Instant Pot pulled pork is going to become your new favorite way to achieve perfectly cooked pulled pork in an hour and a half start to finish.
Why you’ll love it: An Instant Pot is the fastest way to make tender pulled pork.
How long it takes: An hour and half, start to finish
Equipment you’ll need: Instant Pot, small bowl, sharp knife, measuring utensils
Servings: 6 (depends on how much you put on each bun)
Sometimes it’s hard to write a whole bunch of words about a recipe. I just asked my kids, what should I write about this pulled pork? My little man, N, who is 6, said, “Write pulled pork is gross!”
Thanks a lot, kid.
He likes hardly anything…it’s really a blast.
Almost everyone likes pulled pork though…his loss! I love pulled pork for parties, for giving to families in need, or for a good weeknight dinner that will probably feed us for three nights. Pulled pork is a jack of all trades. Make it in your smoker/grill (really no replacement for that, but sometimes that method isn’t feasible), make it in your slow cooker, or make it in your Instant Pot!
Here’s what I’ll say. If I had to choose between slow cooker pulled pork and Instant Pot pulled pork, I think my Instant Pot would win. Here’s why:
- It’s faster! Instant Pot pulled pork is ready in less than an hour and a half. Even if you cook it on high in the slow cooker, you’ll need at least four hours. That being said, sometimes a slow cooked meal fits into your schedule better. It’s so nice to start the meal in the morning and it’s ready to eat at dinner time.
- The texture is better. Sometimes pork that’s been cooked for hours and hours seems kind of mushy. I don’t know, I do love my Mango Bourbon Slow Cooker Pulled Pork so maybe it’s just my current infatuation with my Instant Pot that makes me say that.
About this Recipe
The great thing about this recipe is that it’s super versatile. You can use a few different types of pork, you can use any type of barbecue sauce you like (I recommend homemade BBQ sauce or cherry chipotle BBQ sauce), you can use the spice mixture I outline in this recipe or you can use a BBQ rub. I also love Instant Pot pork carnitas, the popular Mexican version of pulled pork.
You can put the onions in for added flavor, or you can leave them out. You can mix the cooked onions into the pulled pork after cooking, or you can discard them.
You can brown the meat before pressure cooking it, or you can skip that step (I skip it!).
You can swap out the broth for Dr. Pepper or root beer if that’s your thing.
You can 100% make this pork exactly the way your family likes it, and that is the beauty of this easy pulled pork recipe.
What kind of pork should I used for pulled pork?
Okay here’s the thing. IT’S UP TO YOU! Here are the options:
Pork Shoulder or Pork Butt
This is the classic choice and the best choice. Oddly enough, they’re nearly the same thing…don’t know what genius came up with the names, but it is what it is. They are a little bit different, but there’s a good chance that you’re going to find one or the other at your grocery store, not both. Either one will work great for this recipe. I always use pork shoulder or pork butt when I’m using my smoker to make pulled pork, or when I’m serving a crowd. Because it really is the best and tastiest choice.
Pork Loin is the next most common choice. Pork loin is more lean –– there is less fat marbling. It will be slightly more dry, but it is a lower calorie option. It will still pull apart just fine, but might not fall apart quite as easily as a pork shoulder or pork butt will. A pork loin is usually my go-to when I’m only serving my family. I love to make a pork loin roast in my Instant Pot, too. I serve it sliced with the delicious pan juices. It turns out perfectly every time.
The third option is a pork tenderloin. I wouldn’t really consider or recommend a pork tenderloin for pulled pork, but it’s your kitchen! It’s a more expensive cut and shines on its own (try this spice rubbed pork tenderloin, it is amazing!). HOWEVER, my Shipt shopper brought me one by accident on the day I was shooting this recipe, so I ran with it. Not surprisingly, it was delicious! Still wouldn’t be my first choice for pulled pork, but I wanted you to know that it does work.
If you use a pork shoulder or pork butt, it’s extremely forgiving and hard to cook. If you follow the recipe, it will come out perfectly tender. The fat in it allows for it to stay moist and tender.
A 6-quart Instant Pot can accommodate a 3-4 pound boneless pork shoulder or pork butter. It helps if you cut it into a few chunks (3-4). You might be able to fit up to 5 pounds, but I haven’t tried it.
Tip: Take it to the next level! Try topping this pulled pork with homemade healthy coleslaw, pickled red onions, or pickled radishes. Make super crispy air fryer French fries to serve with the pulled pork sandwiches.
Storage and Freezing
It seems like there is always pulled pork leftover. It makes a lot! Store leftovers in a covered container in your fridge for three to four days. Reheat on the stove or in your microwave.
Additionally, this recipe freezes great and will be just fine in your freezer for up to a couple of months. Thaw it overnight in the fridge for best results. Perfect for another dinner on a busy night!
more ways to serve pulled pork
Think beyond the bun! There’s lots of delicious ways to use leftovers. Here’s a few ideas:
- Make Pulled Pork Nachos.
- Wrap the pork in a tortilla along with avocado, onions, and shredded lettuce.
- Make lettuce wraps with the pork. Top with shredded carrots and crispy wonton strips.
- Add it to prepared rice and black beans for an easy main dish.
- Use it as a topping for pizza. I love this idea for pulled pork pizza from The Recipe Critic.
- Make a main course salad with homemade ranch dressing.
- Add it to BBQ chicken burrito bowls (instead of the chicken).
For the Rub:
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
For the Pork:
- 3 pounds pork shoulder (preferred) or pork loin, cut into 3-4 equal size chunks
- 1 cup low sodium chicken or beef broth
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 2 cups BBQ sauce, divided
- One large yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (keep rings intact)
- Mix rub ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Cut pork into three equal pieces. Rub all over with spice mixture.
- In the insert of your Instant Pot or pressure cooker, whisk together broth, vinegar, liquid smoke, and 1 cup of BBQ sauce.
- Place onions carefully into liquid mixture. Set pork on top of onions.
- Turn valve to “seal” and set pressure cooker for high pressure (“manual” or “pressure cook” mode). Set time for 60 minutes.
- When finished cooking, let pressure release naturally for 10 minutes (just leave it alone, don’t vent the pressure).
- After 10 minutes, vent any remaining pressure. Remove pork from liquid mixture and use two forks to shred. Add any cooking liquid as desired. Add remaining 1 cup (or less) of BBQ sauce to achieve desired sauciness.
- Enjoy immediately or dump remaining liquid out of the Instant Pot and return pork to Instant Pot on warm to keep warm until ready to serve.
- This recipe freezes great and will keep in an airtight container in your freezer for 2-3 months.
- You can put the onions in for added flavor, or you can leave them out. You can mix the cooked onions into the pulled pork after cooking, or you can discard them.
- You can brown the meat before pressure cooking it, or you can skip that step (I skip it!).
- You can swap out the broth for Dr. Pepper or root beer if that’s your thing.
- Nutrition information does not include buns. Reduce sodium by using no salt added broth, and homemade barbecue sauce.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.