Instant Pot Pulled Pork is juicy, saucy, and perfectly seasoned. Using a pressure cooker is the easiest way to get tender fall-apart pork to your dinner table in under 2 hours!
Instant Pot Pulled Pork
Imagine an already simple dish made even easier? This is why Instant Pot Pulled Pork is a game-changer to making taco filling, pizza toppings, or a side to mac and cheese. Gone are the days of low and slow for hours to get the same tender, flavourful, and fall apart results! This is the perfect dish for those days when you don’t have Instant Pot BBQ chicken.
This healthy version of this comfort classic uses no added refined sugar that comes in commercial BBQ sauce (did I mention I’ve made a healthy BBQ sauce, too?!). The perfect balance of sweet, tart, and smoky comes from a combination of basic seasonings and natural sweeteners.
The garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and smoked paprika along with the honey or maple and tomato paste create the most delicious sauce. All of these ingredients used in combination create a flavour powerhouse.
Serve on a soft or toasted sandwich bun topped with a fresh, simple creamy homemade coleslaw. No need to wait for a summer backyard BBQ to bite into a juicy, messy, and oh so delicious pulled pork sandwich anymore. With the Instant Pot, you’ll be able to have the best pulled pork for any weeknight dinner. Your family will be amazed – next up wow, them with Instant Pot cobbler for dessert!
Ingredients for Instant Pot Pulled Pork
- Pork: Shoulder or butt roast. It isn’t the leanest cut of meat but for pulled pork, you want juicy and flavourful which the shoulder or pork butt gives you. You’ll want to trim the fat. If it comes with twine, it’s ok to leave it on.
- Water: As with any meat cooked in the Instant Pot you’ll need the liquid at the bottom of the pot.
- Seasonings: Onion powder. Garlic powder. Smoked Paprika. Salt. Pepper. Cayenne.
- Tomato paste: Low sodium. Will be the base of the healthy BBQ sauce and will add thickness and acidity to it.
- Sweetener: Maple syrup or honey. Typical BBQ sauce is quite sweet thanks to all the corn syrup, glucose and fructose. Using maple syrup or honey gives you the sweetness that is MUCH better for you!
- Liquid smoke: This will be super important especially if you don’t have any smoked paprika. It’s what gives it that incredible smoky flavor.
- Coleslaw: Bag of coleslaw. Finely chopped fresh parsley or dill. Plain yogurt (regular or Greek at least 2%). Mayo. Salt & Pepper. Alternatively, You can make this healthy coleslaw or Ukrainian vinegar slaw, or dill coleslaw.
How to Make Pulled Pork in the Instant Pot
- Prep: Get your 6 or 8 qt Instant Pot set up by adding water to the bottom and placing the trivet on top. You’ll come back to this in a bit.
- Combine: Get a little dry rub going by combining the onion and garlic powders, smoked paprika, salt, black pepper, and cayenne, in a bowl. Whisk together well. If you guessed you’re going to coat your pork with this amazing combination, you’d be right!
- Rub: Once you’ve got your pork roast on a plate or other flat surface you don’t mind getting a little messy, sprinkle the spice mix all over it and rub it all around. Scoop up whatever falls to the sides and continue coating everything. You want all of this delicious flavour permeating the meat. Transfer to the Instant Pot and place on the trivet.
- Cook: Close the lid and set the valve to Sealing. Cook on High Pressure – Manual for 1 hour. During this time, gather what you need for the coleslaw and make that so that once your pork is ready your slaw will be ready too.
- Make Coleslaw: In a large bowl combine shredded cabbage or bagged coleslaw with herbs, yogurt, mayo, salt, and pepper. Mix together nicely until blended then place in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
- Release pressure: Once the Instant Pot cook time is done, let pressure come down on its own – Natural Release. Remove the roast and place it on a cutting board. Remove twine and shred the meat with two forks. It should fall apart very easily, but if there are tough areas, just chop it up with a knife. At this point your mouth is watering and the smell is amazing, but just wait, you’re not quite finished yet!
- Make the sauce: Reserve a cup of the broth from the pot and discard the rest. Press saute on the Instant Pot and add reserved broth back in as well as tomato paste, maple syrup, and liquid smoke. Whisk everything while it comes to a boil and let it simmer for 3 minutes before adding the shredded pork back in.
- Assemble & Serve: Combine the pork and sauce and give it a good stir. Allow the flavours to come together and then adjust any seasonings to taste if needed. Serve on a bun, topped with coleslaw, and enjoy!
Tips and Variations
- Pork roast size: The size of your Instant Pot will best determine what size to use. A 6 qt pot will fit a 4 lb roast and an 8 qt pot will fit a 5 lb roast.
- Smoked paprika: You can for sure use regular paprika if you don’t have smoked paprika. Make sure to use liquid smoke, though, otherwise you will definitely miss out on the signature smoky flavour you want. You can find liquid smoke usually in the condiment aisle of your grocery store or on Amazon.
- Fresh herbs: The herbs add a lovely freshness to the slaw that is so good but totally optional.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: To add a little acidic balance to the creaminess of the coleslaw, mixing in a bit of ACV does the trick.
- Raw honey: If you like a little sweetness to your creamy coleslaw, adding a small amount of raw honey gives it a sweet note that doesn’t overpower anything.
- More heat: By all means, add more cayenne to make it hot! This recipe is quite mild, so you’ll be able to season to your preference. Just remember to taste test first!
- BBQ sauce: For added convenience, you can skip the dry rub and use a healthy homemade BBQ sauce instead. Keep a jar of this 20-minute sauce on hand because it’s useful for all kinds of things!
Making ahead, Storing and Freezing
Make ahead: You can assemble the roast in the liner of the Instant Pot, cover it with the silicone lid, and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 days. Having the dry rub sit on the meat for this long can only enhance the flavours! When you’re ready to cook it, continue with instructions as per the recipe.
Store: This pulled pork will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days when covered in an airtight container in the fridge. To reheat it all you need to do is put it in a small pot with a splash of broth, cover, and simmer on low. Stir a few times.
Freeze: Once fully cooked, it can be kept frozen for up to 3 months! This is not only a great meal prep make-ahead dish, but it’s also a great think ahead dish if you know you’re making a big batch! Save some for down the road by keeping it in an airtight container in the freezer. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat as per above.
How to Use Leftover Pulled Pork
Along with the options mentioned above (including mac n’ cheese, tacos, and pizza), there are several other ways I love to enjoy this pulled pork, including:
- In a rice bowl (like this Korean beef bowl)
- In a burrito
- Over nachos – like these black bean nachos, with cheese
- With other pasta dishes
More Instant Pot Recipes
- Instant Pot beef stew
- Instant Pot chicken tacos
- Instant Pot ribs
- Instant Pot turkey breast
- Instant Pot pot roast
Instant Pot Pulled Pork
- 4-5 lbs pork butt roast fat trimmed and twine on
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 2 6 oz each cans of tomato paste low sodium
- 3 tbsp maple syrup or honey
- 1 tbsp liquid smoke
- Pinch salt
- 10 round like kaiser or sandwich buns for serving
- 1 lb bag coleslaw 6 cups
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley or dill finely chopped (optional)
- 3/4 cup plain regular or Greek yogurt 2% fat and higher
- 1/4 cup mayo
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Ground black pepper to taste
- In 6 or 8 quart Instant Pot, add water and place trivet on top. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine onion and garlic powders, smoked paprika, salt, black and cayenne peppers. Whisk well.
- Place pork roast on a large plate and sprinkle/rub with a spice mix all around, scooping some from the plate. Transfer to Instant Pot.
- Place lid on top, set venting valve to Sealing and cook for 1 hour on High pressure. After let pressure come down on its own - Natural Release.
- While roast is cooking, make coleslaw by combining cabbage, herbs, yogurt, mayo, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Remove roast on a cutting board. Cut off twine and shred meat with 2 forks. If some spots have tough tissue, chop with a knife.
- Reserve 1 cup broth and discard the rest. Press Saute on Instant Pot and add broth, tomato paste, maple syrup and liquid smoke. Whisk, bring to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes.
- Add shredded pork, stir and adjust salt and cayenne pepper to taste, if necessary.
- Serve pulled pork on a bun, topped with coleslaw.
Store: Refrigerate meat in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat in a small pot with a splash of broth by simmering on low while covered. Stir a few times.
Freeze: Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and then reheat as per instructions above.
Make Ahead: You can assemble roast in the inner liner of Instant Pot, cover with silicone lid and refrigerate for up to 2 days. After cook as per recipe.
- Pork roast size: 4 lbs would fit 6 quart pot better and 5 lbs fits into 8 quart. Pictured is 8 quart Instant Pot.
- Smoked paprika: If you don't have smoked paprika, you can use regular paprika but you absolutely have to use liquid smoke.
- Where to buy liquid smoke? You can find liquid smoke in a condiment aisle of many grocery stores or on Amazon. It is necessary to create smoky flavour.
- Fresh herbs for slaw: Optional but so good. I add them, if I have on hand.
- More heat: This pulled pork is mild. You can add more cayenne and make it very hot.
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