Instant Pot Carnitas with Tomatillo Salsa

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Servings: 6

What’s the secret to these delicious carnitas? First we cook pork shoulder in the Instant Pot until meltingly tender, then use the Air Fryer lid to produce those irresistible crispy edges on the meat. Our carnitas starter—a savory blend of tomatillos, onions, garlic, chiles and spices—streamlines prep, making this dish perfect for Taco Tuesday or any night of the week. Serve with your favorite fixings, including our easy tomatillo salsa plus sliced avocados, radishes and a squeeze of fresh lime. When making the salsa, be sure to rinse the tomatillos after husking them to remove the sticky coating, and adjust the amount of jalapeño to your taste.


For the carnitas:

  • 4 lb. (2 kg) boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch (5-cm) cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 jar Williams Sonoma Instant Pot Carnitas Starter Sauce

For the salsa:

  • 3/4 lb. (375 g) tomatillos, husked, rinsed and halved
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into large dice
  • 1 to 3 jalapeño or serrano peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh lime juice, to taste

For serving:

  • Warm flour or corn tortillas
  • Sliced avocados
  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • Thinly sliced red cabbage
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Lime wedges
  • Sour cream


To make the carnitas, season the pork with salt and pepper. In an Instant Pot set to Sauté, warm the vegetable oil. Working in batches, add the pork and sear, turning occasionally, until browned all over, about 8 minutes per batch. Return all of the pork to the pot and stir in the carnitas starter.

Lock the lid in place and turn the valve to “sealing.” Set the Instant Pot to cook at high pressure for 45 minutes.

When the pressure cooking is complete, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then quick release the remaining steam. Carefully remove the lid and, using tongs, transfer the pork to a large bowl. Transfer the sauce to a bowl. Using a large spoon, skim the fat from the top of the sauce; set sauce aside for serving. Using two forks, shred the pork into bite-size pieces. Return the pork to the pot.

Attach the Air Fryer lid to the Instant Pot and set to Air Fry at 400°F (200°C) for 15 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, remove the lid and toss the pork with tongs. Reattach the lid and continue to cook until the pork is crispy around the edges.

Meanwhile, make the salsa: Preheat a broiler. Spread the tomatillos, onion, jalapeños and garlic on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Broil 2 inches (5 cm) from the heat source until the tomatillos are softened and charred, about 7 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer the tomatillos, onion, jalapeños and garlic to a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer the salsa to a bowl and season to taste with salt and lime juice. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To assemble the tacos, pile the pork on warm tortillas and spoon over some of the reserved sauce. Top with the tomatillo salsa, avocados, radishes, cabbage, cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. Serve sour cream alongside. Serves 6.

Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen