Instant Pot Pulled Pork
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
This Instant Pot Pulled Pork recipe makes the best BBQ pulled pork! The shredded pork is unbelievably tender, with a flavorful pulled pork rub and cooked in a delicious sauce. It’s perfect for making pulled pork sandwiches!
Pulled pork is one of my family’s favorite meals. Who can resist BBQ shredded pork served on a soft toasted bun?
You will especially love this quick and easy pulled pork recipe because the Instant Pot makes the most tender pulled pork in a fraction of the time. You won’t believe how easy it is to shred the pork after it pressure cooks! The same is true of these Instant Pot carnitas, another of our favorite Instant Pot pork recipes.
For a make ahead meal, try my slow cooker pulled pork recipe.
What is the best cut of pork for pulled pork?
The best cut of pork for pulled pork is a boneless pork shoulder or pork butt, also called Boston butt. These cuts of pork have plenty of fat marbled throughout for flavor, and they become fall apart tender after pressure cooking.
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. A pork shoulder or pork butt creates a slightly more flavorful pulled pork because it is a fattier cut of meat. Pork tenderloin makes a healthier pulled pork because it is a leaner cut of meat.
How to cook pulled pork in the Instant Pot
There are a few simple steps to making the best Instant Pot pulled pork.
Pulled Pork Rub
Delicious pulled pork starts with the best pulled pork rub. I use a variation of my favorite pork rub recipe. It’s a combination of spices, seasonings and brown sugar, all of which you probably have in your kitchen.
Cut the pork into four pieces and trim off any excess fat. Rub the spice rub onto all sides of the pieces of pork. 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. The rub will act as a marinade and flavor the pork as it rests.
Now, it’s time to add another layer of flavor! Using the sauté function of your Instant Pot, brown the pieces of pork on all sides. Before adding the pork to the pot, pour in some olive oil and wait for the pot to get hot so that you get a good sear. You may need to brown the pork in batches if it won’t all fit on the bottom of the pot at once. Remove the browned pork to a clean plate.
Pulled Pork Sauce
You can mix up the sauce for the pulled pork 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. You can use store-bought BBQ sauce or my homemade BBQ sauce. Stir well and then nestle the pork into the sauce.
Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork
Pressure cook the pork for 60 minutes on high pressure. If you are using pork tenderloin, cook it for 45 minutes on high pressure. When the cook time ends, let the Instant Pot sit for 15 minutes to naturally release most of the pressure. A natural release makes the meat more tender, and the pork will continue to cook 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. If desired, you can thicken the sauce with a cornstarch slurry. See the full recipe with ingredients and instructions in the recipe card at the end of this post.
What to Serve with Pulled Pork
- Serve pulled pork on hamburger buns, with coleslaw if desired. On the side, try sweet potato fries, fruit salad, Instant Pot potato salad or macaroni salad.
- Try it on top of nachos or rice.
- Pulled pork is also delicious served in tortillas or lettuce wraps.
- Shredded pork is a great way to add protein to a salad.
Instant Pot Pulled Pork Recipe Tips:
- We like to toast the burger buns before serving with the pulled pork.
- Leftover pulled pork can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The cooked pulled pork can also be frozen for up to 2 months, wrapped airtight.
- To reheat pulled pork, heat the pork and 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.
More Instant Pot Recipes to Love:
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 honey, or brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- 8 burger buns, for serving, toasted if desired
- In a small bowl, stir 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. When the pot is hot, place the pork in the Instant Pot and brown on all sides. You may need to do this in two batches. Transfer the browned pork to a clean plate.
- Turn off Instant Pot. Pour about half of the chicken broth into the 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 honey (or brown sugar). Stir to combine.
- Return the pork to the Instant Pot. Close the lid. Turn the steam release 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 the cook time will begin. 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 steam release valve to the venting position (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 occasionally, until slightly thickened, 4-5 minutes. Turn off the Instant Pot.
- Meanwhile, use two forks to shred the pork. Stir it back into the thickened sauce. Serve pork on burger buns topped with additional barbecue sauce, if desired.
- To make this recipe using pork tenderloin, reduce the cooking time to 45 minutes at high pressure. You do not need to cut the tenderloin into smaller pieces.
- Leftover pulled pork can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat on the stove, with some of the sauce, or in the microwave.
- To freeze pulled pork: Freeze the meat in some of the 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. Pork may be frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost the pulled pork overnight in the refrigerator and then gently warm the pork and sauce together, covered, in a saucepan over low heat.
- Nutrition information is for pulled pork only, not including burger buns.