this recipe can be reduced to a spicy and velvety sauce – leaving the pork meat aromatic with a touch of heat.  Save some of this spicy sauce to mix into the masa when making tamales!

close-up of pressure cooker pulled pork carnitas

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
5 L or larger  none    45-60 min.    High(2)  Natural

4.9 from 10 reviews
Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork Recipe - Carnitas
Nutritional Information
(per serving)
  • Serves: 16
  • Serving size: 1/16th
  • Calories: 257.4
  • TOTAL Fat: 17g
  • TOTAL Carbs: 2.9g
  • Sugar Carbs: 1.5g
  • Sodium: 76.9mg
  • Fiber Carbs: 0.9g
  • Protein: 22g
  • Cholesterol: 76mg
Recipe type: pressure cooker recipe
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
To make traditional carnitas, Michoacán style, skip the spice mix and just boil the pork in water with an onion, a bay leaf, cumin, salt and hot pepper.
  • 4 pounds (or about 2 kilos) pork roast, leg or shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 head butter lettuce, washed and dried
  • 2 carrots, spiralized (or grated)
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • water almost to cover
Spice Mix:
  • 1 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon coriander
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  1. The day before cooking the meat, make the spice mix by combining all of the ingredients listed, cut the roast into manageable pieces and rub them with the onion and spices. Then wrap the meat back into the butcher's paper and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Brown the roast on all sides, in the pre-heated pressure cooker, the add enough water to almost cover (2-3 cups).
  3. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker.
  4. For electric pressure cookers: Cook for 50-60 minutes at high pressure.
    For stove top pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 45 minutes pressure cooking time.
  5. Open with the Natural release method - move the pressure cooker to a cool burner and wait for the pressure to come down on its own (about 10 minutes). For electric pressure cooker, disengage the “keep warm” mode or unplug the cooker and open when the pressure indicator has gone down (20-30 minutes).
  6. Pull out the meat and place on a platter, and then begin pulling the flesh into strips using two forks. In the meantime, reduce the cooking liquid in the cooker to half strain and de-fat using your favorite method (I leave it in the fridge overnight).
  7. At this point, you can also refrigerate the cooked, now shredded, pork for several days or continue with the recipe.
  8. In a pre-heated large wide saute' pan add vegetable oil, or lard, and fry the shredded pork until it becomes lightly brown. For extra spice, drizzle the cooking liquid on the pulled pork before serving.
  9. To make lettuce wraps, simply prepare the lettuce cups with carrots on a serving platter. Fill with just-fried pork. Finish with a squirt of fresh lime.

Fagor Futuro Pressure Cooker
pressure cooker pulled pork step-by-step

pressure cooker pulled pork carnitas lettuce cups

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  1. This is really yummy. I stop at step six and pour the reduced jus over the meat and store it in the fridge. It makes a fantastic filling for burritos or any sort of Mexican dish. The meat also pairs great with any number of toppings like salsa, guacamole, or chopped veggies. I love the intense porky flavor the pressure cooker gives to the meat.

  2. Wow, and I thought i’d feel cheated without a carb!

    Everything was perfect, all of it. Wow!

    We had bbq’d corn (cut off the cob) leftover in the fridge and added that and sour cream as sides… but it was perfect without too.

  3. I loved this! Flavorful and delightfully spicy. I will def make again but will change one thing: 1 tsp of salt instead of 1 tablespoon. I used the reduced jus poured over the finished meat, and it was so very salty that it was nearly ruined. Once I realized it, I discarded the remaining jus and we still enjoyed it.

  4. I got a 8 lb chunk of pork. I think it was labeled butt something. I decided to do the whole thing even though I realized it was nearly double the size that the recipe called for. I cut it into 2″ x 3″ chunks. When I made the dry rub, the onions produced so much liquid that it was more of a marinade. I browned the chunks in batches so that they didn’t get too crowded. Then I deglazed and put the meat back in. I added all the leftover “marinade” to the pot and covered with more water. I have an 8 quart, so it’s still not over full. My question is, what about the cooking time? I saw somewhere in a comment about pulling pieces from the bottom. I have it set of 60 minutes. Should I increase the overall time? Or let the pressure come down and check the bottom pieces. It smells amazing!

  5. Could you also use a Crock pot? or does it have to be a pressure cooker?

  6. This is my go-to recipe for pork shoulder. It’s delicious and easy….even marinated it for 48 hrs once. People rave about it when I pair it with a Chipotle-like rice dish. Using cooked rice, add some of the cooking liquid from the pork, sour cream, cilantro, corn off the cob and avocado. I also add cojito or fresh mozzarella cheese. Yum! Serve it in lettuce wraps or tortillas…it makes a lot so great leftovers!

  7. Hi Laura,

    Made the pulled pork tonight, so So impressed, thanks so much for yet another wonderful recipe,
    I served ours on the side with zucchini noodles sautéed with fresh garlic and Parmesan cheese, steamed spiralled carrots and Asian greens sautéed with green and red capsicum,
    One very Happy family

    Thanks again

    1. Sounds like a lovely multi-cultural healthy dinner! Thanks for coming back to tell us how you liked it – and how you served it!!



  8. How many servings is this?

    1. This recipe serves 16, I have added the Nutritional Info so that the servings display on the recipe (weird bug).



  9. Can I make this with just 2 lbs. of pork and cut recipe in half? Does this change the cooking time?

  10. When pressure cooking pork do you leave tied or not?

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