Pressure Cooker Crispy Chicken Carnitas
Chicken carnitas made in the pressure cooker, so they’re quick and easy! We crisp them up in the broiler, and they are perfect to meal prep and enjoy for the week!
Isn’t it about time that Taco-Friday was a thing?
Let me introduce you to my first food binge of 2017 – crispy chicken carnitas from your pressure cooker. Bear with me while I’m having this moment of carnitas insanity and if it’s not too much to ask, have this moment with me, won’t you? It all starts with crispy shredded chicken that we’ve pressure cooked, then shredded and broiled for a hot second, so the chicken gets nice and crispy on the outside but stays tender and juicy on the inside. We then tuck it into warm, white corn tortillas and move on to the topping possibilities. There’s just something about simple toppings that do it with these. Diced onions and chopped cilantro are really all this needs. And chipotle sauce. Because sauce makes the world a better place!
And while we’re on the topic of tacos, may I just add that friends don’t count tacos. As in, if you were to come over for dinner tonight, in no way would I judge the number of warm tortillas you stuffed full of these homemade chicken carnitas and then proceeded to consume in one sitting. No ma’am. Friends don’t count tacos. Friends make sure there are plenty of tortillas around for your stuffing pleasure. Ermmm.. This just got awkward.
It’s a little outrageous how simple these are to make, and the possibilities are endless. Having a big batch of these chicken carnitas in the fridge or freezer is perfect for quick meals throughout the week.
I’m so over the moon about these right now.
Crispy chicken carnitas (1 min):
Let me get this out in the open right of the bat: these chicken carnitas are super simple. So simple that I’m a little embarrassed to call this a recipe. But that’s the thing about making meals in a pressure cooker, you blink, and your food is ready. Love, love love, my instant pot.
One thing I’ve come to know about myself after three years of food blogging – my favorite recipes are the ones that are a cinch to whip up and are FLEXIBLE for multiple meal situations throughout the week. So Friday night I can enjoy chicken carnitas as intended, wrapped in warm tortillas and topped with everything. The chicken goes into my favorite burrito bowls on Saturday for a zippy lunch. And wouldya look at that! Sunday night’s quick enchiladas brought to you by these chicken carnitas – lightning fast.
Two pounds of this stuff disappeared so quickly in our house, I’m a little ashamed to mention it to all of you internet friends. The winner though was the chicken carnitas served with just a few toppings in tortillas. I served them up a couple of different ways, and if you asked me to pick, all I could tell you is that I LOVED them. A WHOLE LOT. Also, I want more. But you can put just about EVERYTHANG on these are it’ll be that much more awesome. My personal favorite –> diced onions, chopped cilantro, sautéed cabbage, and my favorite part – homemade chipotle mayo because what in the WORLD is a taco without sauce? ? And equally necessary, lots of lime wedges to squeeze right on top of all that taco goodness.
Let’s get this started! The first thing we’re going to do is gather the liquids. You need equal parts of OJ, lime juice, and chicken broth. We’ll mix the seasonings in a bowl – that’s salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and oregano. Sprinkle all of this all over the chicken breasts. Then we’ll take things directly to the instant pot. I like to sear the chicken breasts in a quick swish of olive oil to get all those spices crusted onto the chicken. This is really quick just 1 minute on each side; we don’t want to cook the chicken. Place the chicken on a plate and just brown the onion wedges and garlic about 2 minutes flipping to get all the sides nice and browned.
Add the chicken back into the pressure cooker along with chipotle peppers and some of that adobo sauce, a bay leaf, and a handful of cilantro and that orange juice slash lime juice slash chicken broth mixture.
Let the pressure build-up and cook for 8-10 minutes. I had a ton of tiny chicken breasts, so all I needed was 8 minutes. For larger chicken breasts, pressure them for 9-10 minutes.
Shred the chicken once it’s cool enough to handle and don’t even THINK about tossing out that liquid from the pressure cooker. We’re going to add ¼ cup of it back into the chicken before broiling!
I also add about two tablespoons of olive oil to the chicken so that the broiler makes the outside of the chicken carnitas extra crispy. It’ll go into the oven for a total of 10 minutes, make sure to stop halfway and give it a toss. Rotate your pan too and add a couple more tablespoons of the cooking liquid to keep things flavorful and juicy.
See what I mean? All of this will take you in the ballpark of 35-40 minutes, but this also makes 2 pounds! So unless you’re feeding eight people in a sitting, it’ll last you a while. Seeing as how it’s super slow on calories, it’s also perfect to #mealprep for the week. You can also pop half that shredded chicken into a zip top bag once it’s cooled and voila! Cooked chicken that’s great to use in chicken tortilla soup, enchiladas, or anything else you please.
After devouring these tacos left and right, we also figure it would work in a salad form or burrito bowls. I, however, would almost always choose the original version stuffed in warm tortillas. I almost forgot to tell you about that chipotle sauce. It has me going crazy with its simplicity and delicious flavors. All you need is a little mayo, a little milk, adobo sauce, and a pinch of garlic powder.
And really, why am I still talking? I need you grab this recipe, get out (fire up?) your instant pot and get ready for chicken carnitas! And remember, the carnita-bilites are endless. [mic drop]
Meh, go with it!
Pressure Cooker Crispy Chicken Carnitas
Chicken carnitas made in the pressure cooker so they're quick and easy! We crisp them up in the broiler and they are perfect to meal prep and enjoy for the week!
For the Chicken:
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon EACH chili powder AND dried oregano
- salt and pepper
- zest and juice of 1 orange (about ¼ cup)
- ¼ cup lime juice
- ¼ cup chicken broth
- 5 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped
- 1 yellow onion, quartered
- 1-2 chipotle pepper + 1-2 tablespoons adobo sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ bunch of cilantro (stems included)
- 2 tablespoons oil + more
For the Chipotle Sauce:
- ½ cup mayo
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1-2 chipotle peppers + 1 tablespoons adobo sauce
- pinch of salt and garlic powder
For the chicken:
- Combine the cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper in a bowl. Sprinkle the seasons over the chicken breasts on both sides.
- Heat the instant pot on the sauté setting. Add a quick swish of oil and sear the chicken breasts on both sides for a minute on each side. Do this in batches so the chicken sears rather than steaming. Remove the chicken to a plate. Add the onions and pressed garlic, let cook 2 minutes flipping as needed to brown all sides evenly.
- Add the chicken back into the pressure cooker along with the orange zest, orange juice, lime juice, chicken broth, whole chipotle pepper(s), adobo sauce, bay leaf, and cilantro. Cover the instant pot and let pressure cook on the 'chicken' setting for 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the chicken breast. Prepare the chipotle sauce while you wait for the chicken to cook. Allow the pressure to release naturally or turn to the 'vent' setting. Allow it to vent completely before removing the lid.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to the 'broiler' setting. Remove the chicken breast to a clean surface and shred the chicken using 2 forks. Place in a large bowl and drizzle ¼ cup of cooking liquid over the shredded chicken and toss to coat. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil over the surface of a baking sheet. Add the chicken and drizzle the second tablespoon of oil on top. Stir to coat evenly.
- Broil the chicken for 10-12 minutes stopping half way to toss the chicken and drizzle another 1-2 tablespoons of cooking liquid. Rotate the pan for even broiling.
For the Chipotle Sauce:
- While the chicken is pressure cooking, add the sauce ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Leftover chipotle peppers/adobo sauce can be kept in a zip-top bag in the freezer!
is this a good choice for you?
nutritional facts for 1/8th of the recipe and is only for the meat.
I don’t have a pressure cooker. How else could I cook your yummy recipe?
I really want to make this recipe – looks sooo good.
Hi Connie, I bet you could follow the recipe through step #2 and then add everything to a slow cooker and let it cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 4-5 hours and then pick the recipe back up at step #4. Think it should work just as well 🙂
I make a similar recipe in the slow cooker. Marzia’s recommendation below is in line with how I do it, and it turns out well!
Broil for 10-12 minutes? Seems like a long time, but I’ll keep an eye on it. I’m going to try this one night this week!
It does seems a bit long, but that’s correct – 10-12 minutes. Just make sure to keep the baking sheet on a rack near the center of the oven so it doesn’t burn the chicken. Hope you enjoy it! 🙂
About to make this for a crowd this weekend, I love that you crisp them up after! We have an old wedgewood so the broiler option is the drawer under the oven, so I can’t really get in the “middle” so I’ll just keep close watch on them. That crispy texture is going to be delicious, I can tell! Such a change from the wetter shredded chicken.
Oops, one quick question…. what you bump the time up to if I started with some frozen chicken breasts/thighs that I have? Or should I just not be lazy and thaw them out? Thanks!!!
Hi Jesse, I’ve only tested the recipe with thawed chicken breasts so it’s a little difficult for me to say whether you’d need to bump up the cooking time. I feel you may run the risk of the chicken overcooking on the outside if you don’t thaw them out prior to cooking. For best results, I suggest thawing them 🙂
This looks so yummy. It’s my first time reading your blog and I am going to bookmark it.
Thank you 🙂
Carnitas means pork.. There isn’t pork in this recipe, Looks good though!
Literally translated carnitas means ‘little meats’. Pork is more traditionally used but that doesn’t mean we should limit our options 🙂
This was my first recipe with my new Instant Pot. It was delicious! I put the carnitas on top of tostadas that I spread with refried black beans, then topped with Mexican cheese and popped back on the broiler. With sour cream and your chipotle mayo? A knockout!
Would this recipe work just the same for a regular pressure cooker – not the Instant Pot?
Yes it’ll work in a regular pressure cooker as well, however cooking times may vary slightly.
Really easy!!! These were a total hit. I didn’t add as many chiles/adobo to the chicken breasts, so my kids ate chicken and cheese tacos, and we could enjoy the spicy version with a hotter sauce. I also zested the 2 limes before juicing them and made cilantro-lime rice in the Instant Pot as a side. Thanks for the simple and delicious dinner!
Everyone here loved it! The flavors are great and the spiciness can be adjusted with sour cream to suit the children!
So glad to hear that Darla! Thank you of taking the time to comment 🙂
This looks really good and healthy too. I live in Netherlands and we can’t get chipotle peppers or adobo sauce in the supermarkets. What would you suggest I use in stead?
So happy to hear you wanted to give this recipe a try. For the chipotle peppers and adobo sauce, you can swap it out for fresh jalapeño with a couple dashes of hot sauce (such as Tabasco). It won’t be exactly the same but it will come pretty close 🙂
You can also buy the cans of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce on line(amazon, etc).
There truly is no substitute for the chipotles. It is so unique! Here is a recipe to make Chipotles in Adobo yourself. It may be cheaper on line for the dehydrated chilies or you may be able to find other variety of dehydrated chilies locally..The recipe is from Chef Mark Miller. Hope this helps.
7-10 medium-sized dried chipotle chiles, stemmed and slit lengthwise
1/3 cup onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
5 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups water
Combine all ingredients in a pan, cover, and cook over very low heat for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, until the chiles are very soft and the liquid has reduced down to 1 cup. This recipe will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator in an airtight container. For chipotle puree, place cooked chipotles and sauce in a blender, and puree. Put through a fine sieve to remove seeds.
This looks delicious. I make a similar chicken carnitas in the pressure cooker (this was before I got by brand, new sparkling Instant Pot). I’ll have to give your version a try!
I made this divine recipe for my family tonight, and it is one of the most scrumptious and perfect meals I’ve ever made. It’s fresh, tasty, and tangy and you can eat it forever and never feel like you’re sinning. My kids and wife absolutely raved about it and rated it one of their favorite meals ever. This one is a keeper!
So glad to hear it was a hit, Joel! Thank you for taking the time to comment!
this was a great recipe with lots of flavors! This was also a great recipe to use the features of my new pressure cooker! This is a keeper, yum!
I Love Carnitas! And I Love my Instant Pot! I think we are going to love this in tacos and then enchaladas. Think I’ll just full my IP with as many chicken tenders as it will hold (there’s 5 of us) and hope for leftovers to freeze! 🙂
Hope you guys love it Natasha!
This recipe is amazing! Made it tonight for friends:) the kiddos loved it and so did the grown-ups. That chipotle sauce is amazing!
This looks great but I need something not remotely spicy. Any ideas?
My family is super sensitive to any heat.
Hi Melissa! I wouldn’t say these carnitas are super spicy but they certainly do have a teeny tiny kick. You could try omitting the peppers but i’m really not sure how flavorful they would be as the peppers certainly do add a lot of flavor!
No real replacement for chipotle.
An option that would give a little smoke flavor without the heat would be to fire roast or broil green or red bell peppers. Peel, remove seeds, chop and add as much as you like.
When you.say cooking liquid that is what is left from after taking out the chicken in the instant pot? Sorry I don’t cook much but want to try this!
Yes, that’s correct Kim. Hope you enjoy the carnitas! 🙂
Thank you for this recipe. I made it earlier this week, and it was amazing! I wish there was more leftovers! I finished it in a cast iron on the stove top b/c the broiler scares me a bit. This is going in the regular rotation.
This has become a staple in our house! i make it almost every week as our meal prep lunches. I serve it over half a roasted sweet potato!
Wow. This looks like the perfect dish! Yum!
I have made this a few times and everyone loves it! Also once you remove the chicken do not toss out the remaining juice! We strained it and used it to make some very flavorful rice.
This recipe is a a flavor bomb in your mouth! I’m already in love with my electric pressure cooker but this recipe… I can’t love enough! Hello leftovers!!! CAPITAL DELISH!!!
I had a lot of the liquid from pot left over. I feel bad throwing it away. What can I create out of it??
Hi Farah, you can strain the liquid and pop it in the fridge or freezer and use it as the ‘chicken broth’ for homemade enchilada sauce
How many servings are in this recipe. I love that you have the nutritional count, but need to know if what we had was about the same as one servings on the nutritional content.
The nutritional facts are for 1/8th of the recipe (written below the nutritional facts label). Unfortunately, it doesn’t allow me to add it to the label but this information can usually be found below the label itself or at the top of the recipe card 🙂
I made this tonight, it was crazy good! This will definitely be one of my go to recipes! I severed it over cilantro lime rice in the tacos. I also used the cooking liquid to cook some pinto beans in the IP for a side.
I made this and the chicken dried out under the broiler. It was like jerky!! What did I do wrong?
Hi Heather! My best guess is that it just needed a little less time under the broiler. For next time, I suggest testing the chicken every 2-3 minutes during the broiling stage. Your broiler just seems to be more powerful and it probably crisps things up a little faster 🙂
Just made this. Cannot say enough about how amazing it turned out! So flavorful! I may have taken a spoon and drank the leftover cooking liquid lol!
I may have done that too! Haha! Thanks for taking the time to comment Ashley! 🙂
I made this two nights ago and served as tacos per your recommendation. My family raved about them. Thank you for a great pressure cooker recipe! I made a double batch and have plenty for additional meals. Tonight, I put the saved cooking broth in the Blendtec and puréed it. I then used it to replace the liquid in my favorite Mexican rice recipe. Was excellent!
I made these vegan by using Butler Soy Curls instead of chicken and swapping the mayo for a vegan alternative. Instead of adding milk to the sauce I used the juice of half a lime. Thanks for the recipe. Absolutely delicious!!!