Healthy flavorful Chicken Carnitas can be made in an Instant Pot, on the stovetop, or baked in a dutch oven. With only 15 minutes of hands-on time, this is perfect for Sunday meal prep- to use in tacos, burrito bowls, salads, breakfast skillets, enchiladas or nachos during the busy work week! So easy and delicious!
The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.
~ W.B. Yeats~
This recipe for Chicken Carnitas can be made on the stovetop, in the oven or in an Instant Pot Pressure cooker, whichever you prefer. If going the stovetop or oven route, use a heavy-lidded dutch oven. What I love about this is, it only takes about 15 minutes of hands-on time. Make a flavorful batch on Sunday and use it for several delicious meals during the workweek.
Think tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, enchiladas, healthy burrito bowls, or even breakfast hash. It has so many uses and it’s soooooo good, but it’s made with basic everyday ingredients- you won’t tire of it, I promise! You could also freeze half and save for another week, if cooking for one.
This dark morning is covered in a blanket of white. The sun hasn’t risen, yet snow-covered roofs glow in the darkness. Dreams seem to hover like the mist, joining and entwining, before flying back home to sleeping souls. We are more connected than we believe, and sometimes we remember this for a fleeting moment before our thoughts awaken and tell us what’s what, and how things really are. And like the mist, it dissolves… and the world becomes a solid “safe”place again.
The little boy across the street runs circles in the snow, throwing his hands up in the air, laughing, mouth open, inhaling snowflakes. Mind you, it’s still dark. He’s still so young, still tethered to that golden place where we all come from and end up going. That place of aliveness. There are those, most often on their way out of this world, so effervescent and full of light, who recognize it through their unveiled mind. Look deeply then into those love-filled eyes and see a glimmer of the magic beyond.
The first day, I made some cilantro rice and assembled healthy chicken carnitas bowls with beans, peppers, onions, avocado and fresh greens. So tasty!
The following day, I warmed it up for quick and easy chicken carnitas fajitas.
And finally, on the last day we served it up for breakfast with roasted sweet potatoes and eggs for a quick and hearty chicken carnitas breakfast skillet. Delish!
Quesadillas were next on my list, but by then the chicken carnitas were all gone.
This recipe serves 4 people for 3 different meals. So 12!
An easy way to get through a busy workweek.
Give it a whirl!Print
Healthy Chicken Carnitas- cook these in an Instant Pot, on the stove top, or bake in a Dutch Oven with only 15 minutes of hands on time! Great for meal prepping -make ahead on Sunday then turn these into tacos, quesadillas, breakfast skillets, burrito bowls or nachos during the workweek!
- 1 onion- diced
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 6 garlic cloves- rough chopped
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon chipotle powder (optional- for heat)
- 1 cup of water
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or GF Braggs Liquid Amino Acids
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or lime juice)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano (or a couple of bay leaves)
- 1 can diced green chilies (optional)
- 3 lbs chicken- boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs (left whole)
- If baking, preheat oven to 400F (see notes for instant pot)
- Heat oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, saute 2 minutes, stirring. Add garlic, turn heat to medium, saute 4-5 minutes until fragrant and golden and onions are tender. Add spices and salt, toasting for 1-2 minutes
- Add water, soy and vinegar. Add oregano and optional green chilies. Stir.
- Place chicken in the liquid. At this point, you could place all in your instant pot (see notes below).
- Bring to a simmer. Cover and either simmer on the stove on med-low for 45 minutes or place in the hot oven.
- If cooking breasts, check at 35-40 minutes, they may be done depending on thickness and size. Thighs will need the whole 45 minutes, perhaps a little more, again, depending on size.
- You’ll know if the meat is done when it’s 165-170F, or when it is tender and shreds easily with two forks. Shred the meat, then simmer gently on the stove until some of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 -10 more minutes.
- If you like very crispy carnitas, simmer until all the liquid is gone, and/ or drain well, then pan sear in oil to crisp, or place on a sheet pan and broil in the oven.
Instant Pot Instructions: Use the “sauté” function and cook according to instructions above. Once you place the chicken in the liquid, Pressure Cook on High for 18 minutes (breasts) (or 22 minutes for chicken thighs) letting the pressure release naturally.
Turn the Instant Pot back on to the “Saute function” to allow some of liquid to reduce, while shredding the chicken with two forks. Reducing the liquid (instead of draining it) really concentrates the flavor back into the meat and keeps it moist – so try to go this route if you have time.
If using chicken breasts, allow the chicken a little time to “reabsorb” some of the juices letting it sit at “warm” for 15-30 minutes. Thighs do work best in the Instant pot– and tend to dry out less easily.
- Serving Size: 4 ounces
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