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Instant Pot Pork Shoulder (For Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Tacos, & More)

This Instant Pot Pork Shoulder recipe is the perfect recipe for Instant Pot beginners or anyone wanting to see just how well the Instant Pot works. You can easily get flavorful, tender, pork on the table in just under one hour, without spending an hour in the kitchen!

instant pot pulled pork tacos on a white plate

If you already do a lot of cooking at home you’ll know that pulled pork is usually a fairly long process that requires either braising in the oven (like these beef short ribs ) or slow-cooking a pork roast in a crock pot. With the Instant Pot you avoid all of this. No more day-long cooking sessions!

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Which Cut Of Pork Is Best For Making Pulled Pork?

While you can, in theory, slow roast or braise any cut of pork to make pulled pork, there are some cuts that will result in a more tender and flavorful end product than others.

Ideally, you want to choose a cut of pork that has a lot of fat and connective tissue. These are usually referred to as ‘tough’ cuts of meat, such as the pork shoulder and pork butt. Both cuts of meat come from the shoulder area of the pig and are quite fatty and full of connective tissue.

Many recipes call for a pork loin, but a pork loin is very lean, with very little marbling, and will dry out and become tough before it is soft enough to shred for pulled pork.

The Benefits Of Pressure Cooking A Pork Shoulder

Pork shoulder as mentioned above, is inherently a tough cut of meat. Muscles that are used a lot become stronger, just like if you go and work out at the gym. The downside to these strong muscles is that they are usually packed with collagen and other connective tissues making them tougher then cuts such as tenderloins which are located right next to the spine and barely move.

Normally you would slow cook, (or braise) these types of tough cuts over a long period of time to help break down the collagen and connective tissues. This helps make the meat super tender and fall apart.

By using a pressure cooker such as the Instant Pot, we can take advantage of the faster cooking speeds which are achieved under high pressure, to break down these tough cuts of meat.

Instant Pot BBQ Pork Shoulder Recipe

This pulled pork recipe is so easy to make, you’ll kick yourself for not trying it sooner! It doesn’t matter if you use a bone-in pork shoulder or a boneless one, if it’s frozen or thawed. The method remains the same. The only note here is if using a frozen pork shoulder, the instant pot will take longer to come to temperature, extending the cooking time.

While this Instant Pot pork shoulder recipe is a BBQ one, you can easily change the spice mix to a Cajun spice mix, or Mexican fajita-style pulled pork!

Let’s get started, You’ll need:

  • 1  3 lb Pork Shoulder (I used bone in)
  • 2 Tbsp Paprika
  • 2 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Allspice
  • 3 tsp Onion powder
  • 1 tsp Chipotle Powder
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard powder
  • 2 tsp Black pepper
  • 3 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 cup Brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Molasses
  • 2 cups Chicken stock

Chefs Tips: For maximum flavour, mix all the spices together, dry rub the pork shoulder and let it marinate overnight. This will help infuse the spices into the meat itself and not just into the sauce.

If you’re in a hurry though and need something to eat ASAP, just toss everything into the Instant Pot in one go!

a pork shoulder with various spices in a instant pot ready to be cooked.

Regardless of if you marinate the pork or not, place the pork shoulder in the Instant Pot, along with the spices, chicken stock, and molasses.

Related:  Instant Pot Chicken Stock

Detailed Instructions

Close the lid and make sure it is properly latched with the vent in the sealed position. Select the ‘Manual’ setting, and press adjust to select a cooking time for 60 minutes.

Official Instant Pot cooking times suggest 20-25 minutes of cooking per pound of meat. If using a frozen pork shoulder note that the cooking time may be longer then this.

Now the easy part, let the pork shoulder pressure cook, and do its thing for the selected amount of time. Once the cooking time is over and the Instant Pot beeps, you have two options:

  1. You can use the natural pressure release method (NPR), (letting the pot cool and depressurize on its own).
  2. Or, you can use the quick-release method, and turn the steam release valve to ‘vent’ to de-pressurize the Instant Pot. Note that using the quick release method may result in tougher pork then if NPR is used.

The option you choose depends on one a few things:

  • If you set the pork shoulder to cook before going to work, you can use the ‘Keep Warm’ function and let the pot depressurize naturally. This will ensure super tender pork, while also keeping it at the right temperature to prevent foodborne illness.
  • Or if you’re in a rush and want to shred and eat the pork right away, use the quick release method.
A cooked pork shoulder in the instant pot after pressure cooking for 60 minutes

Shredding The Pulled Pork

It’s best to shred the pork shoulder while it’s still hot. It will go a lot faster and will literally fall apart/of the bone. Lift the cooked pork shoulder out of the instant pot and use two forks or a pair of shredding claws to easily pull apart /shred the meat.

Pork shoulder shredded in a steel bowl

Chefs Tip: If you used a bone-in pork shoulder you can save and freeze the bone to make stock once you have a few bones saved, or simply toss the bone out at this point.

By now you should have a pile of deliciously tender pulled pork and a bunch of liquid in your instant pot. We’ll use this liquid to make a tasty sauce for the meat! The liquid should have naturally thickened while it was cooking with the pork shoulder, but if you feel it is a little thin, just use a cornstarch slurry to thicken it.

mixing the bbq sauce in with the shredded pork shoulder to make instant pot pulled pork

Made the recipe? Comment & Rate it below, then take a picture and tag me on Facebook & Instagram: @earthfoodandfire . For more from scratch recipes follow me on Instagram & Pinterest

Instant Pot Pork Shoulder

Chef Markus Mueller
This Instant Pot pork shoulder recipe yields fall of the bone tender BBQ pulled pork ideal for sandwiches, tacos, carnitas, and more!
4.89 from 9 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course Appetizer, Entree
Cuisine Canadian
Servings 12 portions
Calories 313.71 kcal

Equipment

  • Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

Ingredients
  

  • 3 lb Pork Shoulder I used a bone in pork shoulder, but bonless may be used as well
  • 2 cups Chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup Molasses

BBQ Spice Mix

  • 2 Tbsp Paprika
  • 2 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Allspice
  • 3 tsp Onion powder
  • 1 tsp Chipotle Powder
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard powder
  • 2 tsp Black pepper
  • 3 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 cup Brown sugar

Instructions
 

  • For maximum flavour, mix the BBQ spices together, dry rub the pork shoulder and let it sit to marinate overnight. This step is optional and can be skipped if you are in a hurry.
  • Place the pork shoulder in the Instant Pot, along with the spices, chicken stock, and molasses.
  • Close the lid and make sure it is properly latched with the vent in the sealed position. Select the 'Manual' setting, and press adjust to select a cooking time of 60 minutes.
  • Once the Instant Pot has finished cooking, use either the Quick Release or Natural Pressure Release option to remove the lid.
  • Lift the cooked pork shoulder out of the instant pot and using two forks, pull apart /shred the meat. Shred the pork shoulder while it's still hot for best results. It will go a lot faster and will literally fall apart/of the bone.
  • Strain the remaining liquid and thicken it with a cornstarch or flour slurry to make a tasty sauce for the meat! This can be done directly in the IP insert using the 'saute' function.

Notes

Save your pork bones and freeze them. Once you have a good amount make a delicious pork stock with them in your instant pot
 
 
Keyword BBQ, gluten free, Instant Pot, Pork Shoulder, Pulled Pork

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27 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    Nowhere on the recipe does it say to keep or remove the skin ? So I removed it …. What should you do/don’t do ?

    • Hey Greg, you can do either. I like yo leave mine on as some of the fat under the skin will render out and help add flavor. Once you go to pull the pork meat, you remove and discard the jelly like skin.

  2. 5 stars
    I enjoyed this pork shoulder recipe. I was inspired to use my Korean course ground pepper instead of paprika. That was great. I live in Denver (5000’+) so I cooked it 25 min/lb. plus 15% adjustment for altitude. So far, one of my favorites for pork shoulder.

  3. Linda Soucy

    5 stars
    I was in a rush & wanted to try a different recipe. This was awesome and would have likely been even tastier if I had more time. I didn’t want to waste a ton of spices, so I cut the amount in half. Rubbed all over a 5lb bone in picnic shoulder and popped it in IP for one hour with natural release. Done to perfection. I wasn’t looking for pulled pork, I prefer a ham type meal. Took it out threw in 1 cup or more of chicken broth, 3 potatoes cut in large chunks and a few carrots. Pressure for 10 minutes and mashed together. Great dinner, thanks! PS, I would have given 5 stars but it wouldn’t allow me to do anything with the stars to rate it.

  4. Three pound boneless….60 or 30

  5. 5 stars
    I used an 8 quart instant pot and increased the ingredients a bit.

    I was able to easily fit an 11 pound bone in pork shoulder into the pot.

    I increased the cooking time to 90 minutes and got great results.

  6. You need to fix your last note, it doesn’t match the rest of the whole post and really confused me at first “why would I reduce time to 60 minutes if i have more meat” lol

    Anyway, how do i make it more Mexican like you say?

    • Hi Breanna, I apologize for the confusion, the note was poorly worded. I have clarified the recipe to make it easier to understand. Essentially IP suggests 20-25minutes cooking/pound of meat. The recipe calls for 3 lb of pork shoulder, ie: 60 minutes of cooking. If you have a larger cut of meat you will need to extend that cooking time accordingly.

      To make the pulled pork have a Mexican style flavour, I would suggest using my fajita seasoning instead of the seasonings used in the post above. Use about a 1/2 cup of fajita seasoning for a 3 lb pork shoulder. Happy cooking!

  7. 5 stars
    I’ve done pulled pork a couple times in our instant pot, and it’s always been wonderful. I’ve been using a recipe with onion, apple cider vinegar, allspice berries, and ketchup, and it comes out so nicely! We like things with a bit of vinegar, around here. I’m looking for a new taste, though, to stir things up, and the molasses in this recipe pulled me in. The first time I tried instant pot pulled pork, I did 45 minutes under pressure, and NPR. It came out quite soft. I kept paring the time down until I’m was at 35 minutes under pressure and 35-45 NRP (depending on when I remember to go back to the kitchen). Still tender and soft! You just have to put the meat in a bowl and stir it to get it to fall apart. I cut the shoulder in 4 big chunks, and cook two shoulders together in my 8 quart IP. The 90 minute cook time here seems a little … staggering. Am I missing something?

    • Hi Julie, thanks for the comment! I am glad you loved the recipe. I love the idea of using allspice in it!

      I have clarified the cooking times in the post, there was an issue moving the recipe itself over from a different recipe card program while we were updating our website. Thank you for pointing this out. It should read 60 minutes. To recap though : IP suggests 20-25 minutes cooking/pound of meat. The recipe calls for 3 lb of pork shoulder, ie: 60 minutes of cooking. If you have a larger cut of meat you will need to extend that cooking time accordingly. Cutting the meat into smaller chunks will help speed up cooking as you correctly mentioned in your comment. I hope you try more of our recipes!

  8. 5 stars
    Five stars! My family said two thumbs up! My daughters couldn’t keep their fingers out of the bowl as I was shredding the pork. Thanks for an excellent recipe! This will be made again and again.

  9. Karmine Sashay Borland

    Do i need to brown first?

  10. Question for you…I have an almost 7 lbs shoulder, will the cooking time still be the same?

    • Hi Jennifer, for a roast of that size I would set a cooking time of at least 60 minutes on high pressure, if you are making pulled pork with it. You can also cut the roast into three or four chunks of meat and then cook on a shorter program.

  11. 5 stars
    I still have resisted getting an instant pot. I always do pulled pork in the slow cooker. But I’m getting more and more convinced! Thanks for this great post!

  12. Bernice Hill

    5 stars
    Instant Pot makes everything crazy easy. I’ve never done anything from frozen before though, I’ll have to give it a try!!

  13. 5 stars
    I’m still getting acquainted with my Instant Pot, so I welcome this pork shoulder recipe! As I’m currently in the Southern US, where I spend time frequently, I appreciate the versatility of pulled pork. I must try making this when I get back home to my pressure cooker.

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