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Lunch / Dinner

Pressure Cooker Carnitas

The secret to the flavors of long-simmered meals in a third of the time isn’t new. It’s an update to a kitchen mainstay around since your grandma’s day — the pressure cooker. With strides in safety, user-friendliness, and price, today’s “second generation” pressure cookers make weekend favorites weeknight possible.

Carnitas are a classic Mexican dish of slow-simmered pork over 3–4 hours until meltingly tender and shreddable. While usually flavored with cumin, garlic, Mexican oregano, and other spices, we've brightened up the final dish the the addition of citrus juices. The shredded carnitas are mixed with the cooking liquid and quickly broiled until it starts to crisp. Our secret to reducing the cooking time is to use our trusty pressure cooker, which makes recipe more accessible for a weeknight dinner — perfect for tucking into tortillas for Taco Tuesday.

How does pressure cooking speed up dinner? It all comes down to simple science. Water boils at 212°F, producing steam. Because the pressure cooker is sealed airtight, preventing that steam from escaping, pressure builds within it to 15 pounds per square inch (psi). That extra pressure heats the liquid to 250°F. The “extra” 38 degrees breaks down the fibers of food quicker, cooking it 50- to 70-percent faster than other methods.


8 servings

Total Time

about 1½ hours

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Test Kitchen Tip

KEY TERMS Cook at high pressure: The amount of time you cook the food once the mechanism indicates high pressure is reached. Begin timing at this point.

Natural pressure release: Remove the cooker from the heat source and allow the pressure to dissipate over time. This takes from 10 to 20 minutes.

Quick release: Use the built-in release valve to immediately release pressure. Or, run cold water over the lids of stove-top cookers until pressure releases.


Whisk together oil, salt, cumin, chile powder, and pepper.

Toss pork in oil-spice mixture. Brown pork in pressure cooker over high heat.

Stir in onion, garlic, oregano, and cinnamon stick. Add orange and lime juices.

Cover pressure cooker, lock on lid, and bring to high pressure over high heat. Cook pork at high pressure, 25 minutes. Remove cooker from heat. Allow pressure to release naturally. Remove lid and transfer pork to a baking sheet.

Preheat broiler to high with rack 6 inches from element.

Degrease liquids from cooker in a fat separator; discard fat. Shred pork with two forks on baking sheet. Pour 1 cup strained cooking liquid over pork.

Broil pork until it starts to crisp, 10 minutes; stir and broil 5 minutes more. Serve pork with tortillas, avocado, salsa verde, queso fresco, and remaining cooking liquid.


Nearly any liquid can be used in pressure cooking. Choose ones that add flavor, like citrus juices.


Keep the pork moist and flavorful by pouring the degreased cooking liquid over it before broiling.

Nutritional Facts

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