Smokey Citrus Carnitas

Hot take: I don’t love pulled pork. I don’t eat a lot of pork, in general. Not for any reason other than I don’t love it. I think its the texture of BBQ pulled pork that I don’t love. Its just too soft. I need some texture. Give me some brisket with that nice smokey char to it. I’m sure my not Texan, southern readers will disagree with me and that’s OK. More BBQ pulled pork for you.

Since I don’t love pork, I rarely make it. But one thing I order at my local taco establishments is carnitas. Give me pulled pork, but spicy and crispy. Yes. So I wanted to figure out how to make it myself, but in a way that I liked. I have a friend that makes them all the time, and I love her food so I watched how she did it. I don’t know about you, but that’s how I learn to cook. By watching. I watched my mom and grandmas growing up, I would watch Food Network while doing my homework in college, and I watch my friends make their signature dishes. Sure, reading cookbooks and recipes can be super helpful, but there is just something about sitting with someone and seeing how they move through the kitchen. It can take an intimidating list of directions and make it seem feasible.

The trick to these carnitas is a 3 step process:

  • Salt and rub with spices
  • Cook in the pressure cooker.
  • Crisp under the broiler

I mean, is there anything easier than making taco meat in a pressure cooker or slow cooker? I submit that there is not. Its totally a set it and forget it recipe, and then all you need to do is crisp up the meat when you’re ready to eat it. If you are a meal prep family, this recipe is for you. If you aren’t a meal prep family, using a pork tenderloin makes the portion smaller than using a pork butt, plus it takes some of the fattiness out. It is super flavorful and versatile. Tacos, obviously. Salads, sandwiches, soups, in your hand…you can have whatever you like 🎵

Smokey Citrus Carnitas cooked in the Instant Pot and crisped in the oven.

Smokey Citrus Carnitas


  • Pork tenderloin, about 3 lbs
  • Salt
  • 2 tsp Ancho chile powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 Orange, juice and zest
  • 1 Lime, juice and zest
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1-3 dried chipotle chiles
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Cojita or Feta cheese
Smokey Citrus Carnitas on Pinterest


  1. Generously salt the pork, and let sit on the counter for about 30 minutes.
  2. Make the broth for the pressure cooker:
  3. combine orange (juice+zest), lime (juice+zest), and chicken broth.
  4. After the pork has sat with the salt and come to room temperature, pat it dry with a paper towel and season with chile powder and cumin.
  5. Using the “Saute/Brown” setting, heat up some avocado oil.
  6. Brown the tenderloin on all sides.
  7. Pour citrus broth over the pork and add dried chipotles and garlic.
  8. Cook on High pressure, about 25-35 minutes, until it shreds easily with a fork.
  9. Shred the meat and return to the broth.
  10. When you are ready to eat, just stick it in a skillet or on a baking sheet and broil it. Since it is a leaner piece of meat, I like to spray it with a little avocado oil to help it get crispy.
  11. Top with either cojita or feta cheese while the meat is still warm, and enjoy!

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