Pork shoulder is a relatively tougher cut of meat compared to the rib or loin. However, that makes it more affordable and, when cooked properly—typically "low and slow," or slowly over low heat—it becomes fork-tender.
Pork shoulder is the perfect dish for a family get-together, game-day party, or potluck dinner. Shredded melt-in-your-mouth pork makes delicious sandwiches, tacos, or burritos, and it is superfast and easy to cook in the Instant Pot. There's no need to wait for a weekend or vacation day to enjoy a perfectly cooked pork shoulder. With the Instant Pot, the seared pork cooks in just over an hour.
This is a no-frills recipe that yields perfectly seasoned shredded pork that can be used in many ways. Add cumin or taco seasonings for Tex-Mex flavors or finish the pork with barbecue sauce or North Carolina vinegar sauce for fabulous pulled pork sandwiches.
The shredded pork freezes beautifully, too, so don't worry if it seems like too much food. Freeze the leftover shredded pork in small portions to enjoy in future meals and sandwiches.
- 4 pounds pork shoulder (Boston butt or picnic)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 onion (cut into quarters)
- 6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper (freshly ground)
- 1 cup chicken stock (unsalted or low sodium)
Gather the ingredients.
Slice the pork shoulder into 3 or 4 large chunks.
Select the sauté function and heat the oil in the Instant Pot inner pot. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the pork pieces. Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, turning to brown all sides. A deep brown crust will add to the flavor and texture of the meat.
Add the onion, minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt, pepper, and chicken stock.
Secure the lid on the pot and turn the steam release vent to the sealing position. Choose the pressure cook or manual button (high pressure) and set the timer for 60 minutes. When the time is up, let the pressure come down naturally for 10 to 20 minutes.
With a slotted spoon, remove the pork to a bowl and set it aside to cool. Strain the liquids through a mesh strainer. Skim off fat and discard the solids. Return the defatted liquids to the Instant Pot. Taste the liquid and adjust the seasonings.
Shred the pork and return it to the Instant Pot; cancel the warm setting and select the sauté function. Cook until the pork is hot.
Transfer to a serving bowl. Alternatively, switch to the "keep warm" setting and serve the pork from the Instant Pot.
Serve the pork in warm buns or taco shells with garnishes, and enjoy.
- Mexican Pork Carnitas: Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried oregano and 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried cumin to the pork along with the garlic and replace half of the chicken stock with orange juice. Serve in taco shells or soft tortillas with your favorite taco garnishes.
- Southern-Style Pulled Pork: Serve the shredded pork on soft, warmed buns with coleslaw, sliced dill pickles, and barbecue sauce.