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When you are hosting a gathering, recipes that (a) feed a crowd, (b) are budget-friendly, (c) show from-scratch effort but (d) are easy to make is like searching for a comfortable pair of jeans: way harder than it should be. Instant Pot Pulled Pork is the perfect fit!

A sandwich with Instant Pot pulled pork

Fall-apart tender pork in a lightly sweet-and-smoky homemade barbecue sauce, this pressure cooker recipe is ideal anytime you need a big-batch meal, much like my Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.

Be it a gathering of guests with multiple tastes (I have yet to meet someone who, in their heart of hearts, does not like BBQ), dietary restrictions (that friend who doesn’t eat carbs can skip the bun), or you happen to have a pulled-pork loving husband who delights in eating it three nights in a row, Instant Pot pulled pork hits the spot.

It’s also incredibly freezer friendly.

Even for a small household, you can make the full amount, then portion and freeze the leftovers. Future you is already grateful.

When it comes to cooking pulled pork (or really any type of meat for a gathering—these Instant Pot Ribs are a favorite among my friends), I love using the Instant Pot.

The pressure cooker keeps the meat moist, you can use it to keep the pork warm, and guests can help themselves directly (Italian Beef works in much the same way).

Pulled pork in a pressure cooker

Real-Deal Instant Pot Pulled Pork

I am serious in my focus on upping the nutritional value of recipes without compromising flavor or blowing your budget (a reason my cookbook, which has my best recipes yet, has more than 2,500 5-star reviews and counting!).

That’s why instead of making a 3-ingredient Instant Pot pulled pork Sweet Baby Ray’s (or using any other bottled barbecue sauce that’s loaded with high fructose corn syrup), I used simple ingredients that I bet you have in your pantry right now.

My other healthy swap for this recipe is to use pork loin, instead of the pork butt/pork shoulder that is typically used for pulled pork.

  • Using pork loin cuts down on Instant Pot pulled pork calories, while still tasting saucy and moist.
  • If you prefer, like connoisseurs of Instant Pot Carnitas do, you can use pork butt/shoulder.

A Note on Cooking Liquids

My favorite cooking liquid for pulled pork is beef broth.

  • I prefer using broth instead of Instant pot pulled pork with Dr. Pepper, Coke, or other sodas. While pop is popular, as with bottled sauces, it makes the pork much higher in sugar than is needed.
  • Instead, I rub the pork liberally with spices. Once it’s shredded, I reduce its cooking juices to create a sauce, then sweeten it to taste with pure maple syrup and molasses. The flavor is better, and it’s better for you too!
  • I do not recommend bottled barbecue sauce as a cooking liquid for Instant Pot pulled pork, as thick, sugary, tomato-based products can trigger a “BURN” warning (the worst!).
An Instant Pot pulled pork sandwich

How to Make Easy Instant Pot Pulled Pork

The list of spices here might look long, but they are basic ones that would be in most well-stocked spice cabinets (think onion powder and garlic powder).

I based the ingredients for the pulled pork sauce on my homemade Barbecue Sauce.

It’s easy to make and once you try it, you’ll never want to go back to the bottled stuff again.

Slow Cooker Method

Is pulled pork better in Instant Pot or slow cooker? That’s for you to decide! For an alternative cooking method using a crockpot, try this Slow Cooker Pulled Pork, or give dinner a Tex-Mex twist with crispy Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas.


The Ingredients

  • Pork. This affordable meat is ideal for serving a crowd. Once it’s shredded and sauced, you can use it for sandwiches, wraps, salads, and more.

Ingredient Note

When it comes to making pulled pork, you know you need a large piece of meat, but the options can be confusing. Here’s the low down:

  • Pork Shoulder/Pork Butt. Although the two cuts are slightly different, for all intents and purposes, you can use them the same way (and your grocery store likely only labels them one way or the other; you may also see it called pork shoulder roast). This is a tough, heavily marbled cut of pork that benefits from long cook times and does well in the pressure cooker. It is the fattiest cut, and thus many would argue the best cut of meat for pulled pork. If I REALLY want to go all-in, this is the cut I use.
  • Pork Loin. This is a leaner cut. It still has adequate fat to come out satisfyingly juicy and moist (just not *as* moist as pork shoulder/butt). When I am making Instant Pot pulled pork, this is the cut I use most often. It is delicious and I appreciate that it’s a little lighter. You may also see it called center loin pork roast or a pork center rib roast.
  • Pork Tenderloin. NOT the same as pork loin. This is the leanest cut of them all. I do not recommend pork tenderloin for pulled pork, as it is too dry when shredded. Instead, try my succulent Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin or Stuffed Pork Tenderloin.
  • Pork Rub. Garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper create our smoky and richly-flavored pork spice rub.
  • Beef Broth. Gone are the days of wondering how much water you should put into your Instant Pot for pork, we’re using flavorful beef broth instead. It imparts deep flavor into the pork. For a 6-quart Instant Pot, you need at least 1 cup of liquid.
  • Tomato Sauce + Paste. Important flavor builders for our homemade barbecue sauce.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar. Adds that beloved tanginess to the sauce and helps tenderize the pork.
  • Maple Syrup + Molasses. Both maple syrup and molasses give the barbecue sauce its sweetness and help it thicken. With a slight smokiness, molasses takes this sauce to the next level. You could also use brown sugar and molasss if you prefer.
  • Worcestershire. Adds complexity and umami goodness.
  • Sauce Spices. A blend of smoked paprika, chili powder, dry mustard, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper adds depth to the barbecue sauce. The mixture has an array of savory notes and adds a hint of spice without being too spicy.

The Directions

Three pieces of meat on a cutting board
  1. Cut the pork into a few large pieces, removing any large pieces of fat. Stir the pork rub together, then rub the the spice mixture all over on the chunked pork.
Pork in a pressure cooker with spices
  1. Brown the largest pork piece in the Instant Pot. Remove the pork.
Meat in a pressure cooker
  1. Repeat with the remaining pork. Deglaze the pot to remove any stuck on bits, then add the rest of the broth and onion.
  2. Return the pork to the pot. Using a HIGH setting, 40 minutes is how long you cook pork in the Instant Pot (using pork loin). If you’re using pork shoulder/butt, you’ll cook on HIGH for 1 hour. Let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer the pork and onions to a bowl. Turn the Instant Pot to saute and reduce the cooking juices.
Instant Pot pulled pork in a bowl
  1. Shred the pork, then stir it and the onions into the Instant Pot. Serve as desired and ENJOY!

How Long to Cook Pulled Pork in the Instant Pot

The amount of time you need to cook pork in the Instant Pot will vary based on the cut.

  • Pork Loin. For a 4-to-5-pound pork loin, pressure cook for 40 minutes on high, then let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes.
  • Pork Shoulder/Butt. For a 4-to-5-pound pork shoulder or pork butt, cook the pork for 1 hour on high pressure, then let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes.
  • Pork Tenderloin. I do not recommend this cut for pulled pork, as it will be too dry. See more in the ingredients section below.
Instant Pot pulled pork sandwiches

How to Serve Instant Pot Pulled Pork

Classic sammie? Pulled pork hash? Instant Pot pulled pork onions combo? You have tasty options!

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate pork in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
  • To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. Freeze pulled pork in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Meal Plan Tip

Cut the pork and chop the onion up to 1 day in advance. Store them separately in the refrigerator.

What to Serve with Instant Pot Pulled Pork

  • Instant Pot. Perfect for making pulled pork whenever the craving strikes!
  • Whisk. This small-sized whisk won’t splatter sauce everywhere.
  • Measuring Spoons. These double-sided measuring spoons are ideal for recipes like this one.

Who else is feeling saucy?

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Overcook Pulled Pork in the Instant Pot?

While it is possible to overcook pulled pork in the Instant Pot, it’s very unlikely if you are using pork shoulder or butt. The pork should get more tender the longer it cooks. If using pork loin, which is leaner, you can overcook it.

Can I Use a Quick Release instead of Slow Release?

No matter which cut of pork you use, DO NOT release the pressure right away. The slow release will keep the meat tender. An immediate release can be why your Instant Pot pulled pork is tough. It will cause the meat to seize and toughen.

What Can I Do with Leftover Pulled Pork?

Utilize leftover pulled pork on pizza, in a pasta dish, or piled onto Crock Pot Baked Potatoes. It would also be tasty tucked into an Air Fryer Grilled Cheese.

Can I Use Chicken for this Recipe?

I don’t recommend swapping in chicken, as the cook time is different. However, my Pulled Chicken Sandwich is a perfect alternative.

Instant Pot Pulled Pork Video

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YouTube video

Instant Pot Pulled Pork

4.60 from 62 votes
This easy, juicy Instant Pot Pulled pork is fall-apart tender pork in a sweet and smoky barbecue sauce, and perfect for a crowd!

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes

Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients
  

FOR THE PORK:

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 to 5 pounds boneless pork loin or pork shoulder/butt*, cut into 3 evenly sized chunks
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 (15-ounce) can low sodium beef broth or chicken broth, divided
  • 1 yellow small onion chopped
  • Whole wheat hamburger buns for serving
  • Your favorite coleslaw for serving (check out this Asian Slaw for a homemade option)
  • Pickled Onions for serving

FOR THE SAUCE**:


Instructions
 

  • COOK THE PORK: In a bowl, stir together the garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper. Rub it all over the outside of the pork.
  • Add the oil to the Instant Pot and turn to SAUTE. Once the oil is hot, add the largest of the pork pieces and brown on two sides. This will take about 2 minutes per side. If your Instant Pot issues a “hot” or “burn” warning, turn the heat down (if you have that option), or if not, turn it off entirely and sear the pork in the residual heat. If the pot cools too much to brown, turn it back on. Remove the pork to a plate. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces—you can cook the last 2 pieces at the same time as long as they do not overlap. Remove to the plate.
  • Add half of the broth to the Instant Pot. With a wooden spoon, scrape up all of the stuck-on bits of food and seasoning.
  • Add the remaining broth and the onion.
  • Return the pork to the Instant Pot. Cover, seal, and cook on HIGH (manual) pressure for 40 minutes (for pork loin) or 1 hour (for pork shoulder/butt).
  • Once the pressure has built and the cook time has elapsed, allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes (do not open right away or the meat may be tough). Vent to release any remaining pressure then carefully open the Instant Pot.
  • Remove the pork to a large bowl. With a slotted spoon, scooped out most of the onions and add them to the bowl with the pork. Carefully pour all but 1 cup of the pork cooking juices into an extra-large measuring cup or bowl with a spout. Keep the extra liquid handy.
  • PREPARE THE BBQ SAUCE: Turn the Instant Pot to SAUTE. Whisk in the tomato sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, syrup, molasses, Worcestershire, paprika, chili powder, mustard, garlic powder, black pepper, salt, and cayenne. Cover the pot loosely with the Instant Pot lid, still leaving some room for steam to escape (this sauce loves to splatter). Let simmer, whisking every few minutes, until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  • Once cool enough to handle, shred the pork with two forks or with your fingers. Stir the shredded pork, onions, and any juices at the bottom of the bowl into the pot with the sauce. If the sauce is too tight to easily coat the pork, splash in additional cooking juices so that the pork is nicely coated with sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Pile onto buns, top with slaw, and enjoy!

Video

Notes

  • *Pork shoulder (or depending upon what your grocery store calls it, pork butt) is the fattier cut of meat and will result in the most moist pulled pork. For a leaner option, use pork loin (it will be slightly dryer and not fall apart as easily but will still be tasty—this is the cut we use most often at home). I do not recommend pork tenderloin for pulled pork, as it is too lean and will turn out tough prepared per this recipe. Make my Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin instead.
  • **This sauce recipe is based on my Homemade Barbecue Sauce. If you prefer to skip the homemade version, you can shred the pork, then stir it together with 1 1/2 to 2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce instead.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 8); with sauceCalories: 416kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 54gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 143mgPotassium: 1475mgFiber: 2gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 1033IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 60mgIron: 3mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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68 Comments

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  1. I made this recipe with a 3 1/2 pound pork shoulder roast, bone in, using the ingredients I already had in my pantry. I substituted canned diced tomatoes for the tomato sauce, added a bit of extra tomato paste to thicken the tomatoes and left out the molasses. Cutting the roast into 3 equal pieces was a bit of a challenge but I don’t see any difference between how the largest and smallest piece cooked. It’s the perfect, tender pulled pork! I’ll buy two more roasts while it’s on sale and make this for our next back yard party!5 stars

    1. Hi Claire! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review and feedback on the type of roast you used!

  2. This is the first time I’ve gone back to leave a review. The pork turned out very well and the BBQ sauce was the best I’ve ever made. A keeper, for sure and this site will become one of the ones that check first.5 stars

  3. My favorite pulled pork recipe. The instant pot method makes for an easy to prepare pork that doesn’t have to cook all day, but tastes like it has.5 stars

    1. ’m truly sorry for any inconvenience the ads caused you, Kathleen. I will certainly keep paying close attention to the number of ads and how they load, as I never want them to hinder your ability to view the recipe or the blog post. I do truly appreciate your feedback and apologize again for the inconvenience! Also, there is a quick and convenient “jump to recipe” button that will help you get to the recipe faster and a print button to have the recipe quickly at your fingertips. Hope this helps!

  4. Not a good recipe can be done much easier and better, tried this one would have given a negative number if you don’t know how to cook! (Which should have been recommended at the start) then you might like it!1 star

    1. Sorry to hear that you had trouble with the recipe, Rad. The amounts, flavorings and timing have worked well for myself (and others) so I wished it would have been a hit for you too! I know it can be so disappointing to try a new recipe and it does not turn out for you.

  5. I cooked the pork Butt for an hour and when I pulled it out it was still bright pink inside and bloody. What did I do wrong?

    1. Hi Annelise! I don’t necessarily think you did anything wrong, it just sounds like it needed extra time in your Instant pot.

  6. I followed the recipe to to T and my roast definitely did not fall off the bone!! And to say the sauce liked to splatter is an understatement.2 stars

    1. I’m sorry to hear you had trouble with the recipe, Beth. The times set aside is for boneless cuts of meat. If you used one that had a bone, you would need to add time. In the notes, I did point out that using pork loin is for a leaner option and it would be slightly dryer and not fall apart as easily was a pork but that has a lot of fat on it.

  7. I made this instapot pulled pork for the 3rd time today. Each time I followed your instructions to a T and it has been wonderful! The only direction that truly isn’t clear is regarding the one cup of liquid. However, I watched the video this time and understood exactly what you were doing.
    Erin, thank you for the wonderful recipes you provide! I use this site often and am very pleased. The first recipe of yours I tried several years ago was the Flourless Chocolate torte!5 stars

    1. Hi Jennifer! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review! Could you tell me what wasn’t clear?

      1. I made this pulled pork recipe for dinner tonight, I did substitute doctored up bottled barbecue sauce as I had some to use up. The meat was very tender and juicy. I made coleslaw to go with it and dinner was thoroughly enjoyed by my family. Thanks!5 stars

  8. Hello! Would I be able to cut the meat away from the bone and THEN put it into the Instapot like your recipe says? Thank you!

  9. This was excellent! The process was fairly straightforward and the sauce was fantastic. I would make just that again in the future HOWEVER I will definitely make the sauce on the stove next time. To say it loved to spatter was quite the understatement. I’d rather have an additional dirty pot than field the burns again. Yikes lol5 stars

  10. Just made this tonight for dinner and we all really enjoyed it. It definitely didn’t fall apart easy but it was very good and it was nice not having all that fat to deal with. I did an extra 15 minutes after the initial 40 because it was just so tight. It was a little better after that. The sauce was great! We really try to avoid added sugar and most BBQ sauces are loaded with it. I will be making this again and using this sauce on the grill this summer.5 stars

  11. The method was clear. and the roast turned out great.
    Very tender. I have had some issues in the past trying to do pulled pork, but this recipe was great. thank you for the tips and background info.5 stars

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