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!
You can pile it high on pulled pork sandwiches with your favorite barbecue sauce, or add to tacos or burritos topped with cilantro and onion for a Mexican-inspired 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’m actually on maternity leave from my blog right now, and wrote this post a while ago. But chances are, I’ve been enjoying some of this very same pulled pork over the past few days, since I stashed a whole bunch in my freezer (along with two batches of my favorite enchiladas)!
Thank you, past Elizabeth. You are wise.
Don’t worry, baby photos will be coming in due time. If you just can’t wait to see how adorable she is, make sure you’re following Bowl of Delicious on instagram for the latest updates!
Back to this instant pot pulled pork.
This delicious, fall-apart, tender, juicy, flavor-packed 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.
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, you’ll 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!
The result is a tangy, sweet, and slightly spicy flavor that is so, so good.
We piled the pulled pork on slider buns and topped it with coleslaw and our favorite barbecue sauce.
One quick tip: pulled pork has a tendency to dry out. Make sure you save those cooking juices- keep the pork swimming in them as you are serving, and also to store for later.
And if you want to go sandwich-less for this pulled pork, just serve the meat as is alongside some Quick and Easy Black Beans and Rice.
Here’s the easy recipe for Instant Pot Pulled Pork! Look at the recipe notes for instructions on how to use your slow cooker or oven if you don’t have a pressure cooker.
And here are some of the products I recommend for this.
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 vegetable 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.
- 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.
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.