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Instant Pot Pulled Pork

Instant Pot Pulled Pork is tender as if you’d cooked it all day. Find out which cut of pork is best, get side dish suggestions, plus leftover pulled pork ideas!

pulled pork on a cutting board with two forks and half of the roast ready to be pulled

What is pulled pork?

Pulled pork is a barbecue dish that’s popular in the United States. It’s pork that’s usually covered in a dry rub then smoked, although home cooks typically make it in a slow cooker or the Instant Pot. Instant Pot pulled pork is becoming more popular as more people are realizing how much quicker and easier it is to make at home.

After the meat is smoked, slow-cooked or pressure-cooked, it’s then “pulled” into shreds of meat, and often tossed with a barbecue sauce.

What is the best cut of pork to use for Instant Pot pulled pork?

Pork shoulder is the best cut to use for making pulled pork, regardless of the cooking method. As its name implies, it comes from the shoulder area of the pig. It’s a relatively inexpensive, tough piece of meat, which is why it must be cooked “low and slow”. It’s the perfect choice for Instant Pot pulled pork since pressure cooking does a wonderful job of turning it into fall-apart, tender meat.

Is pork butt the same as pork shoulder?

Almost, but not quite. They’re both from the same area of the pig: the shoulder. Pork butt is higher up on the pig and pork shoulder is further down. Both are tough cuts of meat that benefit from longer cooking times. If you have pork butt at home, feel free to use it for making this Instant Pot pulled pork recipe.

Can you use a pork loin for pulled pork?

Technically, yes, you can use a pork loin for pulled pork. However, it’s much leaner than pork shoulder or pork butt, and in my experience, pulled pork is much better with one of those choices. In a pinch, however, a pork loin can be used.

Be careful not to confuse a pork loin with a pork tenderloin, which is prepared very differently. Pork tenderloin should never be used to make pulled pork.

How do you shred Instant Pot pulled pork?

a whole pork roast with two forks above it, about to be turned into pulled pork

Using two forks, “pull” the meat apart into shreds. If it was cooked properly and long enough, it will be easy and will just fall apart.

An example of pulling pork with your hands: pulled pork on a cutting board with a man's hands pulling apart a large piece of pork

If the meat isn’t too hot (and your hands are clean), you can also pull it apart with your hands.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

How do you shred pulled pork quickly?

Using two forks shreds pork pretty efficiently, but if you make a lot of Instant Pot Pulled Pork and want an even easier way, try Meat Claws. They shred meat so fast and they can be used with pork, chicken or beef. I have this exact set and I’ll never be without it!

Can you overcook pork in the Instant Pot?

Although it’s possible to overcook pork and other meats when pressure cooking, usually if the meat isn’t tender enough it’s because it wasn’t cooked long enough. 4-5 pounds of pork shoulder needs about 90 minutes of cooking time at pressure. This might seem like a long time, but if you consider how long it would take cooking it another way, 90 minutes isn’t really that long.

Can you make pulled pork ahead of time?

You can absolutely make pulled pork ahead of time! In fact, I almost always buy the biggest roast that will fit into my Instant Pot, just to have leftovers.

Once my pulled pork is at room temperature, I pack it into air-tight containers or resealable bags and keep it in the fridge. It keeps for up to 3 days, although it’s usually gone by then. Sometimes I’ll freeze it, too, which will keep for up to 3 months.

I’ve put together some great options for pulled pork leftovers below, so don’t miss it!

Ways to serve Instant Pot Pulled Pork

The most common – and arguably most delicious – way to serve pulled pork is on a bun. The pork is tossed with barbecue sauce then topped with coleslaw, which adds flavor but also a nice texture contrast. Pickles are also delicious! And while it’s not traditional, sliced jalapeños are perfect for spice lovers.

A photo of a pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and pickles using Instant Pot pulled pork

Quick and simple pulled pork sandwich

  • Butter and toast the buns
  • Make a quick coleslaw with shredded cabbage, a mix of equal amounts of mayonnaise and apple cider vinegar with a little sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Toss it with the cabbage.
  • Top the sandwiches with the coleslaw, pickle chips, jalapeños, and/or pickled onions.
A photo of pulled pork sliders with coleslaw on a cutting board

Pulled Pork Sliders

These are prepared just like full-sized sandwiches, they’re just smaller and easier to eat. This is a perfect choice if you’re making pulled pork for a crowd.

Pulled pork tacos on a cutting board with green salsa and queso fresco and Instant Pot Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork Tacos

Easy to make and delicious to eat, pulled pork tacos are a great choice! Topping suggestions are green salsa, diced white onion, chopped cilantro, and crumbled queso fresco. Simple is best here!

Instant Pot Pulled pork on a black plate next to roasted potatoes

Pulled Pork & Potatoes

This is more of a midwest “meat and potatoes” meal (literally), but there’s a reason it’s popular. Add a simple vegetable on the side like corn on the cob or garlic snap peas.

Pulled pork and grilled, chopped vegetables on a tortilla that's set on a round wooden board

Grilled Vegetable Tacos

These are perfect if you’re looking to up the health factor in your tacos. Grill or roast some veggies, then dice them and toss them together to use as a healthy taco topping.

You can also skip the tortilla and serve this as a taco-style bowl.

What to serve with pulled pork

Here are some ideas for what to serve with your Instant Pot Pulled Pork:

Ideas for leftover pulled pork

These ideas for leftover pulled pork will make an entirely different meal! These ideas are also what I sometimes choose to make the first time around. They’re that good!

Pulled pork nachos in a cast iron skillet

Pulled Pork Nachos

You can make either barbecue nachos or regular Mexican nachos with leftover pulled pork. For barbecue nachos: mix the pulled pork with a little barbecue sauce. Put some tortilla chips and shredded cheese in a cast-iron or on a sheet pan; pop in the oven until the cheese is melted. Top with diced red onion, sliced jalapeños and drizzled barbecue sauce.

Nacho fries in a cast iron skillet made with instant pot pulled pork with a small dish of barbecue sauce on the table next to it

Nacho Fries

Make a batch of french fries, either store-bought or make your own. (Tip: If you have the new Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid, you can make crispy fries right in your Instant Pot!) Top with shredded cheese, pulled pork tossed with barbecue sauce or green salsa, then add whatever toppings you like!

Pulled pork pizza on a wood table

Pulled Pork Pizza

Make your own crust or dress up a store-bought frozen cheese pizza. Use barbecue sauce as the base, then add shredded cheese, pulled pork, diced red onion and anything else your heart and family desires.

Two sliced bagels on parchment paper set on a wood table, topped with instant pot pulled pork and chopped red onion and bell pepper

Pulled Pork Bagels

These make a wonderful lunch! I personally prefer an everything bagel, but any flavor will work. Mix barbecue sauce and mayonnaise, then spread it over a toasted bagel. Add pulled pork, diced red bell pepper, red and/or green onions, and even a slice of cheese.

A pulled pork grilled cheese with two halves in a stack on a piece of parchment paper

Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese

Now we’re getting somewhere! A pulled pork grilled cheese is nothing short of heavenly. For a truly amazing sandwich, butter your bread as usual, then press parmesan cheese into the buttered sides of the bread before grilling. It makes a wonderful crunchy parmesan crust that you’ll use for all of your grilled cheese sandwiches!

A white platter of pulled pork spaghetti on a tan tablecloth

Pulled Pork Spaghetti

You read that right! Barbecue sauce tossed with spaghetti then topped with barbecue pulled pork. This might qualify more as late-night snack food, but it’s so delicious you’ll want it for a weeknight dinner, too.

Pulled pork mac and cheese in an oval cast iron skillet

Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese

This might be the ultimate comfort food! Make a batch of Instant Pot Mac and Cheese, then top it with pulled pork tossed with barbecue sauce. It’s creamy, comforting and tastes amazing.

Now that you know what cut of meat to use, how to serve it and have a solid plan for your pulled pork leftovers, let’s get to the recipe. Instant Pot Pulled Pork is hands down the simplest way to make pulled pork. It turns out fork-tender every time and will become your favorite weekly meal!

pulled pork on a cutting board with two forks and half of the roast ready to be pulled

Instant Pot Pulled Pork

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes

Depending on how you're serving your pulled pork, you may opt to skip the rub entirely and just season the roast with salt and pepper. Choose whichever rub fits your plans best!

Ingredients

  • 1 5-lb pork shoulder, cut into 4 equal pieces
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth or water

Rub for pulled pork tacos

  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp coarse salt

Rub for pulled pork barbecue

  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp coarse salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1-2 tsp cayenne pepper (depending on your spice tolerance)

Instructions

  1. Mix together the ingredients for your chosen rub. Massage the rub all over the pork shoulder.
  2. Press "saute" on your Instant Pot. When it's hot, add the oil. Sear the pork on all sides until brown, then set aside.
  3. Add the chicken broth or water to the pot. Scrape up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pot. (It's crucial to remove everything on the bottom as this can prevent the Instant Pot from coming to pressure).
  4. Place the pork roast back into the pot, setting it right in the broth. Close and lock the lid of the Instant Pot. Press “Manual” and immediately adjust the timer to 90 minutes. Check that the cooking pressure is on “high” and that the release valve is set to “Sealing”.
  5. When the time is up, release the pressure using “Quick Pressure Release”.
  6. Remove the roast and place it on a cutting board, then shred the meat using two forks.
  7. For pulled pork tacos: place some of the meat on a corn tortilla, then top with salsa verde, chopped cilantro, diced white onion and crumbled queso fresco.
  8. For pulled pork barbecue: Toss some or all of the pork with your favorite barbecue sauce, then serve as desired. See the post for some great ideas!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 603Total Fat: 43gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 170mgSodium: 1449mgCarbohydrates: 9gNet Carbohydrates: 7gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 45g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

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Paige

Sunday 2nd of February 2020

My mouth was watering looking at allthe pulled pork recipes on your site! They all look amazing, especially that. grilled cheese!

Kristy Bernardo

Monday 3rd of February 2020

Thanks so much, Paige! The grilled cheese is one of my favorites for sure!

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