Pork Carnitas with Chunky Pico de Gallo

Pork Carnitas with Chunky Pico de Gallo

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hour(s)
Servings: 8


  • 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder roast, cubed
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 2 tablespoons soybean oil
  • 2 teaspoons mild chili powder
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 large oranges, zested and juiced
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced
  • 1 head of garlic cloves, peeled and smashed slightly
  • Bibb lettuce, radicchio, or tortillas for serving
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped


For the pico de gallo:

  • 3 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ a red onion, finely diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions for traditional preparation:

Season the cubed pork with seasoned salt. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown pork, in batches, on all sides. Transfer the pork to a large slow cooker and sprinkle with chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic salt and pepper; stir well to coat. Top with onion quarters, orange juice and zest, lime juice and zest and garlic cloves. Cover and cook on low heat for 6 to 7 hours or on high heat for 4 to 5 hours, or until meat is very tender and falling apart.

Remove pork from the cooker using a slotted spoon; discard garlic and onion. Using two forks, shred pork into bite-size chunks. Skim excess fat from the cooking liquid, then return the shredded pork to the liquid. Fold gently to incorporate. Meanwhile, stir together all pico de gallo ingredients and season to taste.

Preheat the broiler to high; coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Spread the meat in a single layer on the baking sheet and broil until meat is lightly caramelized, 2 to 4 minutes.

Serve carnitas in Bibb lettuce cups, radicchio leaves or with flour or corn tortillas topped with pico de gallo and sprinkled with chopped fresh cilantro.

Directions for Instant Pot preparation: 

Season the cubed pork with seasoned salt on all sides.

Add soybean oil, then pork pieces to Instant Pot on “Sauté” setting. Sear half of seasoned pork shoulder pieces on each side for about one minute or until golden brown. Remove meat to a clean plate, repeat with remaining half of pork. Press the cancel button to stop the “Sauté” function.

In a medium sized bowl, add chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic salt and black pepper. Stir to combine. Add seared pork pieces, toss to coat. To the Instant Pot, add onion quarters, half of orange zest, all of orange juice, half of lime zest, all of lime juice and garlic cloves and stir together with a wooden spoon to loosen brown bits from bottom of the Instant Pot bowl. Add meat, fold to coat all pieces. 

Close the lid securely and set vent to “Sealing.” Select the “Meat” function, then “Pressure” until the light on “High Pressure” lights up, then adjust the arrows until 30 minutes of cook time is set. 

Pressure cook and when time is complete, allow pressure to release naturally, 15 to 20 minutes. 

Next, use caution to turn the steam vent to the “Venting” setting, to release any additional pressure. Then remove the lid. 

Strain meat from juices, discard garlic and onion. Shred meat and remove any excess liquid fat from juices if desired. Return meat to juices. Fold gently to incorporate. 

Optional (for crispy ends): Preheat oven broiler to medium high or high. Spread meat on a lightly greased baking sheet. Broil until edges of shredded carnitas are caramelized. (A couple of minutes or less depending on the heat level of your oven’s broiler unit and distance from the baking sheet to the unit).

Serve warm with Chunky Pico De Gallo in bibb lettuce cups or radicchio leaves or on flour or corn tortillas or as part of a flavorful breakfast dish. 


Nutrition per serving: 310 Calories, 10g Total Fat, 102mg Cholesterol, 228mg Sodium, 15g Carbohydrate, 3g Fiber, 40g Protein