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pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw laying on platter

Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Pork

  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 15m
  • Cook Time: 45m
  • Total Time: 1hr
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Southern


This BBQ Pulled Pork is the definition of low-effort, high-reward. A pulled pork recipe that easily comes together using a pressure cooker (or slow cooker, too!). A homemade dry rub makes the pork shoulder sing with mega flavor and cooks until fall-apart tender. That juicy, succulent pork is then served with BBQ sauce. This recipe is perfect for gatherings (or meal prepping) and the options are endless when it comes to serving: sandwiches, sliders, nachos, mac and cheese, salads, and more!


  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (or cayenne powder)- optional
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 lb boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat & cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 medium-sized white onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely minced or pressed
  • 1 cup chicken stock (or broth)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard

For serving:

  • 1 (18-ounce) bottle BBQ sauce, we love Sweet Baby Ray’s or Stubb’s!
  • brioche buns, coleslaw, dill/bread & butter pickles- optional


  1. Make the spice blend: In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, chipotle powder (if using), and salt/pepper- to taste. Stir the spices well to thoroughly combine.
  2. Season the pork shoulder: Place the pork shoulder chunks into a large bowl and sprinkle the spice blend over the pork. Use your hands (fitted with disposable gloves, if desired) to massage the spices into the pork. Make sure all pork pieces are nicely saturated in the spice blend. Then set seasoned pork aside.
  3. Brown the pork: Set a 6-quart (or larger) Instant Pot to the high sauté function. Add the oil into the pot to heat. Once the oil shimmers, work in batches (careful not to overcrowd the pot), add seasoned pork into the pot in an even layer. Cook the pork on all sides until a deep brown crust appears, about 1 minute on each side. Then transfer the browned pork to a clean plate/platter and repeat the process with the remaining batch of pork. 
  4. Sauté: With all seared pork set aside, add the onion and garlic into the pot. If the pot looks dry, coat with a bit more oil, only as needed. Sauté the onion and garlic, stirring every so often, until tender and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Bring it all together: Add the stock, vinegar, worcestershire, and mustard into the pot and use a wooden utensil to scrape up any bits on the bottom, stir well to combine. Then carefully place the browned pork chunks back into the pot along with any residual juices.
  6. Pressure cook: Cover the IP and set to the manual high pressure function, set the time for 45 minutes. After the cooking cycle is complete, let pressure release naturally in the “vent” position or according to manufacturer’s instructions, until all steam has ceased.
  7. Shred the pork: Remove the pork chunks from the pot and place onto a large baking sheet/platter. Then use two forks or your hands (fitted with disposable gloves, if desired) to shred the meat. Note: I like to save some of the cooking liquid (au jus) in the pot to pass over the pulled pork to keep it juicy when storing/ not serving right away- highly recommended, but optional.
  8. Serve: Taste the pork and adjust seasoning to preference by adding more salt/pepper, as desired. Feel free to pour full BBQ sauce over the pulled pork, to preference- or top pulled pork with BBQ sauce when assembled in sandwiches/sliders, etc. Enjoy!


  1. Storing & reheating: Make sure the leftover pulled pork has cooled completely. To refrigerate: Transfer pulled pork into an airtight container and keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. To freeze: Transfer pulled pork into a freezer safe container and keep in the freezer for up to 2 months. Reheat: Thaw in the fridge, if frozen. Reheat pulled pork on the stovetop in a skillet with a bit of oil to crisp up the pork. Or microwave until warmed through.
  2. Slow cooker instructions: Make the spice blend as noted in step #1 and season the pork shoulder as noted in step #2. On the stovetop, heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once the oil shimmers, work in two batches to brown the pork as noted in step #3. Then sauté the onion and garlic mixture as noted in step #4. Transfer the browned pork (with residual juices) and onion/garlic mixture into your slow cooker vessel. Add the stock, vinegar, worcestershire, and mustard. Carefully stir all ingredients together to fully combine. Cook the pork on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 6-8 hours. Then follow step #7 and #8 to shred and serve. Enjoy!
  3. Please read the blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.

Keywords: barbecue, pulled pork, instant pot pulled pork, slow cooker pulled pork, instant pot pork, bbq pulled pork, pork shoulder, boston butt shoulder