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.
Just made this tonight as my first ever Instant Pot recipe and while itnwas a little more involved than some other recipes (as you noted and the timing estimate was pretty close), it was totally worth it. My husband and I kept serving ourselves “just one more” taco because they were so delicious. Thanks for making it so easy for me to break in my new gift with your clear step by step directions and video!
The flavor was really delicious and oh so easy. Will definitely make again!
can you use canned chipotle chili already in adobo sauce for this?
Yes, that’s exactly what you need! 🙂
Is there a substitute for the orange zest? If you don’t have any, can you just use the orange juice without the zest?
Lemon or lime zest would also work, if you don’t have either, you can simply just omit it from the recipe.
do you have to strain the leftover liquid or is it good to keep as is for something later?
I’d strain it if you plan on using it for rice or something!
Could I make with is with frozen chicken breasts? How would I need to adjust the timing?
Yes, you probably could use frozen chicken for this recipe. If you do so you can skip the searing step. I’ve never tried it before but a quick google search shows people are saying 12 minutes for frozen chicken breasts. I’d test to see if it’s done at 12 and if it shreds easily, if not, just let it pressure cook for another 2-3 minutes.
I have made chicken breasts in my instapot numerous times. 10 minutes for 4 med or 6 large fresh or frozen. I always let the pressure come down naturally for at least 10 minutes otherwise the chicken tends to have the moisture sucked out of it.
Great flavour and easy to follow recipe. I would make it again for sure,
I’ve been thinking about getting a pressure cooker and looking at instapots. I love Mexican food and chicken carnitas look delicious (the pics made me hungry). I also enjoy meal prep where I can make something and use it later in the week (as the article suggests). Granted, I’m not going to use it more than twice in the same week, but it’s nice knowing you have a meat dish ready to go and you can do so much with it whether you do a burrito bowl as suggested, do wraps, or even salads.
This is now my go-to taco recipe! It’s perfect to make in the morning before work. When I’m in a rush, I throw some fajita seasoning (the kind in the packets) in instead of measuring out all of the spices and the end result is still fabulous! I serve the chicken in corn tortillas with shredded Mexican cheese, pickled red onions, avocado slices, and your corn salsa. This is one of our favorite dinners! Thank you!!
I’ve been a huge fan of your carnitas recipes and got my instant pot for Christmas. My boyfriend and I agreed to make tacos one night, but he texted me in a panic that I didnt take the meat out of the freezer and get the crockpot going! I feel like the crockpot is super easy, but having dinner that was DELICIOUS and taken straight from the freezer to the IP was even easier. I sort of threw together a similar mojo style carnitas but thanks for all your great recipes!
First thing that I ever made with nub IP and it was outstanding! Will be making again & again! Thank you!
FInally! I have made probably 5 other meals in my IP that all turned out terrible. I was ready to throw it out the window. This was NOT the case with this. I love the flavor that the chicken had. I didn’t make the sauce because my family wouldn’t have eaten it but the chicken alone was plenty flavorful, just needed a bit of lime juice for moisture after broiling and not using the sauce. Definitely will become a regular for shredded chicken in our house, as I make a lot of mexican food. Thank you!!
OMG. Just finished eating this! I was looking for a recipe to use for the things I had and I had everything but the cilantro. However, I did have some sweet corn! I think it would be delish with cilantro, but the corn added a nice sweetness to bring down the spice a little (I used about 1/2 a cup). For any ladies who might care, it’s just spicy enough to feel like you just put on a lip plumper. ha.
Also, I kept coming back to see what you say to do with the leftover stuff in the pot (onions, peppers, liquid, etc) and just could NOT bring myself to throw it away after I tasted it, so I added a couple of cups of chicken broth and another 1/2 cup of corn, brought it to a boil and now I also have tortilla soup! THANK YOU!
This is amazing Recipe i am try tonight thank you Marzia
It looks yummy! Will try this recipe tonight for the family! Thanks for sharing
I have made it a few times and each time it’s awesome to taste. Thanks for the delicious dinner.
It looks easy! I’m going try it tonight!
This is a great recipe, even my Mexican ex-husband loved it. He took home leftovers!
If you have a Mexican market nearby, buy Mexican oregano. Regular grocery store (Mediterranean ) oregano is too sweet.
Chicken thighs work better in my opinion because they have more flavor and fat; the fat helps keeps them from overcooking.
My husband loved this much. He got surprised with the taste. I add more ingredients like chili and pepper since he loves spicy foods. Thanks.
It looks yummy! Will try this recipe this weekend for the boyfriend! Thanks for sharing this amazing
Thank you, this recipe is a keeper and I’ll definitely make it again! Also a great dish for potlucks. In the morning, I used 1 cup of mojo criollo, seasoned 6 boneless chicken thighs with adobo and combined in a freezer bag to marinate during the day. The thighs were juicy and tender, easy to shred and crisped up nicely in the broiler. I saved the leftover juice from the InstaPot and will use it the next time I make a pot of beans.
My brother is a chicken madman and i will tell my mother to make this crispy beauty chicken. Lets see, after tasting, i will give one more comment. thanks for this wonderful recipe.
Looks yummy will try soon
This was soooooo easy and delicious!!! Will be making all the time.
I made this tonight…it was fantastic! I added a couple of chopped Serrano peppers for more heat with yellow rice. I added the remainder of the sauce to my rice and also the chicken when I broiled it. This is one I’ll be making again!
Teenage kids loved it! I cooked Spanish Rice in the extra sauce while chicken was broiling. We put onions and cheese on top of tacos. (i didn’t even have all of the ingredients, but it still tasted amazing). And it was so easy to make. Thanks
I have made this multiple time, and we have loved it every time. Do you know how long pork would have to cook as a substitute for chicken?
Not really sure how long pork would need, i’ve only made it with chicken!
I got an insta pot for Christmas and this was the first recipe I tried, it turned out delicious! This will be in the regular rotation for sure. It was easy and turned out perfect.
Loved the recipe, can’t wait to get my hands on it. One question, can i use beef instead of chicken? cz i prefer having that over chicken!!