This Instant Pot Pulled Pork is so easy, delicious, and takes less than half the time to make– start to finish- than making it in the oven! Using your pressure cooker to make this low-carb, paleo, and whole30 compliant pulled pork recipe is SO easy and comes out SO flavorful and juicy.
You can pile it high on pulled pork sandwiches with your favorite barbecue sauce on a burger or slider bun, or add to tacos or burritos topped with cilantro and onion for a Tex-Mex meal.
It’s cheap, it feeds a crowd, and it’s freezable. What more could you want?
Don’t have a pressure cooker? See recipe notes below for how to make this in your slow cooker or oven.
I made this pulled pork recipe when I was stocking my freezer for after I had my second baby. I stashed a whole bunch in my freezer (along with two batches of my favorite enchiladas), and thawed it out in portions for easy meals.
Thank you, past Elizabeth. You are wise.
Here’s how to make this instant pot pulled pork. This delicious, fall-apart, tender, juicy, flavor-packed pulled pork. Yummmmm.
How long does it take to cook pulled pork?
Pressure cooker recipes can often be deceiving when it comes to cooking times, since many recipes don’t account for the time it takes for it to come up to pressure. While this Instant Pot Pulled Pork technically cooks for 60 minutes, you should allow for 20-30 minutes more for it to come to pressure.
But if you were to make this recipe in your oven, it would take about 4 hours to cook (not to mention heat up your house).
In a slow cooker, it would take 4-8 hours.
This recipe takes less than 2 hours, including prep, for the most meltingly tender pulled pork ever!
What makes the Instant Pot perfect for this recipe is not only the shortened cooking time, but the fact that you can sear the meat directly in the pressure cooker before cooking it fully.
How to make pulled pork in an pressure cooker
- First, you’ll make an easy pork rub (or use your favorite pre-mixed one) and cover every surface of a boneless, skinless pork shoulder, cut into pieces. You can use bone-in, but I find it much easier to use boneless, skinless pork, and it’s not much more expensive than bone-in.
- Then, sear each side of the pork in order to brown the outside. This helps create a crispy, caramelized surface, and when you pull the pork apart when it’s finished cooking, these bits will be mixed with the succulent, tender meat of the pork, enhancing the texture. I’ve made pulled pork without searing the meat before hand, and it’s also good, so if you’re in a hurry you could skip this. But If you have the time, it really makes it better!
- Searing the pork first also creates a layer of browned bits in the bottom of the pan, which is then deglazed and cooked up with some onions. The browned bits will incorporate into the juices and add to the flavor.
- Once the pork is browned and the onions are cooked, the pork is added back into the pressure cooker with a mixture of apple cider vinegar, orange juice, and water. Then, it’s cooked for 60 minutes on high pressure. That’s it!
How to shred pulled pork and reduce the juices
The easiest way to shred the pulled pork is to use two forks. If you’ve cooked it correctly, it will be so tender this step will be almost effortless.
And it’s a good indicator of whether you cooked it for long enough- if it doesn’t fall apart to the touch, it likely needs a longer cooking time to make it more tender.
I remove the pork from the instant pot and place it on a rimmed baking sheet or large plate, to collect any juices (it gets messy if you use a cutting board for this).
While I’m shredding the pork, I set my pressure cooker to “sauté” and reduce the cooking juices by about half. This will concentrate the flavor a ton, making a delicious base for the shredded pork to swim in.
Then I shred the pork with two forks, add it BACK to the instant pot with the reduced juices, and serve it from there!
How to store pulled pork
You can keep pulled pork in the fridge for 3-5 days, and in the freezer in an airtight container or bag for about 6 months.
One important note about storing: store the pulled pork in the juices. Otherwise, it will dry out!
How to serve pulled pork
Pulled pork is so versatile and you can do endless things with it. Here are some of my favorite ways to make pulled pork into a complete meal.
- Pile the pulled pork on slider buns and top it with coleslaw and your favorite barbecue sauce.
- Serve it as a “main” meat dish along with a starch and a veggie, such as rice and green beans, and drizzle everything on your plate with the juices.
- Have it alongside Black Beans and Rice.
- Make carnitas by frying the pulled pork in a skillet with oil until crispy and serve on tacos with chopped red onion and cilantro.
- Use it as a pizza topping along with some pickled jalapeños and pineapple, like a Hawaiian pizza.
Other easy pressure cooker recipes
- Instant Pot Spaghetti Squash with Garlic and Herbs
- Split pea soup
- Fish stew
- Loaded Baked Potato Soup
Browse all my instant pot recipes here.
Don’t have a pressure cooker? Take a look at the recipe notes for how to use your slow cooker or oven for this recipe.
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Instant Pot Pulled Pork
For the Pork:
- 4 lb. boneless skinless pork shoulder cut into 4-5" pieces
- pork rub spice mixture recipe below, or 4-5 tablespoons of your favorite pre-mixed pork rub
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or other oil
- 1 onion halved and sliced
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- slider buns and coleslaw for serving optional
- Spread the pork rub spice mixture all over each surface of the pieces of pork shoulder, pressing it into the meat so it sticks.
- Turn on the sauté function on your instant pot. Once it's hot, add the vegetable oil and brown the pork shoulder pieces in batches, about 3-4 minutes on each side, until a golden brown crust forms on the outside. If the bottom of the pot starts to burn, add a bit more oil, or add a little water to deglaze, scraping up the bits with a wooden spoon.
- Add the onions to the instant pot and sauté until softened and starting to brown (about 3 minutes). Add the water and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Add the apple cider vinegar, orange juice, and the pork to the instant pot. Turn off sauté function, cover, and set pressure to manual on high for 60 minutes.
- Quick release the pressure when the 60 minutes is up. Open carefully once the float valve has depressed. Remove the pork to a rimmed baking sheet (or something else with a rim, to catch the liquids).
- Turn the instant pot to sauté once again. Allow the mixture to simmer until it has reduced in volume by about half.
- Meanwhile, use two forks to pull apart the pork shoulder to desired texture.
- Add the pork back into the reduced liquid and turn instant pot off.
- Serve on slider or hamburger buns with your favorite coleslaw, if desired.
- Oven Instructions: In a dutch oven or equivalent, sauté the seasoned pork and then onions as directed over medium-high heat. Add the water to deglaze, and the pork back in, along with the apple cider vinegar and orange juice. Place cover on top and cook in a 325 degree F oven for 4 hours, or until pork is pull-apart tender. Reduce liquid as directed on stovetop.
- Slow Cooker Instructions: brown the pork shoulder and sauté the onions in a separate large pot on the stove over medium-heat as directed. Place water, apple cider vinegar, orange juice, onions, and browned pork into your slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours, or until pork is pull-apart tender. Reduce cooking liquid on the stovetop in a separate pot once it's done.
- Storing Leftovers: This recipe makes a TON, making it great to serve a crowd. The leftovers can also be frozen in the cooking liquid in an airtight container or plastic bag for 6 months.
- For more or less than 4 lbs. of pork shoulder: You should cook pork shoulder for 15 minutes per 1 lb. of meat. So for 5 lbs. of pork, you should do 75 minutes. For 3, do 45 minutes. Find more at this handy instant pot cooking times reference.
- I made this recipe in my 6 qt. Instant pot. It should work the same in an 8 qt., but you may need to cut the ingredients in half for a 3 qt. mini.
This post originally appeared on Bowl of Delicious in April, 2018. It has been republished with new photos, improved recipe instructions, and more pertinent information.