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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

Why You’ll Love This Easy Instant Pot Pulled Pork Recipe

  • Perfect 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.
  • Makes a Big Batch. 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. (Instant Pot Carnitas are a winner for the same reason!)
  • Freeze It for Later. Instant Pot pulled pork is 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.
  • Homemade Sauce. 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.
Pulled pork in a pressure cooker

5 Star Review

“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.”

— Heather —

How to Make Pulled Pork in an Instant Pot

The Ingredients

  • Pork. I use boneless pork loin; it’s leaner but still has adequate fat to come out satisfyingly juicy and moist. For a more traditional pulled pork, you can use pork shoulder or pork butt, which is more heavily marbled.
  • Pork Rub. Garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper create our smoky and richly-flavored pork spice rub.
  • Beef Broth. Broth 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. Prep. 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. Sauté. Brown the largest pork piece in the Instant Pot. Remove the pork.
Meat in a pressure cooker
  1. Keep Browning. Repeat with the remaining pork. Deglaze the pot to remove any stuck on bits, then add the rest of the broth and onion.
  2. Cook. Return the pork to the pot. Cook on the HIGH setting for 40 minutes (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. Reduce. 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. Finish. Shred the pork, then stir it and the onions into the Instant Pot. Serve as desired and ENJOY!

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.

How to Serve Instant Pot Pulled Pork

Instant Pot pulled pork sandwiches

Leftover Ideas

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.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Don’t Do a Quick 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.
  • Avoid Using Pork Tenderloin. Don’t use pork tenderloin, which is far too lean for pulled pork. It will turn out dry!
  • Know How Long to Cook It. The amount of time you need to cook pork in the Instant Pot will vary based on the cut. For a 4-to-5-pound pork loin, pressure cook for 40 minutes on high, then let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes. 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.
An Instant Pot pulled pork sandwich

Instant Pot Pulled Pork Video

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YouTube video

Instant Pot Pulled Pork

4.70 from 20 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.
  • 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.

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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64 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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!

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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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