Important Note: When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Content, pricing, offers and availability are subject to change at any time - more info.
If you’re anything like me, you’re always on the lookout for delicious and easy recipes that make your taste buds dance with joy. Look no further, because I’ve got you covered with this incredible Instant Pot pulled pork using pork butt (or shoulder) that’s so tender and flavorful, it’ll leave you craving for more. This scrumptious recipe will not only grace your dinner table with its mouth-watering aroma but also take you on a culinary journey that unearths the secret to juicy, melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork without slaving over a smoker or grill.
The beauty of this recipe lies in its simplicity and versatility, as it lets you whip up a feast using your trusty Instant Pot in a fraction of the time compared to traditional cooking methods. All you need are a few staple ingredients, a little bit of patience, and that magical pot, and you’re set to impress your family and friends with a dish that tastes like it’s been slow-cooked for hours. So, gather your ingredients, strap on that apron, and let’s dive into the world of irresistible pulled pork that awaits you in the next section.
Yield & Servings
Serves 6-8 people
3-4 lbs pork butt/shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Notable Equipment & Tools:
Forks for shredding
Step 1: Gather and Prep Your Ingredients
All ingredients ready? Let’s begin!
Step 2: Create a Flavorful Spice Rub
In a small bowl, mix together the chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Rub the spice mixture evenly over the pork chunks.
Step 3: Heat Olive Oil in Instant Pot
Turn on the Instant Pot and select the Sauté function. Add the olive oil and allow it to heat up for a minute.
Step 4: Sear Seasoned Pork in Batches
Add the seasoned pork chunks to the Instant Pot, using tongs to place them in a single layer. Brown the pork on all sides, working in batches if necessary. Remove the browned pork and set aside.
Step 5: Combine Barbecue Sauce and Other Ingredients in Instant Po
In the Instant Pot, combine the barbecue sauce, chicken broth, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir well, making sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
Step 6: Add Browned Pork to the Sauce in Instant Pot
Return the browned pork to the Instant Pot, making sure it is submerged in the sauce mixture.
Step 7: Pressure Cook Pork for 1 Hour and 30 Minutes
Secure the Instant Pot lid and set the pressure release valve to Sealing. Select the Manual or Pressure Cook function and set the timer for 1 hour and 30 minutes at high pressure.
Step 8: Natural Pressure Release and Venting
Once the cooking time is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes. Then, carefully turn the pressure release valve to Venting to release any remaining pressure.
Step 9: Shred the Cooked Pork
Remove the cooked pork from the Instant Pot using tongs and place it on a cutting board or large plate. Use two forks to shred the pork into bite-sized pieces.
Step 10: Thicken the Sauce and Combine with Shredded Pork
If desired, thicken the sauce in the Instant Pot by selecting the Sauté function and simmering for 5-10 minutes. Pour the thickened sauce over the shredded pork and toss to combine.
Step 11: Serve and Enjoy Your Easy Instant Pot Pulled Pork
Serve the pulled pork on buns, over rice, or with your favorite side dishes. Enjoy!
Substitutions & Alternatives
Fear not, aspiring home chefs! We’ve got you covered with some fantastic substitutions and alternatives to help you create a pulled pork masterpiece that’s uniquely yours. So, let’s embark on this culinary adventure while embracing the global heritage of these flavorful ingredients.
1. Pork: If pork isn’t your thing, you can always swap it out for other proteins like chicken or beef for a slightly different, yet still delicious, taste. Choose boneless, skinless chicken thighs or beef chuck roast and cut them into 2-inch chunks, just like the original recipe.
2. Olive Oil: If you’re out of olive oil, you can use vegetable oil or canola oil in its place. They’re both neutral in flavor, allowing the other ingredients to truly shine through.
3. Barbecue Sauce: Feeling saucy? Try experimenting with different styles of barbecue sauces – from smoky and sweet to tangy and spicy – to create new flavor profiles. You can even make a homemade barbecue sauce using tomato sauce, vinegar, sugar, and spices. The world of barbecue sauce is your playground!
4. Chicken Broth: If you’re in a pinch or you prefer a different type of broth, you can substitute chicken broth with beef broth, vegetable broth, or even water. The flavor may be slightly different, but your pulled pork will still be tender and delicious.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar: No apple cider vinegar on hand? Don’t sweat it! You can use white vinegar or even lemon juice as a substitute. You might not get that subtle apple flavor, but the tanginess will still be there to balance the sweetness.
6. Brown sugar: If you’re running low on brown sugar, you can replace it with an equal amount of white sugar or honey. This may alter the taste and texture slightly, but your pulled pork will still have that sweet, sticky goodness we all crave.
7. Worcestershire Sauce: In the unlikely event that Worcestershire sauce is missing from your pantry, you can mix together soy sauce, a little bit of sugar, and a splash of vinegar for a makeshift substitute.
8. Spice It Up: Feel free to adjust the spices in the recipe to suit your personal preferences. Add more chili powder for some extra heat, or throw in a pinch of smoked paprika for a smoky twist. There’s no limit to the flavor combinations you can create!
With these substitutions and alternatives in your culinary arsenal, you’ll be able to whip up a pulled pork dish that’s perfect for your taste buds and pantry. Happy cooking, and remember, experimentation is the spice of life!
Storage & Reheating
Fear not, fellow pulled pork aficionados! The storage and reheating process for this delectable dish is as easy as pie – well, maybe even easier, because who has time to fuss with pie crusts? Let’s break it down step by step, so you can enjoy your mouthwatering pulled pork leftovers with confidence.
1. Cool it down: Once your pulled pork has decided to take a break from being the life of the party, allow it to cool down to room temperature. This should take about 30 minutes to an hour, but don’t let it sit too long, as we want to keep those hungry bacteria at bay.
2. Store it away: Transfer the cooled pulled pork to an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag. Feel free to spoon in some of that luscious sauce to keep the pork moist and flavorful. Store it in the refrigerator if you plan to devour it within 3-4 days, or pop it in the freezer for a longer rendezvous of up to 3 months.
3. Reheat like a pro: When your cravings for tender, saucy pulled pork strike again, fearlessly retrieve your stored treasure from its chilly abode. If frozen, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
For a quick reheat, microwave the pork in a microwave-safe container, stirring every 30 seconds, until heated through. Alternatively, you can channel your inner global culinary heritage and reheat the pork in a saucepan over low heat on the stovetop, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a temperature of 165°F (74°C). Feel free to add a splash of chicken broth, apple cider vinegar, or even a dollop of barbecue sauce to awaken the flavors and keep the pork succulent.
4. Feast once more: Serve your reheated pulled pork in all its glory, whether atop a pillowy bun, nestled in a cozy bed of rice, or alongside your favorite side dishes. Revel in the knowledge that you have mastered the art of pulled pork storage and reheating, and enjoy every last saucy morsel!
Now that you’ve got a mouthwatering batch of pulled pork cooked to perfection, let’s explore some delightful ways to serve it up and impress your guests!
1. Classic Pulled Pork Sandwiches: Pile that tender, saucy pork high on a soft hamburger bun, and top it off with a generous dollop of creamy coleslaw. The contrasting textures and flavors will have everyone’s taste buds singing.
2. International Influence: Celebrate global culinary heritage by serving your pulled pork in soft tortillas as tacos! Add pickled onions, jalapeños, and a sprinkle of cilantro to create a Mexican-inspired masterpiece.
3. Comfort Food Supreme: Serve your pulled pork over a bed of creamy mashed potatoes or buttery grits, and add a side of tangy collard greens or green beans. This down-home meal will warm hearts and fill bellies with contentment.
4. Pizza Party: Switch up your usual pizza toppings and layer your pulled pork, some thinly sliced red onions, and a drizzle of extra BBQ sauce over a pre-made pizza crust. Bake until crispy and melty for a fun twist on pizza night!
5. Stuffed Spuds: Take your baked potato game to the next level by stuffing them with pulled pork and topping with shredded cheese, sour cream, and green onions. The delicious combination is sure to knock the socks off any potato lover.
With these serving ideas in mind, you’ll be able to turn your Instant Pot pulled pork adventure into a full-on feast that’ll leave everyone raving. Remember, when it comes to cooking and serving, it’s all about having fun and embracing your creativity. So go forth and conquer the pulled pork world!
Variations & Customization
1. Vegan: You don’t have to miss out on the wonderful flavors of this recipe even if you’re following a plant-based diet. Instead of pork, try using jackfruit or large portobello mushroom caps cut into chunks. These alternatives offer a similar texture and absorb the delicious sauce in the same way as the pork. Be sure to use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and a vegan-friendly Worcestershire sauce or substitute it with soy sauce.
2. Gluten-Free: For those with gluten sensitivities, simply ensure that your barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and any store-bought spice mixes are gluten-free. Replace store-bought blends with homemade ones if you’re unsure. Also, serve the pulled pork over rice or on gluten-free buns to make it completely gluten-free.
3. GAPS/AIP: To make this recipe compliant with the GAPS or AIP diets, avoid using any sugar and substitute the barbecue sauce with a homemade version without any nightshades, such as tomatoes or peppers. Use apple cider vinegar instead of Worcestershire sauce and replace the chicken broth with bone broth. Additionally, avoid the chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder; instead, use fresh garlic, onion, and ginger for a delicious twist.
4. Keto: For those following a ketogenic diet, simply swap out the brown sugar for a keto-friendly sweetener, such as erythritol or stevia. Consider using a sugar-free barbecue sauce or make your own version with keto-approved sweeteners. You can also reduce the carb count by serving the pulled pork over cauliflower rice or in lettuce wraps instead of on buns.
5. Other Popular Variations: Feel free to get creative with your pulled pork! Try adding a different flavor profile by using a teriyaki sauce or a spicy chipotle sauce instead of the barbecue sauce. You can also experiment with different spice rubs like a smoky paprika rub or a zesty citrus rub. The possibilities are endless, so don’t be afraid to mix and match your favorite flavors.
Remember, no matter your dietary restrictions or preferences, you can still enjoy the mouthwatering taste of pulled pork with just a few simple tweaks. So put on your chef’s hat and start experimenting with these variations, because the world of pulled pork is your oyster (or should we say, your piggy bank?)! Happy cooking!
Notes & Tips
- Choosing the right cut of pork: Pork butt and pork shoulder are both great cuts for this recipe, as they become tender and juicy when cooked under pressure. Don’t be fooled by the name – pork butt actually comes from the upper shoulder of the pig! The marbling of fat in these cuts will keep your pulled pork moist and flavorful.
- To sear or not to sear: Browning the pork in the Instant Pot before pressure cooking adds a depth of flavor to the dish. This is due to the Maillard reaction, a chemical process that occurs when proteins and sugars in the meat are heated, creating a delightful caramelized crust. However, if you’re short on time, you can skip this step and proceed directly to pressure cooking.
- Customize the sauce: Feel free to play around with the sauce ingredients to suit your taste buds! If you like it sweet, add more brown sugar; if you prefer it tangy, increase the apple cider vinegar. You can also experiment with different barbecue sauces to find your favorite flavor combination.
- Bring on the global flavors: Celebrate global culinary heritage by adding your favorite international spices to the dry rub or sauce. Try incorporating smoked paprika for a Spanish twist, or add some Chinese five-spice for an Asian-inspired version.
- Speed up the shredding process: If you’re short on time or patience, you can use a hand mixer or stand mixer with the paddle attachment to shred the pork. Simply place the cooked pork chunks in a large bowl and mix on low speed until shredded to your desired consistency.
- Make-ahead magic: Pulled pork is a fantastic make-ahead dish, as the flavors actually improve after a day or two in the fridge. Reheat the pork in a saucepan over low heat, adding a splash of chicken broth or water to keep it moist. You can also freeze the cooked and cooled pork in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag for up to three months – simply thaw in the refrigerator and reheat as needed.
- Serving suggestions: Pulled pork is incredibly versatile! Try serving it on buns with coleslaw for a classic pulled pork sandwich, over rice with a side of roasted vegetables, or stuffed into tortillas with avocado and salsa for a tasty taco night. The possibilities are endless, so let your culinary creativity run wild!
- So there you have it, friend – a simple and approachable guide to making the perfect pulled pork in your Instant Pot. With these tips in your arsenal, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a pulled pork aficionado. Happy cooking!
1. Skimping on the spice rub: The spice rub is essential for creating a flavorful, tender pulled pork. Make sure to generously coat each piece of pork with the spice mixture, giving it a good massage to ensure even distribution. This will not only enhance the flavor but also tenderize the meat, creating a melt-in-your-mouth experience.
2. Overcrowding the Instant Pot: When browning the pork, it’s crucial to work in batches if necessary and avoid overcrowding the pot. Overcrowding can lead to uneven browning and steaming, which won’t give you that beautiful crusty exterior you’re after.
3. Neglecting to deglaze the pot: Once you’ve browned the pork and removed it from the Instant Pot, be sure to scrape up any stuck-on bits from the bottom. These caramelized morsels, called fond, are packed with flavor and will add depth to your final dish. Plus, deglazing helps prevent the dreaded Burn notice on your Instant Pot.
4. Not submerging the pork in the sauce: To ensure even cooking and maximum flavor absorption, make sure all the pork pieces are submerged in the sauce before pressure cooking. This will help create a succulent, juicy pulled pork that’s infused with the tangy barbecue flavors.
5. Impatiently releasing pressure: After the cooking time is up, resist the urge to immediately release the pressure. Allowing the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes will help the meat to relax and become even more tender, while also ensuring a safer experience when you finally turn the valve to Venting.
6. Skipping the sauce reduction: While it’s tempting to dive straight into the pulled pork, taking a few extra minutes to thicken the sauce will make all the difference. Simmering the sauce on the Sauté function will not only thicken it but also concentrate the flavors, making for a lip-smacking, finger-licking final dish.
Armed with these tips and tricks, you’re well on your way to perfecting the art of Instant Pot pulled pork. So, don your favorite apron, channel your inner pitmaster, and get ready to impress your friends and family with your culinary prowess. Happy cooking!
Health Risks & Benefits
Now, before we dive into the delicious world of pulled pork, let’s take a quick look at the health side of things. As with any dish, moderation is key, so don’t go eating an entire pot of pulled pork all by yourself!
First, the good news: pork is an excellent source of protein, ensuring your muscles stay strong and happy. It also contains essential nutrients like B-vitamins, zinc, and iron. The use of olive oil in this recipe gives you a dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and the spices add flavor without adding any significant calories.
The not-so-great news: pork butt/shoulder can be a bit high in fat, which might be a concern for some people. However, cutting the pork into smaller chunks and trimming any visible fat can help reduce the overall fat content of the dish. The barbecue sauce, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce can contribute to the total sugar and sodium content of the dish. Opting for low-sugar and low-sodium versions of these ingredients (or even making your own homemade BBQ sauce) can help control those levels.
Now that we’ve got the health facts covered, it’s time to dig into this scrumptious pulled pork recipe with gusto! Just remember to savor each bite, and don’t forget to share the goodness with your loved ones. Happy cooking!
Recipe History & Context
When it comes to comfort food, pulled pork is a beloved classic that has a rich history and worldwide appeal. The origins of pulled pork can be traced back to the Caribbean and Southern United States, where slow cooking and smoking meats was an age-old tradition. In these regions, pork was often cooked over open flames or in underground pits, making the meat tender and imbued with smoky flavors.
But fear not, modern home chefs! Thanks to the magic of the Instant Pot, you can now recreate those amazing flavors right in your own kitchen, without having to dig a pit in your backyard. The Instant Pot’s pressure cooking function ensures that the pork is cooked evenly and tenderly, while the combination of spices, sauces, and seasonings pays homage to global culinary traditions.
In this recipe, we’re using a medley of flavors to create a mouth-watering pulled pork dish that’s perfect for any occasion. The barbecue sauce nods to the Southern United States, while the apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce bring tangy, sweet, and umami notes to the party. The chili powder, onion, and garlic powder provide a gentle heat, reminding us of the flavors found in Caribbean cuisine.
As you whip up this easy and delicious recipe, take a moment to appreciate the rich history and culinary influences that have shaped this dish into the comforting, melt-in-your-mouth masterpiece it is today. By embracing the convenience of the Instant Pot and the global flavors of pulled pork, you’re not only creating a delicious and satisfying meal, but you’re also taking part in a culinary tradition that spans continents and centuries.
So gather your ingredients, fire up your Instant Pot, and get ready to embark on a tasty journey through time and space with this lip-smacking pulled pork recipe. Happy cooking!
While pork butt/shoulder is the preferred cut for pulled pork due to its higher fat content and tenderness, you can also use a pork loin or pork tenderloin if that’s what you have on hand. However, keep in mind that these cuts are leaner, so the final dish might not be as juicy and succulent as if you were using pork butt/shoulder.
The beauty of pulled pork is its versatility! You can serve it on buns for a scrumptious pulled pork sandwich, over rice for a heartwarming meal, or with your favorite side dishes like coleslaw, baked beans, or mac and cheese. Don’t forget to explore the global culinary heritage by trying different sauces and seasonings to create a unique pulled pork experience every time.
Absolutely! If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can still make this delicious pulled pork using a slow cooker or a Dutch oven. For the slow cooker method, follow the same steps as the recipe, but cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours. For the Dutch oven method, preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C), then follow the recipe steps, but let the pork cook in the oven for 3-4 hours or until it’s fork-tender.
You bet! Pulled pork freezes beautifully, making it a fantastic make-ahead option. Simply place the cooled pulled pork in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag, removing as much air as possible. It can be frozen for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy it, just thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and reheat it gently on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Science is your friend here! The key to perfectly shredded pork is making sure it’s cooked long enough for the collagen in the meat to break down, resulting in tender, juicy bites. The Instant Pot’s pressure cooking function speeds up this process, but you can also achieve this in a slow cooker or oven by allowing the pork to cook low and slow. And remember, when shredding the pork, use two forks to pull apart the meat in opposite directions for the best results. Happy shredding!
- Instant Pot
- Forks for shredding
- 3-4 lbs pork butt/shoulder 2-inch chunks
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup barbecue sauce
- ½ cup chicken broth
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Mix chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Rub on pork chunks.
- Set Instant Pot to Sauté, add olive oil, and heat for a minute.
- Brown pork chunks in Instant Pot, then set aside.
- Combine barbecue sauce, chicken broth, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce in Instant Pot.
- Add browned pork to Instant Pot, submerging in sauce.
- Secure lid, set pressure release valve to Sealing, and cook on high pressure for 1 hour 30 minutes.
- Allow natural pressure release for 15 minutes, then vent remaining pressure.
- Remove pork, shred with forks.
- Optional: thicken sauce by simmering on Sauté for 5-10 minutes. Pour over shredded pork.
- Serve and enjoy!