These Pork Carnitas Bowls are full of savory and spicy flavors including chili powder, cumin, paprika, chipotle powder, orange and lime juice, red onion, and jalapenos. The carnitas is made in an Instant Pot, leaving you to prepare the Cilantro-Lime Rice and Pico de Gallo that accompanies the pork. Finish the bowl with avocado, black beans, and corn for a delicious weekend dinner idea.
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Pork Carnitas Bowls
The full ingredients list and instructions are found in the printable recipe card at the end of this post. I highly recommend reading the blog post all the way through so that you don’t miss any tips or substitution suggestions; to ensure that you have all the ingredients and equipment required, and to understand the steps and timings involved.
Carnitas, literally meaning “little meats”, is a dish of Mexican cuisine that originated in the state of Michoacán. The traditional way of cooking the meat is by simmering in oil or lard until very tender.
Think of carnitas like Mexican pulled pork!
This carnitas recipe, however, is cooked in an Instant Pot (or in a slow cooker) and is packed with so much flavor. There is a dry rub of herbs and spices, and the meat is then cooked in a mixture of chicken broth, orange juice and lime juice.
Once cooked, the pork is pulled (shredded with two forks) and then placed under a broiler/grill to crisp up the shredded meat.
The carnitas tastes amazing and on their own and would go well in tacos, tamales, or burritos. However, we’re serving it bowl-style with fresh and fragrant cilantro lime rice, pico de gallo, black beans, sweetcorn, slices of avocado, and fresh limes to squeeze over the top.
This a delicious and filling meal that we just LOVE and I’m convinced you will too!
Ingredients & Equipment Used In This Recipe
While most ingredients can be bought in grocery stores, for your convenience, any specialized or notable ingredients (and equipment) needed for this recipe have been listed below and linked to Amazon or other stores if available online. The complete list of ingredients with measurements is found in the recipe card.
- Fresh Produce – Red Onion, Jalapeño, Oranges, Limes, Cilantro (Fresh Coriander), Cherry Tomatoes, Avocado, Corn on the Cob (Whole Corn Kernel).
- Protein – Pork Shoulder also known as Pork Butt, is the best cut for making pulled pork which is essentially what carnitas is.
- Chili Powder – use mild or hot depending on your personal tastes and spicy heat preference!
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Ground Cumin
- Smoked Paprika
- Chipotle Powder
- Dried Oregano – use Mexican Oregano if possible.
- Chicken Broth/Stock
- Long Grain Rice
- Canned Black Beans
Recipes on The Purple Pumpkin Blog use both cup measurements and/or weighted measurements. American cups and kitchen food scales are handy pieces of equipment to have in your kitchen as it means you’ll be able to make all of the different recipes on my blog. I try to give American, imperial, and metric measurements in my recipes. You can mix cup measurements with weighted measurements, but never mix imperial (pounds, ounces, pints, etc.,) with metric (kilograms, grams, litres, etc.,).
More Recipes Using Pork
One of the hero ingredients in this dish is pork, so here are some more recipes using the same:
- Slow Cooker Hawaiian Pulled Pork
- Teriyaki Pork Fried Rice with Carrot & Baby Bok Choy
- Anglo-Indian Pork Burgers with Roasted Carrots & Raita
More Instant Pot Recipes
Looking for more Instant Pot inspo? Check these recipes out next:
- Instant Pot Baked Brie and Apple Appetizer
- Butter Parsley Baby Potatoes in the Instant Pot
- Make Delicious Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day
- Prepare the Cilantro-Lime Rice and fresh Pico de Gallo once the pork is in the Instant Pot® to save time.
- Carnitas can be cooked in a slow cooker – instructions are in the notes section of the recipe card.
How Do I Make Pork Carnitas Bowls?
Just check out the printable recipe card below with full ingredients and instructions. Any demonstration photos do not print out to save your ink.
For the Dry Rub
- ½ Tbsp chili powder
- ½ Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp chipotle powder
- 1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
For the Pork Carnitas
- 3½ - 4½ lbs (1.5 - 2kg) pork shoulder roast, trimmed and cut into 6-8 chunks
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 1 medium jalapeno, diced
- ¾ cup chicken broth
- ¾ cup fresh orange juice
- 3 Tbsp lime juice
For the Cilantro-Lime Rice
- 1 cup uncooked rice, prepared according to package ingredients
- 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice, divided
- Sea salt & black pepper, to taste
For the Pico de Gallo
- 1 pint (300g) cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
- ¼ cup red onion, diced
- 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves (fresh coriander), finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- Sea salt & black pepper, to taste
For the Bowls
- 1 large avocado, sliced
- 1 cup black beans, warmed
- 1 cup whole kernel corn, warmed
- 2 large limes, cut into wedges
- 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, for garnish
- Combine dry rub ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. Rub mixture onto pork until each piece is thoroughly covered. Press well to adhere.
- Push the “Sauté” button on the Instant Pot and set it to “High.” Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and half the seasoned pork shoulder pieces to the container. Sear until pork is browned on all sides, approximately 2-3 minutes per side.
Note: DO NOT use the lid while using the “Sauté” function on an Instant Pot.
- Once browned, transfer seared pork to a plate and repeat this process with another tablespoon of olive oil and the remaining pork. Remove browned pork from the Instant Pot and set aside.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the container, along with red onion and jalapeño. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent.
- Add browned pork back to the pot and pour chicken broth, orange juice, and lime juice on top.
- Add the lid and lock it into place. Set the steam vent to “Sealing.” Press the “Manual” button and adjust to the “High” setting, if necessary. Adjust cook time to 30 minutes. (Select 40 minutes for 4+ pound roasts).
- While the pork is cooking, prepare the Cilantro-Lime Rice and Pico de Gallo by combining the ingredients for each in medium bowls. Stir to combine and set aside until ready to use.
- When the Instant Pot cook time is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 20 minutes before doing a quick release of any remaining steam.
- Optional Steps for Crispier Carnitas: Pre-heat the oven broiler (grill) to high and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Transfer the pork to the prepared baking sheet and gently shred with two forks. Drizzle with ¼ cup juices from the Instant Pot and toss to combine before spreading into a thin, even layer. Season with additional salt and black pepper, if desired.
- Place the pork under the broiler for 4-5 minutes, then remove from the oven and add a little more juice before turning the meat to brown the other side. Place back under the broiler for another 4-5 minutes or until the pork is nice and crispy on the edges.
- When finished broiling, remove baking sheet from oven and assemble the burrito bowls by dividing the shredded pork, Cilantro-Lime Rice, Pico de Gallo, sliced avocado, black beans, and corn between 4 to 6 serving bowls. To serve, top with chopped cilantro and fresh lime wedges if desired. Enjoy!
Tip: Prepare the Cilantro-Lime Rice and fresh Pico de Gallo once the pork is in the Instant Pot® to save time.
To cook the carnitas in a slow cooker you don't need to cut the pork shoulder into chunks, but do remove the big layer of fat from the top of the meat.
- Rub the dry rub over the meat as in the recipe card.
- Place the chopped red onion and jalapeño in the bottom of the slow cooker pot.
- Place the prepared pork shoulder into the pot.
- Whisk together 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the chicken broth, orange, and lime juices, and pour over the pork.
- Cook on low for 8-12 hours then follow the recipe to broil/grill the meat to crisp up, and to finish the bowls.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 893Total Fat: 48gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 32gCholesterol: 116mgSodium: 999mgCarbohydrates: 80gFiber: 11gSugar: 10gProtein: 40g
This site uses Nutritionix to provide estimated nutrition. Nutritional information is always approximate and will depend on the quality of ingredients used and serving sizes. If you need exact calories and macros, please do your own calculations.
Make It A Meal!
You’ve made the main dish, but what about the rest of the courses?
Here are additional recipes to make a full meal!
- Appetizer: Mexican Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing
- Beverage: Grapefruit Screwdriver Cocktail
- Dessert: Pastel de Nata – Portuguese Egg Custard Tarts
There are 500+ Recipes on The Purple Pumpkin Blog for you to enjoy – please feel free to check them out too!