When you sink your teeth into these incredible keto carnitas, you are going to be in food heaven. Succulent, juicy pork that’s fall-apart tender paired with your favorite toppings, what’s not to love with easy pork carnitas? You can never go wrong with some of these mouthwatering pulled pork carnitas with only 1 net carb.
If you love Mexican food (and who doesn’t), you’re going to be so impressed with the flavor of this keto carnitas recipe. Whether you have a specific night of the week that you eat tacos or you make Mexican food anytime, you’ll want to add these to your rotation.
Don’t get me wrong, eating tacos, burritos or enchiladas do taste great with traditional ground beef. But, I long for flavor, texture, and something different. This keto pork carnitas recipe gives me the variety I’m looking for. You don’t even need to eat it on anything; you can just toss the shredded pork in a bowl, add some toppings, and away you go.
Pork shoulder - I use bone-in pork and cut it off the bone and cut off any excess fat before cutting into chunks. Pork butt also works well.
Jalapeno - Half the jalapeno pepper and remove the seeds, you just want a hint of flavor without tons of heat.
Garlic cloves - I prefer chopped fresh garlic but jarred minced garlic or dried minced garlic can work in a pinch.
Onion - Any variety of onion is fine, I normally use yellow onions.
Dried oregano - Fresh oregano works too if you have some.
Smoked paprika - Smoked paprika gives the pork a smoky flavor.
Ground cumin - I love cumin. To me, it is essential in any Mexican recipe.
Orange zest - The hint of sweetness from the zest enhances the other flavors.
Kosher salt - You can also add salt to your preference. A general rule of thumb is half to one teaspoon per pound of meat.
Ground black pepper - Pepper enhances the other flavors.
How to Make Keto Carnitas
I will warn you after you make these pork shoulder carnitas for the first time, you are going to crave them! They do take a little bit of time to cook, but prep time is minimal, and they are entirely worth the wait. You can catch up on other projects while they are cooking away.
Step One: Make sure the inner pot is inserted in the Instant Pot then add the pork shoulder pieces, jalapeno, chopped garlic, onion, salt, oregano, paprika, cumin, orange zest, and pepper to it. Mix everything, so it’s combined well.
Step Two: Cook the pork mixture for 40 minutes using manual high pressure.
Step Three: Once the pork carnitas are done cooking, allow the Instant Pot to do a natural release. Then shred the meat in a large bowl, serve with your favorite toppings and enjoy!
There are no wrong answers when it comes to toppings as long as they fit your dietary requirements. Any toppings with change the net carbs total. Here are a few of my favorite toppings that pair beautifully with this pork shoulder carnitas recipe:
- Cheese - You can use any kind of cheese you prefer. I like cheddar, but anything would work!
- Onions - Dice up some red onions and add them to the carnitas for a burst of flavor.
- Avocado - If you want to add some good fat to your diet, avocado is super creamy and delicious. It’s full of nutrients too. You can add chopped avo or some creamy keto guacamole. It is a great choice for anyone who is dairy free.
- Sour Cream - All I can say is yum! Add a tablespoon of sour cream and enjoy.
- Lettuce - You can use iceberg, spinach, romaine, or anything else you love with your tacos.
- Tomatoes - I love the flavor of fresh-cut tomatoes with anything that’s Mexican flavored.
- Keto Tortillas - try this recipe for gluten free low carb tortillas made with almond flour.
- Cilantro - Can you even have pork carnitas without a little bit (or a lot if that’s what you like) of cilantro?
- Salsa - Use your favorite keto salsa to add some additional flavors to Mexican pulled pork. So good!
- Jalapenos - Chop up some fresh peppers and add them as a topping for a little bit of heat. Remove the seeds if you don’t want them to be too hot.
- Lime Juice - Drizzle a little bit of fresh lime juice just before serving. Adds a hint of tanginess that pairs perfectly with the orange zest in the pork carnitas.
- Cauliflower Rice - Cook up some cauliflower rice to give yourself some added nutrients and texture.
What is Carnitas?
I’ve done all this talking about how delicious these pork carnitas are, but I haven’t told you exactly what they are yet. Essentially, carnitas are the same thing as pulled pork; only it’s made with Mexican spices instead of barbecue-style ingredients.
You can eat it as a bowl, in a lettuce wrap, on a gluten-free tortilla, in tacos, as an enchilada or anything else that’s Mexican flavored. The meat pulls apart quickly with a couple of forks and goes with so many dishes.
Is Carnitas Spicy?
Generally, these Instant Pot carnitas aren’t terribly spicy. You can always add extra jalapenos if you want them to be spicer. Or add a dash or two of cayenne pepper to get some added heat. Additionally, when you add your toppings, choose items that have lots of spice if that’s what you like. Or enjoy them as-is for a mild, but flavorful dinner option.
Can This Be Made With Beef?
Yes, you can make this pressure cooker carnitas recipe with beef instead of pork if you would rather. Just use a roast and cut it up instead of pork shoulder. Follow the rest of the directions as written, and it should turn out perfectly.
Can I Make These in the Crock Pot or Slow Cooker? How about in the Oven?
To make slow cooker carnitas you will add the ingredients as directed and cook on high for 2-3 hours or on low for 4-6 hours. This slow cooker version is just as good. It is one of our favorite slow cooker keto recipes.
To make carnitas in the oven you can add all the ingredients to a large casserole dish or baking sheet with a high rim. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 400 for 2-3 hours or until the pork shreds easily.
How Do You Store Keto Carnitas?
Store any leftover pork carnitas in the refrigerator in a sealed container. It will last 4-5 days and can be reheated easily. When you are ready to serve, just toss a little bit of olive oil in a skillet and add the cooked pork. Frying it in the pan will crisp up the edges of the pork and give it a little bit of crunch.
You can also warm the meat up in the microwave if you want. Just cover and heat it for a minute or two until it’s hot.
Can You Freeze Carnitas?
Yes, you can freeze keto carnitas rather easily to meal prep. Place the meat in a freezer-safe bag, flatten it out and freeze. Or you can place it in another freezer container if that works better for you. I like bags because once they are frozen, I can move them around to make more room in the freezer for other foods.
Defrost it in the refrigerator overnight and warm it up prior to serving.
- 3 lb pork shoulder cut into chunks, fat cut off when possible
- 1 jalapeno cut in half lengthwise, stems and seeds removed
- 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
- ¼ small onion finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Place pork, jalapeno, garlic, salt, oregano, paprika, cumin, orange zest, and pepper in the Instant Pot. Mix until well combined. Cook on manual high pressure for 40 minutes.
- Release the pressure naturally. Transfer the meat to a large bowl and shred. Serve with your favorite toppings.
If you love this Instant Pot Keto Carnitas Recipe, be sure to try out some of these next!
- Instant Pot Barbecue Chicken
- Instant Pot Beef Roast
- Instant Pot Mexican Chicken
- Instant Pot Turkey Meatballs
- Instant Pot Turkey Chili
Originally Published on November 20, 2019. Revised and Republished on July 10, 2023.