Why Is My Pulled Pork Tough In The Instant Pot? (Instant Pot Carnitas)

Because carnitas tacos could save you from a piggy-apocalypse one day.

Want to make Instant Pot Carnitas but are afraid? If you’ve ever cooked a batch of instant pot pulled pork only to find it comes out tough, you know the frustration this can cause.

From choosing the right cut of meat and cooking time to adding just the right amount of liquid – multiple factors play a role.

Don’t worry, I know exactly what needs to be done for perfectly tender and juicy pulled pork every single time!

To make sure your meal turns out great, I’m sharing my best tips on why instant pot pulled pork might come out tough, plus an incredibly delicious Instant Pot Carnitas recipe.

Keep reading to learn more!

Here’s the scenario: A zombie apocalypse has happened. But it’s not your “normal” zombie. It’s a piggy-zombie apocalypse.

To save your life and the lives of your loved ones, you have to, and I’m not kidding here, figure out how to make those pork carnitas tacos your mom used to order in the Mexican restaurant when you were a kid.

But first, let’s solve this mystery first.

Why Is My Pulled Pork Tough In The Instant Pot?

While pressure cooking can yield tender and juicy meat, it’s important to follow the recommended cooking times for your particular cut of pork.

Overcooking can cause the meat to become dry, tough, and difficult to shred. Similarly, if you don’t cook the pork long enough, it may be undercooked and tough.

It’s also important to avoid using a quick release or pressure, as this can cause the pork to seize and toughen.

You can enjoy delicious, and tender pulled pork in the Instant Pot by being patient and following the recommended cooking times.

What Happens If You Overcook Pork in an Instant Pot?

Overcooked pork can turn into a dry and tough mess. Once the meat is cooked beyond its optimal temperature, it loses most of its natural moisture and becomes dry and tasteless.

The texture of the meat changes, and it becomes stringy and tough. Unfortunately, once overcooked, there’s no way to salvage the dish.

No amount of sauce, marinade, or seasoning can bring the meat back to its original juiciness and tenderness. This is why it’s important to follow recommended cooking times and always keep an eye on the meat while it’s cooking.

In sum, overcooking pork in an Instant Pot can result in a disappointing meal that’s unappetizing and not worth eating.

Now back to the Instant Pot Carnitas.

Instant Pot Carnitas.

[bctt tweet=”Life-saving tacos of porkiness.” username=””]

It’s just a matter of time, you know. And why wouldn’t zombie-apocalypse come from the oinkers? Flu came from birds. Parvo from dogs. And don’t forget about that mad-cow-disease…

And who doesn’t want a traditional, authentic carnitas recipe?

Even if there’s no apocalypse, these Instant Pot Carnitas might come in handy over the dinner table one evening.

And good news, too, that these Instant Pot Carnitas are not like your typical authentic carnitas recipe that requires hours to make and will be devoured so fast, you’re sad. (True story.)

No, these are so quick to make, you could do them on a busy weeknight when you’ve got kids with homework and nary a zombie-porkalypse in sight.

Alright now, before you get your panties in a twist and wander off, be sure to pin this Instant Pot Carnitas recipe–like your life depended on it. Because one day, it could.

authentic carnitas tacos recipe instant pot

Instant Pot Carnitas

Instant Pot Carnitas

Instant Pot Carnitas

Yield: 8

Just like the mom used to order at the restaurant, these Instant Pot Carnitas are part nostalgia and part delicious af. Let's rock some shredded pork tacos, friends.


  • 2 lbs. pork shoulder
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped garlic
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 lime
  • 1 small can green chiles
  • 2 tbsp. oil


  1. Set pot to sauté mode. Heat oil.
  2. Mix pepper, salt, chili powder, cumin, chipotle powder. Sprinkle liberally over pork.
  3. Brown pork on all sides in hot oil.
  4. Remove pork and set aside.
  5. In hot pot, add garlic, onion, green chiles and broth. Deglaze pot.
  6. Place pork back into pot. Cover, lock and set to cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. Natural release.
  7. Shred pork (I just drop my hand mixer in the pot and let it shred the pork for me), squeeze lime over shredded pork.
  8. If there's still a lot of liquid, you can remove the meat and then turn the instant pot on simmer for about 15 minutes. That will reduce the liquid a little and you can add the pork back to it, before serving.
  9. Party on, friends. Party on.
Nutrition Information
Yield 8 Serving Size 1 grams
Amount Per Serving Unsaturated Fat 0g

Did you make this recipe?

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Party on, dude! Catch you the flip side.

Written by Chantal

Dude. I'm down for the Instant Pot Party like nobody's business. I love and live food. And I do it all under pressure here. You can also see me over at NerdyMamma.com where I adventure with my kids!

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