Instant Pot Pulled Pork is so easy and amazingly flavorful. A simple dry rub seasoning reduces into a rich and savory sauce enveloping tender shreds of pork. It’s terrific in sandwiches and wraps, and since it’s also Whole30, paleo, low carb, and keto, it’s the perfect recipe for a crowd.
Are you ready for another round of “asked and answered?” ME TOO!
Our Dutch Oven Pulled Pork is one of the most popular recipes on the site, and for good reason – it’s truly perfect. A versatile dry rub cooks down into a rich sauce enveloping crispy-but-tender shreds of pork. The sole drawback? It takes awhile – a little over four hours from start to finish.
Y’all have been clamoring for an Instant Pot version and I’m so thrilled to share it with you today! After seeking the assistance of a Instant Pot pro and lots of testing, I’ve finally converted our classic dutch oven recipe into a pressure cooker friendly version.
Instant Pot Pulled Pork is nearly identical to the original, with that same crispy-but-tender texture and savory sauce. But it’s ready in a fraction of the time – plus you won’t have to deal with scouring your dutch oven.
How to Make Instant Pot Pulled Pork
Pulled pork has never been quicker thanks to the magic of the Instant Pot. If you’ve been sitting on the skeptic bench, I’ll happily extend a hand and welcome you to the wonderful world of 90-minute pressure cooker pulled pork. With just a few simple tricks you’ll be making Instant Pot Pulled Pork that will rival even the best slow braised recipes.
- Divide a 4-pound boneless boston butt or pork shoulder into 3-4″ chunks.
- Make the dry rub – paprika, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper – in a bowl and whisk until the spices are evenly distributed.
- Coat all sides of the pork with the dry rub (I just dip them into the bowl and press down).
- Press the “Sautee” button on the Instant Pot, set the timer to at least 30 minutes, add 2 tablespoons of cooking fat, and allow the inner pot to heat up.
- Place a batch of the pork into the pot in a single layer and sear until well-browned and a good crust has formed (about 5 minutes). Flip, then sear on the other side. You can sear just the two sides with the largest surface area.
- Remove the pork and set aside onto a plate, then repeat with the remaining pieces – always sear in a single layer with a bit of space in-between each piece so that a good crust forms. This took me three batches in my 6-quart Instant Pot.
- Pour in one cup of beef broth; use a wooden spoon to release any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. You want the bottom free of any bits so that it comes to pressure efficiently, as well as to avoid getting a “Burn” notice.
- Press the “Cancel” button to end the sautee feature, then return the pork to the Instant Pot.
- Secure the lid, ensure the pressure valve is set to sealing, then program the Instant Pot to “High Pressure” for 35 minutes. It will take 10-15 minutes to come to pressure. Once the timer goes off, allow for a 15 minute natural pressure release, then perform a quick release. Alternatively you can allow the pressure to naturally release entirely.
- Remove the pork pieces using tongs and set onto a rimmed baking sheet.
- Shred the pork using two forks.
- Transfer the baking sheet to a 450°F oven and brown for 10 minutes to crisp up.
- While the pork is browning, reduce the sauce. Press the “Saute” button and allow the sauce to simmer until reduced by half. It will create a rich sauce for the pulled pork – no additional BBQ sauce required!
Ladle the sauce over the pulled pork. It’s incredibly rich, not at all sweet, and perfect for a variety of meals. We like it stuffed into lettuce wraps or sandwiches with apple cider vinegar coleslaw or as a low carb bowl with mexican cauliflower rice and avocado slices.
My Best Tips for Perfect Instant Pot Pulled Pork
- Use the right cut of meat. Pork loin isn’t my first choice – isn’t fatty enough to create enough flavor for pulled pork in a pressure cooker. Boston butt or pork shoulder are the best options.
- Thoroughly brown the meat. The instant pot sure is efficient, but you have to take some initiative to make sure the final recipe achieves the same flavor that a braised version would offer, and one of those is browning. Browning the meat intensifies the flavor and shouldn’t be skimped.
- Deglaze the pot. Be sure to scrape up all of the browned bits from the bottom. This will help the Instant Pot come to pressure efficiently and will ensure you don’t get a burn notice. The bits will also dissolve into the broth and season it. More flavor = more winning.
- Reduce the sauce. If you think this is a flavor issue, you’re right! Give the sauce time to reduce by half and you’ll be rewarded with a more concentrated, intensely flavor sauce. It takes about 10 minutes, and can be done while the pulled pork is crisping in the oven.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I freeze this? Yes, absolutely! And 100% encouraged. This makes a ton of meat, so it’s perfect for a freezer stash. Defrost the meat in the fridge overnight or using your microwave. It can be crisped up in a 450°F oven, or reheated in a skillet over medium high heat.
Can I make pulled pork in advance? Sure can, and again, encouraged! I always think the flavor is better the next day. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
How much should I make? This recipes yields 8-10 generous servings (think enough for 1 big sandwich per person). The general rule of thumb is roughly half a pound of uncooked meat per person (that’s a generous estimate). I generally plan on a third-pound per person for larger events, like BBQs and picnics, where the spread is more diverse.
What cut of pork should I use? Either a pork butt (AKA boston butt) or pork shoulder (aka picnic roast) are the best cuts of meat for pulled pork. Boston butt is slightly better, as it’s almost always sold boneless and comes in a uniform, rectangular shape that’s easier to cut into even pieces. That being said, I’ve made it with both, and both cuts create a terrific instant pot pulled pork.
Is pulled pork healthy? Maybe? I’ll let you decide! I can tell you that this instant pot pulled pork is Whole30 and paleo compliant, and made with just a handful of real, whole foods. What I also love about this recipe is that it creates its own sugar free, savory BBQ sauce.
More Instant Pot Recipes
- Instant Pot Italian Pot Roast
- Instant Pot Beef Ragu
- Instant Pot Cilantro Lime Chicken
- Instant Pot Risotto
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- Make the dry rub. Combine the paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano in a small bowl. Whisk until the spices are evenly distributed.
- Dive the pork into 3-4 pieces. Dip each side into the dry rub to form a coating on all sides.
- Press the "Sautee" button on the Instant pot, add two tablespoons cooking fat, and allow the inner pot to heat up until the fat shimmers.
- Add one-third of the pork pieces to the pot in a single layer; leave a bit of space between each piece. Sear, undisturbed, until a golden-brown crust forms, about 5 minutes. Flip and sear on other side. Remove the pork from the pot and set aside onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining pork, being sure to brown in batches in a single layer. Add additional cooking fat as needed.
- Pour in one cup of beef broth and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot using a wooden spoon.
- Press the "Cancel" button to turn off the sautee feature. Return the pork to the Instant Pot. Secure the lid and ensure the pressure valve is set to sealing. Program the Instant Pot to "High Pressure" for 35 minutes. Once the timer goes off, allow a 15 minute natural pressure release, then perform a quick release.
- Heat the oven to 450°F.
- Remove the pork pieces from the pot and place onto a baking sheet. Shred the pork using 2 forks and spread into an even layer. Transfer the pork to the oven to brown for 10 minutes.
- While the pulled pork browns, reduce the sauce. Press the "Sautee" button on the instant pot. Simmer the sauce until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
- Pour the sauce over the crispy pulled pork. Serve immediately. See post for our favorite suggestions.
- Use the right cut of meat. Boston butt or pork shoulder are the best options.
- Be sure to brown the meat to help intensify the flavor.
- Make sure you fully deglaze the pot after browning. This will help the Instant Pot come to pressure efficiently and further ensure you don't get a burn notice.
- Simmer the sauce until reduced by half to thicken and intensify the flavor.