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Instant Pot Carnitas Tostadas

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
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Instant Pot Carnitas Tostadas

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A tostada is basically an open-faced taco, and carnitas tostadas are my absolute favorite. Usually it takes hours of simmering, but with this Instant Pot version you can have fresh and crispy carnitas in half the time. Carnitas are made with pork shoulder which is a pretty fatty cut, so crisping up a little of that fat really makes such a difference.

If you’re gearing up for a Cinco de Mayo party and need an easy meal, these are the perfect appetizer or main dish! It’s delicious finger food, and it can easily feed a crowd. It can even be a build-your-own situation for easy serving and I’m all about making hosting a party easier! I’m a huge topping person, and so these tostadas are topped with all the avocado, radishes, jalapeno, cilantro, cotija, and a delicious cilantro crema.

What are Carnitas?

Carnitas is a dish of Mexican cuisine that originated in the state of Michoacan. Traditionally, pork butt is braised in broth or fat. Since cooking 5 lbs of pork in lard seems excessive, I opted for both lard and beer.

The resulting pork is exceedingly tender. Braising is particularly effective for tough cuts of meat (brisket, chuck, pork shoulder, etc). Cooking tough meats low and slow in liquid allows the muscle tissue and collagen to slowly break down. Any liquid can be used to braise (wine, stock, water, etc), but I love beer for this recipe!

Normally braising carnitas would take hours, but thanks to the Instant Pot, we can cut that time way down!

instant pot carnitas tostadas

Tips for making Instant Pot Carnitas Tostadas

  • The best part about instant pot carnitas tostadas is that they can be made ahead of time! You can make them a couple of days in advance, and then refrigerate before shredding and crisping them up.
  • The crisping of the carnitas is necessary! I usually heat my cast iron up and then throw the shredded carnitas in a single layer and crisp them up for about 3-5 minutes and then flip. This is essential for their flavor!
  • I love to use beer in this recipe, but you can substitute water or broth. The beer just adds flavor, but all the alcohol cooks out.
  • You can totally buy pre-made tostada shells, or you can make your own easily. Either way!

Tools Needed

carnitas tostadas

More Mexican-Inspired Recipes to Try

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carnitas tostadas

Instant Pot Carnitas Tostadas

Instant pot carnitas tostadas are one of my favorite appetizers to serve for a party! Crispy carnitas on a crunchy tostada shells with tons of toppings! Perfect for a build-your-own party appetizer or entree.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Makes: 8 -10 servings



  • 4 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, in one large piece
  • 1 yellow onion thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 16 oz Mexican beer like modelo or tecate

Cilantro Crema

  • 8 oz Mexican crema
  • 1 lime zested and juiced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro leaves and stems
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeño
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Remaining Ingredients:

  • 16 to stada shells
  • 1 large avocado sliced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
  • 1 jalapeño thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of radishes cut into matchsticks
  • Cilantro leaves
  • Lime wedges


  • To make the carnitas: In a small bowl, mix together the spices, oil, and lime juice until a thick paste forms. Spread the spice paste all over the pork and then season all over with the kosher salt. Set your instant pot to the saute function, and once the pot is hot, sear the pork to golden brown on all sides. Add the beer (or water/stock), sliced onion, and lock the lid in place.
  • Change the function to manual or pressure cook and set the timer for 1 hour and 15 minutes on high. Allow for a natural pressure release and then let the pork cool in the juices. If you are serving right away, shred the pork into large pieces and either crisp up in the pan, adding salt as necessary. If you are cooking ahead, refrigerate the pork and juices in an airtight container and shred and crisp up before serving.
  • To make the crema: place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process/blend until smooth. The crema can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • To assemble: place avocado slices on the tostada shells, top with crispy carnitas, and layer on toppings as desired.

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