Instant Pot Pulled Pork
This Instant Pot Pulled Pork is the most amazing, tender, fall apart pulled pork you will ever eat! I’ll teach you how to make my best pulled pork recipe for your family’s dinner. You can also make this easy pulled pork recipe in your slow cooker.
BBQ pulled pork is one of those meals that most everyone loves, no matter their age. You love it because the flavorful, juicy meat is so good sandwiched between a bun and some coleslaw. Your kids love it because the tender pork is coated in a sweet and tangy bbq sauce.
You will especially love this Instant Pot pulled pork recipe once you see how quick and easy it is to prepare. Try it with my brioche bun recipe for an unbelievable pulled pork sandwich!
I love to make pulled pork in my Instant Pot because the pork cooks in just 60 minutes. Yes, you read that right – you can make tender, fall apart pulled pork with just one hour of pressure cooking time. The amazing thing about the Instant Pot is that it makes the most tender, flavorful meat in a fraction of the time. My Instant Pot pork ribs are another delicious example.
All together, this recipe takes about 2 hours from start to finish, when you add in the prep time and the time it takes for your Instant Pot to reach cooking pressure and later release the pressure. Most of that time is inactive time. My favorite thing about Instant Pot cooking is the convenience factor – you can set it and walk away, with no pots on the stove to watch. These honey garlic Instant Pot pork chops are another hands-off easy dinner that my family loves.
If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can prepare this bbq pulled pork in your slow cooker. I’ve included slow cooker instructions in the recipe card below. I also have a Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork recipe that is really easy!
What is the best cut of meat for pulled pork?
You can make this Instant Pot pulled pork recipe with either a boneless pork shoulder or Boston butt, which is the name for half of a pork shoulder. You can also use a pork loin to make pulled pork. I have tested this recipe both with pork shoulder and with pork tenderloin. My family enjoyed the pulled pork made with both cuts of meat. The pork shoulder/Boston butt creates a slightly more flavorful pulled pork because it is a fattier cut of meat. Pork tenderloin makes a healthier pulled pork because pork loin is a leaner cut of meat.
How do you make Instant Pot Pulled Pork?
There are only a few simple steps to making your own delicious pulled pork!
First you will mix together some spices and a little bit of brown sugar to make a spice rub for the pork. Next, you’ll cut your pork into 4 pieces and trim off any excess fat. It’s ok to leave a little bit of fat since that will add flavor. You can also easily remove some of the fat after cooking. If you are using a pork tenderloin you won’t need to remove any fat because pork loin is a much leaner cut of meat.
Using your hands, rub the spice rub onto all sides of the pieces of pork. The spice rub is going to add lots of flavor to your pulled pork.
Make ahead: At this point, you can continue with the recipe and cook your pork, or you can wrap the meat tightly and refrigerate it for up to one day.
Brown the Meat
Now you are going to brown the meat on all sides, right in your Instant Pot! The saute function is one of my favorite features of cooking in an Instant Pot. Press the saute button to turn your Instant Pot’s saute function on. Add two tablespoons of olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pot. Place the pieces of pork in the pot. (You may need to brown the meat in two batches if it won’t fit in a single layer.)
Brown the pork on all sides, using tongs to turn it every 1-2 minutes. Turn off the Instant Pot and remove the pork to a bowl or plate.
BBQ Sauce for Pulled Pork
Next you will make the bbq sauce for your pulled pork. You’ll mix everything up right in the Instant Pot!
First, pour about half a cup of chicken broth into the pot and use a spatula to scrape up any browned bits off of the bottom of the pot. This step is important to prevent bits from burning on the bottom of the pot.
Next add the rest of the broth and some barbecue sauce, apple cider vinegar and brown sugar or honey. Stir well and then nestle the pork into the sauce.
How to Cook Pulled Pork in your Instant Pot
You’ll pressure cook the pork for 1 hour on high pressure (manual). If you are using pork tenderloin you will cook it for 45 minutes on high pressure. Then let the Instant Pot sit for 15 minutes to naturally release most of the pressure. The pork will continue to cook and tenderize during this time.
After 15 minutes, carefully turn the steam valve to venting and allow the rest of the steam and pressure to escape. Carefully open the lid of your Instant Pot and shred the pork.
What to do with leftover pulled pork?
Serve your Instant Pot pulled pork on burger buns for pulled pork sandwiches. For a delicious, lower carb meal, serve the pulled pork in lettuce wraps. We also love this pulled pork wrapped in tortillas or on top of rice, quinoa or salad greens.
Can you freeze pulled pork?
Yes! Pulled pork freezes well, sealed airtight. I recommend freezing the meat in the sauce, in a container that is just big enough for the pork and sauce. If there is too much air space around the meat it is more likely to get freezer burn.
Defrost the pulled pork overnight in the refrigerator and then gently warm the pork and sauce together, covered, in a saucepan over low heat.
Tips for making Instant Pot Pulled Pork:
- To make ahead, rub the spice rub over the pork and then wrap the meat tightly and refrigerate for up to one day. You can also prepare the recipe in its entirety and refrigerate the cooked pulled pork for up to 3 days. The cooked pulled pork can also be frozen for up to 2 months.
- Be sure to deglaze the bottom of your Instant Pot after you brown the pork on saute mode. To do this, pour about half a cup of chicken broth into the bottom of the Instant Pot and use a rubber spatula to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom. This will prevent the bits from burning and the dreaded Instant Pot “burn” warning.
- How to reheat pulled pork: Heat the pork and bbq sauce together, covered, in a saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. Or, you may place the pork and sauce in a microwave-safe dish and warm in your microwave.
Instant Pot Pulled Pork
For the spice rub:
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 3-4 pound boneless pork shoulder/pork butt*
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup barbecue sauce plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- In a small bowl, whisk together all spice rub ingredients until well combined.
- Cut the pork into 4 pieces and trim off excess fat. Rub the pork on all sides with the spice rub.
- Pour olive oil into Instant Pot insert and turn it on saute mode. Place the pork in the Instant Pot and brown on all sides. You may need to do this in two batches. Set pork on a plate.
- Turn off Instant Pot. Pour about half of the chicken broth into the Instant Pot and use a rubber spatula to scrape up any browned bits off of the bottom of the pot. Add the rest of the broth, the barbecue sauce, apple cider vinegar and brown sugar or honey. Stir to combine.
- Return the pork to the Instant Pot. Close the lid. Adjust the venting valve to the sealing position. Set the Instant Pot to pressure cook at high pressure for 60 minutes.
- The Instant Pot will take about 15 minutes to pressurize and then it will beep to let you know that the cook time is starting. When the cook time is done, allow the pressure to release naturally for 20 minutes (just leave the Instant Pot alone). Then, quick release any remaining pressure by carefully turning the venting valve to venting (use either the handle of a long spoon or a potholder to turn the valve).
- Transfer pork to a large bowl.
- In a small bowl, stir together cornstarch and water until dissolved. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the sauce in the Instant Pot. Turn the Instant Pot on saute and cook the sauce, stirring, until slightly thickened, 4-5 minutes. Turn off the Instant Pot.
- Use two forks to shred the pork and then stir it back into the sauce. Serve pork on buns topped with coleslaw and additional barbecue sauce, if desired.
- You can also make this recipe using pork tenderloin. The pulled pork will be leaner since tenderloin has less fat. Pulled pork made with pork tenderloin isn’t quite as tender and flavorful as when you make it with pork shoulder/pork butt, but it is still very tasty. If using pork tenderloin, I recommend reducing the cooking time to 45 minutes at high pressure.
- To make in the slow cooker: Follow the steps above as written, except for the following: You do not need to cut the pork into pieces. Brown the pork in a large pot or skillet on your stove rather than in the Instant Pot. Cook on your slow cooker’s high setting for 5-6 hours or low setting for 8 hours. Remove the meat to a bowl to shred. Meanwhile, keep your slow cooker on the high setting and stir in the cornstarch/water mixture. Let cook, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes until slightly thickened.
- To freeze pulled pork: Freeze the meat in the bbq sauce, sealed airtight, in a container that is just big enough for the pork and sauce. If there is too much air space around the meat it is more likely to get freezer burn. Defrost the pulled pork overnight in the refrigerator and then gently warm the pork and sauce together, covered, in a saucepan over low heat.
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