Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork
This Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork recipe is the answer to all of your BBQ needs. Make a perfectly tender pork shoulder in your pressure cooker in slightly over an hour.
Usually a perfectly tender pulled pork takes hours of low, slow cooking but using an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker you can make this recipe in just a little over an hour.
When the meat comes out of the Instant Pot (or Ninja Foodie, etc. whatever pressure cooker you use) it is tender and juicy and pulls apart easily with a fork. Mix it with your favorite BBQ sauce and serve it with some Instant Pot Collard Greens, Instant Pot Baked Beans, Keto Avocado Coleslaw, or my personal favorite a little cowboy caviar.
This easy recipe is great for summer parties, game day parties, and pot lucks. Make a big batch, grab a bag of slider buns, and you’re ready to feed a crowd.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Thank you!
Table of contents
- Ingredients You’ll Need
- Pressure Cooker vs Instant Pot
- Recipes that Use Pulled Pork
- Do I Have To Sear The Pork?
- How To Shred or “Pull” Pork?
- What Other Cuts of Meat Can You Use for Pulled Pork
- What to Serve With Pulled Pork
- How to Store It
- How to Thaw Frozen Pulled Pork
- How to Reheat Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork
- Frequently Asked Questions
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Pork Shoulder – This is my preferred cut of meat for this dish It has a bit more fat which breaks down in the Instant Pot to give you tender, juicy, pork every time. If you can’t find pork shoulder I have a few other options listed below.
- Spices – I like to rub my pork with a mixture of onion powder, garlic powder, and salt before starting to help give it a little extra boost of flavor.
- BBQ sauce – Choose your favorite sauce or make a delicious homemade BBQ sauce. If you want this recipe to be keto all you have to do is choose a keto-friendly BBQ sauce and you’re good to go.
We used a 6 quart Instant Pot to make this recipe.
New to using an Instant Pot? Make sure you read our beginner’s guide on “How to Use an Instant Pot” to get started!
Step 1 – Dry Rub. In a small bowl combine all of the spices and stir together.
Step 2 – Prepare the pork. Cut pork shoulder in half so you have two 1 pound pieces. Rub the spice mixture all over each piece of pork.
Step 3 – Cook. Place pork into the pressure cooker and add BBQ sauce and water. Lock the lid in place and turn the valve to SEALING. Set to HIGH pressure for 40 minutes
When the timer goes off let the pressure cooker do a natural release for 10 minutes. Then turn valve to VENTING and release any remaining pressure before removing the lid.
Step 4 – Pull Pork. Remove the meat from the pressure cooker, leaving behind the liquid, and shred the pork. Add more BBQ sauce to the meat if desired.
Pressure Cooker vs Instant Pot
A pressure cooker is a cooking appliance that uses pressure and steam to cook food quickly. It’s a sealed pot with a locking lid that traps steam inside, raising the pressure and temperature inside the pot. This results in faster cooking times and can be used to cook a variety of foods, including meats, soups, and vegetables.
An Instant Pot, on the other hand, is a brand of electric pressure cooker that has become very popular in recent years. It’s essentially a modernized version of the traditional stovetop pressure cooker, with added features such as digital controls, multiple cooking functions, and safety mechanisms.
While an Instant Pot is a type of pressure cooker, not all pressure cookers are Instant Pots. However, because of their popularity, the terms “pressure cooker” and “Instant Pot” are often used interchangeably, which can cause some confusion. It’s important to note that regardless of the brand or type of pressure cooker used, the cooking principles and techniques remain the same.
Do I Have To Sear The Pork?
The short answer is no.
The purpose of searing meat before cooking is to lock in flavor and moisture. When cooking food in a pressure cooker, you get that simply because of the way it’s cooked. You’ll notice when you start using your pressure cooker to cook food tastes even better than normal. So, it’s entirely up to you if you want to sear or not. I am usually in a hurry, and I don’t feel like it’s necessary.
If you want to take the time to sear the pork shoulder, then feel free. You can turn the pressure cooker to the saute setting and sear until it’s the color you like, then follow the rest of the directions.
How To Shred or “Pull” Pork?
Forks – This is the most traditional method. You simply take two forks and twist the to shred apart. This is a very inexpensive way to do it, and you don’t need any special tools.
Shredder Claws – You can buy some claws that are specifically made for shredding all sorts of meat. You literally just have to twist them, and next thing you know, you have perfectly shredded meat!
Stand Mixer – I know it might sound a little crazy, but if you put the meat in the stand mixer, you can turn it on to low speed for a few seconds to a minute, and it will shred FAST!
Food Processor – Using your slicer blade, you can efficiently shred the meat by giving it a few pulses. It will be a fabulous texture and will look great too.
As you can see, there are several methods and there is no right or wrong way to do it as long as you are happy. We have used several methods, and they all work great.
If you opt to use a different cut of meat like a pork loin or tenderloin, using the stand mixer or food processor is the way to go. Since they are a little denser, you need a stronger shredding option to get it pulled apart well.
What Other Cuts of Meat Can You Use for Pulled Pork
When it comes to making pressure cooker pulled pork, you’ll want to choose a cut of meat that is well-marbled with fat and has enough connective tissue to break down during the cooking process. While pork shoulder is the most common cut of meat used for pulled pork, there are other cuts that can also be used to make this delicious dish. Here are some alternative cuts of pork that can be used for pulled pork:
- Pork butt: Also known as Boston butt, this cut comes from the upper part of the shoulder and is a bit more marbled with fat than the lower part of the shoulder. It has a rich, porky flavor and is perfect for slow cooking to make pulled pork.
- Pork loin: This leaner cut of pork is located towards the back of the pig and is often used for roasting or grilling. While it doesn’t have as much fat as pork shoulder, it can still be used for pulled pork if cooked low and slow to tenderize the meat.
- Pork belly: This fatty and flavorful cut of pork is often used to make bacon, but can also be used for pulled pork. It’s a bit more delicate than other cuts, so it’s important to cook it gently to avoid drying it out.
- Pork country-style ribs: You can also use boneless pork country-style ribs in place of pork shoulder. They are actually cut from the shoulder meat so they have the same great flavor and they cook beautifully in the Instant Pot.
While these alternative cuts of pork may require slightly different cooking techniques or may have a different flavor profile than pork shoulder, they can still make a delicious and satisfying pulled pork dish.
What to Serve With Pulled Pork
Pulled pork is a versatile dish that pairs well with a variety of side dishes. Here are some delicious options for serving with pulled pork:
- Coleslaw: A classic side dish for pulled pork, coleslaw adds a crunchy texture and tangy flavor that complements the rich meat. Try a creamy coleslaw with mayo or a vinegar-based coleslaw for a fresher taste.
- Baked beans: Another classic side dish for pulled pork, baked beans add sweetness and depth of flavor to the meal. You can use canned baked beans or make your own from scratch for a more homemade taste.
- Cornbread: This Southern staple is a great accompaniment to pulled pork, with its slightly sweet flavor and crumbly texture. Serve it warm with butter and honey for a delicious treat.
- Pasta Salad: A versatile side dish you can make pasta salad in a variety of ways incorporating different vegetables, pastas, and sauces.
- Potato Salad: The ultimate summer BBQ side. Potato salad can be made the day before and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
These are just a few examples of the many side dishes that go well with pulled pork. Experiment with different flavors and textures to find your favorite combination.
How to Store It
Storing pulled pork properly is essential for ensuring its freshness and flavor. Here’s how to store pulled pork in both the refrigerator and freezer:
Refrigerator storage instructions:
- Let the pulled pork cool to room temperature before storing it in the refrigerator.
- Transfer the pulled pork to an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
- Label the container or wrap with the date it was cooked and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
Freezer storage instructions:
- Allow the pulled pork to cool completely before freezing it.
- Transfer the pulled pork to a freezer-safe airtight container or a resealable freezer bag, removing as much air as possible before sealing it.
- Label the container or bag with the date it was cooked and store it in the freezer for up to 3-4 months.
How to Thaw Frozen Pulled Pork
When thawing frozen pulled pork, it’s important to do it safely to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Here are some guidelines for thawing pulled pork:
Refrigerator thawing instructions:
- Transfer the frozen pulled pork to the refrigerator and allow it to thaw for 24-48 hours, depending on the amount and thickness of the meat.
- Once thawed, the pulled pork can be reheated in the oven, microwave, or stovetop.
Quick thawing instructions:
- Submerge the sealed pulled pork in a bowl of cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes to keep it cold.
- Once thawed, the pulled pork should be cooked immediately and not refrozen.
By following these storage and thawing instructions, you can enjoy delicious pulled pork anytime without compromising its quality or safety.
How to Reheat Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork
Reheating pressure cooker pulled pork is easy and can be done using a variety of methods. Here are some options for reheating pressure cooker pulled pork:
- Oven: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the pulled pork in an oven-safe dish, cover it with foil, and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until heated through.
- Microwave: Place the pulled pork in a microwave-safe dish, cover it with a damp paper towel or microwave-safe lid, and heat it on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until heated through.
- Stovetop: Place the pulled pork in a saucepan or skillet with a little bit of liquid (such as water or barbecue sauce) to prevent it from drying out. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through.
When reheating pulled pork, it’s important to make sure it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F to ensure it’s safe to eat. You can use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.
It’s also important to note that reheated pulled pork may not be as tender and juicy as freshly cooked pulled pork, so be sure to add some extra moisture if needed (such as barbecue sauce or broth) to keep it from drying out.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s not recommended to cook frozen pork in a pressure cooker, as it can result in uneven cooking and unsafe food temperatures.
While pork tenderloin is a lean and tender cut of meat, it’s not ideal for making pulled pork as it doesn’t have enough connective tissue to break down and become tender.
The cooking time for instant pot pulled pork varies depending on the size and thickness of the pork. Typically, it takes around 40 minutes to cook a 1 pound pork shoulder and 90 minutes to cook a 2-3 pound pork shoulder in the instant pot. However, it’s important to note that the cooking time does not include the time it takes for the pressure cooker to come to pressure or release its pressure naturally.
The easiest way to know if the pork is fully cooked in the instant pot is to use a meat thermometer. The internal temperature of the pork should reach 195-205°F (90-96°C) for it to be fully cooked and tender enough for shredding.
Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork
- Cut pork shoulder in half so you have two 1 pound pieces.
- Mix all of the dry ingredients together and rub them on to the pork.
- Place pork into the pressure cooker and add BBQ sauce and water.
- Lock the lid in place and turn the valve to SEALING. Set to HIGH pressure for 40 minutes
- When the timer goes off let the pressure cooker do a natural release for 10 minutes. Then turn valve to VENTING and release any remaining pressure before removing the lid.
- Remove the meat from the pressure cooker, leaving behind the liquid, and shred the pork. Add more BBQ sauce to the meat if desired.
- Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.