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Instant Pot Pulled Pork | Cookies and Cups


This easy Instant Pot pulled pork is rubbed with a savory seasoning blend and cooked until fall-apart-tender in sweet and smoky BBQ sauce. This one-pot BBQ pulled pork is destined for your next gathering!

A bowl of Instant Pot pulled pork with two black forks, with a pulled pork sandwich in the background.

Why You’ll Love This Instant Pot Pork Recipe

  • Big batch. Anytime I’m hosting a hungry crowd, I turn to my pulled pork recipes. There’s always enough to feed a small army, and this Instant Pot pulled pork is a total crowd-pleaser. Who doesn’t love sweet, smoky, savory BBQ? 
  • Versatile. Of course, pulled pork sandwiches are a longstanding favorite. But there are so many ways to serve pulled pork! Skip the bun if you’re avoiding carbs, and serve pulled pork over nachos, salads, or wraps. Keep reading for more delicious serving suggestions.
  • Freezer-friendly.  Like my Instant Pot carnitas, this BBQ pulled pork is super freezer-friendly. Even if you’re just feeding the family on a weeknight, make a full batch of pulled pork and portion and freeze your leftovers. 
The ingredients for Instant Pot pulled pork.

What You’ll Need

The ingredients for this pulled pork recipe are pretty simple, yet they come together with the absolute BEST flavor! Below are some quick notes on the key ingredients. Be sure to scroll to the printable recipe card for the full amounts and recipe details.

  • Pork Butt: You’ll need 3-4 pounds of boneless or bone-in pork butt roast. I like to use a boneless pork butt and cut it into cubes so that the meat cooks more quickly and evenly. See below for details.
  • Spice Rub: This pulled pork starts with a flavorful rub made with easy ingredients. You’ll need brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, ground mustard, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper. 
  • Olive Oil: For searing the meat. Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil, or similar, with a high smoke point.
  • Chicken Broth: For deglazing the pot and pressure cooking the pork. Chicken or beef broth is a great way to fulfill the pressure cooker’s liquid requirement while adding more flavor than water. I prefer to use low-sodium broth or stock, to keep the saltiness under control.
  • BBQ Sauce: I use my recipe for sweet and smoky homemade BBQ sauce, but you can use your favorite store-bought barbecue sauce, too. 
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Adding a splash of apple cider vinegar lifts the BBQ flavors. I like the sweetness of apple cider vinegar, but you can use just about any type of vinegar here. Red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar will also work.

What Pork Cut Is Best for Pulled Pork?

So, you need a piece of pork that’s large enough to make a generous amount of pulled pork, but which cut should you choose? There are a couple of cut options when it comes to making pulled pork: 

  • Pork Shoulder or Pork Butt: Pork butt roast, also called a Boston butt, is my first choice for Instant Pot pulled pork (or any pulled pork, really). It’s an inexpensive cut from the upper shoulder of the pig. Pork butt has a higher fat content with plenty of marbling that lets it braise up flavorful and juicy. A pork shoulder roast (picnic roast) also works, but it’s leaner and can have less flavor as a result. 
  • Pork Loin. For leaner pulled pork, you can make this recipe with pork loin roast, also called center loin pork roast. Your pulled pork will still be delicious and fairly juicy, though maybe not as rich as when it’s made with the shoulder/butt.
  • Pork Tenderloin. This is NOT the same cut as pork loin (above). I do not recommend using pork tenderloin for pulled pork as it’s very lean and the shredded pork will come out dry. Save your pork tenderloin for roasting and grilling!

Whichever cut you choose, if your pork has a noticeable layer of fat, make sure to trim it before you cut the meat into cubes and apply the rub. If you have a bone-in pork roast, cut out the bone, too.

How to Make Instant Pot Pulled Pork

This recipe is straightforward enough if you’re new to cooking with your Instant Pot, but it’s just as satisfying if you’re a seasoned pro. Here’s how to make delicious and easy Instant Pot pulled pork:

  • Prepare the rub. You’ll start by applying a simple meat rub. Whisk the brown sugar and spices together, then sprinkle the seasoning rub over the pork. Don’t be shy to get in there with your hands and really get the pieces well coated.
  • Sear the meat. Next, with the Instant Pot set to saute, sear the seasoned pork in oil for a couple of minutes per side. After all the meat is browned, remove the pork and deglaze the pot with ¼ cup of broth. Use a rubber spatula to lift any stuck-on bits from the bottom.
  • Combine and cook. Add the pork back to the Instant Pot. Now, whisk together the BBQ sauce, vinegar, along with the rest of the broth, and pour this over the pork. Seal the lid and set the IP to cook on manual/high pressure for 1 hour. After the hour is up, allow the pressure to naturally release for 15 minutes before removing the lid.
Two black forks are used to shred pressure cooked pork on a plate.
  • Pull the pork. Carefully remove your pressure-cooked pork from the pot and use two forks to shred the meat. If you notice any large fatty bits, you can pluck these out as you go.
  • Finish and serve. Your pulled pork is already loaded with flavor at this point. It’s delicious to serve as is with a bit of the leftover juices from the pot, or you can add an extra drizzle of BBQ sauce for serving.
Overhead view of a bowl of Instant Pot pulled pork next to buns cut in half on a wooden cutting board, and a small bowl of pickles.

Tips for Success

The pressure cooker makes cooking tender, juicy pork a breeze. Here are some tips for the best Instant Pot pulled pork:

  • Work in batches. If you’re working with a lot of pork, consider searing the pieces in batches. Overcrowding the pot causes the meat to steam instead of sear.
  • Don’t skip the natural release. Make sure that you budget enough time for a 15-minute natural release after cooking. Quick-releasing the pressure right away risks the Instant Pot pulled pork coming out undercooked and tough.
  • If your pork isn’t shredding easily, this is likely because it’s undercooked. Don’t worry. Factors like the size of your pork roast, liquid, and even altitude can have an impact on Instant Pot cooking times. In this case, return the pork to your Instant Pot to cook for an additional 30 minutes, then try again.
  • Watch out for the hot steam. Be mindful when opening your Instant Pot after pressure cooking, as there will still be hot steam inside.
  • If you’ve prepared your pulled pork in advance, leave it in the Instant Pot on the keep-warm setting for up to 2 hours ahead of serving. Guests can help themselves right from the pot, too!

Is Pulled Pork Better in Instant Pot or Slow Cooker? 

If you ask me, both methods turn out deliciously saucy, tender, mouthwatering pulled pork. But you can be the judge! If you’d prefer to make pulled pork in the slow cooker, try my recipes for Crock Pot kalua pork or Crock Pot Cuban-style pulled pork

Two black forks are used to shred pressure cooked pork on a plate.

Variation Ideas

  • Use soda. You’ll find recipes that use sodas, like Dr. Pepper, Root Beer, or Coke in place of broth as the cooking liquid for pulled pork. If you’d like to make a variation of root beer pulled pork in the Instant Pot, swap the chicken broth in this recipe for 1 can of your preferred soda.
  • Spicy. Use hot BBQ sauce in place of sweet BBQ sauce for spicer Instant Pot pulled pork, or add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce, like Frank’s Red Hot or Sriracha. You can also borrow the Chipotle BBQ sauce from my Chipotle pulled pork.
  • Different spices. If you have a favorite spice rub, go ahead and use it in place of the seasoning blend in this recipe.
An instant pot pulled pork sandwich on a wooden cutting board with a bowl of pulled pork in the background.

Ways to Serve Instant Pot Pulled Pork

Now that you have a big batch of Instant Pot pulled pork, you’ll need some sides to go with it. Whether you’re enjoying your pulled pork in sandwiches or on its own, here are some easy serving ideas:

  • Pulled Pork Sandwiches. Serve up your pulled pork inside fluffy homemade Hawaiian rolls, topped with melty cheese and coleslaw. It’s the perfect budget-friendly way to feed friends on game day!
  • Pizza. Make BBQ pulled pork flatbread pizza, or, add sliced onions and pineapple for a fun spin on Hawaiian pizza.
  • Tacos. Just because it’s BBQ doesn’t mean you can’t stuff your Instant Pot pulled pork into a flour tortilla for tacos! It’s also a great option for kid-friendly quesadillas. If you’re looking for another tasty taco recipe, try my Instant Pot salsa verde chicken.
  • Nachos. Make pub-style pulled pork nachos topped with cheese and diced bell peppers, onions, avocado, and cowboy caviar
  • Fries. Try out an easy variation of carne asada fries, topped with pulled pork instead of beef. Or, serve pulled pork over skillet “frachos”, a.k.a. Nacho fries!
  • Rice or Salad. Serve pulled pork over a bed of white rice, or pair it with a leafy green salad for a low-carb option. The smoky barbecue flavors also taste great with a Southwestern Cobb salad.
A bowl of Instant Pot pulled pork with two black forks.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

  • Fridge: Store leftover Instant Pot pulled pork airtight in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. You can reheat pulled pork in the microwave, in a skillet on the stovetop, or in the oven covered with foil. Go ahead and add a bit of extra BBQ sauce as needed to help moisten the pork up again for serving.
  • Freezer: Instant Pot pulled pork freezes like a dream. Let the pork cool completely, then store it airtight in a container or freezer bag. This pulled pork can be frozen for up to 3-4 months. Defrost the pork in the fridge before reheating.

More Easy Instant Pot Recipes

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Description

Instant Pot pulled pork is rubbed in a savory spice blend and cooked in smoky BBQ sauce until fall-apart-tender. Ready in an hour, this easy BBQ pulled pork recipe is destined for your next gathering!


  • 3 to 4 lb pork butt roast, cut into 3 inch cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ¼ cup chicken broth, divided (or beef broth)
  • ½ cup BBQ sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Additional BBQ sauce for serving

  1. Combine the brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, mustard, black pepper, cumin and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.
  2. Sprinkle the seasoning over the pork and rub it into the surface, making sure it is well coated. Set aside.
  3. Turn the instant pot to saute mode. Add the olive oil to the pot.
  4. Add the pork pieces and brown on all sides (cooking about 2 minutes per side). You may have to work in batches if you have a lot of pork.
  5. Remove the cooked pork from the pot. With the setting still on saute, add ¼ cup of the broth and use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan. Turn off the instant pot.
  6. Add the pork pieces back to the pot.
  7. Combine the remaining broth, bbq sauce and vinegar and pour over the pork.
  8. Put the lid on the instant pot and turn the valve to the sealing position. Set to manual high pressure for 60 minutes.
  9. Once the time has elapsed, allow the instant pot to naturally release the pressure for 15 minutes. Be careful removing the lid because it will be hot and steamy.
  10. Remove the meat from the instant pot and use two forks to pull the meat into shreds discarding any large pieces of fat.
  11. Top with additional bbq sauce for serving, if desired.

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