secret ingredient. [instant pot carnitas tacos]

January 22nd, 2021 by | comments

Every time I visit my favorite Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, I order the carnitas plate. One time, I asked our server what makes the carnitas so good, and he mentioned that Coca Cola was one of the secret ingredients. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to make carnitas using Coca Cola. Fast forward to last weekend when I made the best carnitas I’ve ever made. The pork is juicy and tender and crisped to perfection once broiled. Squeeze a little lemon juice on top and you’re set! As a side note, I meant to photograph these tacos with lemons instead of limes, but honestly, the carnitas would be delicious with either.

instant pot carnitas tacos
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
  • 3½ - 4 lbs. pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
  • 2-3 navel oranges (approx. ¾ cup)
  • 2-3 limes (approx. ½ cup)
  • 1 cup Coca Cola
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, crushed (approx. 1 Tbsp.)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Corn tortillas, for serving
  • Red or yellow onion, finely diced, for garnish
  • Cilantro, for garnish
  • Cotija cheese, for garnish
  • Lemons, for garnish
  1. Bring the pork shoulder to room temperature, then cut into 2-inch chunks, removing any large pieces of fat. Season the chunks evenly with the salt, pepper, paprika, cumin and dried oregano.
  2. Turn the Instant Pot to sauté mode on high heat. Once heated, add vegetable or canola oil to the pot and heat another 30 seconds.
  3. Cooking in batches, sear the pork chunks on all sides until browned, roughly 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer meat to a plate, then sear the remaining pork pieces. (You'll want to cook the meat in batches to avoid crowding the pot and steaming the meat versus browning it. Overall, this process could take 20-30 minutes, depending how many batches you cook).
  4. Once all meat has been seared and transferred to a plate, add the quartered onion to the pot and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until translucent and aromatic.
  5. Next, pour in the fresh orange juice, lime juice, Coca Cola, garlic and bay leaves.
  6. Add the lid to the Instant Pot and pressure cook on high for 35 minutes, followed by a 15-minute natural release.
  7. Remove the lid of the Instant Pot, then transfer the pork pieces to a cutting board to roughly shred, then add meat back to the pot with the juices.
  8. Preheat the broiler to high, then spread desired amount of carnitas with juices onto a baking sheet. Broil 5-7 minutes, or until the pork becomes brown and crispy. Remove from oven.
  9. To assemble tacos, char the corn tortillas, then add desired amount of carnitas, followed by onion, cilantro, cotija cheese and a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice.

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