Instant Pot Pulled Pork is perfect for weeknight dinners or anytime you want pulled pork but are short on time. My recipe comes together in just over an hour and has the same flavor and texture as slow-cooked versions. Recipe includes a how-to video!
Step Aside, Slow Cooker!
I’m sure you’ve had slow-cooker pulled pork, but have you had instant pot pulled pork? It’s my favorite way to enjoy pulled pork FAST! Using a pressure cooker makes the process so quick and easy (less than 30 minutes is prep work, and the rest is just letting the pressure cooker do its thing), much faster than hours in the slow cooker or oven.
The whole process takes just over an hour (most of that is hands-off), and once the pork is done cooking, you’ll simply shred it, top with additional sauce or broth (if desired) and serve! I love to make a sandwich out of mine (using homemade burger buns, if I have time) with coleslaw and pickles, and typically a side of broccoli salad or macaroni salad, too! Add a tall glass of ice cold lemonade, and you’ve got a refreshing and satisfying summertime meal in no time!
Why You Should Make Instant Pot Pulled Pork
- Still so easy–the pressure cooker does most of the work!
- Super flavorful (searing the meat before cooking makes a big difference!).
- Easily shreds and melts in your mouth–just like slow-cooked pulled pork!
- Customizable; make it as moist as you like, add your favorite sauce or seasonings, and control the heat level to suit your taste.
What You Need
If you’ve made my slow cooker BBQ chicken, you’ll recognize a few of these ingredients and their purpose. We need a few carefully selected ingredients to make sure our pulled pork is flavorful and tender:
- Pork. Pork shoulder is my preferred cut to use for instant pot pulled pork. If you can’t find shoulder, pork butt/Boston butt can be used instead; I don’t recommend any other cut of meat. In the video, you can see I do not need to trim the fat off my pork shoulder, as mine is typically sold with the fat already removed. You do not need to remove the fat unless yours comes with the skin/fat cap intact (it will be obvious). Fat that is intramuscular/thickly marbled throughout should be left; it adds flavor while cooking then is easy to remove as you’re shredding the pork.
- Brown sugar. Just a small amount adds sweetness and a slightly caramelized flavor. I use light brown sugar, but you can use dark brown sugar if that’s all you have on hand or for richer flavor!
- Smoked paprika. This adds a subtle smoky flavor that I love. You can substitute regular paprika in a pinch.
- Apple cider vinegar. Not only does vinegar complement the sweetness from the brown sugar, but it also tenderizes the meat.
- BBQ sauce. I highly recommend using my homemade BBQ sauce for this instant pot pulled pork recipe. It’s quick and easy to make, and it tastes so much better than store-bought.
SAM’S TIP: Feel free to toss a diced yellow onion in with the meat before cooking if you like onion in your pulled pork!
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Instant Pot Pulled Pork
- Combine the spices in a small bowl, then sprinkle and rub them into the pork.
- Sear your pork in batches in the pressure cooker using the sauté setting.
- Set the pork aside and deglaze the pot with chicken broth, using a spoon to scrape up any brown bits.
- Add the pork back into the pot along with the vinegar and BBQ sauce and cook for 40 minutes.
- Let the pressure release for 15 minutes, then release the steam.
- Shred the pork and top with additional sauce or broth if desired.
SAM’S TIP: Don’t crowd your meat when searing and make sure you get a nice deep golden brown color on every side. Searing helps give the pork great flavor, so don’t skip this step if you can help it!
Frequently Asked Questions
You can, but pork shoulder can handle being cooked for a pretty long time, so if your meat seems tough, it probably needed more time in the pressure cooker, not less
While I love slow cooker pulled pork (and slow-smoked pork on my Traeger), this instant pot pulled pork has absolutely spoiled me. It tastes the same, but is SO much faster! So I’d have to say the instant pot wins this battle 🙃
Many recipes use root beer, Dr. Pepper, or beer to cook their pulled pork. While I haven’t tried this myself, I think it would work just fine! Simply substitute and equal amount of beer or soda for the chicken broth (you may want to omit the brown sugar if you use soda) and proceed as normal. I’d love to know how you like it if you do try this!
Have you enjoyed the savory recipes I’ve been sharing this week? Comment below to let me know if you try over Memorial Day weekend! 👇
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
Instant Pot Pulled Pork
- 3-5 lbs (1.4-2.2 kg) pork shoulder cut into fist-sized pieces (if fat cap/skin is attached, trim before using)
- 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅛-¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ cups (354 ml) chicken or beef broth
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup (236 ml) BBQ sauce (plus additional for after cooking, if desired. I recommend making a batch of my homemade bbq sauce)
- In a small dish, prepare your rub mixture by whisking together sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, table salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper (if using).1 Tablespoon light brown sugar, 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika, 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon table salt, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, ⅛-¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Sprinkle rub mixture over all sides of the pork pieces and then use your fingers to rub into the surface of the pork all over.3-5 lbs (1.4-2.2 kg) pork shoulder
- Set pork aside and pour oil into the metal insert of your pressure cooker. Set pressure cooker to “saute”.2 Tablespoons olive oil
- Once pot is hot and oil is shimmering, add the pork in batches (give the meat a bit of room so the pieces are not touching), searing on all sides until deep brown on all sides (about 2-3 minutes per side, place the pork in the pot and do not move it until 2 minutes has passed, then turn to another side and repeat). After searing, remove pork to a plate and set aside.
- Drizzle chicken broth into the pot to deglaze the pan and use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape loose any browned bits on the bottom (don’t remove these, they’ll add so much flavor!).1 ½ cups (354 ml) chicken or beef broth
- Return all pork back into the pot and pour apple cider vinegar overtop then top with BBQ sauce.2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 cup (236 ml) BBQ sauce
- Add the lid, set to “sealing” and pressure cook for 40 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes before releasing steam, then remove pork and shred, removing and discarding any fatty pieces.
- Place pork in a serving dish and drizzle with a bit of the sauce remaining in the pot for flavor (or, if you like it juicier, just return the pork to the pot). Toss with additional bbq sauce if desired or serve with bbq sauce on the side (or enjoy as-is!). Enjoy!
ServingsHow many servings you get depends on how much pork you use (I’ve made this recipe without any issue or problems with anywhere from 3-5lbs). The serving size listed above assumes a 4lb pork shoulder is used.
StoringStore in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Pulled pork may also be frozen in an airtight container for 3 months.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.