This Instant Pot pulled pork shoulder is fall-apart tender, absolutely delicious, and really easy to make. Pulled pork is an excellent entree, or a great way to meal prep pork to use in multiple meals throughout the week.
This Instant Pot pork shoulder roast is sure to become a new family favorite. Pressure cooked pork shoulder becomes so tender it practically falls apart on its own. The succulent meat is a great alternative to a traditional roast dinner, and perfect for easy meals.
Pulled pork shoulder
I always use pork shoulder for pulled pork. Pork shoulder has fat marbled in between the meat, which makes it really tender. In fact, pork shoulder is often advertised as "pulled pork meat" on the packaging.
I love my traditional Slow Cooker Pulled Pork, but this Instant Pot version is much faster, and tastes just as good. There's plenty of room to customize the dish by using your favorite seasoning.
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Why you'll love it
- A quick way to make fall-apart pulled pork
- Shredded pork is perfect for meal prep
- Lots of flavor options
- Customize the recipe to suit your preferences
- The best way to cook pork shoulder
- Pork shoulder is affordable and easy to find
Pork shoulder: Pork shoulder is the best meat for pulled pork. You can find pork shoulder joints at any butcher's, or in most supermarkets. Pork shoulder joints are often advertised as "pulled pork meat".
Olive oil: Use some olive oil or vegetable oil to sear the meat before pressure cooking.
You can find full instructions + ingredient measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of this page
Pulled pork might be easier to make than you'd think.
First, sear the meat on all sides on SAUTE mode until the meat is gently browned. This will start the Maillard reaction, and adds a lot of flavor to the pork.
Add water to the Instant Pot, and use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom. Make sure that no pieces are stuck to the pot. Season the meat, and seal the lid.
Cook on PRESSURE COOK or MANUAL setting for 45 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes before you perform a quick release.
Strain the liquid to remove any chunks of fat, and pull the pork using two forks. I like to do this on a cutting board or plate, as you can then easily scrape off excess pieces of fat.
Serve the pulled pork immediately, or store it in the Instant Pot until you're ready to eat. Use the KEEP WARM setting if needed.
💡 TIP! If the meat is stuck to the bottom of the Instant Pot, or if you're not using enough liquid, the Instant Pot could overheat. If this happens, I have made a simple guide for how to deal with the Instant Pot burn message.
- Make sure to allow time to brown the pork shoulder thoroughly. It makes a big difference.
- Scrape the bottom of the pot to remove any stuck chunks of pork before pressure cooking.
- Feel free to use any seasoning that you like. Check the Variations section below, or use my favorite Pork Seasoning, or any spice rub.
Serve pulled pork as an entree, or use it as an ingredient in other dishes like casseroles, sandwiches or soups. I usually serve it as a main, paired with any of these sides:
- Side dishes: Air Fryer Green Beans, Spanakorizo, Carrot Rice
- Side salads: Lemon Kale Salad, Black Bean Corn Salad, French Potato Salad
- Potatoes: Parmentier Potatoes, Mexican Potatoes, Air Fryer Potato Wedges
- Sauces: Honey BBQ Sauce, Cilantro Lime Aioli, Avocado Lime Ranch Dressing, Healthy Homemade Ranch Dip
BBQ pulled pork: Add BBQ sauce. You can also replace the seasoning with a BBQ spice rub, or any seasoning that you like. I like to add a little sauce before cooking, and then adding more sauce to the pork after pulling it. This ensures that the meat has a really nice BBQ flavor.
Spicy pulled pork: Add some cayenne pepper, chili powder or red pepper flakes. You can also add some hot sauce or chili paste.
Mexican style: Use your favorite Mexican seasoning, like store bought taco seasoning or my favorite homemade Fajita Seasoning. You can also add some jarred salsa to the pork, or enchilada sauce.
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Store leftover pulled pork in a sealed container in a refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can reheat the meat in a skillet or microwave, and serve it warm as an entree. Alternatively, use it in other dishes throughout the week.
You can also freeze pulled pork for up to 6 months. Frozen cooked meat tends to be a little dry when defrosted, but pork shoulder tends to stay quite tender. I love to add frozen pulled pork to vegetable soups or casseroles for some easy added protein.
Pulled pork is a great staple. I use it in sandwiches, salads, casseroles or a variety of other meals. This recipe is perfect for preparing a large amount of cooked pork to be used later.
Frequently asked questions
Although it's possible to overcook pork shoulder, if the meat isn't tender, this is usually a sign that it hasn't been cooked for long enough. Pork shoulder can be cooked for very long periods of time, even in the pressure cooker. A 3-6 pound pork shoulder roast needs between 45-90 minutes of pressure cooking, depending on weight, however the meat will stay perfectly fine even if you were to double that time.
According to the Instant Pot manual, you should always use at least 1 cup of water or other thin liquid like chicken stock.
Pork butt, pork shoulder and pork leg all come from the same areas of the pig, and are quite similar in texture. They are all fatty cuts of pork, and well suited for making pulled pork.
Pork loin is much leaner than pork shoulder or other cuts of pork more commonly used in pulled pork. Although you can pressure cook pork loin as well, pulled pork loin won't be as tender, and will not easily fall apart on its own. I recommend only using pork shoulder or pork butt for pulled pork.
You might also like these recipes
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- Instant Pot Pork Roast
- Instant Pot Pork Chops and Rice
- Slow Cooker Carnitas
- Instant Pot BBQ Chicken
- Instant Pot Carnitas
Instant Pot Pulled Pork Shoulder
- Cut meat into 3 large chunks. If the pork shoulder has the rind attached, carefully remove this with a sharp knife.
- Add vegetable oil to the Instant Pot, and turn on the SAUTE setting. Add the pork shoulder chunks. Saute for about 5 minutes, and turn the pork pieces to brown all sides evenly.
- Remove the pork shoulder from the pot. Add water or chicken stock to the Instant Pot, and use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom. Make sure nothing is stuck to the pot.
- Add the meat back to the pot, and top with seasoning.
- Turn off the saute function. Seal the lid on the Instant Pot, and turn on the PRESSURE COOK or MANUAL setting for 45 minutes. The pressure cooker will take about 5-10 minutes to get to pressure before the timer starts counting down.
- Remove the cooked pork shoulder from the Instant Pot. Shred the meat with two forks.
- Strain the liquid from the Instant Pot. This will remove any chunks of fat from the liquid. Discard the fat, and add the liquid back to the pot.
- Add the shredded meat back to the pot. The liquid will make the meat more juicy. Add any other seasoning or sauces to taste.
- Serve the pulled pork immediately.
- Store leftover pulled pork in a refrigerator for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 6 months. You can reheat it in a skillet or microwave, or use it cold.
- Feel free to replace the seasoning with any other spices, like taco seasoning, or a BBQ spice rub.