Instant Pot Pulled Pork

Instant Pot pulled pork on buns with all the "fixins."
Diana Rattray
  • Total: 60 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Yield: 8 servings

Pulled pork is one of the best and easiest dishes to make when you're feeding your family or a larger group of people. You can't go wrong with pulled pork sandwiches on game day, and with the Instant Pot pressure cooker, you can even prepare pulled pork at the end of a busy workday. The pork and seasonings take just minutes to throw together, and the Instant Pot cooks the pork in a remarkable 45 minutes!

Even if you're only feeding only 2 to 4 people, this pulled pork freezes beautifully. You can reheat the frozen pulled pork any time you need a quick meal.

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds pork butt (cut into 2-inch chunks)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups water (or stock, cola, hard cider, water, apple juice, beer, etc.)
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce (plus more for serving)
  • Optional: split buns
  • Optional toppings: dill pickle slices, coleslaw, lettuce, jalapeño pepper rings, bell peppers, chopped or sliced red onions

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Instant Pot pulled pork.
    Diana Rattray
  2. Dry the pork with paper towels. In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, smoked paprika, kosher salt, garlic powder, chili powder, black pepper, onion powder, cumin, dry mustard, and cayenne. Add the pork chunks to the bowl and toss to coat them thoroughly with the spice mixture.

    Toss the pork cubes with the seasonings.
    Diana Rattray
  3. Place the trivet in the Instant Pot and add the water (or other liquid) and vinegar. Place the seasoned pork on the trivet.

    Seasoned pork in the Instant Pot.
    Diana Rattray
  4. Secure the lid on the Instant Pot and turn the steam release valve to the sealing position. Select the pressure cook or manual button (high pressure) and set the timer to 45 minutes.

    Select sealing on the instant pot lid.
    Diana Rattray
  5. When the time is up, allow a natural release for 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully turn the steam release valve to the venting position to release the remaining pressure.

    Steam release valve in the venting position.
    Diana Rattray
  6. Drain and discard the liquids. Remove the pork to a bowl and shred it. Add 1 1/2 cups of barbecue sauce to the pork and stir to blend. Return the pork to the Instant Pot and select the lowest sauté setting. Cook the pork until it is thoroughly heated.

    Shredded pulled pork from the Instant Pot.
    Diana Rattray
  7. Serve the pulled pork in split buns or as an entrée with mac and cheese, buttermilk biscuits, and coleslaw.

    Southern pulled pork dinner plate with slaw and mac and cheese.
    Diana Rattray
  8. Enjoy!

Tips

  • The best cuts for pulled pork come from the shoulder of the animal. The Boston butt or pork butt, despite the name, comes from the shoulder. It's the ideal cut for tender, juicy pulled pork.
  • Pork shoulder shrinks significantly as it cooks. You'll end up with roughly 2 pounds of pulled pork from 4 pounds of meat. Plan on 4 to 6 ounces of shredded pulled pork per person.
  • Leftover pulled pork can be used in a variety of dishes. Add it to pizza, homemade egg rolls, or tacos or burritos, or use canned biscuits to bake pulled pork barbecue cups.