The Instant Pot pulled pork recipe makes perfectly juicy and tender BBQ pulled pork in a fraction of the time as grilling or slow roasting. Our version has you coat the ribs in a savory pork rub, which you then sear to lock in moisture and flavor, and then pressure cook for just 1 hour!..... It's a WHOLE LOTTA YUM!
We share all of the tips and tricks to making succulent pulled pork, whether you're trying to make pressure cooker pork butt or pork shoulder to use for shredding for sliders or served straight onto a plate. Whether you want to sear or not sear, use a different cut of pork, make shredded pork without sugar, add BBQ sauce before or after, or cook your roast bone-in or boneless....get all of your questions answered! Consider this a tutorial and not just another recipe!
Serve the instant pot pulled pork with a simple coleslaw salad and Hawaiian rolls to make BBQ shredded pork sliders! For a lighter take, you can also make pulled pork lettuce wraps. This makes the perfect dish for a summer BBQ, for tailgating, camping, or just because. We served instant pot BBQ pork sliders at my daughter's graduation party and it was well-received!
If you aren't eating gluten (like me), pressure cooker pulled pork is also delicious on a plate with coleslaw on the side or on a bed of lettuce. My family loves to eat their pulled pork on either pretzel buns or sweet buns.
You will love this Instant Pot Pulled Pork recipe!
Seriously, cooking our pressure cooker pork butt to be used for BBQ pulled pork most definitely makes the BEST pulled pork recipe out there! While many serious meat masters slow cook or smoke meat all. day. long. many of us don't have time for that. Making instant pot pulled pork is the next best way to get meat that will have everyone believing you slow cooked it like a grill master!
Our recipe even gives you the prized crispy "burnt ends" by doing a quick sear of the seasoned meat before cooking it under pressure. Once you make instant pot shredded pork, you'll never go back to any other method!!
Instant Pot Shredded Pork ingredients
Making pulled pork in an instant pot has GOT to be one of the easiest recipes out there. With just 4 ingredients, or 5 if you want to add some of the BBQ sauce to cook in the electric pressure cooker, this recipe is perfect for seasoned cooks and beginners alike!
- 4 lb pork butt, bone-in (or pork shoulder roast). 3 lb if boneless
- 2 tablespoon pork rub mix
- 2 tablespoon avocado oil or olive oil
- ½ cup liquid (chicken broth, beef broth, apple or pineapple juice)
- 1 cup+ BBQ sauce
- optional- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
Pork Rub Ingredients
We highly recommend making your own pork rub, once you start making it in bulk, you'll never go back to less tasty store-bought versions!
This rub is a brown sugar version of our popular pork rub for ribs or shredded pork. If you aren't eating sugar, just replace the brown sugar 1:1 with something like golden erythritol or use ½ teaspoon stevia.
The rub recipe will make MORE than you need for this batch of instant pot BBQ pork, which is a good thing! It keeps for months in a jar and that means you already have some on hand for the next time you make pulled pork.
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 Tbsp ground garlic
- 1 Tbsp ground onion powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- Pressure Cooker- For the Instant pot pulled pork recipe, you'll need a pressure cooker. It doesn't need to be an IP brand, but here's the Instant Pot model we used for the recipe.
- Meat shredded claws - A fork or electric mixer works too
- Rubber Handled Tongs
Best meat for pulled pork
If you've been wondering what is the best cut of meat for pulled pork, we're going to go over all of the options for making a pulled pork instant pot version. Yes, you CAN in theory use any sort of pork roast in a pressure cooker for pulled pork, some cuts work better than others.
The most popular pork roasts for pulled pork are either a pork butt (bone-in or boneless) or a pork shoulder roast (bone-in or boneless). Where you live might determine what kind of pork roast you can buy at the grocery store and use in your Instant Pot. We live in the PNW and our grocery stores mostly carry bone-in pork shoulder roast, whereas when I visit my sister in NC, finding pork butt at her grocery stores is more common than
Both pork butt and pork shoulder are from the same section of a pig (the shoulder), pork butt comes from higher on the shoulder and pork shoulder is a cut a little further down. You might also sometimes hear pork butt referred to as Boston butt, and that again, might depend on where you live.
If you have a bone-in pork shoulder/butt roast then try to get one around 4 lb. If it's a boneless roast they're usually sold close to 3 lb. We can't get boneless pork shoulder roasts in our area, so we buy the 4 lb and cut the meat off of the bone. The bone itself usually weighs around 1 lb.
If you have to cut the pork from the bone, don't worry if your pieces aren't identical in shape and size! The instant pot pulled pork recipe will still turn out delicious.
How to make Instant Pot Pulled Pork
Here's an overview of the instant pot pulled pork recipe steps:
- Season the meat
- Sear in a high heat oil
- Add liquids (BBQ sauce, liquid smoke, broth or juice)
- Pressure cook for 1 hour
- Shred the meat
Before you even start getting ready to make pressure cooker pulled pork, you want to take the pork butt/pork shoulder out of the fridge 30 minutes before cook time. Starting to bring the roast up to room temperature means the meat cooks more evenly and simply, turns out even better! This is one of the tips and tricks meat masters swear by, and it's an easy step to add to help make perfect BBQ pulled pork.
Preheat the Instant Pot to Saute High and add 2 tablespoon of oil to the pot. While you're waiting for the pot to give you the Hot signal, you'll want to cut your meat into large hunks and add the dry mix.
Cut the pork roast into 4 large pieces. If it's boneless pork that's really easy to get similar sized hunks of meat. If you have bone-in pork roast you can do this one of two ways: either leave the bone attached to one of the large chunks of meat OR carefully cut the bone off of the meat.
So do you HAVE to cut the meat into pieces? Technically, no....but it'll take longer to cook! Since this is a roast that gets shredded after cooking, save yourself some time and just cut the pork roast into 4 hunks of meat.
Sprinkle the pork with the rub mix. Press the rub into the pork with clean hands to help make sure the seasoning stays on the pork butt and doesn't just fall to the bottom of the Instant Pot.
Sear the pork roast pieces on each side for 3-4 minutes until brown. It'll be a snug fit in the pot, but all pork pieces will fit. Do not peek at the pork until you're ready to flip it over, you won't want to keep it from browning to a nice crisp. And be sure not to fry it on each side for too long, otherwise the pork rub will start to burn.
You can skip the searing step if you're in a hurry, but crisping the exterior slightly really adds a lot of flavor to the pork.
You'll need to deglaze the pot to avoid getting the burn signal during cooking. Press the Cancel button to stop the pot from cooking before you deglaze. To do this, remove the pork pieces and set aside on a plate. Add the half cup of liquid-like chicken broth, beef broth, apple juice or pineapple juice and scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Basically just deglaze the pot with whatever liquid you're planning to add to help bring the pot to pressure.
Add the 1 teaspoon of optional liquid smoke now if you're using it.
Add the pork back to the Instant Pot and pour ½ cup+ of BBQ sauce over the top. Our pot took about 15 minutes to come to pressure.
Turn the pot to Manual High for 60 minutes. Some pressure cookers call the manual setting Pressure Cook.
How long to cook pork in Instant pot?
Note: If you cook the meat 60 minutes and it's still tough and not fork tender, it is NOT done cooking! Usually, when meat is tough it's often considered "overcooked," (think steak or a pork chop) with cuts of meat like pork butt, you need to cook it LONGER. It literally gets cooked until it falls apart and is super easy to shred! Just put the meat back in the pressure cooker and add more time in 5-minute increments.
Natural release for 10 minutes before doing a quick release of the remaining pressure in the pot. Once the pin drops, you can open your lid.
How long does pork take per pound in Instant Pot?
The cooking time for Instant Pot pork can vary depending on the cut of meat, how much it weighs, and the desired doneness. In general,, pork typically takes about 15-20 minutes per pound to cook in an Instant Pot on the manual High setting.
Can you overcook pulled pork?
Yes, it’s possible to overcook pulled pork. Overcooked pork is dry and stringy, and hard to shred. We recommend using a digital meat thermometer so you don’t overcook the meat. The ideal temp for pulled pork is between 195-205°F.
Shred & Serve
Let the pork cool down slightly for 5-10 minutes before shredding.
My husband's favorite way to shred pork or any type of meat for that matter is with meat claws! If you ever need to get a gift for a man who loves to cook, get him meat claws. 😉
We served the instant pot pulled pork recipe with a simple homemade coleslaw on Hawaiian rolls to make pulled pork sliders. A super easy meal that's always everyone's favorite!
How to store this Pork Butt Pulled Pork
Store: Store leftover pork butt pulled pork in the fridge for up to 5 days in an air-tight container.
Freeze: You can freeze leftover pork butt for up to 3 months, first wrap it in plastic wrap and double wrap it in foil.
Reheat: Preheat your oven to 325°F. Wrap the pork butt tightly in aluminum foil and place it in a baking dish. Bake for 20-30 minutes per pound or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. You can also reheat leftover pork in the microwave by covering it with a damp paper towel and then microwaving it on high in 30 second intervals until it reaches at least 165 F.
Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork recipe tips
The purpose of searing meat is to flash cook the pork butt on a high heat for a short period of time to get that golden outer crust. Not only does it help to add those "burnt ends" pieces that are prized by meat masters, it helps to lock in moisture and flavor.
Yes, you CAN skip searing the meat if you're in a rush or simply don't want to. The pulled pork in a pressure cooker will still turn out delicious!
Do you even need to add BBQ sauce or what about instant pot pulled pork without BBQ sauce? Again, this is one of those areas that's a personal preference, and at times we add sauce during cooking, and other times it just gets added after it is done cooking.
The theory is that adding a little bit of BBQ sauce when you're cooking pork in an electric pressure cooker, is that while under pressure, it helps to infuse the flavor into the meat.
When you have really juicy and tender pulled pork, very little seasoning needs to get added. And to be honest, whether we added sauce during cooking (and of course serve more on the side with a bun), or cook it without sauce and just have our guests add it on top of their meat after it's done cooking, sometimes comes down to how much BBQ sauce is even in our fridge. 😉
Adding Liquid Smoke
Our recipe considers liquid smoke as an optional item, and we ourselves did not add it to our recipe. That being said, I know many people who DO like the extra hint of just smoked flavor when they're cooking up pressure cooker pulled pork.
If you decide to add liquid smoke, we recommend adding 1 teaspoon when you add the liquid to the pot.
Making a No Sugar Version
We love to make our own pork rub mix for Instant Pot BBQ pulled pork, but you can substitute your favorite grocery store brand too. Our pork rub recipe can easily be made sugar free by swapping ½ teaspoon stevia for the brown sugar.
We love to use Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce most of the time, yet when we're trying to eat sugar-free, we use Primal Kitchen's paleo/keto friendly BBQ sauce instead.
Avoiding the Burn Signal
Since you're quick searing the seasoned meat on high heat, to avoid getting a burn signal during pressure cooking, it's critical that you de-glaze the pot by adding the liquid and scraping up all of the brown bits from the bottom.
Pulled Pork Pressure Cooker recipe variations
I'm getting real here, we are seriously a pork obsessed family. If you check out the meat recipes on our website you might be surprised pork dominates! There's just something about this undervalued type of meat that we seem to make over and over again.
One of the many reasons cooking pork butt or pork shoulder in an Instant Pot is the best idea ever, is you do NOT have to stick to the classic BBQ pulled pork recipe! One of our most favorite ways to eat pulled pork is actually a Hawaiian luau style pulled pork that has no BBQ sauce or rub at all! The sky is truly the limit with pressure cooker pulled pork recipes. Make it Hawaiian style, Mexican influenced, or swap the pork for chicken or beef.
How to use this Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork
kalua pork- also known as Hawaiian luau pork, is basically the Hawaiian version of pulled pork without the BBQ sauce. Just add the broth, heavily salt the meat, and stick garlic cloves into the pork roast. Shred when done, be sure to include lots of pot liquid! While we don't yet have an instant pot version, we did make it for the crock-pot.
Pulled Beef- use a 3 lb boneless beef roast to make BBQ pulled beef sandwiches. A nice variation!
Pulled Chicken - Use 2 lb of chicken thighs, seasoning, and chicken broth and cook the chicken for 15 minutes under pressure. Add BBQ sauce for cooking under pressure, if desired.
Mexican inspired - swap the pork rub for taco seasoning and replace the liquid and BBQ sauce for a jar of salsa.
How to store this Pork Butt Pulled Pork
Can I Freeze Pulled Pork?
Making pressure cooker pork butt is one of our most favorite meals to divide up and freeze for later! We seem to alternate between making BBQ pulled pork for the freezer and something like shredded Mexican chicken. Having shredded pork, beef, or chicken on hand makes putting together a last-minute meal so easy! Use it for pulled sandwiches, sliders, with tacos, on nachos, pizza, or in salads.
We recommend dividing the shredded pressure cooker pork roast (seasoned or unseasoned) into 4 quart-sized bags or split the batch in two and put it into 2 gallon-sized bags. It'll keep in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.
To get pre-cooked pork like our pulled pork instant pot recipe to last longer than 2-3 months, it's worth it to invest in something like a Foodsaver that preserves meat even longer, like 6-12 months.
Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork FAQs
Whether or not you'd consider pulled pork healthy really depends on what your version of healthy looks like! Pork shoulder and pork butt are higher fat pork roasts, as compared to "the other white meat" cuts like pork chops or pork tenderloin that are leaner, as long as you cut the fat from the cut of meat of course. So if it's healthy from a low fat, low cholesterol standpoint, then probably not.
If that's of concern to you, you can swap a 3lb pork tenderloin roast in the electric pressure cooker; it won't be quite as moist as pork shoulder roast or pork butt, but it will still be very tasty!
As far as the ingredients used in our recipe, a recipe is only as healthy as the quality of ingredients you're adding! Here's some easy suggestions and swaps to fit this recipe to your health program:
Low carb/keto - Serve the BBQ pulled pork on a bed of lettuce or on top of coleslaw. Use golden monk fruit or erythritol 1:1 in place of the brown sugar, and buy a keto-friendly sauce like Primal Kitchens.
Gluten free- Skip the bun and check any packaged labels to make sure no gluten was added.
Sugar-free- use stevia or a sugar free sweetener in the rub, or leave it out entirely. Be sure to use a BBQ sauce that doesn't add sugar like OR make your own homemade sauce, and use fresh bakery buns or rolls that don't add sugar either.
Paleo - same as the keto tips, just be sure the coleslaw you're serving it with doesn't add dairy
Vegan? While we've heard jackfruit is an amazing vegan substitute for pulled pork, I wouldn't suggest that as a swap for our pressure cooker pork butt recipe!
Both Instant Pot and Crock Pot pulled pork are delicious! Which method to use depends in part on your schedule and how much time you have. Making slow cooker pulled pork has a slightly better result in that it has a little bit better texture and is moister. Instant Pot pulled pork butt is still incredible and is best when you need it done in a hurry.
If your pulled pork is tough in the Instant Pot, it’s either undercooked or overcooked. The pork butt should be falling off of the bone and easy to shred, if the roast is still firm it might be cooked through but not long enough for shredding. Likewise, if it’s dry and stringy, it cooked for too long in the pressure cooker. The ideal internal temp for pulled pork is 195-205 F.
The secret to tender pulled pork is to cook it low and slow until it is fully cooked and the connective tissues have broken down. One exception to this is pressure cooker pulled pork, where you can still get succulent juicy results quickly.
Pulled pork gets more tender the longer you cook it as long as you don’t cook it above 205 F. If it reaches above the temperature it’ll get dry and stringy.
What to Serve with Pulled Pork?
It's hard not to instantly crave the classic summer BBQ sides when making a recipe like instant pot pulled pork!
Here's some of our favorites, many of which are included on our site:
- Instant pot corn on the cob
- Mexican street corn salad
- Healthy coleslaw
- Warm German potato salad (no mayo)
- Buns - pretzel or sweet buns
More Instant Pot Pork Recipes
- Instant pot bratwurst
- Instant pot sausage and peppers
- Instant Pot boneless pork ribs
- Pressure cooker baby back ribs
And be sure to pin the pulled pork in instant pot recipe for later on Pinterest so you can easily get back to it!
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